April 15th, 2008
10:07 AM ET

Understanding why you don't call a black man a boy

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/04/15/art.congressman.geoff.davis.jpg caption="Congressman Geoff Davis (R-KY) ."]

Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor
Special Correspondent, Essence Magazine/Essence.com

When I read about Kentucky Republican Congressman Geoff Davis using the word "boy" in reference to Sen. Barack Obama, I immediately thought of a routine, and subsequent book, by comedian Cedric the Entertainer.

While watching the movie, "The Kings of Comedy," Ced had me rolling in the aisle talking about being a "grown ass man," and that eventually became the title of his best-selling book, "Grown-A$$ Man."

For those who think that African Americans are too sensitive over this issue, and it's just a well-meaning person making a mistake, I understand that. But others must understand the history of African Americans, and what it has always meant to black men for someone to call them a "boy."

One, it's the ultimate sign of disrespect, and is often more offensive than calling them the N-word. For years black men were summarily dismissed and treated with disregard. It was as if their stature was diminished when someone white called them a boy. I've heard black men describe the hurt and pain of growing up and having someone white call them a boy in front of their own child.

Again, I know some are reading this and saying, "Why can't we all just get along and forget all this race stuff?"

That would be great, but our history is truly our history, and there are things left over that when said, immediately conjure up those feelings of old.

Do you remember the images from the sanitation strike that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was leading in Memphis in 1968? The most striking visual was that of the male protestors wearing signs saying, "I Am A Man!"

There was a reason they were wearing those signs.

You may have caught the Showtime movie, "10,000 Black Men Named George," which tells the story of labor leader A. Philip Randolph, who organized the black porters of the Pullman Rail Company during the1920s, known as the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

The name is derived from the fact that white passengers never bothered to learn the names of the porters, and would dismissively call them all George, which was seen during those days as a racial slur.

Remember earlier this year when former President Bill Clinton referred to Obama as a "kid"? That evoked a similar reaction by some because it was seen as being dismissive of a sitting U.S. senator who also is a grown man with a wife and two daughters. Where I come from, we call that a man, and not a boy or kid.

I have my own story when it comes to being called a boy.

I recall working at the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman newspaper and an older white male colleague was talking to me, and in the conversation, he referenced me as a boy. I knew he meant no harm, but don't think for a second that it didn't cross my mind about the word. He also stiffened up, realized what he said and quickly replied, "Now you know I didn't mean to disparage you by calling you a boy?"

In this presidential campaign we have had many instances where individuals have made references that were perceived as sexist or racist. Some have been called overt; others covert.

I've heard men blow off comments about Sen. Hillary Clinton that are clearly sexist, and we do well to recognize that. I have a wife, sisters and nieces, and I sure don't want them treated with disrespect, so not objecting to sexism towards Clinton means that attitude will remain, and it may affect the women in my life one day.

Heck, Obama's comments about rural folks in Pennsylvania and the visceral reaction by some shows that even when it comes to guns and religion, some folks see that as an attack on who they are and where they come from.

When people suggest that we all shouldn't be so sensitive, I get what they are saying, but I also know that's always easy to say when you aren't the one who is being targeted.

Watching what you say, and realizing the meaning what you say is not being politically correct. It's realizing that words do matter, and they have meaning.

This brouhaha over the comments by the Kentucky congressman won't blow up into a major story, and we'll all likely forget. But let's treat all of this as a history lesson on race and gender, and as a window into a world that many of us either don't know about, ignore or long forgot.



Comments to the 360° blog are moderated. What does that mean?

soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Barbara-Dalton Ga

    I understand where you are coming from. Just try being female
    and work with a mostly male workforce. Honey, babe, beautiful,
    sweetheart, etc are just a few of the names you are called and when
    climb the latter of success I can't even type the names you become
    know as.

    April 15, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  2. Charlie in Waldorf, MD

    A rule I created long ago, and a rule to live by:

    If something you are about to do or say seems right; it may or may not be.

    If something you are abound to do or say seems wrong; then it probably is.

    Think before you do or say.

