Election 2008: The Pots Calling the Kettle ‘Uppity’

Sam and I were listening to NPR this weekend when we heard a woman say, “I am sick and tired that every black man with an education is called ‘uppity,'” or something pretty close to that.

We guffawed in total agreement. Show me a white Ivy Leaguer who has been labeled as such. It may be my upbringing in the south, but uppity has always been understood as a code word; always the adjective that precedes a very specific epithet. If I know this, then you know the McCain camp does.

Online Etymology Dictionary:

1880, from up; originally used by blacks of other blacks felt to be too self-assertive (first recorded use is in “Uncle Remus”). The parallel British variant uppish (1678) originally meant “lavish;” the sense of “conceited, arrogant” being first recorded 1734.

I recognize that the word may have changed since then, so I checked further:

presumptuously arrogant; “had a witty but overweening manner”; “no idea how overweening he would be”- S.V.Benet; “getting a little uppity and needed to be slapped down”- NY Times

Then I wanted a refresher on overweening:

excessive: unrestrained, especially with regard to feelings; “extravagant praise”; “exuberant compliments”; “overweening ambition”

So who is more uppity than George W. Bush? What’s more arrogant than bucking the Geneva Convention and condoning torture, invading sovereign countries for oil, forgoing bid processes, lining cronies’ pockets with unbid contracts, and squawking cocksure in front of a “mission accomplished” banner when the debacle had only just begun?

More than affable oafdom precludes him from being called uppity. Most of the most recently uppity politicians (Rove, Romney, McCain, et al) have avoided that label altogether, because they’re white.

Bush, and now McCain, is the ‘good old boy’ antithesis to the ‘uppity’ Barack Obama. The hallmark of the good old boy is that he’s someone just like you, no better, no worse, not too fancy, not too sensitive or artistic, not too intellectual, not too anything that might make him stick out as odd, and free of any outstanding qualities that could make anyone else feel lesser. No wonder W “succeeds” in a country where the rich, fundamentalist, and uneducated throng faithfully to the polls. The only ways in which W is exceptional are his ignorance and his 8-year presidential debacle.

Barack Obama doesn’t look like any of the men on our currency, true, and by saying this, he’s facing a fact we should all be facing, and calling it out for what it is: “we” are most comfortable with people who are just like “us”, and when most of “us” are wealthy, white, straight, Christian men, with Anglo-Saxon names, anyone else makes “us ” uncomfortable. Well, it’s high time we all got comfortable being uncomfortable, or we will perish.

A chandelier, over a street, OUTSIDE.

Comfort has turned America upside-down in debt and crumbling infrastructure. Comfort puts kids in front of Playstations in air conditioned soon-to-be-foreclosed McMansions and starts them onto a path of physical unfitness and obesity. Comfort resigns able, educated people to idleness when it comes to employment, finding available jobs simply beneath them, and instead going on the dole of a bankrupt system. Comfort has turned the “American Dream” into a religion of brand idolatry, where the affect of riches must be secured at any cost – a leased Hummer-ride to The Americana for a stroll under a Swarovski chandelier, a new bomber jacket for the poodle, and $150 in sushi, all on credit of course, in a world where millions starve.

Comfort has made “us” fat, lazy, and unhealthily entitled. Comfort has made America truly, globally, environmentally, too self-assertive, lavish, conceited, and arrogant. Comfort has made America uppity.

3 Responses to “Election 2008: The Pots Calling the Kettle ‘Uppity’”

  1. 1 waltzinexile
    Tuesday, August 5, 2008 at 5:50 am

    Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

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