Did someone forget to cc Jan Brewer on the check-your-racial-privilege memo? Brewer became the focus of much debate this week when an AP photo caught her pointing her finger at President Obama in a manner fraught with gender and race politics. “Finger wagging” doesn’t really sum up the tense moment on the tarmac: Brewer is using her white privilege to mask her anger, in an attempt to assert power over Obama. The little power play at the Phoenix Airport speaks to the age-old stereotype of black men being seen as a threat to white women, and the fact that Jan Brewer took advantage of that earns her this week’s Douchebag Decree.
Brewer capitalized on the incident by appearing on several news stations (check out an excerpted Fox News clip in this MSNBC discussion) and boasting that the President “took umbrage” at the depiction of him in Brewer’s book, Scorpion’s for Breakfast. A post at the Crunk Feminist Collective explains just how Brewer’s white rage goes unnoticed here. Her whiteness gives her the freedom to express anger in personal and public interactions; black rage, on the other hand, gets attention called to it. Brewer baited Obama with the confrontation on the tarmac because any anger on President Obama’s part doesn’t come with the gendered, racialized protections that her anger does.
For a bit more on the topic, check out this clip from Jane Elliott’s The Angry Eye that explains how authority, race and anger intersect:
Anti-racist wrecking ball Jane Elliott simulates racial privilege in a tense confrontation with a student.
Brewer’s outburst fits in with the anger-driven politics playing out in Arizona surrounding the ban on ethnic studies programs at the Tuscon Unified School District. John Huppenthal played on voter’s fears by pledging to “stop La Raza,” which basically translates to halting any progress for Chicano peoples. Such unreasonable demands are again protected by the invisibility of white rage, just like Brewer’s disrespectful finger pointing.
Even more disgusting than Brewer’s actions towards President Obama are her ulterior motives: Her book vaulted 200,000 places in Amazon rankings to number 35 on Monday. Gross move, Jan.