Yesterday, C-SPAN aired its “Students & Leaders” series featuring RNC Chairman Michael Steele speaking to students at Woodson Senior High School in Washington, DC on May 12. While fielding questions – including who inspired him and how he deals with pressure – Steele’s answers seemed to be at odds with statements he has given while in other settings.
Steele, in no uncertain terms, denounced racism and those who use race to “stereotype” others:
STEELE: Does that mean your neighborhood is going to stop being red lined? No. Does that mean tomorrow when you go into the bank to get a loan they going to give it you? No. When you put that employment form in front of somebody they going to give it to you, give you that job? No. You’re still going to have to work but understand that sometimes when you work hard, there are still some folks who hang on to some old, dying, rather rotting ways that have less to do with your empowerment and more to do with your subjugation, more to do with your stereotype. [...] Remember, from where you began to where you are is a big deal, coming out of this city, coming out of your community, being black. It’s a big deal.
Taken alone, Steele’s comments about racism in American society are a powerful reminder that political leaders of both parties acknowledge that the problem of racial discrimination still exists. But last week, Steele employed the same “rotten” racist stereotypes to attack President Obama. ThinkProgress reported that Steele suggested that Obama won the presidency because of his race. “He was not vetted, because the press fell in love with the black man running for the office,” Steele said.
The weekend following Steele’s racist smear against Obama, Mike Huckabee praised Steele for being “effective in challenging” Obama because “no one is gonna be able to use the racism charge.”