    April 15, 2008 at 7:33 pm |
  3. Lydia

    Thank you for this article Mr. Roland Martin. I am just as upset about this today as I was yesterday when I first heard it. This wasn't an innocent remark or a slip of the tongue. Geoff Davis also called Senator Obama a snake oil salesman before he called him boy. This remark was meant to cut Senator Obama down. If I'm not mistaken, Geoff Davis is only 3 years older than Senator Obama so it isn't as if he was a much older man. We still have a very long way to go in race relations (sigh).

    April 15, 2008 at 7:13 pm |
  4. Ratna, New York, NY


    Having experienced racism and racial discrimination myself, I would say to you: "right on!"

    I guess America is still not ready for a black woman as commander in chief then. But then how do you explain Condoleeza Rice?

    The way Black man are socializd here in America, leads them either to death or lands them in jail. This mentality have got to change.

    And why does the media care about the way Hillary dresses? She looks well groomed and taken care of despite the little 20 minutes of sleep she is getting every night. Isn't that a clue enough that she can handle leadership?

    April 15, 2008 at 6:49 pm |
  5. lewis

    A man is man and not a boy black or white

    April 15, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  6. Jim

    Great article, Roland, but sad that the issue even needs explaining. Race aside, BHO is his political senior and is front runner for the Democratic Nominee for POTUS. And while I commend Rep Davis' letter of apology, I think a short press conference to publicly apologize might have shown a little more class.

    April 15, 2008 at 6:13 pm |
  7. krenz

    And by the way, where did you read that Obama has reacted to this story? People are already talking about how he is screaming about this .... Lies. Neither he, nor his campaign has uttered word one about this insult.

    April 15, 2008 at 5:56 pm |
  8. krenz

    Here we go again, the old excuse that there are no living slaves or slave owners in the country today! Racism is ALIVE in America and those who think that black people are being overly sensitive because racism is a thing of the past, fail to understand that it is NOT a thing of the past. Here is an example in front of your face to illustrate the insidious racism faced by black men (accomplished or not) everyday. Just because slavery ended, does not mean that the attitude that made it possible has ended. If you look closely and see, that a black man who has paid his own way, worked hard and lived a good and decent life, who has lifted himself above all the stereotypes that americans like to throw a black men, has the courage and the love of country, enough to offer himself as a candidate for president can still be referred to as 'boy', you can see what the average black person is STILL up against. Racism is here and everyone should acknowledge it, not just ask black folks to 'just get over it". That implies that you still want us to turn the other cheek and let you'all say whatever comes into your head.. It aint gonna happen again.

    April 15, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  9. TN



    April 15, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  10. Antonia Daniels

    michael in nc,

    what's wrong with an african american activist site? does that mean that roland martin has no clout? does that mean that he doesn't have the knowledge and experience to speak on this issue?

    this is the closemindedness that i have an issue with. again, there are so many white people who think that they have to get their knowledge a certain way. education comes in many forms. i don't care if martin has a doctorate from an ivy league institution or if he's some "uneducated" brother from around the way. it doesn't matter. understand that martin is speaking his truth, which is also the truth for so many other black people in this country.

    i'm not trying to attack you but from the comments you've written, it sounds like you and people who think like you are the ones who need more education. study racism, read some books, TALK TO SOME PEOPLE. that's gotta be the best education to get. and think about your place in this society–your level of privilege–before you make any more oppressive comments.

    i'm not prefect either; i'm sure i have my own prejudices. but at least i understand how important it is for me to examine that aspect of myself and share what i learn with others. i'm not going to direct any more comments to you, but i hope you will also examine yourself and teach others.

    April 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  11. dee in Illinois

    The past is the present!! That is why those that have been discriminated against can not get over it! Just becasue it is not publicized on TV/radio does not mean the times of racism has ended. As a female, I have been called girl by older white people but not older black people.....and Yes, I'm 30, but I've also seen the same older white people call white 30 year old females miss/lady. This does not mean that they are racist, but have been raised around or their environment had similar ways of addressing different ethnicities.

