Bitter is . . .

by Michael O. Allen on April 24, 2008

Colson Whitehead, author of numerous books (John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, The Colossus of New York, The Intuitionist, and the forthcoming Sag Harbor) and a fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, has written a piece for The New York Times that could only have been written by The Guy Who’s Where He Is Only Because He’s Black.

First, I think it’s brilliant.

Second, I wish I’d written it.

A taste:

People think I have it easy, but it’s surprisingly difficult being The Guy Who Got Where He Is Only Because He’s Black, what with the whole having to be everywhere in the country at once thing. One second I’m nodding enthusiastically in a sales conference in Boise, Idaho, and the next I’m separating conjoined triplets at the Institute For Terribly Complicated Surgery in Buchanan, N.Y., and then I have to rush out to Muncie, Ind., to put my little “Inspector 12” tag in a bag of Fruit of the Loom.

It’s exhausting, all that travel. Decent, hard-working folks out there have their religion and their xenophobia to cling to. All I have is a fistful of upgrades to first class and free headphones. Headphones That Should Have Gone to a More Deserving Passenger.

Guns? I wish I had a gun! Ever run out of truffle oil before a dinner party and have to go to Whole Foods on a weekend? It’ll make you want to spread a little buckshot around, that’s for sure.

Look, we’re all hurting, trying to make ends meet. I have serious overhead with all the résumés I send out. The postage is one thing, but I also like to print my résumé on a nice creamy bond. I think it sends a message. Then there’s the dry cleaning and the soap — I prefer to be clean and articulate in my interviews, put my best foot forward. I think it’s working. People are responding to how I present myself.

As roy edroso (of Alicublog) said a few days ago (in another brilliant piece of political agitprop I wish I’d employed first):

Well, at least people have stopped referring to him as an affirmative action case — because it’s clear no candidate has ever been held to this kind of ridiculous standard.

As the race for the Democratic Party nomination for president reaches its racial nadir, let’s hope we can look and see who is the best candidate and who has all the advantages here. And let’s remember who has elevated our political discourse this election season.

UPDATE I: I would be remiss if I do not bring to your attention this piece by LeftyEnglish.

Charisse brought it to my attention. Here’s LeftyEnglish:

One of the things I continue to hear morons like Scarborough (yes, I am a masochist) prattle on about is this: “Obama struggles with working class voters.”

“Wow. That’s a lot of voters he’s having trouble with.” I say to myself. And then I remember to pull the Q-tip out of my brain… Continue

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Donna April 24, 2008 at 2:14 PM

Wow, powerful story.

Joeyboy April 24, 2008 at 5:11 PM

Well said. Thanks for pointing this out. I usually only read the papers I find on the subway. People don’t leave “The Times” because it’s worth soooo much.

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