Last week, Republican candidate Herman Cain, said in an interview with MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, that he sat on the sidelines of the Civil Rights movement. He said he did so under the advice of his father, to stay away from trouble. It would appear that at the height of the Civil Rights movement when Cain attended Morehouse, activists were “troublemakers”, and thus, should have been avoided. 

Fast forward some decades later, and Cain is now the Republican front-runner in the race to become the Republican presidential candidate. I find this to be quite ironic, and certainly telling of the character of candidate Cain. I don’t think anyone is obligated to join any movement – certainly they’re not obligated by race. However, to label then Civil Rights activists as troublemakers as Cain has, is sad, especially for a Black man who has benefited from said movement.

I suppose it’s no surprise to hear what he has to say when it comes to racism in America. I mean, to date, for someone devoid of the impact of racism as a self-made negro, Cain has pulled the “race card” more than Barack Obama has during his 2008 presidential campaign. If you remember, back then, Obama was criticized for avoiding the 800lb gorilla in the room that was race. But today, we have a Black man running for the GOP nomination for POTUS, who has a different take on race:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain saidon Sunday that he doesn’t believe racism holds African Americans back.

“I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way,” said Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, during an interview on CNN. “Are there some elements of racism? Yes, it gets back to if we don’t grow this economy, that is a ripple effect for every economic level, and because blacks are more disproportionately unemployed, they get hit the worst when economic policies don’t work. That’s where it starts.”

Cain asserted that he firmly believes that “many” African Americans have a level playing field when it comes to economic issues and pointed to his own credentials to make his case.

With the estimated unemployment rate for the African American community sitting well above the national average, the Republican hopeful signaled he sees the discrepancy as a product of geographical conditions and factors related to education. When it comes to African Americans struggling economically he said, “They weren’t held back because of racism.” He added, “People sometimes hold themselves back because they want to use racism as an excuse for them not being able to achieve what they want to achieve.”(source)

Bill Maher cleverly said last week, that in this modern Republican party, denying racism is the new racism. With enablers like Herman Cain who has reduced racism from a reality to a well concocted excuse or reason for failure. It’s easy to conclude that him attempting to convince white Republican voters that essentially, he’s not like your everyday negro, to be a part of the problem.

For a man who touts himself as a “problem solver,” this is pathetic. It’s especially pathetic coming from the man who said America is afraid to see a “real black man” like himself, run for president against President Barack Obama. The same man who at the end of his first campaign ad proclaimed to be the descendant of slaves, who is proud to be running for the highest office in the land.`The same man who says racism doesn’t hold anyone back; and, that black folks have themselves to blame for their condition, economically and otherwise. Well that’s mighty white of you Herman. Hell, I’m willing to bet that at a black teen in the south he refused to drink from those negro water fountains. He was probably one of the few black folks who didn’t out of the fear of it making them dumb, and their lips bigger. A sick thought indeed; but you know how that “brainwashing” works.

One of the questions that I get asked sometimes running for president of the United States: Mr. Cain, didn’t you grow up in the civil rights movement?

Yes, I did, in Atlanta, Georgia — raised in Atlanta, Georgia, during the ’50s, the ’60s, before the civil rights movement, during the civil rights movement. I was around when they signed the civil rights movement (sic) of 1964, when they signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965. This nation has made it through the Civil War. This nation has made it through the struggle we had with slavery, Jim Crow laws, civil rights.

A reporter asked me just yesterday: Well, aren’t you angry about how America has treated you?

MR. CAIN: I said: Sir, you don’t get it. I have achieved all of my American dreams and then some because of the great nation United States of America. What’s there to be angry about? Angry? 

America’s — one of America’s greatest strengths is its ability to change. We have weathered those changes. That’s what makes this nation great.

— Herman Cain, Values Voters Summit