Politics & Policy

You Go, Girl!

A missing consonant and the race card.

Something about that clip of Hillary Clinton insisting, in front of a predominantly black audience on Martin Luther King Day, that Republicans were running the House of Representatives like a “plantation,” had been gnawing at me for almost a week, and even after replaying the video over and over again–ah, the curse of the Internet!–I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I knew it wasn’t the comparison of congressional arm-twisting to confederate slaveholding, absurd though it is. After all, Hillary’s got a track record of wildly inappropriate racially charged metaphors. Remember, this is the woman who in her memoirs likened her decision to forgive her husband for his dalliance with Monica Lewinsky to Nelson Mandela’s decision to make peace with his white jailers: “It was a challenge to forgive Bill,” she wrote, “but if Mandela could forgive, I would try.”

And who could forget Hillary summoning up images from the pre-Civil War south during her first campaign for the Senate? “If you hear the dogs, keep on going. If you hear gunfire, keep on going. If you hear shouts and footsteps, keep on going.” With those words, Hillary explained, Harriet Tubman urged her charges to freedom along the Underground Railroad. Likewise, Hillary promised another predominantly black audience, “I will not turn back no matter who’s behind me, or what they’re saying, or what they’re doing!”

It was during that campaign, by the way, that Hillary got herself in hot water while holding forth on the life of Sojourner Truth: “I really hope our children learn about Sojourner Truth . . . because she did stand for truth and she did sojourn in difficult places time and time again. . . . It was a terrible journey. She went through swamps, she was chased by dogs. She was shot at . . . and she found her way to freedom,” at which point, according to Clinton, Sojourner Truth “turned around and went back. She would send out the word to the plantations that she was coming back. And if people could get there . . . in the trees or on the side of their swamp, she would be there.”

The problem, of course, was that Hillary was recounting the life of Tubman, not Sojourner Truth. Wrong inspirational black woman, Hill.

But back to Hillary’s plantation crack on King Day. As I said, something about that clip was bothering me, and I couldn’t figure out what it was until perhaps the seventh viewing. Then, suddenly, I realized it wasn’t the sentence about the plantation; it was the following line. Here’s the entire passage: “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I’m talking about.”

Except she doesn’t say talking. She says talkin’.

She drops the “g.”

There should be a name for this linguistic tic, perhaps Sudden Melanin Syndrome. It’s the habit of white-guilt besotted liberals of adopting the mannerisms of Ebonics in a desperate attempt to indicate their solidarity with black listeners. Naturally it’s insultingly patronizing and what it actually indicates is someone who’s not comfortable in her own skin, who unconsciously conforms her very being to whatever she imagines will ingratiate her with her audience. I doubt you’ll ever hear Hillary dropping a “g” at a lily white Wellesley College reunion. Or at a lily white Chappaqua bake sale. Or at a lily white pro-choice rally.

You know what I’m sayin’?

Mark Goldblatt is author of Africa Speaks, a satire of black urban culture.


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