According to this Reuter’s article, this week Bobby “What me, a vice presidential candidate?” Jindal, governor of Louisiana, released a copy of his birth certificate. This was done as a response to an editorial that was in response to his support of Birther inspired legislation that would require all candidates for federal office on Louisiana ballots to show their birth certificates.
And again I say, “Good. Grief.”
First . . . for those who can muster up their best, “What? What’s wrong with asking if people are born here?” and can do so with a straight face, get thee an agent and move to Hollywood. Seriously. To think that the Birther movement is a rational, innocent and pure search for the truth denies the reality that the question and furor around it is fundamentally built upon about how American society still perceives brown folks . . . as not American until proven otherwise. Add on the “I am just asking a question, you shouldn’t get so mad” posture and we either believe that we live in a vacuum void of generations of historic challenges to the “Americanness” of groups of people, or we really do believe that one cannot TRULY assumed to be “American” unless you are White. Neither option is particularly attractive to say the least. Yes, the nature of race in the United States is complex and has changed greatly over the generations, but we must not buy into the notion that we are in a post-racial society, because, not only is this not true, doing so leaves room for racism’s ugly butt to shamelessly moon the world at will.
And then there is Bobby Jindal making waves with this recent political stunt. *deep sigh*
I am going to assume that Governor Jindal is a bright guy, so he has got to know full-well what he is choosing to do. In this release of his birth certificate in a weak-sauce attempt to respond to a editorial mistake about his name, he is choosing to perpetuate the ongoing assumptions of Americanness in exchange for political advancement. While this may be savvy and strategic for his own political future, it calls into question his cultural integrity and commitment to the struggles of people of color. Choosing to feed his political ambition at the expense of furthering a just world no matter what that may do to his political aspirations makes me sad, frustrated and more than a little pissed off. With this move Gov. Jindal is maneuvering himself further into the presidential conversations and will no doubt be used by the Republican party as a poster child for a conservative post-racial America. This should be no shock to anyone, but it should give us great cause for concern about the future of our political discourse.
For those who do not believe that the political and cultural landscape should be formed by this tone and tactic, we must not pay undue attention to fringe groups or political novelty acts. But . . . when legitimate political figures start buying into these postures, we must be diligent in making sure that these marginalizing perspectives do not become further rooted culturally or legislatively into the life of the United States. I hope that these kind of side-show antics will give way to more meaningful conversations about our racial and political future, but if it is going to happen, we certainly need folks like Governor Jindal to stop feeding the frenzy.
A boy can dream . . .