Shelby Steele on Michelle Obama's 60 Minutes comments: She was "facilitating her race's manipulation of the American mainstream"

››› ››› JOHN DELICATH

Summary: In the book A Bound Man, author Shelby Steele distorts comments Michelle Obama made about Sen. Barack Obama on 60 Minutes in which she said that "as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station." Steele asserts that Barack Obama "was at virtually no risk of being shot by a white racist on the way to the gas station" and claims that his wife's comments were "facilitating her race's manipulation of the American mainstream." In fact, Michelle Obama never said her husband could be shot by "a white racist"; she never specified who she thought posed a threat.

In the book A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win (Free Press, December 2007), author Shelby Steele distorts comments Michelle Obama made about her husband, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), on CBS' 60 Minutes in which she said that "as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station." Steele asserts that Barack Obama "was at virtually no risk of being shot by a white racist on the way to the gas station," baselessly suggesting that Michelle Obama had been referring to "a white racist" in her comments. In fact, she never said her husband could be shot by "a white racist"; she never specified who she thought posed a threat, only that "as a black man," he "can get shot going to the gas station." In distorting her comment and asserting that "reality in no way supports Michelle's point," Steele claimed that she was "offer[ing] poetic truth as literal truth" to "tell[] the larger truth of black victimization in America" and was "facilitating her race's manipulation of the American mainstream."

Michelle Obama made her comments on the February 11, 2007, edition of 60 Minutes in response to correspondent Steve Kroft's question about whether she was "worried about some crazy person with a gun." Kroft also made no reference to "a white racist."

From the February 11, 2007, edition of CBS' 60 Minutes:

KROFT: This is a tough question to ask, but a number of years ago, Colin Powell was thinking about running for president, and his wife, Alma, really did not want him to run.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Mm-hmm.

KROFT: She was worried about some crazy person with a gun.

MICHELLE OBAMA: Mm-hmm.

KROFT: Is that something that you think about?

MICHELLE OBAMA: I don't lose sleep over it, because the realities are that, you know, as a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station, you know. So, you know, you can't -- you know, you can't make decisions based on fear and the possibility of what might happen. We just weren't raised that way.

From Page 70 of A Bound Man:

Barack's wife, Michelle, wore this mask well in their 60 Minutes interview: "Barack is black. He can be shot on the way to the gas station." Here, fitting her mask snuggly over her face, she offers poetic truth as literal truth. Before the popularity of Obama's presidential candidacy (he is now justifiably under Secret Service protection), he was at virtually no risk of being shot by a white racist on the way to the gas station. However, he might well have been at risk of violence from a young black gangbanger. But the "blackness" mask does not allow for such distinctions, or wants them blurred. It does not matter that reality in no way supports Michelle's point. She is telling the larger truth of black victimization in America. She is facilitating her race's manipulation of the American mainstream. Her mask is perfectly in place.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, Race & Ethnicity, Elections
Person
Shelby Steele
Show/Publication
A Bound Man
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, 2008 Elections
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