Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky) used the word "boy" to refer to Obama, but it may not have been with racial intent. I checked his bio out because I was curious about what part of Kentucky he's from. Kentucky is a "funny" state -- folks from SW Kentucky are nothing like those from Louisville, and Appalachian mountaineers are nothing like people from either of those two sections.
His bio says Davis served as a volunteer mentor in inner city Cincinnati schools -- heavily minority schools across the Ohio River from Kentucky. A fellow who is a racist is not likely to volunteer to spend time in ghetto schools helping black kids.
He was a West Point career army officer and helicopter pilot. If you learn anything in Army service its that some blacks and other minorities are just as unqualified as some whites, and some are just just as qualified as some whites. It has nothing to do with color, it has everything to do with the individual himself or herself.
He's from an area of Kentucky that really isnt "southern" like southern Kentucky is -- like hopkinsville, Bowling Green, towns like that. His area is more like Ohio, but on the south side of the river. Does that mean no bigots in that area, no bigots in Ashland or Louisville exurbs? No, but as a former Kentuckian with a long connection to the state -- especially the appalachian mountain area, it's been my experience that the area east of louisville along the ohio river was the least bigoted.
Referring to blacks as "boy" is bigoted -- a throwback to the old days when so many whites felt as though they were maintaining their own dignity and status by denying blacks any designation of dignity. Whites who werent around in the old segregation days may know of thrm only from photos and film, but if you were here in the south and alive back then, you saw it in the raw.
So, Davis may have used the word colloquially, not racially. unfortunately, to me, as an obama supporter, it moves the focus off obama's qualifications, where it should be, and onto his race, which may or may not help in the fight for the nomination. and i want to see him nominated.
Update: Apparently not everyone is persuaded. Ivan says he's heard from a "local African American woman, good friend, fighter, said even if it was not intended as an insult, it's an insult."
I think Ivan's approach is interesting, but I'm unpersuaded. Davis is also a smart and experienced pol, and he knows how to make "a mistake." Cf. Obama/Osama. But somehow I can't get away from the Kentucky theme myself, nor from Wilson Wyatt (cf. previous post (link)). I remember Wyatt in that same '61-'62 campaign season, telling a very upscale audience at a Louisville fundraiser about "the guy who was so rich he bought his dog a boy." As I remember, the, um, joke fell flat. I don't suppose this bunch was all models of racial understanding, but I suspect that at least they knew bad taste when they saw it. And I suspect Geoff Davis understood his audience better than Wyatt did.