On Monday, the first episode of Bruce Springsteen’s new podcast was released. This ordinarily would be big news, but the Boss wasn’t even the headliner.
Instead, former President Barack Obama stole the show. Among other things, he talked about his experiences with racism — including a story about what he did when he got called a racial slur that starts with C and rhymes with “soon.”
“Listen, when I was in school, I had a friend. We played basketball together,” Obama told Springsteen on “Renegades: Born in the USA.”
“And one time we got into a fight and he called me a c—,” he continued, before noting his Hawaiian upbringing. “Now first of all, ain’t no c—s in Hawaii, right?
“So, you know, it’s one of those things where he might not even known what a c— was. What he knew was, ‘I can hurt you by saying this.'”
— Spotify (@Spotify) February 22, 2021
“And I remember I popped him in the face and broke his nose. And we were in the locker room,” he continued.
“Well done,” Springsteen said.
“I explained to him — I said, ‘Don’t you ever call me something like that,'” Obama added.
It’s a vile word. In fact, I can think of only one racial slur that’s worse. It was the first time Obama has publicly talked about the incident, which led to plenty of discussion online.
Curiously, one topic didn’t come up that often: Why is it still OK to call black conservatives the same word Obama punched a classmate for?
Last July, Snoop Dogg — once best known as a rapper, now mostly recognized for commercials and as the co-host of a series of interminable shows with Martha Stewart — decided he was in need of attention. He was disinclined to like anyone from the black community who expressed conservative viewpoints, apparently, but simply calling them “Uncle Tom” didn’t quite have the zing he intended.
Instead, he put out a now-deleted Instagram meme with a group of black conservatives he called the “C— Bunch.”
WARNING: The following tweets contain language that some viewers will find offensive.
The Black Conservative/Republican is one of the hardest groups to be associated with. Groupthink is real. I’ve tried to tell you that. Snoop Dog has called blacks who support Trump the Coon Bunch. pic.twitter.com/H7hMxElyd9
— Swampy’s here and @gab, MAGAbook,& MeWe (@swampadelic) July 7, 2020
Among those featured were comedian Terrance K. Williams, pundit Candace Owens, former presidential candidate Herman Cain, former congressional candidate Angela Stanton King, Trump surrogate Paris Dennard, Pastor Darrell C. Scott and commentators David Harris Jr., the Hodgetwins and Diamond and Silk.
There was also a raccoon called “Massa,” in case you didn’t get the hint.
Given Snoop Dogg’s history, Larry Elder noted the incongruity:
Nothing like being lectured by an ex gang banging, admitted coke dealing rapper who calls black women “bitches” and “hoes.”
CRICKETS FROM MEDIA…
— Larry Elder (@larryelder) July 7, 2020
Snoop Dogg might be the highest-profile individual to engage in this kind of racism, but this isn’t an aberration.
This video from last September shows what happened when Black Lives Matter supporters and conservatives clashed in Washington, D.C. When the left saw a black man among the forces of the right, this offensive repartee followed.
DC: Things got a little heated earlier between Conservatives and BLM supporters in front of St. John’s Church
BLM supporters began to call a black man a “coon” and “uncle tom” for having different views pic.twitter.com/QhJZSyZyQc
— Drew Hernandez (@DrewHLive) September 26, 2020
And then there are the dregs of Twitter:
when conservatives argue they’re not racist bc they support a black (coon) candidate
— Chris (@chrismeeksss) February 17, 2021
This is why I will never let yall forget that Kanye is a coon and is no better than any other black Republican https://t.co/6C8xKotABI
— Openly Black (@i_zay_a) May 30, 2019
Some of y’all black conservatives are straight up coons.
Rush Limbaugh was RACIST and PROBLEMATIC as fuck.
Granted, I don’t want him to rot in Hell or anything. Hopefully, God forgave him.
— icy girl. 🤍 (@missthang____) February 17, 2021
Black Democrat calls a black Republican a “coon” as he vocalizes his support for Democrat Senator Bob Menendez. pic.twitter.com/IEHyy6TVNz
— Kyle Morris (@RealKyleMorris) October 29, 2018
Want to know the definition of “black Republican?” Self hating coon/uncle Tom/ Stacey Dash supporter #BlackTwitter
— 🌈 April Love ♥ (@ovo_aprilxlove) January 16, 2016
Ironically, as Owens pointed out, many of the great black Americans lionized during Black History Month were — gasp — conservatives, including Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman.
It’s #Blackhistorymonth! The month where a bunch of people who know nothing about black history take the time to celebrate people like Frederick Douglas—but have never read any of his works.
“Black conservatives are coons but we love Harriet Tubman!”
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) February 1, 2021
Barack Obama isn’t Superman. He can’t patrol Twitter, reporting everyone who calls black conservatives racial slurs.
The use of this particular slur in this particular way, however, is too common of a trope — and, as America’s most prominent politician of color, it might behoove Obama to maybe put in a word about how there’s no exception for using racial slurs against black Republicans.
This isn’t reclamation, like what happens with so many other slurs.
And, as Obama pointed out in his interview with Springsteen, these slurs are “an assertion of status over the other.”
“‘I may be poor. I may be ignorant. I may be mean. I may be ugly. I may not like myself. I may be unhappy. But you know what I’m not?'” Obama said. “‘I’m not you.’
“That basic psychology that then gets institutionalized is used to justify dehumanizing somebody, taking advantage of ’em, cheatin’ ’em, stealin’ from ’em, killin’ ’em, raping ’em.”
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