It wasn’t surprising that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would take the stage in support of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney Wednesday night. She’d long since come out for the robotic challenger, even though in 2008 she seemed to hint that her leanings were with our current president, Barack Obama.

But Condi, if nothing else, has always been a team player. Even if it didn’t benefit her all that much. A dutiful daughter, who is earnest and hardworking, even in being so very wrong.

Rice is an educated woman who has the unfortunate distinction of being woefully negligent at best and a war criminal at worst, depending on who you’re speaking to. This is especially true if who you’re speaking to still has a working memory of the Cheney-Bush administration’s foreign policy disasters. But if you can dissociate the toll of two non-funded wars that broke the U.S.’s bank and sent our men and women of the Armed Forces on endless deployments until they saw more battle time than Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation” in World War II, you can appreciate Condi Rice at her most basic level.

Black girl now grown done good.

And normally, as long as she’s not talking about foreign policy, I can do this. We have so much in common. Both products of the black middle class from families who escaped the Jim Crow of the deep South to offer their daughter(s) a better shot at success. We even play the piano, although she’s infinitely more skilled at it than I am. And at one point in my life I dreamed of going into international relations, traveling abroad to speak on behalf of our country. Our points diverge at the point when I diverge with most black conservatives who share my background – the belief in whether or not we should fight the inherent unfairness in our system to make things more fair for all, or if, in the pursuit of pure individualism, screw everyone else and let God figure it out,  I gotta-get-mine, you-gotta-get-yours.

My theories for  why rappers would make the best Republicans aside, that’s really the crux, the bone black Liberals and conservatives are picking at. Community versus self. A level playing field versus simply altering the rules a little so when you finally have the upper hand you too can reap and exploit the benefits of being on top. Being equal versus being “better.” Fighting the man versus the chance to be “the man.”

A high tide rises all boats, unless you jerry-rig all the other boats to sink in that high tide so you can be the only boat to take advantage of it.

This philosophy was evident in  Rice’s speech where she endorsed Romney of sorts, extolled the virtues of warmongering and gave a shout-out to ol’ Jimmy Crow and how she’d gone from not being able to eat at a Woolworth’s counter to Secretary of State. But Rice notably skipped a few steps between a legal form of oppression and overcoming. To fit in to the conservative philosophy of boot strap pulling, she had to gloss over the blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifices many had to make so she could be on that stage. Instead she encouraged a logical fallacy, that freedom and equality was something given to black people in America out of the kindness of the hearts of people who’d seen the error of their ways, and racism died in its sleep peacefully on a Sunday morning in 1968. The reality is four little girls, close to her own age at the time,  died in a church that was fire bombed in Birmingham, Alabama, for daring to be the same race as the people who wanted to eat at a Woolworth’s counter and vote.

She ignored that some in the room still romanticize a past built on the backs of oppression – of a society where things like welfare and Medicare and Social Security weren’t controversial because the only people benefiting from these entitlement programs were white. The plantation owner who my grandparents and great-grandparents worked for refused to pay into Social Security for people who historically have not legally been seen as people in the eyes of our government.

Our independence was bloody and hard-won. Many of those who gave the most never got to see this day when one of their daughters could take the national stage on their backs and gloss over everything they’d done. It’s as if to say, “All’s fair now because I got a job.”  As if it works that way, that if the individual climbs from the swamp to ascend the mountaintop, we all have the glory – even if we’re still watching her from the swamp, even if we’re all still there, still fighting, still demanding the equality we’ve long struggled for. Who cares? She made it. Damned if anyone else does.

And the applause she received was the most absurd thing. What were some of these delegates really championing? That Rice had managed to succeed despite the foot they and their forefathers had placed on her neck? Hooray for the girl who took our shit and made fertilizer? Because, really, those are the only black people who deserve a standing ovation – those who took on the hell we created for them and still made it out unscathed anyway – the unicorns, the modern miracles, the model minorities. The beat down didn’t take, so let’s clap as if we had a damn thing to do with it.

Denying the complex and ugly battle to make the United States live up to words of its founding is an insult to progress and to how far we have come and how far we have yet to go. While the situation has changed, we can’t simply gloss over old horrors to make things easier for the same people who tried to stop progress because they claimed it was happening “too fast.”

