A proposal to rename the main airport in Las Vegas for one of Nevada’s longest-serving Senators could get tricky if the current racial reckoning happening across the country has anything to do with it.
State officials have called to rename McCarran International Airport after former Sen. Harry Reid, who served more than three decades on Capitol Hill representing Nevada in both chambers of Congress. But, at least for this writer, any time Reid’s name is mentioned, it is nearly impossible not to be reminded of the time he used some colorful terms to describe Barack Obama.
But first, back to the airport.
The Clark County Commission, a panel of all Democrats, is expected to consider the name change at a meeting later this month, according to the Associated Press.
The person for whom the airport is currently named has a history of racism, which has partially fueled the calls for its name to be changed.
“Former Senator Pat McCarran leaves a dark cloud of racism and anti Semitism that have no place in our state, especially at the welcoming point for millions of international visitors from every walk of life,” an online petition to have the airport named says in part.
But if we rewind about 13 years ago, that was when Reid had some choice commentary about what he saw as Obama’s ability to code-switch, thanks in part to the color of the then-presidential candidate’s skin as well as the eloquence of his speech.
Reid, who was in his late 60s at the time in 2008, suggested that because Obama was “light-skinned” and spoke “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one,” he was destined to win the presidency.
Conversely, of course, Reid’s comments — perhaps dripping with implicit bias — suggest that he believed a candidate with darker skin who did not speak Obama’s brand of the Queen’s English would never stand a chance to win the White House.
It would be two more years before Reid’s comments would officially come to light, revealed in a book authored by two journalists who wrote: “Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama’s race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.”
Reid promptly apologized — “I deeply regret using such a poor choice of words” — and Obama accepted it just as quickly, rendering the entire episode (to some people) one big nothing burger.
Omar Wasow, who co-founded the social media network Black Planet, wrote in the Root in 2010 that there was absolutely nothing wrong with what Reid said.
“Clearly, using ‘Negro dialect’ is about half-a-century behind the times, but does anyone think Reid meant ill by his anachronism?” Wasow asked before adding later: “more importantly, the substance of Reid’s comments is spot on.”
Dr. Boyce Watkins wrote in an op-ed for NewsOne at the time that America should use the opportunity to have a much-needed conversation about race.
“Rather than shooting down any political figure who states the obvious, we should figure out why it is the case that America would not vote for Obama if he were dark or were caught speaking in ‘negro dialect’ (although I have no clue what that means),” Watkins wrote. “White supremacist thinking is everywhere, and if we don’t have an honest conversation on race, we are going to continue running into the same old problems.”
Of course, the flip side of that argument is that an elected official serving in a national capacity with constituents who are African American should have known in 2008 that it is completely unacceptable for any white person to refer to a Black person as a Negro, period. Not knowing better opens the door to a host of other questions about Reid, including if he harbors any racist feelings, whether he knows it or not.
Calling Reid his “friend,” Obama said, “He apologized, recognizing that he didn’t use appropriate language, but there was nothing mean-spirited in what he had to say and he’s always been on the right side of the issues. The fact that we spend days on this instead of talking about the unemployment rate or talking about how we deal with critical issues like energy and health care is an indication of why I think people don’t understand what’s happening in Washington.”
Upping the ante on his racial rhetoric, Reid in 2009 went on to compare health care reform to slaves attaining their freedom.
In response to Republicans asking Democrats to “Slow down, stop everything, let’s start over,” on health care reform, Reid offered up his analogy to people who opposed the emancipation of slaves.
“You think you’ve heard these same excuses before? You’re right,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “In this country…there were those who dug in their heels and said, ‘Slow down, it’s too early. Let’s wait. Things aren’t bad enough.’”
One thing’s for sure: Words matter.
That truth was on display six years later when Reid — who, unlike McCarren, has a history of working to advance causes for African Americans — would be among the loudest voices calling Donald Trump a racist during an address on the Senate floor.
“It’s time for Republicans to stop closing their eyes to Donald Trump’s racism, and it’s time for reporters and journalists to be honest with the American people,” Reid told his Senate colleagues with less than two months to go before the 2016 election. “They owe America the truth. Through his words and deeds, Donald Trump is a racist.”
