Herschel Walker's Vile Campaign Is An Insult To Black People Everywhere
Our Ancestors Didn't Endure Horror For This
Herschel Walker’s campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia makes me physically ill. For months now, every time I have seen his media appearances or stump speeches, I feel a pain in the pit of my stomach. Watching him perform is an insult to Black people in America, both living and dead. It is vile and it is a product of the modern Republican Party.
Oliver Willis Explains is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Certainly I find Walker’s political positions (or the positions he has been told to espouse) abhorrent, but that isn’t the cause of my discomfort. What is so deeply disturbed by the spectacle of Herschel Walker is that it is such an openly racist display of the utter contempt that white conservatives have for Black people.
Take, for instance, what Walker said at a recent campaign stop: “If we was ready for the green agenda, I'd raise my hand right now. But we're not ready right now ... What we need to do is keep having those gas-guzzling cars, 'cause we got the good emissions under those cars.”
This is absolute nonsense. Gibberish. Trash.
Walker is not qualified to be a school crossing guard (a position that requires common sense and a sense of awareness and care), let alone a United States Senator. He displays this lack of qualification every time he opens his mouth and utters another one of his absurdities. But to the Republicans — led by the racist Donald Trump of course — who selected him and continue to prop up his campaign, none of this subpar behavior matters, and in fact they seem quite amused by it.
You can see it in the knowing grins of the Republican senators who appear with him on TV, propping him up like a ventriloquist next to their dummy, in the faces of the hosts on Fox News who clearly understand this is a buffoon, and in the faces of the almost uniformly white conservatives who attend his campaign events.
The entire thing is as if one of those old, racist lawn jockeys came to life and mounted a campaign. This is what they think of Black people. To them, Black people are clowns who are subpar, who shuffle and shuck and jive for the amusement of the (in their minds) superior white masters. Herschel Walker isn’t running for office, but is in fact on display for white people.
This isn’t why generations of Black people faced down death, beatings, and beyond. This is not why they marched. Not for this kind of display. It spits in the face of legions of Black people who have worked in this country often understanding that they have to be twice as good, sometimes three times as good, as their white counterparts.
I think about President Barack Obama, who had to walk a tightrope on his way to the presidency and on every day he was in office, always having to mind his tone, watch his expressions, restrain and constrain himself at every second, lest he feed the stereotype of the savage Black beast. The same is true for Vice President Kamala Harris, who understands that the parameters of her office require her to not be “too” Black, whatever that is at the moment — and she will still be the subject of racism or coded racism from white bigots.
But it isn’t just Democrats, I have to be clear. I personally detest her and what she believes in, but objectively a conservative figure like former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also had to be on her best behavior, and she had to sound as educated as her elite educational background would indicate. The same is true for the late Gen. Colin Powell, who had to have a chest full of medals, while speaking and acting perfectly, to even approach acceptability from the political establishment. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) also clearly understands this, and again, while I don’t agree with any of his political beliefs, does not perform in a cringeworthy manner when he appears in public.
Herschel Walker’s campaign is an abomination. It falls in the tradition of conservative pundits Diamond & Silk, who mug and gesticulate for their white audience in the same style as minstrel shows of the past. Both of those women put on an act for conservative audiences who watch with the self-satisfied attitude of “See? I told you they’re like that.”
Black people who are serious about politics do not act like the Walkers of the world. Regardless of their political ideologies, from extremely liberal to extremely conservative, they do not operate in this “aw shucks, thank you so much foh havin’ me sho nuff” sphere. Because they know that our ancestors fought hard — gave their lives — so we wouldn’t have to go back to that. We are nobody’s playthings, we are equal citizens and have attained two of the highest possible political offices in this country, along with senior roles in business, and are productive contributing members of society in every single state within the United States.
Walker insults all of this. Whatever injuries he sustained from playing football doesn’t make it okay. It is distasteful and insulting and it makes clear where Black people stand within the Republican Party and the wider conservative movement.
We already knew they held us in low contempt. Back in 1964, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned against the election of Republican Sen. Barry Goldwater to the presidency, highlighting the alarming way his opposition to the Civil Rights Act gave a green light to bigots. We saw it with Ronald Reagan’s repeated usage of “welfare queen” imagery, of George H.W. Bush’s invocation of Willie Horton, in George W. Bush’s neglect of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and in every day of Donald Trump’s presidency.
But with Walker the sore is burst wide open. They hate us, they really truly do. They think nothing of us.
It is sick.
Follow me, Oliver Willis, on Twitter @owillis/Mastodon: @firstname.lastname@example.org
Exclusive Kal-El Photo
Kal isn’t a particularly greedy dog but in the morning when I dispense his food and his morning treat (a greenie to keep those chompers sharp), he watches me like a hawk.
Excellent, albeit painful, assessment. I'll add the Rev Warnock's obvious superlative qualification added to this travesty. They did not dare run another white to be beaten by "that n-----." They would love to win with HW but if they lose they can claim RW victory is hollow. And if HW wins, they will have him for 6 years to make their bigoted point about Blacks.
I hate them with every fiber of my being.
Georgia voters, please support "Walkers For Warnock". Make this a thing!
Walkers For Warnock, a newly formed organization of potential step brothers and sisters who know or suspect that Herschel Walker is their biological father, has announced plans to support Raphael Warnock in the runoff election for the Georgia Senate seat. The Atlanta based group announced it will hold "Walks For Warnock" each Saturday until the election.
The rapidly expanding group plans to walk 2.4 miles from the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where both MLK and Warnock preached, to Planned Parenthood's East Atlanta Health Center, one of several locations patronized by women impregnated by Walker, the former football star and GOP candidate.
A spokesperson for Walkers For Warnock says their goal is to rally support for Warnock and abortion rights, but at the same time, "it's an opportunity to celebrate our lives, bond with our newly discovered step siblings, and pay tribute to those that might have been."
Walkers For Warnock has step brother/sister affiliates in Dallas, Minneapolis, New York, and Philadelphia, cities where Walker lived during his football career. Each has plans to announce their own Walk For Warnock event. The sheer number of members in those areas exceeds those in Georgia, but they cannot vote in the election. However, they are eager to raise funds for the reelection of the Democratic candidate, Raphael Warnock.
Facing accusations from the Walker campaign that Walkers For Warnock members are simply angling to reclaim unpaid child support, a Dallas-based member shrugged it off.
"That's ridiculous. He don't have enough money. There are too many of us. Like I'm gonna spend my weekends walking across town for what, like $8? He run off on us. Now, we're gonna run off on him."