Former Secy. of State Condoleeza Rice has recently signed a book deal worth $2 million. This news left the folks at AOL/Black Voices wondering if Rice was “relevant” to the black community.
While she has had an illustrious career (provost of Stanford, concert pianist, Russian scholar) filled with many historic firsts (first black woman national security advisor and first black woman secretary of state), she hasn’t held such a welcome position within the black community.
Some have accused Rice of being a sellout just by being part of the Bush administration, while others have been confused by her disconnect from the community from which she hails. That may be the reason why she has never graced the cover of Essence magazine — the premier magazine devoted to the African American woman. (Queen Latifah was on the cover of the issue in which Rice was featured in 2006.)
When she received an NAACP award in 2002, it sparked controversy and protests among civil rights leaders. Rice is controversial and perhaps even divisive, but does she deserve the support of blacks?
“I will definitely be buying her book,” said literary agent and former senior editor for Simon & Schuster Tracy Sherrod. “While I may not agree with her politics, I feel that she is relevant, and I am interested in hearing her views on a host of different issues. I think it will be an important book. And I don’t feel we have the luxury to not support her or anyone else in our community, particularly now.”
With the first black president of the United States, perhaps it’s time we reexamine what it means to be black. Maybe it’s time to accept those who don’t necessarily share the same views.
“Black people often complain about being viewed as monolithic, and here is someone who is different, and I don’t think she should be attacked for being different,” said Melody Guy, a senior editor at Random House’s One World, who recently published ‘Numbers,’ a novel by rapper Dana Dane.
“Now more than ever, people are so clued into our political landscape. Her book should be as relevant to blacks as it will be to anyone else. She is a part of our community. I would love to have the opportunity to publish someone like her.”
I’d argue that love Condi, hate Condi, she’s relevant. You can’t exactly ignore a person who was once one of the most powerful black people in government before our current president. But you also can’t ignore the role she played in the Bush Administration. (Hence, often how you feel about her depends on how you felt about the Bushes.)
I try to judge ol’ Condi on her own merits. This doesn’t always go well. Then there is the part who can relate to her because of the shared background, although we obviously don’t share the same politics. I’ve even bonded with Condi over hair and clothes (in a deathmatch with Shelly O., of course), because, at the end of the day … even if you think she’s evil … those were some cute shoes. Of course, shopping while people were drowning in the Ninth Ward wasn’t too bright, but … like I said, you have to judge things on their merits.
While I’m not a fan, sometimes I do find myself in the awkward place of defending Condi, usually out of some NATO-like situation where an attack on her as a black woman has splattered on to me in the form of a racist cartoon or some nasty sexual connotation used to describe her. (Which is so odd when I read her as asexual. Even when femme and glammed up she just doesn’t look like she cares.)
For instance, me and another black man were accused of “blind patriotism” because we didn’t believe that Condi had a sexual relationship with the ex-president. While there’s no way of knowing anything, for I and the other man, the notion of Condi and Shrub going at it seemed foreign. She was his cheerleader, helpmate, toddy, hand-holder, secret-keeper, workout buddy and “yes woman.” Despite the “Husband” Freudian slip (which I think was more about her role as presidential hand-holder than sex), we didn’t see any “there” there. It wasn’t that we couldn’t see George W. Bush cheating. Any man could cheat. We couldn’t see it with Condoleeza, straight-laced, uptight, micro managed Condoleeza.
I mean, I’ve known that girl. That girl doesn’t even date, let alone have sex. She’s waiting for the “perfect moment” that doesn’t exist because she actually doesn’t want to do it and would rather be reading “The Brothers Karamazov” in the original Russian.
It’s OK to be that girl, but I didn’t quite get how that was “blind patriotism.” I’m a patriot because I believe the ex-president didn’t screw a woman he called one of his best friends? Oh. OK. I thought it was because I believe in the Constitution and insisted on staying here despite historical injustices, but … whatever.
How do you feel about Condi (and her book deal and her shoe shopping while New Orleans flooded — will she ever live THAT down)? What do you expect of a post-Bush Condi and do you to sometimes find yourself defending her when you actually don’t agree with her?
Or worse, think she’s an actual war criminal? Do you still sometimes find yourself still going there because of someone else’s ignorance or do you join in the viciousness? Do tell!