Talking about race is a roll of the dice 

You didn’t even have to be a psychic to predict this one: No sooner had Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s racist remark been revealed than other wacky comments about race followed.

Perhaps the most egregious comes from author and college professor Michael Eric Dyson, who took umbrage not with Reid — who I’m calling “Mr. Brown Bag” these days (explanation to follow) — but with President Barack Obama. Our president doesn’t talk about race enough to Dyson’s liking, you see. Or, as Dyson put it far more tendentiously than I ever could:

“This president runs from race like a black man runs from a cop.”

Witty, no? Dyson probably has a million of ’em. He’s in town all week, folks.

Dyson made his remarks in a discussion about Mr. Brown Bag on MSNBC. (Years ago, light-skinned blacks, whom Reid seems to favor over the darker-skinned variety, denied other blacks admission to fraternities, sororities, social clubs and the like if their skin tone was darker than a brown paper bag.) Dyson seemed to be in higher dudgeon than usual, if such is indeed possible.

Obama doesn’t talk about race enough; Dyson never stops talking about race. That seems to kind of balance out the racial cosmos to me, but what do I know? I swore the Baltimore Ravens wouldn’t make the playoffs this year.

Some more info about Dyson is in order. He’s no right-winger, as are many of the president’s critics. Dyson is on the liberal left wing of the political spectrum. When comedian and actor Bill Cosby dared to say six years ago that some poor blacks were “not holding up their end of the bargain” in educating their children, Dyson responded with an entire book dedicated to attacking Cosby. The title?

“Is Bill Cosby Right Or Has The Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?”

In Dyson’s worldview, Cosby had committed the unpardonable sin of saying something bad about poor black folks. But it’s perfectly fine, as the title of Dyson’s book suggests, to claim that every member of the black middle class is crazy.

So you would expect to hear Dyson utter, on the heels of the revelation about Mr. Brown Bag’s racial stereotyping of blacks, something even more stereotypical.

“The way a black man runs from a cop”?

Now that’s an interesting analogy. It implies one of two things, or both: that all black men are criminals or that cops are the enemies of all black folks. I’m not sure who comes out worse in that stereotype, but I’m sure cops will testify they’ve had to run down miscreants of all races.

Dyson is among that group of black folks who’ve never met the black criminal they didn’t love. That’s why they’re always whining about the numbers of black men in jails or prisons. Some of those black whiners have even put out the falsehood that there are more black men in prison than there are in college, although Dyson, to his credit, is not in that group.

Still, Dyson made the wrong analogy. The more appropriate — and truthful — analogy would have been this one:

“This president runs from race the way a black man runs from a gun-toting, gang-banging black man bent on homicide.”

In that honest, truthful discussion about race that Dyson claims he wants and that he feels Obama refuses to address, that fact will be distinctly unwelcome. Cops are not the main enemies of young black men. Usually, the main enemies are other young black men bent on homicide, mayhem and destruction.

There exists much debate about the reasons for this. In 1996, former U.S. Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, in his book “Slouching Towards Gomorrah,” placed the blame squarely on the number of fatherless homes in black America. Bork’s book, and Bork, were ignored, just as was Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s 1965 report that said pretty much the same thing, and warned of dire consequences if the trend continued.

And when Obama chided those black fathers who don’t take responsibility for their children in June 2008, who was his most virulent and vociferous critic for making the remark?

Why Dyson, of course. So even when Obama does talk about race, there’s no guarantee he’ll say something that Dyson wants to hear. It’s more likely that Obama will say something that will make Dyson cringe.

That’s why race remains America’s roll-the-dice-with-your-sanity topic, one in which the odds of your coming up snake eyes are much more than 50 percent.

And Dyson wonders why Obama won’t talk about it.

Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to Sudan.

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Gregory Kane


Examiner columnist Gregory Kane is an award-winning journalist who lives in Baltimore.

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