It is a testament to the progress that African-Americans have made that there is a black Democratic president and a black Republican who is contending for the nomination to run against that black president. But it also is a testament to the pettiness of political discourse today and the fact that people of color still are singled out when whites are not that Barack Obama has been criticized for allegedly not being black enough and that criticism has come from blacks as well as whites, including Herman Cain, the black Republican who would like to unseat him.
As a guy who is plenty white, all of this Not Black Enough stuff has me confused, so since some of my best friends are . . . well, you know . . . I asked them what the big deal was about. These friends -- a native of Trinidad who escaped poverty to become a successful entrepreneur, a native of Houston and a native of Harlem who grew up in middle-class homes and are college graduates -- all said that they didn't have a clue as to what Cain and his ilk are bloviating about.
So I turned to one of the cleaning ladies where I work and asked her.
"That's some kind of crazy," was her response.
Finally, I asked a guy whose name I don't know but I call the Aluminum Specialist because he stops by a dumpster near my weekday home to cull the mountains of aluminum beer cans tossed in by college students.
"I wouldn't eat his pizza if you paid me," he said of Cain, who made a fortune as the founder of Godfathers Pizza.
"Even with extra toppings?" I asked. He glared at me so I left it at that.
The Not Black Enough "issue" has come to a head because Cain, like a certain Texas governor, doesn't know when to keep his pie hole shut. He had the temerity to hurl the accusation at Obama -- and an alternative meme that the president isn't really black at all -- while telling Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC that blacks who won't support him have been "brainwashed" by the Democratic Party.
The reality is that whether Cain is black enough or not, the Republican Party is openly hostile to blacks, has not a single black in Congress and hasn't for years, and pardoning the metaphor, he stands a snowball's chance in hell of getting the GOP nomination.
(If memory me serves correctly, the only other blacks to seek the Republican presidential nomination was perennial candidate Alan Keyes. There never was any question about his blackness, only his craziness, and he further cemented that by joining a lawsuit claiming Obama was not an American and another claiming that he was not constitutionally sworn in.)
There is a subsidiary ado regarding Cain to do with the fact that he was in college from 1963 to 1967 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement but watched black and white college students from around the country come south to be murdered from the comfy confines of Morehouse College in Atlanta. I have no problem with that. Most blacks didn't participate in the movement and several black friends of my civil rights activist parents, fearing for their children's lives, forbade them to march in Montgomery, Selma or wherever.
All of this, of course, makes Cain a rather odd example of the pinnacle of blackness he claims to be, so perhaps the GOP should look elsewhere. For all I know, Al Sharpton might be available.