On Nader's Whiteness: Uncle Tom Obama

Whether or not his deeper meaning has an iota of truth in it is becomes irrelevant if he is incapable of addressing his inappropriate use of a racially charged and derogatory trope to offer a message. This isn't a KRAMER situation because it isn't the N-word, but it is in a similar vein. I'm appalled that this fool has the NERVE to be INDIGNANT! Shame on you Ralph Nader. You just set the third party movement back so far, on the eve of the end of your career.

My Homegirl Speaks on the Nader Vid:
While that was political suicide .. saying the words Uncle Tom .. what Nader is suggesting ahs been a discussion amongst African Americans throughout this whole race... YES he is Black ... and that is AMAZING but his actions as a Black man and just that are to be compromised, thats politics, he didnt run as a "Black " man per say and although i do not agree with how Nader presented this discussion its one that is a viable one, and an interesting one and oen that we will see unfold during his time as president. Nader is right about Obama never mentioning the lower class, and I hope Obama proves to be the unifer I hope he is. But wow Nader WOW !

My Response:
I feel you. Honestly, my feeling is, Nader did the shit strategically but it was stupid.

He got his message across, which is what he is supposed to to as a member of the 3rd party movement, but he also set that movement further back by doing so in such a poorly planned way. Uncle Sam nor Uncle Tom are tropes he should be using in relation to Obama. PERIOD.

It was quick, on the fly, he thought it was "witty" and it was in absolute POOR taste.

Whether or not black people feel similarly, what he used was insider language that frankly is inappropriate on a national scale. That's like a straight dude saying, after we get our first gay president Ok so we're happy for our first gay president but is he gonna be TRADE or be a FAG." Not something you say from the outside... PERIOD.

Furthermore, a lot of black people that are skeptical don't know shit about Obama, politics or anything outside of their own personal interest. Its the same way white people decided they wouldn't vote for him because "he's an Arab and a terrorist" FUCK THAT. The man started out working for the poor, he's been talking about the poor with re: to tax cuts, health care, the economy, and the fact that he is called a socialist/Re distributor-in-Chief by McCain (because he said that wealth is poorly distributed in this nation) are examples of that commitment.

I read the speech again. He missed a lot of people in it. But it wasn't intended as a "stroke everybody's ego" speech, it was an acceptance speech. He touched some of the key groups that people think of when they think "diversity" but sure he left some people out rhetorically, he was speaking to everyone though.

He left transgender people out, but I'm sure most people over looked that. Just as people overlooked his use of Hispanic rather than Latino. If you don't know to be bothered, you won't be. But the most important gem of his words was his call to action. To remind people that when he is in office it is NOT about him, its about US. Every last person. And I can't even try to be mad at him for that.


  1. I'm wondering if you agree with the irony: Nader uses the term "Uncle Tom"(offensive to many people) to (perhaps sensationally) bring attention to the needs of some of the very same people he may have offended.

    I'm curious about what individual African-Americans find more offensive: his use of the term or his efforts to bring attention to the plight of poor blacks, hispanics, whites, etc.

    Also, am I correct to assume his racial classification as white makes his use of the term far more
    offensive to many people?
    Your thoughts?

  2. Hi Richard,
    Thanks for checking out the blog.

    First, I think I already pointed out that there is a great deal of irony in this situation, even though I didn't explicitly use the term in this post. I have in other discussions. Here are a few things I noticed:

    It is ironic that Nader decided to share his MESSAGE for the poor and low income on the notoriously right wing FOX News. [Because clearly FOX cares about his message, and will hear it when they have an opportunity to chop him off at the legs and render him, third party candidates and their messages out of touch].

    It is ironic that he was called out for is inappropriate use on FOX news. [Because clearly FOX news is a BEACON of racial sensitivity and awareness].

    And I do agree with your point too, it is ironic that Nader uses the term "Uncle Tom"(offensive to many people) to (perhaps sensationally) bring attention to the needs of some of the very same people he may have offended. [Because clearly using racial overtures in one of the most dog-whistle racist presidential elections ever is the RIGHT thing to do to support the black poor].

    But let me clarify for you about my disdain for the use of the term (and thank you for asking me to clarify my thoughts. I will be much more diligent in clarifying my analyses in subsequent posts).

    Uncle Tom is offensive to me even when so-called Black people use it. It is a way of “the insulter" to call “the insultee” out, for being “less than Black” because for some reason “the insultee” doesn’t uphold a standard of identity that “the insulter” believes in. But doing so upholds the myth of a MONOLITHIC black race. We are not all the same, and we shouldn’t continue to uphold damaging ideas about being black in order to prove allegiance to one another.

    It is more offensive to me, beyond just his racial classification and more about his abuse of white privilege, that Ralph Nader said it because it was an exercise appropriation. Far too often so-called white folks presume social and rhetorical space that is not theirs to claim.

    'Uncle Tom' is a rhetorical space that is widely known as black, and is in fact a black on black insult. To launch that question on behalf of the low-income community and claim to it to be in solidarity with black people is WRONG, and inaccurate. Particularly when you think about how the majority of the group has to statistically be WHITE, only adds insult to injury.

    But to be more clear, he could have gone with out ANY Uncle metaphors. Uncle Sam isn’t a lot better – sure it doesn’t have widely talked about racial overtures, but the overtures are in the image. Does it not say something that the representation of America is and elderly white man with a goatee, and a top had say something about how we envision America? Isn’t that the point of an Obama election being historic?

    Had Nader stated his point without the Uncle Metaphors, we wouldn’t be having these debates, but then again that’s exactly why he did it. And I don’t know if the ends justify the means. If it was a sacrificial statement, so be it. But he could have retracted the statement and redeemed himself once he got the national attention.

  3. My wife, who is pretty into what Nader has to say usually, just sighed and said, "Way to bring stuff up in such a way that no one will hear what you want to say." Tactical bad move, due to being blinded by whiteness?

  4. Allan,

    I'm so late in replying but yes I think tactically a bad move as per "white blindness." Have you ever sat in on Professor Griffin's "Whiteness" class? I took both that, and sat in on "Blackness" even after I'd (technically) graduated.

    What I'm referring to isn't explicitly about how we talk about race. It's more about a way of seeing oneself, and being either partly or wholly oblivious to how others see you, or how the ways that you see others is no more objective, "normal" or "standard" than anyone else. It's kind of an unthoughtful way of being.


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