He has no idea.
FOR THE RECORD:
Erin Aubry Kaplan: Erin Aubry Kaplan's e-mail address was misspelled on her Wednesday column. It should have read \firstname.lastname@example.org. —
Reading his analysis that Cubans and Puerto Ricans "have the, you know, part of the black blood in them and part of the Latino blood in them that together makes it," I got not a glow but a chill. Allegations and anecdotes reported three years ago of groping, sexual harassment and racist incidents came back to me in a rush.
I especially recalled — with a cringe more intense than Arnold's, I assure you — the story Schwarzenegger himself told a porn magazine in 1977 about how he and other bodybuilders "jumped" on a black woman at Gold's Gym in Venice; asked if it was a "gang bang," he said yes. The colonialist notion that blacks, especially mulatto women, are notable only for their sexual prowess and availability is hardly new — which is why it's so disturbing to detect it in the remarks of the governor of California in 2006. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
Even more uninspiring is the so-what response by some Latino and black politicians to this whole affair. Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia of Cathedral City, the Puerto Rican lawmaker who was the subject of his remarks, is a Republican before she's a Latina, so she can be expected to accept (or decline as unnecessary) his apology.
But it's discouraging to see Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez (D-Los Angeles) and Sen. Martha Escutia (D-Whittier) blow off any negative implications of Arnold's remarks. Is the price of success for Latinos the sense of ethnic identity and common destiny that fueled their rise in the first place?
The black acquiescence bothers me even more — because we know what Arnold meant. The media led with the Latino angle, but the governor's most incendiary comment was that it's "black blood" that makes the difference. Such a worldview calls to mind Jim Crow, the Southern legal system based on strict percentages of "black blood" — also known as the one-drop rule — that segregated public facilities and governed daily life for much of the 20th century.
His supporters will protest that the governor was referring to positive differences, like the edge blacks have over everybody else on the dance floor or the basketball court. Uh-huh. Let's just say that certain praises are better left unsung, especially by public figures with a past like Arnold's.
Yet the only criticism from California's black elected officials came from Rep. Barbara Lee, an Oakland Democrat, who called his comments "disgusting." State Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton), the presiding elder of California's black politicos, dismissed the governor's gaffe as the "usual political banter" and suggested that former Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a garrulous African American, was guilty of worse. All of which obscures the issue at hand and makes me wonder if this is a locker-room guy thing more than anything else.
So I'm left with the question I'm increasingly left with these days: Who will stand for me? I've reached zero tolerance for entitled types like Schwarzenegger. As a black woman of Louisiana Creole descent (i.e., hot) who fantasizes about radical social change (hotheaded) but who shops compulsively in the meantime (for hot fall fashions), I'm looking for a party to get into. And I don't mean the kind you dance at.