In the week since Sen. Kamala Harris launched her 2020 presidential campaign, she has come under harsh attack from some Black Progressives on two fronts: 1. Her former career as a prosecutor (https://thehobbservationpoint.com/2019/01/23/why-sen-kamala-harris-should-quickly-address-her-prosecutorial-past/ ); 2. The fact that she is married to Douglas Emhoff, a white Jewish banker.
As to prong two (2), I spent the better part of the early morning listening to Attorney Antoine Moore’s “Tone Talks” podcast, where he breaks down similar concerns to mine as far as her prosecutor past, but then pivots to her mixed race heritage and white husband. I also listened to several other podcasts of far worse quality or rank illogical BS. These segments, coupled with hundreds of negative comments that I have read on social media from mostly black men (or Russian bots posing as black men), lead me to conclude that Sen. Harris is going to catch pure Hell from “Faux-teps,” the self-proclaimed intelligent (but oft ignorant) “Fake” “Hotep” Brothas who think that they, alone, are the guardians of the realms of Blackness!
When you read or listen to folks of this ilk, it is crystal clear that their thoughts on interracial dating, love, marriage and miscegenation are in lock-step with the thoughts of the worst Ku Klux Klansmen and White Citizens Councilers from the Age of Jim Crow–those who back then, feared that the mixing of the races was both demonic and a threat to the social order.
Such sentiments would be almost comical if it was not clear that on varying levels, these are not exactly “fringe” musings; I have read similar thoughts from some very intelligent black men and women who are personal friends/acquaintances who seem troubled by Sen. Harris’s candidacy due to both her mixed East Indian-Black Jamaican heritage, and the fact that she fell in love with and married a white man.
Folks, it is 2019, and not only are these sentiments anachronistic, but as we are only days away from yet another Black History Month, they run counter to the truth that some of the all time greatest black icons in civil rights, politics, sports and entertainment, either seriously dated or married outside of their race. That these black luminaries found love with non-black significant others did not diminish their impact on black life in America one single bit.
Doubt me? Consider the following:
1. The legendary abolitionist, entrepreneur and civil rights advocate Frederick Douglass married his second wife, Helen Pitts Douglass, not long after the death of his first wife, Anna. To let the Faux-teps tell it, the same Douglass who fought for the eradication of slavery and for Radical Reconstruction to assist the formerly enslaved develop schools, businesses, banks, and hospitals, should be dismissed as a sell-out? Never!
2. According to David Garrow’s award-winning 1986 book Bearing the Cross, not long after graduating from Morehouse College, a young Martin Luther King, Jr., while attending Crozer Theological Seminary, fell madly in love with Betty Moitz–so much so that he asked for her hand in marriage. The two would have wed but for Rev. Martin Luther “Daddy” King Sr’s fervent efforts to convince his son that having a white wife would not just play poorly in the Jim Crow South–but could lead to his premature death by lynching (irony).
3. Harry Belafonte is a legendary entertainer and civil rights icon who placed his money, talents and career on the line to eradicate Jim Crow. The fact that he found love outside of his race did not diminish his achievements in music, film, and in leading the social justice movement during the 1950’s and 60’s.
4. Sidney Poitier is considered one of the greatest actors of all time–his movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” considered by some historians as Hollywood’s foray into making integration mainstream, is but one example of his art imitating his life.
5. Thurgood Marshall’s legal prowess was directly responsible for the Brown vs. Board of Education decision that ultimately led to the end of formal Jim Crow segregation. Marshall, as we know, would soon marry his second wife Cecilia, a Filipino, who recounted her husband saying during their courtship: “I don’t care what people think. I’m marrying you.’”
6. Quincy Jones, the legendary music producer/composer whose artists included Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and countless other stars in multiple genres, has consistently dated or married outside of his race–all the while remaining a passionate advocate for Black culture and civil rights worldwide.
7. “Like Mike, if I could be like Mike,” was the catchy Gatorade jingle from the 1990’s that I am sure many a Faux-tep hummed as they tried to imitate Michael Jordan on their local basketball courts. Does the fact that MJ is now married to a young white/Latina woman lessen his status as an all-time great baller? It should not…
8. Tina Turner rose to fame as a singer and dancer under the influence of her violent late husband Ike; it seems that in her 70s, Tina has answered the question, “What’s love got to do with it” by finding love and peace with her husband since 2013, Erwin Bach.
9. Diana Ross became a star for Motown as both the lead singer for “The Supremes,” later as a solo artist, and for her acting roles in “Lady Sings the Blues” and “Mahogany.” But her former boss/lover Berry Gordy never publicly dated or married her like white businessmen Robert Silberstein and Arnae Ness did in the 1970’s and 80s.
10. Mellody Hobson earned great wealth as head of Ariel Investments, and great fame as an acclaimed business pundit on ABC and other cable news networks. But the force was with her when she fell in love with and later married “Star Wars” and ILM creator George Lucas–and their marriage has done nothing to diminish her role as a leading business expert of African descent.
11. Millions of people across the globe tuned in to the British Royal Wedding last year as Black American actress Meghan Markle wed Prince Harry. Yes, Markle–like former President Barack Obama–is of mixed race heritage, but she is pictured here next to her sho ’nuff black mother following a Royal Wedding that definitely featured aspects of American Black culture.
12. Serena Williams is the greatest women’s tennis player of all time and arguably, the greatest athlete of all time. Serena is also socially and politically conscious, and she has never shied away from the issues that she faces as a black woman. That she found love and married a white man does not diminish her legacy or advocacy one bit.
As shown with these few examples, who a given black luminary loves or marries does not automatically render them racial quislings.
Again, I, too, believe that Sen. Kamala Harris has a number of policy based questions to answer in the days ahead. But questions about whether she devalues black men, especially considering that she attended Howard University, a prestigious HBCU, pledged Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and dated black men prior to marrying her white husband, quite frankly is none of my–and definitely none of these “Faux-teps”–damned business.