...the most important aspect of the incident, to me at least, was Scott's apology and the fact that he had felt compelled to issue it. The very fact that Premier Scott felt compelled to backpedal after his remarks were made public is testimony to how little power he had, in effective terms. After all, if power truly resided in his hand or the hand of other blacks such as himself, he (and they) would be able to regularly insult whites, say terrible things about them, and never have to apologize at all. Premier Scott would then have been in a position to say, in effect, "screw Tony Brannon" and everyone like him. But he can't, and that's the point. Deep, isn't it? A black man is forced to apologize to white people for a simple comment, while whites have still never had to apologize for the centuries-long crimes of slavery, segregation, and white institutional racism!
Sound familiar doesn't it? Wise might as well been writing about Obama. Yet, can it be true that Obama's beckpedaling "is testimony to how little power he ha[s], in effective terms"? He is, after all, the President of the United States. There is no question that he wields substantial power, and yet. . . perhaps, at least in this particular incident, he wields not quite enough. And that has everything to do with his color. (Though, as an aside, I felt very smug to see photos of the beer party featuring Crowley sitting properly, stuffed in his jacket while Obama reclined casually, jacketless, his sleeves rolled up.)
I was intrigued to notice during last week's Addicted to Race podcast (which you should listen to) that all three panelists noted that Obama "had to" apologize. I have no doubt that any of these women doubt Obama's agency, so I was curious about the choice of the phrase "had to," as if Obama's hand was forced. Because of course, Obama is also a clever politician and strategist. Perhaps in some way unclear to me, this was a brilliant p.r. move.
What do you think, readers? Does Obama have power appropriate to his office? Or not? And how do you see the apology? Evidence of a certain powerlessness? Necessary but evil? A cowardly sidestep? A brilliant move?