'Karens' Gone Wild: Videos Show Privileged White Women Can't Stop Trying To Police Black People
1. Mailbox Karen
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I wish a Karen would roll up and call herself taking a package from my house because she suspects “something is going on in there.”— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) July 7, 2021
What is wrong with these white women? pic.twitter.com/ROX3zLPcTY
2. Karen goes shopping at Ross
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This happened at a Ross Dress for Less…— Michael Harriot (@michaelharriot) June 13, 2021
Told you. pic.twitter.com/FkSLsgxPUc
3. Karen Defaces Monument To Only Black Member Of Lewis And Clark Expedition3 of 31
4. Judith Ann Black, racist Burger King Whopper KarenSource:Sumter County Sheriff’s Office 4 of 31
5. Stephanie Denaro, AKA "Bagel Karen"
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RACIST Anti-Masker Karen Calls Black Bakery worker B**** Ass N-word for denying service. pic.twitter.com/nRsF95RFmK— Karen (@crazykarens) March 24, 2021
6. Courtside Karen
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PRAY FOR LEBRON pic.twitter.com/Z8oAhl2kqf— Barstool Sports (@barstoolsports) February 2, 2021
7. Arlo SoHo Karen
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Wow! This woman made baseless claims against @keyonharrold and his 14yo son at @arlohotels Arlo SoHo — then assaulted them, scratching Keyon & tackling his boy. Worse, the hotel manager defended & empowered her actions, and refused to apologize after her claims were proven wrong! pic.twitter.com/LqHboiAEd6— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) December 27, 2020
8. Trader Joe's 'Karen'
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This is a Trader Joe’s today. In Los Angeles. Cases are through the roof in California. Is there any way to reach these people?— Read Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler (@JoshuaPotash) June 27, 2020
9. 'Karen' the angry neighbor
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hey guys!! this is my new neighbor!! pic.twitter.com/yZxsQD1daS— bailey (@bailey3jenkins) June 27, 2020
10. ‘Karen’ Pulls Gun On Black Woman And Daughter After Chipotle Argument10 of 31
11. Nurse ‘Karen’ Fired
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Caron Jones — that’s Caron with a “K” as in “Karen” 👩🏼⚕️ — also called the Black Lives Matter movement a "ploy" for Black votes before the North Carolina nurse got fired for her racist social media posts.https://t.co/WQn68gNToF— NewsOne (@newsone) July 1, 2020
12. St. Louis 'Karen'12 of 31
13. ‘Karen’s Husband’ Investigated After Calling Cops On Black Men
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14. Convenience Store ‘Karen’
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It was the I’m the wrong nigga for me 😭 pic.twitter.com/2Rv33NNn2k— HEAVYY ON IT 🗣💕 (@HeavyyCampp) June 25, 2020
15. Nurse ‘Karen’ Loses Her Job For ‘Black Privilege’ Video15 of 31
16. Seattle ‘Karen’ Has A Total Meltdown After Black Driver Records Her ‘White Tears’
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"I HAVE A BLACK HUSBAND!"— NewsOne (@newsone) June 23, 2020
A "Karen" in Seattle identified as Leah completely lost it when Karlos Dillard, a Black man, confronted and recorded her after he says he was the victim of her racist road rage.
The video has gone viral as Karening gets worse.https://t.co/X5ryYpQlhF
17. Officer ‘Karen’ Is Slammed For Crying White Tears Over McDonald’s Wait17 of 31
18. Kroger ‘Karen’ Blocks Black Mother From Pulling Out Of Parking Lot Over ‘Gatorade’18 of 31
19. San Francisco ‘Karen’ Who Called Cops Over ‘BLM’ Art
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A white couple call the police on me, a person of color, for stencilling a #BLM chalk message on my own front retaining wall. “Karen” lies and says she knows that I don’t live in my own house, because she knows the person who lives here. #blacklivesmatter pic.twitter.com/rOpHvKVwgP— James Juanillo (@jaimetoons) June 12, 2020
20. Karen the "Shorewood Spitter"20 of 31
21. Karen's husband
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22. Karen's other husband22 of 31
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Racism rots your brain pic.twitter.com/OuzPmyRN6d— Khary Penebaker (@kharyp) May 17, 2020
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On the next episode of “are white people ok? 👀”.... meet Red Lobster Karen 🦞 pic.twitter.com/ElgRipPyrU— Lives in a Police State. ✊🏽🦺🌈 (@angel_felixv) May 13, 2020
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I can’t believe this is real. This lady went out to video shame everyone who dared to have fun in the sun at the beach and then she yelled at a Trader Joe’s worker over social distancing.— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) May 18, 2020
Karen needs to just stay home and leave the rest of us alone... 🙄🤦🏻♂️https://t.co/QUeZkRSudW
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K*ren: "Arrest me"— Scottie PIPM (@scottiepipm) April 23, 2020
K*ren: 😲 pic.twitter.com/5NJnPsSj8k
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I’m baffled. Just saw this on the news. Woman who drove 1.5 hours to go to the beach with her family complains about other people at the beach who have done the same as her. Does she not see she’s part of the problem #StayAtHomeSaveLives #COVIDIDIOTS pic.twitter.com/iowllyZEk2— Colm McAfee (@mcafee77) May 17, 2020
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Las Vegas’ Airport Might Be Renamed For Harry Reid, Who Once Marveled How Obama Had ‘No Negro Dialect’ was originally published on newsone.com