I know this post will make me seem a day late and a dollar short, but only after Mitt Romney’s birtherism joke, do I realize how hatefully racist birtherism is.
On the surface what bitherism to me is some crackpots, without a leg to stand on, pulled out the ridiculous theory that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S., and demanded to see his birth certificate. They thought this because his first name is not “typically” American, because his middle name is Hussein and because his father was from his Kenya. But they also thought this, had the AUDACITY to think this, because he’s not white.
I know: duh.
Romney’s words: “Ann was born at Henry Ford Hospital I was born at Harper Hospital. No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate; they know that this is the place we were born and raised.” That’s cuz I’m white, mofos! BOO-yah!
It’s even worse hearing him saying it:
Only worse than hearing him say it is are the looks of utter fucking joy and glee on the audience members’ faces behind him: yeah, white people! woo, white people rule!!! suck it, non-whites!!!
It makes me so fucking care-mad.
The problem with birtherism, however, is that the underlying assumptions driving it have always been broader than the president. Birtherism is more than just a conspiracy theory about the president’s birth. Its underlying principle is a rejection of American racial pluralism. The refusal to believe—in the face of all evidence to the contrary—that Obama is an American reads to many as saying black people don’t really count as American unless they talk like Herman Cain or Allen West.
Although Romney claims that his “joke” wasn’t a swipe at Obama, I don’t know how else it can be interpreted. As I tweeted, not only was it a swipe against Obama, it was a swipe against me and those like me. Do you know how many times I’ve been asked where I was born? Or worse, where I’m from? (For the record, Oakland, CA and New Jersey. Yeah, don’t mess with me.) How many people have said to me, “You speak English so well!” or have assumed that English is my second language (teachers and professors who should have known better), who attributed my spelling and grammar mistakes (because American whites NEVER make those!) to my foreignness? Or how many times I’ve been informed, “You’re in America now, this is how things are done in America.”
I never assumed Romney was a racist. I don’t assume all white Republicans are racists (look at John McCain defending Obama as a “decent person,” for which he is BOOED, and then shutting down a woman who calls Obama an “Arab,” implying, I guess, that he’s a terrorist). I thought at least as a politician and businessman Romney would understand that would work against him, but now in my mind, he’s lumped together with all those racist ignorant fucks who have questioned my American-ness.
Because of my “foreign-ness,” to some people I will never be American, although I was born here, although my family is essentially living the American dream. Now one of those people includes Mitt Romney.