    April 15, 2008 at 4:18 pm |
  12. Michael, NC

    Ok thasan,
    I guess I should stop using the word "boy" altogether. This is ridiculous. Everyone is called "boy", not just violated black males. I have NEVER heard of this garbage, and I have lived in the south for 19 years. Seeing that Kentucky is even farther north than NC, I find it hard for anyone there to be more knowledgeable of this than anywhere else.
    For you to say that I don't see this as racist because I don't like Obama is pretty closed-minded. I have no problem with Hussein, Hillbillary, or old-timer McCain. I just think this issue is the real "step backward" as many of you are stating.
    Have you looked at Roland Martin's site? Give it a glance. You will find that it is nothing more than an african american activist site. Period. There's nothing but columns of inequality and the need for activism on the part of blacks. If you ask me, all of you people pointing your finger at others need to step back and see that you are pointing the others back at yourself.
    So yes, "brush it off" and bury this NON-issue. The growth of this issue is the reason for racism. Wake up.

    April 15, 2008 at 4:07 pm |
  13. Jacqueline

    And to Chris,

    Just how long will liberals let Obama and his people pull the race card?
    When White people stop pulling the race card. You see, what you obviously don't know, is that the "race card" is pulled out and used against us EVERY SINGLE DAY of our lives. BUT WE, Obama and "his people" go on and STILL WE RISE. Why? because like you and everyone else her on earth, WE ARE HERE! and ONLY by the GRACE of God are any of us here and WE, too have job to do. SOoooo, just get over it and deal!

    JPHowell, NY

    April 15, 2008 at 3:58 pm |
  14. Margie Harris

    We'll get over it! Yes, but calling someone "boy" was not acceptable in the past and definitely is not in the present. Do you notice that there was no big to do in the media aboutt this? It's because Obama is beyond this. Why can't everyone relax. The person who made this comment will have to answer to his maker. " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself ."

    April 15, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  15. Pat

    Very good article.

    I think Maggie above did not fully understand your point. An African-American child can be called "Mr. Smith's boy" without offense. A grown man should not be called a boy, whether he is black or white. It is particularly galling for black men, I would assume, because that is what they were called throughout the Jim Crow era.

    Do blacks make too much of it? I think not. I am white, but I remember Jim Crow during my childhood in Texas. Sen. Obama's campaign has caused me to remember and think about those years. Frankly, I do not see how anyone could have survived the institutionalized insult of that system with any sense of dignity or self-worth. Since I haven't walked in those shoes, I can't say how angry a black should be.

    It is true that younger blacks may not have experienced such obvious discrimination first hand. Nonetheless, just as my attitudes are formed by my parents' stories of the Great Depression (and my husband's attitudes are formed by his family's stories of the Mexican Revolution) each generation bears the historical stamp of its predecessors.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:43 pm |
  16. jimmy vekmen

    The congressman was wrong in referring to Obama as "boy"
    that derogatory remark went out way way long time ago. but racism still exists and is quite common in the deep south.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  17. Michael

    What we see is are those true hided feelings that alot of white men still harbor today about black men. They still see themselves as being the superior being and blcks in general are beneth them. What this congresman has done is no different then what is being said in the world today, by white men with seeded hatered toward African Americans

    April 15, 2008 at 3:12 pm |
  18. RL in Kentucky

    Will someone please come up with a dictionary of words we are not allowed to say, because they might offend someone else. I have had to start calling my 90 year old (white) grandmother whom I have called
    "mammie" all my life "grandma" for fear some racist like Roland Martin may be offended. We have so many important causes we should be bringing to the forefront of America.

    April 15, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  19. Jamila. B

    watch any slave movie and the word "boy" is commonly used by SLAVE MASTER talking down to SLAVES...

    April 15, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
  20. em

    i totally agree that in general A LOT of people should think FIRT when they start talking. They shoudl think at the consequences their words may have. Beacuse words can be more offensive than certain acts. Not only in politic but in every field of life.

