When the picture of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pointing her finger in the face of President Obama as if she were disciplining a small child or mischievous puppy went viral, I felt sick to my stomach. Wanton disrespect of America’s first Black President isn’t a new concept—I’ve long felt that many of his subordinates treat him with the same sense of superiority once used to lord over Pullman Porters. And considering that Governor Brewer is the same woman who lead the state of Arizona to mind-blowingly racist and xenophobic policies and practices that rival 1960s Mississippi, the fact that she would commit such an egregious showing of contempt for President Barack Hussein Obama is about as surprising as a sassy Black sidekick in a Hollywood flick.
Also unsurprising: Brewer’s comments when questioned about the picture. The first-and-hopefully-only term governor claims that the POTUS was “thin skinned” and “terse”, complained that he walked away from her…and she says she felt “threatened” by him.
Elizabeth, this is the big one. I’m coming to join you.
Seriously, Jan? You should feel threatened when you hop in your boss’s face like a Maury teen in a playground fight. Not threatened in the “Yikes! This big genteel Black man is gonna tap into his inner Pookie and slug me” sense. But in the “Did I just step to the leader of the free world like he stole my parking spot? I might need to update my resume soon” kind of way.
If Cynthia McKinney had ever in her long-braided life considered addressing President Bush (or even President Obama) in such a way, her name would be next to the words “angry Black woman” in the dictionary. And she’d be out of a job. Black organizations would call for her to apologize. Fox News would call for her to be lynched and would later claim that lynching isn’t hardly a race thing and whine that those who called them “racist” are the real racists.
But there won’t be such an outcry about the Brewer incident. Maybe an NAACP statement and a bunch of angry op-eds like this one. And had Brewer not made reference to the cringe-inducing “Beer Summit” of 2009, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her invited to a “White Wine Spritzer Sit-Down”.
It doesn’t matter if President Obama ends his time in office in 2012 or in 2016. He won’t ever receive the respect that should be afforded to someone who occupies his position. Why? Because, as this incident reminds us yet again, a Negro president is not enough to destroy notions of inherent Black inferiority, the delusions of White privilege and the image of the Black boogeyman who can be “threatening” even as he is physically threatened himself. So if any of you are still entertaining the idea of post-racial America, be sure to send me a postcard as soon as you arrive.
Jamilah Lemieux is the News and Lifestyle Editor for EBONY.com. Follow her on Twitter: @jamilahlemieux