Skip to comments.Belafonte Remark on Powell Starts Row
Posted on 10/20/2002 11:08:25 AM PDT by GeneD
Filed at 1:28 p.m. ET
In his famous, fervent speeches of the 1960s, Malcolm X described the difference between house slaves, who lived in comfortable conditions in the master's house and loved the master, and slaves laboring in the field, who hated the master.
The house slaves, he implied, were mainstream civil rights groups and leaders, who he thought were too closely aligned with whites.
Now it's a term being used by activist and entertainer Harry Belafonte to describe Secretary of State Colin Powell. And Belafonte, who opposes a war on Iraq, isn't apologizing.
Belafonte told The Associated Press he stands by his remarks likening Powell to a slave ``permitted to come into the house of the master,'' but that he meant them not as a personal attacks but as a condemnation of Bush administration policies.
He said National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice had also failed to meet his high expectations for fellow minorities.
``As a citizen, I feel it is my sacred duty to speak out when I see injustice, when I see our country going to places of folly,'' Belafonte told the AP in a phone interview last week.
``I'd like to see both (Powell) and Condoleezza Rice show some moral backbone, show some courage, show some commitment to principles that are far higher than those being espoused by their boss,'' he said.
His comments prompted a debate among segments of the black community, with some saying Belafonte's slave reference, made on a San Diego radio station Oct. 8, went too far, and that he should apologize to Powell.
But others point to Belafonte's record of humanitarian service -- raising money for African famine relief, as a longtime goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Children's Fund and champion of civil rights -- and say his words hold some truth.
``The question is, should he have said it and should he have said it in the way he did? Therein lies a great deal of discussion and even criticism within the black community,'' said University of Maryland political scientist Ronald Walters. ``This is the kind of allegation that stings.''
Belafonte, 75, perhaps best-known as a singer for his ``Banana Boat Song,'' is also a humanitarian revered by many blacks ``as somebody who shoots straight and tells the unvarnished truth,'' Walters said.
In the radio interview, Belafonte said slaves were allowed the privilege of living in the house if they served their master.
``When Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to hear, he will be turned back out to pasture,'' Belafonte said.
In a separate ``Larry King Live'' interview, Powell said he didn't mind Belafonte attacking his politics, ``but to use a slave reference, I think, is unfortunate and is a throwback to another time and another place that I wish Harry had thought twice about using.''
James Cone, author of ``Martin & Malcolm & America: A Dream or a Nightmare,'' said Malcolm X criticized mainstream civil rights leaders and groups as ``the black leadership which was chosen by the dominant white society.''
``Now didn't the Bush administration choose Powell? So what's the difference?'' Cone said.
``It's not a nice thing to say, but the truth is often very provocative and hurtful,'' he added.
Project 21, a leadership network for conservative blacks, said Belafonte should apologize to Powell, who director David Almasi said ``of all people, is one of the most independent thinkers in the Bush Cabinet.''
The first black secretary of state, Powell is seen as a moderate voice in the Republican Party and supports abortion rights and affirmative action.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson, a Los Angeles author and political analyst, said Belafonte's remarks illustrate how blacks who aren't ``pro-civil rights, pro-Democratic party, pro-liberalism'' are called names such as ``Uncle Tom, Aunt Jemima, house slave, instead of dealing with the legitimate political differences someone may have.''
Belafonte said he used the reference because ``we're still living out the slave code'' in poor minority neighborhoods.
``If you go to Over-the-Rhine (neighborhood) in Cincinnati and look at the way in which those people live, it is everything equal to what slavery was in the psychological, emotional and economic sense of oppression,'' he said.
The United States should work harder to pursue diplomatic solutions with Iraq, he said.
Many domestic issues have been left ``seriously unattended,'' Belafonte said, noting the high number of incarcerated blacks. ``We're building more prisons than we have schools or hospitals.''
day o', Harry?
Me want to go home.
Huh? Are police stopping black men and women on the streets and throwing them into prison only because they are black? Harry, you said several stupid things and I don't care how many "humanitarian" efforts you are involved with, it doesn't excuse ignorant, ill-informed, insulting remarks emanating from your own prejudice and bias.
That time and time again continue to be inline with the high number of crimes commited.
Over the Rhine--that's the place where law enforcement officers (white and black) cannot even enforce the law or else they are called racists.
Correct ! Under Harrys "de-policing" plan it would be twice as bad, but don't you dare tell a liberal the truth . . .shhhhhhhhh ;)
She who? You mean Condi? If so, then thats a great comeback. She tends not to hold back her opinions the way Powell might.
BECAUSE of their achievements and contributions to a grateful nation.
Make a habit of it, and people will conclude -- quite reasonably, in my opinion -- that you're stupid.
The United States first Secretary of State was Thomas Jefferson. It is hard for me to think of anyone who holds Thomas Jefferson's old job as a house slave. I wonder if anyone ever refered to Thomas Jefferson as George Washington's house slave. Geo W.(the first) refered to Thomas Jefferson as a very popular independent thinker that Geo W (the first) found hard to control. I have no doubt that this Geo W. (the Bush) feels the same way about Powell. I think Belafonte is observing from waaaaay in the back of the banna pickers line and daylight has not come yet but he still want go home.
To a field hand waiting for the tally man, to tally his bannana, any black man in a suit looks like a house "you know what".
Yes...and there was fire and contempt in her eyes when she said it.
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Belefonte and his ilk belong to the
wing of the leftist liberal wannabis who feel "safe" tethered to the Democrat plantation.
These blacks need not think for themselves because their self-appointed leaders like massas Sharpton, Jesse and Calypso Louie will tell them how to think.
These stooges are threatened by black conservatives who have offered a different role model.......a model of independence, integrity and self-motivation......everything which the white liberal establishment has tried to suppress fro 40 years!
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