Sandy Beach: Race Relations Ekspurt
Yesterday, I switched on WBEN to hear the traffic report on my way home. I was greeted by white septuagenarian Don Pesola (a.k.a. “Sandy Beach”) lecturing black people about what they should and should not think, and how they should and should not behave. Because there is no better person, and no better venue to discuss race relations and the state of being a black person in America than an aging Italian radio talk show host.
This is one of Beach’s favorite topics; how easy it is for black people in this country.
Beach, doing his best Bill O’Reilly interpretation, was outraged by a Rod Watson column published in yesterday’s Buffalo News. Now, to my knowledge, Mr. Beach has never been black. He has never been a racial minority in American – a minority that is judged and has been systematically oppressed and challenged within a culture that is – and always has – been dominated by white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Chances are Mr. Beach was never passed over for a job, told how to behave, thought of as criminal or subhuman, disenfranchised, or otherwise discriminated against because of the color of his skin. Chances are that when his family moved into their neighborhood, the rest of the neighborhood didn’t flee in terror. But at least the part of his show that I heard yesterday was a litany of old white guy complaints about just how easy black people have it in this country, and how hard it is for an old white guy to get a fair shake.
In other words, WBEN was the bizarro world yesterday evening.
The first thing I heard? Romney went to the NAACP and got booed. But Obama didn’t go at all – he takes the NAACP for granted! That’s the real racism!
The part of the show that was particularly offensive was the facile analysis – shared by many dumb commentators on the right – that this new demography whereby white people were outvoted by women, immigrants, and minorities is evidence that “redistributive socialism” won, that America is now dead, and that people voted for “stuff”.
What an insult that is. What a startling display of sour grapes. Rod Watson suggested that much of the overreaction to Obama’s re-election shows that the Republican Party doesn’t really want black voters. He’s absolutely right. Beach’s response was to complain about how uppity these blacks were to complain about racism. Don’t they know there’s no such thing?! Meanwhile, Don Pesola has been eligible for Medicare and Social Security for several years. Moocher. Taker. Leech.
One caller, with whom Beach had no quarrel, said that black people vote Democratic because they want freebies, and they refuse to vote Republican because it stands for “hard work”. No one challenged that, but it quite starkly proved Watson’s point. All done radio yakking, you lost the argument without Watson uttering a word. As if I had to explain it, the sentiment assumes that blacks are lazy and shiftless, want nothing but handouts, and that they’re allergic to “hard work,” and the party that stands for “hard work”. I can’t think of anything much more racist than that. As if “Obama cellphone” was the reason why people wanted to implement continue on the decidedly centrist path that President Obama had carved out for himself in the face of an ultra right-wing based on intransigence and childish freak-outs. Also, Benghazi where Obama “murdered 4 people”.
Watson made the point, which was completely backed up by the election results and earlier surveys, that the Republican Party has completely abandoned mainstream black voters. One caller – “Alex” identified himself as a black man and stated that the Republicans always talk about how black people don’t give them a shot, but that they never bother to go into the black community to see the problems, discuss solutions, and ask for votes. Beach sailed right over that observation and instead changed the subject, complaining about how the community sometimes treats successful blacks like Clarence Thomas as “sell-outs” and “Uncle Toms”. Alex agreed that some black people who reject their own culture are indeed treated that way, but others (Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell) are not. How any of that is Sandy Beach’s problem is anyone’s guess. Beach’s solution was that blacks should just snap out of it, I guess. It certainly was far removed from any topic that Rod Watson raised in his column.
Watson wasn’t complaining about sell-outs in his column – that never came up. He was complaining about the very real fact that the Republican Party assumed that it could win this national race, even if it completely ignored black voters. And the working class. And the poor. And immigrants. And non-Cuban Latinos. (By the way, Florida Cubans went for Obama). And Muslims. And the rest of what Romney derisively dismissed as the “47%” of “takers” and “victims”. We have a Republican Party that, instead of seeking votes from traditional Democratic supporters, simply instead tries to suppress their vote. The Republican Party keeps just expecting these groups to simply waltz over to the party of Reince Priebus and offer their support because what – trickle-down economics will help lift them up? No, the Republican Party has to go to these groups, and first and foremost listen. If they just instantaneously dismiss complaints that they don’t want to hear, then their failure is their own.
In the meantime, an old white guy on the radio named Don knows better than anyone what it means to be a black man in America. Do I think Beach is racist? No. But he sure did his best impression of one last night.