Reid’s Negro comment and the Ethical message we are sending…

January 12, 2010

Frankly I don’t care whether Harry Reid keeps his political position or not.  It’s obvious that he’s stuck his foot in his mouth based on the political firestorm that seems to have erupted.  Rather, as an ethics speaker, I would like to raise the discussion about what message we are sending to our young people when it comes to truth and free speech.

Harry Reid spoke the truth.  Nothing he said had not been said by rank and file Americans as the election process proceeded.  Anyone who paid attention to the election from the primaries forward, at first, would have doubted that an inexperienced Senator (who happened to be Black or African-American – which is politically correct seems to be determined on who you speak with) could win his parties nomination.  Most would have felt that American’s were not ready for a non-white President.  Who knew…?

But, as Barack Obama put himself before the public it became clear that his articulation and young new face was just what the country wanted.  Reid said – he was a light skinned black man who did not have a “negro dialect” (unless he wanted to have one).  And, that combination made Obama electable.  Now…please tell me – was Reid inaccurate in his comment.

As a professional speaker I firmly believe that President Obama skills at oration (like those of John Kennedy) captured the imagination of the American people and dramatically contributed to his crossover appeal to the large American population instead of finding himself a divided racial wonder.

ETHICAL ISSUE:  For days now Harry Reid finds himself embroiled in this controversy.  But, he spoke the truth.  So, what message are we sending to our youth?

1.  Speak the TRUTH and find that it’s (the truth) not politically correct and lose your job?

2.  POLITICALLY CORRECT comments are more valuable than the truth?

3.  Political Correctness is the TRUTH?

For the life of me, I just don’t get what all the fuss is about.  Wouldn’t it be better to honor the truth and dismiss POLITICALLY CORRECTNESS – isn’t that the ethical high road.

It seems that we are more concerned with not offending than we are with allowing TRUTH to be spoken.

HOW DO YOU SEE THIS?


No Negro Dialect – Harry Reid Apologizes! But What About All This “Political Correctness”?

January 9, 2010

So here’s the CNN report today:  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid apologized Saturday following reports he had privately described then-candidate Barack Obama during the presidential campaign as a black candidate who could be successful thanks in part to his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”

Apparently Mr. Reid’s comments are included in a book soon to be released in journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s new book “Game Change.”

I’m sorry, but I must admit…this political correctness thing is just becoming way too burdensome.  I expect criticism from this post, but it’s getting to the point that a person, especially in the public eye, can’t express themselves without offending someone.  Is it not possible anymore to express your opinion and allow folks to accept you for who or what you are?

LETS BE FRANK!

I’m a speaker.  Over and over I hear about what one should say and how one should say it in front of an audience.  Don’t offend.  Well, I’m becoming more and more convinced that offending is becoming easier and speaking what’s on your mind more difficult.

Reid verbalized what many American’s said about Obama before the election.  I admire Obama’s voice, speech patterns and ability to deliver a speech and inspire a crowd.  Now…here’s a fact.  If Obama spoke like a street thug – be he black or white…he would not have captured the imagination of the American people.  Straight up – Obama did not speak like stereotypical black man and that did contribute to making him electable.

If, candidate Obama, had said in a speech over and over again – “Let me axe you a question…” vs. “Let me ask you a question…” – would he have been elected by the American people?  REALLY…I’D LIKE TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK…  But read on…

SO WHAT DO YOU DO?

Fact: I was in prison in the mid-90’s and my cellmate was a young black ma named – Buck.  Buck became one of my closest friends and taught me much…in fact, he is one of the reasons that my prison experience became such a profound learning experience.  Today, when I deliver a speech I often share a dialogue that Buck and I had on my second day in prison.  When I share this exchange…I carry on the conversation just like it happened – speaking and sounding just like Buck.  He sounded like a Black street thug – which is exactly what he was when he entered prison.

I’ve been told – “Oh, you can’t do that.  You’re degrading African-Americans.”

No.  I’m not.  I’m sharing with an audience exactly what happened – tone speech patterns and all.  The lessons I learned from Buck happened, in part, because I was able to learn from his street smarts just as he was able to learn from my education.  Speaking like Buck is real.  What Harry Reid said was real and true.  I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

WHAT DO YOU THINK?