by Clarence Page
Within hours after Sen. Rand Paul's news-making speech at historically black
"The act of a caucasian (sic) person explaining to audiences of color the true nature of racism; a caucasian (sic) person explaining sociopolitical events and/or history to audiences of color as though they are ignorant children...."
"Whitesplaining" appears to be derived from "mansplaining," which first appeared in a thoughtfully hilarious 2008
Urban Dictionary now defines "mansplaining" as "condescending, inaccurate explanations delivered with rock solid confidence of rightness and that slimy certainty that of course he is right, because he is the man in this conversation." I am guessing that a woman wrote that definition. Message received.
Anyway, as an example of how "whitesplaining" should be used, the Urban Dictionary offers, "U.S. Senator Rand Paul whitesplained to students at
Indeed, even Paul looked surprised when, after he asked if anyone knew that the
"We know our history," one student shouted. Unfortunately Paul didn't. He had to be prompted from the audience with the name of Massachusetts Republican Edward Brooke, the first African American to be elected to the
Worse, he expounded at length on the historically incorrect narrative that conservatives often give, that blacks left the party of Abraham Lincoln to follow Franklin D. Roosevelt's promise of "unlimited federal assistance," while Republicans only have the "less tangible ... promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets."
Even if you buy that over-simplified view of history, as conservatives with selective memory often do, Paul completely omitted a much more important sea change, the seismic racial realignment that followed President Lyndon B. Johnson's 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In fact, Republican nominees continued to receive sizeable black support well after Roosevelt's presidency. Dwight D. Eisenhower won over 39 percent of black voters in his 1956 reelection, according to the
But after conservatives nominated Sen. Barry Goldwater, who voted against the civil rights bill, to oppose Johnson in 1964, LBJ won 94 percent of the black vote. No Republican presidential candidate has received more than 15 percent of the black vote since.
Widening the divide was the "Southern strategy" with which Republicans mined racial backlash to win white votes, first in the South, then nationwide. Some Republicans, like former party chairmen Ken Mehlman and Michael Steele, have been quite candid and contrite in denouncing such tactics, only to be shouted down by whitesplainers in the
In fact, "rightsplainers" more aptly describes Paul's selective view of
Yet, as videos posted on various websites show, he wavered a lot. He opposed the part of the act that banned discrimination in restaurants, hotels and other privately-owned public accommodations.
True to his libertarian beliefs, Paul used the old argument that the magic of the marketplace would prevent merchants from turning away business. But, as an African American who is old enough to remember having to sleep in the family car on long trips -- in the South and the North -- after being turned away repeatedly from hotels and restaurants, I have a sharply different view.
But mere ignorance does not deter the rightsplainers. They just keep on talking.
Rand Paul has Explaining to Do | Politics