The thing I loved about Richard was, he was overtly race-conscious. I took it as a piece of performance art, a running commentary on the mortal prissiness of most white people.
Most white people do this patronizing number. They never disagree with you, even when you are talking the worst sort of garbage. It is near impossible to have a decent human conversation with them. They are all so busy trying not to say anything offensive -- so busy trying to prove they aren't prejudiced -- that they freeze up, get all constricted, formal. They never just talk. This may be more true in the political community, where everyone is hyperconscious of perceived offenses and consequences, than it is in real life. But it is hard to be black, and in politics, and not disdain these fools.
There are two subgroups, however, that are tolerable: There are those who are truly color-blind -- like Jack, and to a lesser extent, Susan. They will argue with you, yell at you, treat you like a human. And then there are the occasional miracles like Richard Jemmons, who just lay it all out there.
"Lacoste, face it, you are a honkey," he would say. He called me Henri Lacoste because I'd gone to Hotchkiss. I was a preppy, an elitist. "Y'all ain't but one-half black -- and that's the best part of you. Enables you to intimidate the palefaces, 'specially lib-blabs, and work that voodoo sexual shit with white girls. I'm probably blacker'n you are. I got some slave in me, somewhere. I can feel it."
"Richard, you are the whitest person in America."
"Richard Nixon is the whitest person in America. Although, on second thought, maybe not. He's got the rage, right? He's a poor boy, right? Someone's gotta be whiter than Nixon. . . . Ahhhh, whattabout Mondale? Walter Mondale is a fucking albino of the human spirit. Y'knowwhattamean? Can't get much whiter than Norwegian."
Tags: Primary Colors, Joe Klein, Anonymous