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Minute Rice

By Kathy Y. Wilson · January 31st, 2002 · Your Negro Tour Guide
National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice has been all but ignored by black-owned media.

Why's that? It's the R word: "Republican."

Between us Negroes, the phrase "black Republican" is more than an oxymoron. A black Republican must be a sell out and a self-hating wannabe reeking to high heaven of allegiance to the enemy.

Being a black Republican is akin to being a porch nigger.

If President Bush's right-hand woman were, say, a black athlete in a white-identified sport like Fred Braithwaite, Venus and Serena Williams or Tiger Woods or, better yet, any number of the crop of unimaginative entertainers like P. Diddy or Destiny's Child, Rice would be splashed across the covers and pages of Savoy, Ebony and especially Essence. Further, we'd by now know that her mauve leather sofa set was imported from Italy or that her swimming pool is the biggest on her block.

In other words, black media have an awful habit of celebrating celebrity -- which, in the last 30 years, has generally failed to use its collective powers for good.

Rice's absence from black pages says as much about -isms along party lines among Negroes as it does about the anemic state of America's black-owned and -operated media.

Generally, I think Oprah Winfrey and all her franchises are necessary evils. Her interviews hover somewhere between cheerleading sessions and blow jobs.

But in a recent issue of her magazine, Winfrey has a conversation with Rice, 46, the only black woman to be named national security advisor and one of the highest-ranking black women in any recent administration.

For those of you who like overlooking the obviousness of race and gender in the name of best-man-for-the-job-anti-affirmative-action-speak, there's no denying the heft and significance of entrusting America's security to a black woman when America doesn't much trust the sons of black women.

If you can wade through Winfrey toggling between her sister/girl persona -- which, interestingly, Rice doesn't bow to -- and her attempts to externalize and pile her own melodrama atop the already melodramatic circumstances of Rice's life, there are answers that expand Rice's cardboard cutout image.

For example, was Rice the first person to speak to Bush moments after terrorist attacks on Sept. 11? Does Rice have presidential aspirations? Were there positive black female role models in the segregated Birmingham, Ala., of Rice's girlhood?

There's also a laundry list of firsts and academic marvels.

Rice also pinpoints and recounts the precise moment she switched parties. What's most interesting is that her status doesn't mean she ignores her minority status.

Wherever she goes, there she is.

She hasn't forgotten anything about herself; yet her self cannot be victimized by what customarily is seedling for the making of a victim. And being a woman means there's an obvious and definite lack of ego in the undertaking of her job.

She says she "checks things out" for Bush, presents him with information and refrains from injecting her personal opinion into any of his final decisions. Of course she's admiring of Bush and his administration. I like my boss, too. Especially publicly.

She's a self-described "all-over-the-map" Republican and, to white folks, certainly she's "one of the good ones."

And she should be for us, as well.

Look, you take one of us and you get all of us. Same goes for us on the subject of us.

This is age-old stuff. Negroes complain about not being invited to the party and, when we finally are, the Negroes who should illuminate the invitees among us instead pout like someone assigned them to work the coat check.

Ultimately, the Winfrey/Rice conversation is sublime because it's two ultra-powerful black women deconstructing an ascension to power.

Regardless of party affiliations or class standings, you gotta love that. Even if only for a minute.

Hear Kathy's commentaries on National Public Radio's All Things Considered.


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