So as the GOP shouts “We Built That” in this misguided, misappropriation of President Barack Obama’s words on the role of government in creating infrastructure, Rice should have pointed out who built the future where she could be Secretary of State, where she could take that stage. She should have celebrated those who built our world as black people today – Ida B. Wells and Harriet Tubman. Martin Luther King Jr. and Thurgood Marshall. Fannie Lou Hammer and Shirley Chisholm. Civil Rights workers and nameless protestors who spent nights in jail. Activists and ministers and people who don’t have streets named after them who died. Former slaves who died in the same poverty they were born into even after they were freed. All those who had to deal with that dream deferred and see potential and opportunity dry up, but still fought anyway in hopes they’d leave a better world, if not for their own children, for us many, many years later down the line.

It’s not healing when you avoid the truth of our past. It’s not progress if you can take a stage and say you overcame Jim Crow, but never say how you did it exactly.

  • Veri

    It is telling that the article mentions what she left out. Now, the author should look into just what Rice’s family was doing during the Civil Rights Movement. The author will find out a little bit more than they bargained for.

  • tallulah belle

    Thank you for this article. Condi Rice is a fork-tongued devil with a dated, press and curl. The very successes that she has achieved were made possible on the backs of Democrats and Black folk who died so she could stand up there last night in front of all of those confused and angry white folk and lie.

  • Fa


  • Lady P

    I couldn’t help but repeat throughout her speech, “And you were born in [ bombingham] during those turbulent times?” I respect Condi’s journey; however, the opportunity was paved for you thru pain, suffering, and death. At least make mention to the truth of how your road was paved…

    “who built the future where she could be Secretary of State” — this one statement is as good as strawberry toppings. Great article!!!

  • ?!?

    Democrats??? Democrats back then in the South were not so lovely lol.

  • ?!?

    You know Republicans are really into that everybody has a chance at the American dream thinking. Of course they would give a standing O to an outstanding member of a group of people who is still struggling especially when she leaves out the horrible history that makes them look like crap. To them, Condi “has gotten over it,” and the rest of us need to do like her lol.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    stockholm syndrome……

  • onegirl

    So what, pray tell, were they doing? For those of us that are too lazy to look it up, why don’t you share? Enlighten us and let us judge for ourselves.

  • Pat

    I believe Du bois said it best when he wrote The Talented Tenth in 1903. To create a bridge that helps our people to live better lives through education and building capital etc. Instead that “Talented tenth” has created a buppie class that looks down on their people. They will give aid to charity or a cause in the heavenly name of PR.

  • tallulah belle

    Democrats, post the Dixiecrat Era were The Party of the Civil Rights Movement. It is this very movement that led to the huge shift to the Democratic Party by Black people, particularly highlighted by the Great Migration. Open a book (and read it, please). You are confusing the Civil Rights Era with Reconstruction. FDR was a Democrat.

  • tallulah belle

    @ ?!? – Democrats, post the Dixiecrat Era were The Party of the Civil Rights Movement. It is this very movement that led to the huge shift to the Democratic Party by Black people, particularly highlighted by the Great Migration. Open a book (and read it, please). You are confusing the Civil Rights Era with Reconstruction. FDR was a Democrat.

    No need to LOL. There ain’t nothing funny about Condi.

  • Chrissy

    I dont know why we would expect anything else from Black Republicans….She knew what she was doing.

  • Jess

    I don’t agree. Just because some Talented Tenth-ers look down on their own people doesn’t mean all do. Many fought hard for all Black people, and still are. Many Black people in the “masses”, non-buppie look down on, and absolutely hate their own people, thus the violence, misogynistic music, and outright killings of each other. Just because someone has education, an elite family background, or money doesn’t mean they are against other Black people. Condi may be no good, but so are many from the masses.

  • Egypt

    I respect Condi, considering how fair she has come. However, I don’t agree with her view points. With that being said: Honestly I don’t what happened, now that people have “made it” they feel they can just disregard the struggles of the people who have come before them. It’s sad really…

  • Salmon

    Some one slap some sense into me, because I can’t help but mourn the fact that Dr. Rice has wasted the potential to be an inspirational LEADER for women of color and communities of color at large. I would simply like to dismiss her, forget her, even hate her… but I can’t help but hope that one day she will come to her senses and become a leader in her own community. Her personal journey is powerful– now if she would just stop telling these ahistorical American Dream fairy tales and obscuring systems of racism and sexism that would be great…

  • Miss Jae

    This article just gave me life!

  • sistasuffragett

    This article was brilliant and for me it doesn’t matter what her parents were doing during the civil rights…if she couldn’t mention it in her address last night…it doesn’t matter to her either. Obama/Biden 2012

  • Zulu

    Thank you Danielle for this article.

    In my opinion Ms Rice did what she does best… Exists to serve the white purpose using the black skin.

