Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Enigmatic Man

The Enigmatic Man - Washington Post

Former White House Aide Pleads Guilty in Target Scam - Washington Post

Every Black American, at some time in their life, catches him or herself wondering how it must feel to be White. I will assume Whites have similar experiences. This phenomenon must occur in all races, but the focus here is on Black and White, because Claude Allen, presidential ‘advisor’, former aid to Jesse Helms, and now alleged felon, clearly had ‘whiteness’ on his mind.

In fairness to Mr. Allen, his enigmatic label sticks well because of the unlikely combination of his ultra-conservative career pursuits and his alleged brazen fraudulent dealings on the side. If he was simply a criminal, no one would care. If he was just a tool of divisive politicians, like Senator Helms, we might not like him, but we would get over it too.

But this educated Black man, making $161,000 per year, seems to have swallowed a live hand-grenade of his own doing. What is going on here? What makes someone go and do something so - unexpected?

I recall watching a skit on Dave Chappelle Show about a blind anti-Black racist who did not know that he was actually Black. The sensitive-racist Whites around him, including his wife, did not have the heart to tell him that he was actually Black, even as he spewed racist venom against his real people. I do not remember how the skit ended, but I remember being both humored and disheartened – somewhat how I feel about Mr. Allen.

I am no psychologist, but it is reasonable that people can become self-destructive when they realize an emotional trauma, however delayed. For Mr. Allen, we could speculate, in all seriousness that he actually realized one day that he had made his career as a token, and what we now see is just a difficult adjustment period, while he gets over his dismay and moves on with his life.

I am also left to wonder, partisanship aside, if watching Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, performing extraordinary service based on true merit, may have had some influence on his realization.

James C. Collier


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