BLACKS, WHITES AND THE IMPEACHMENT PROCESS

 

What white people and white privilege can learn from the overwhelming support for President Clinton during his Impeachment trial among Black Americans. First appeared in The Judevine Mountain Emailite #6, January 21, 1999

Why is it a large majority of Black Americans support The President in his Impeachment battle and what can we white Americans learn from this overwhelming support?

Here is a list of some titles of books by Black American writers: THE OUTSIDER, I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS, INVISIBLE MAN, THE SLAVE, NOBODY KNOWS MY NAME, THE WEARY BLUES, BENEATH THE UNDERDOG.

It is this particular vantage point: OUTSIDE, that qualifies Black Americans to see what goes on in America in a way almost all white Americans cannot. So when you hear some young white, male college student talking on the radio or Ken Starr and his cronies going on and on about “the rule of law,” understand that it is a question of WHOSE rule of law.

Black Americans know that the rule of law used to say that slavery was just fine and only two generations ago the rule of law prevented them from drinking at certain water fountains or sitting in the front of the bus. So much for the sanctimonious old white guy appeal to “the rule of law.” THE RULE OF LAW DEPENDS ON WHO YOU ARE AND WHO IS AFTER YOU.

Which is why, On Sunday December 13th at a newsstand in Canton, Ohio, when asked about what he thought of the attempt to impeach the President, Jack Mayle, a retired steel worker said, “It’s wrong. I’m an African-American and I recognize a lynch mob when I see it.”

It’s why when Noah Adams asked Dubra Lazard on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED recently: “What about the issue of perjury? As you know there are people in prison right now on charges of perjury,” it is why Dubra Lazard replied: “Yes, and they had to dig like ferrets in order to find enough people who were actually serving time for perjury in order to parade them before . . . the American people . . . . If you think about the O.J. Simpson case with the police officer [Mark Furman] who lied over and over and over. . . . He’s not serving any time for perjury; it was a big deal about his perjury and for some reason he could not be tried for the perjury.”

Proving yet again that we white folks had better listen when our Black brothers and sisters break it down for us, because they understand how the white world works–they know from painful personal experience about the essence and the mechanics of “the rule of law” in America–far better than we in our white privilege ever have or ever will.

© 1998, 1999, 2000, by David Budbill, all rights reserved,
permission to reprint must be gotten in writing from
David Budbill: david@davidbudbill.com
or from the publication in which the essay first appeared.