    Dear Ms Rice,

    The war crime and genocide you have participated in the Middle East and Africa will never be forgotten. In addition, your blatant arrogance and lack of compassion you displayed during hurricain Katrina was utterly disgusting. It doesn’t matter how high you clime in global politics, don’t matter how much money you made, don’t matter your education background, you madam are nothing but a blood thirsty murderer! You are not fooling anyone especially black people of the world… You were used as the face of innocent killing.

    May Allah have mercy on you!

  • 215TheVoice

    The difference is, Condi is educated and is supposed to know better. She has a level of sophistication that rappers and the people you mentioned Jess, don’t have!

  • Pat

    This goes back to the argument that Harry Belafonte was trying to make. “The Talented Tenth” aren’t just the rich and the educated. A trend I am seeing here in America is that those who are rich or poor wants social acknowledgement and status. I have seen many volunteer for that special “recognition”, to boost careers etc. I have seen many complain when they don’t “get” what they feel they are entitled to. I do know/ and agree that there are folks out there that do it because its in them to do it(Selfless givers who could careless about recognition). As for those in the spot light they have larger platforms and millions of followers to speak to. As Salmon has stated below they have wasted the potential to be inspirational leaders for communities of color at large. Thanks for the comment and I respect your opinion..

  • EssDot323

    Condi Rice is such an accomplished and inspiring woman. It’s too bad her politics stink.

  • edub

    I agree with you here. Her politics leave much to be desired. I do love Condi. She is the Business and has managed to keep the world enraptured with her intellect–not the circumference of her arms or what she is wearing. She is one of the most powerful black women of our lifetime.

  • edub

    Hmmm…the same can be said about Obama. Let’s hope Allah has mercy on his soul, too.

  • binks

    Thank you! This is one woman who I cannot stand…I’ am surprised she wasn’t shopping for shoes during Hurricane Isaac…smh potential wasted

  • jamesfrmphilly

    “the same can be said about Obama”

    obama ain’t perfect nut he is far from being a rice….

  • edub

    This is so well articulated. Thank-you.

  • edub

    LOL, James, that was a funny!
    But in all seriousness, I’m sure that the people of Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, and Syria will disagree. I’ve been to these parts of the world and have experienced, first hand, the damage and corporate looting that has taken place in this region–UNDER the Obama.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    which of those countries did Obama invade?

  • edub

    Do drone attacks, EXTENDING illegal wars, or supplying opposition groups with weapons to topple a regime we don’t agree with count? ‘Cause yo homeboy has done ALL of the above.

    Face it. Today, the face of American imperialism and injustice is a black man–coupled with a cute black family to go along with it.

  • gmarie

    So now we’re tearing down other accomplished black women just because they don’t share our political views? I didn’t know that was what clutch magazine was all about…okay. It’s perfectly fine to agree to disagree. Herd mentality

  • Rue

    teas, and those countries that you mentinaed were havens of democracy and goodness to begin with.

  • edub

    And it’s our job to turn them in to democracies? You know, some sects of Islam believe that America is a haven of evil and we should be destroyed. Does that justify September 11th?

  • ?!?

    Indeed many Democrats were a big part of the CRM. That doesn’t mean that they were all lovely back then especially not in the South. The Dixiecrats eventually dissolved and went back to being Democrats. It wasn’t until post-CRA of 1964 when Nixon came out with his Southern Strategy that the majority of these former Dixiecrat now again Democrats went in with the Republicans. Condi herself talks about her father being Republican because of the Southern Democrats. I know FDR was a Democrat. George Wallace was a Democrat too. Democrats in the South were not as liberal as the Democrats up north or on the national scale. When the Republicans started to side with them, that is when these Democrats changed sides, but Southern Democrats were not happy with the CRM and not very lovely back then. You can look at the way they voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yes Democrats on the national scale did more for the CRM, but black people in the South had to deal with these crazy Southern Democrats. This is why I say Democrats back then in the South were not so lovely.

    The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was filibustered by 18 Southern Democrats, not Dixiecrats, Democrats. So many black people in the South might have been happy with JFK or Lyndon B. Johnson on the national scale. That didn’t change the fact that they still had to put up with the racism and intolerance of Southern Democrats everyday. Nationally Democrats were doing a lot for the CRM. Locally, not so much.

    I didn’t say ALL Democrats. I said Democrats in the South back then were not so lovely. Well that is my impression of them from all the books I not only opened but also read.

  • ?!?

    This was a reply to tallulah belle.

  • RobM

    “It’s not healing when you avoid the truth of our past. It’s not progress if you can take a stage and say you overcame Jim Crow, but never say how you did it exactly.”

    damn girl you’re going to need the razor strap after that take down. Ms Rice Pearls is bleeding badly

  • Zulu

    Notice how the article wasn’t about Obama.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    no hope, eh?

  • paul

    I understand that the civil rights movement was undertaken by a faction of black america to pursue civil rights and social equality & justice, but I really hope the goal wasn’t also to make possible the likes of Barack Obama and Condaleeza Rice.

    I’m sure that Dr Martin Luther King, the most prominent spokesman of that quarter of the Movement that was anti war, would have been as vocal a critic of Barack Obama and Condaleeza Rice, for their warmongering, as he was of the administration of his day for its warmongering and other crimes.

    It’s a gross misrepresentation of the aims of the CRM to say its goals have been realised in the appointment of the likes Barack Obama and Condaleeza Rice, to positions (as mere managers) in the white power structure.

    They don’t owe their appointments to the CRM, they were selected for their positions by the power brokers of america’s establishment to serve the interests of the ruling elites.

    Saying the CRM made Obama/Rice possible is like saying the Captive Africans who revolted against their enslavement made black overseers possible.

    a total distortion of fact and reason.

    Rebellions were undertaken with the intent to break free of bondage, not so that the Rebels could have a black oversser instead of a white one.

    I give the woman credit for downplaying the role of the CRM in her story. At least she has distanced the CRM from herself and left it unstained by association with her politics.

  • khrish67

    What family? This is the only person of colour that I have ever known to hold such an importnt office and never hear one person who was said to be related to her. Her father could have told her anything; but had it not been for those who were abused and who gave their lives, she would not have had that job. I can’t believe that a woman who is so well educated an abreast of politics would have gone along with a theme that she knen well had been taken out of context……and then stand there and take credit for the death of Bin Ladin……She need to go over and do some more cooking or Bush. I never did like her.

  • khrish67

    I wasn’t at all surprised to see Condi there.She has always been a sell-our. To speak and go along with a lie that was taken out of context makes her look just as foolish as the other Republicans. Her choosing to speak at the convention was one thing, but to not even take issue with that like and adopt it is all together different. She ddn’t bill the movement where that enabled her to become Sec of State….Others who were abused and gave the lives, BUILT THAT.

  • Salmon

    If those political views obscure histories of systematic violence & racism well then yes its absolutely reasonable to critique their politics. I’ve been a registered republican since I was 18 and I’m having a change of heart. You can’t create a political climate that is hostile toward social services and social justice and believe in progress for non-dominant groups simultaneously. In the end, you just end up working against yourself. I love working at high schools in communities of color; I lost my this past May and I’m sure voting in republican representatives in my city did not help any (given their fiscal priorities).

  • ruggie

    THANK YOU for this article. As much as I admire Ms. Rice’s accomplishments (minus helping to lead us into Iraq and advocating for torture), I found her speech grossly irresponsible. Her idea that America’s greatness helped blacks to overcome the birth defect of slavery denies black people’s role in challenging history’s greatest empire and winning our own freedom. Her speech was highly problematic.

  • Candigirl1968

    I don’t think it’s merely a speech “gloss over.” After the speech, Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post noted that he has had many a conversation with Rice about their shared backgrounds and that the two fundamentally disagree about how things went down back in the day. Apparently, Rice really does believe that America essentially realized one day that segregation was bad and then righted the ship. What makes this really crazy is that one of the victims of the Alabama church bombing wasn’t simply her age, but was a friend.

    Some folks have to put a haze on things to keep from being endlessly angry. From what I recall, Rice’s father is pretty much the quintessential angry black man. Perhaps squinting her eyes half shut to avoid the harsh truths is her way to avoid becoming endlessly aggrieved. If so, I pity her inability to reconcile facing the truth with being able to move on from it, but I don’t forgive her continued insistence in foisting her fantasy of history on the rest of us.

  • Anthony

    Rice has made a very comfortable career out of being a token or fig leaf for the establishment. That was why she was quick to take the membership in the Augusta Golf Club when it was offered to her. They know she will show up for the Masters and be seen. Then she she won’t be around to bother the old boys. She knows her place.

  • msmartin

    I am insulted by your reference to Michelle Obama in comparison to Condi Rice. She may be intelligent, but she has been nothing more than a symbol for assimilation at all costs. She sickens me and I have zero respect for her. Michelle on the other hand is proud of who she is and doesn’t apologize for it or pretend she isn’t who she is or that history isn’t what it was.

    Many black women could be Condi if they dare sold their souls the way she has.

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