    And we definitely cling onto words and disect words WAY too much these days.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:53 pm |
  21. thasan/ohio

    Michael NC,
    First off.. the "gentleman" who made this remark knew exactly what he was doing in making this remark..subtle racism hoping to fly under the radar..I do agree that there has been too many so-called racist remarks in this nominee process.. this one actually applies..and for the SAME reason why it doesnt bother YOU.. because it was said against the Senator whom neither of you actually like very much. This is the very reason why we "cant get over it". We are being reminded subtly all the time that it still exists and quite possibly always will. But brushing it off such as you have won't help us get over either.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  22. Kristina


    I think you missed the point of the whole article. Barrack Obama is a grown (blank) man. You dont refer to grown men as boy especially a grown black man based on its historic use in this country. No one is talking about children being called boy....I have a 6 year old who is called or refered to as boy daily...I have no issue with this. When a 45 years old black men is still being refered to as boy by a white man I see this as a huge problem.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:50 pm |
  23. Cynthia

    Roland "RIGHT ON" As a southerner, I too often hear the Terms "gal" and "boy"... I used to ask, How old does a woman have to be or a man in that fact before we are considered full grown men and women? It's down right disrespectful. I teach my sons, that it's about respect for oneself. In my household words, like: boy, girl, My N, etc. Are officially ommitted from our vocabulary, thus forth we do not allow others to say these words to us!

    April 15, 2008 at 2:35 pm |
  24. Wendy

    While I appreciate your informed perspective on calling a black man 'boy', I don't understand why you can understand how anyone can dismiss Congressman Davis' use of the word as well-meaning or a mistake. In what positive or even neutral context can he claim he would refer to a senator, 3 years his junior, a boy? - Has he been known to refer to his other colleagues as boys? Did he believe Senator Obama to be a lot younger? When did his choice of words become a mistake? - After he said it? After the round of applause from his audience? Or after it was reported?

    This was a racist comment. That's it. It seems that political correspondents are weary of calling this spade a spade.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:18 pm |
  25. Barry, IL

    Some of our politicians get too emotional and say what's so much uncalled for. Rep Davis made not only wrong but also very weak statement. And by doing this, Davis put himself down, not Obama. His apology is just for political expedience.A gentleman/lady does not insult others and then apologize. He/she watches his/her words.

    April 15, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  26. Mel

    Thank you for a clear and precise commentary. It confirms the importance of how understanding history and culture, both corporately and as individuals makes a difference. With your explanation, none should use the the term "boy" in reference to a black man, except for with deliberate malicious intent.

    Prejudice, intolerance and many of the "-isms" of our society are the result of not taking the time to get to know each other, to understand each other–to walk a mile in one another's moccasins. As a result, labels and stereotypes are created.

    Pehaps if we took more time to communicate with one another, there could be more mutual appreciation, and there-by tolerance of our differences. As I heard it said, "If we walk a while, and talk a while together, perhaps we can learn to be friends."

    April 15, 2008 at 1:41 pm |
  27. Jakeia

    I can't fully relate to this story because I am not a man but, I understand the level of disrepect that it often attributed to minorities through words. I do feel that to label a black man a boy is a bit disrepectful. I agree with Roland about the history and connotation behind the word "boy". When said to a WELL ACCOMPLHISHED, RESPONSIBLE, AND INTELLIGENT Black Man, it becomes insulting. If we use the word towards a irresponsible black man then well, that saids it all! But it shouldn't used against someone who is accomplished and responsible because that word does not apply.
    I think its safe to say, "Let's be careful with our use of words, phrases, and conclusions."

    April 15, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
  28. Michele

    To refer to a grown man as a boy (or a grown woman as a girl) is not a mistake. It may be childish, mean-spirited or just plain stupid, but it is not a mistake. In his deliberate attempt to demean, belittle and diminish Senator Obama and in his complete disregard of the racial overtones implied by using this term, Congressman Davis demonstrated his own immaturity in a particularly ugly and disgraceful manner. It is not 'overly-sensitive' to respond to a deliberate underhanded attack by a bigot, even if that attack has, in retrospect, been proclaimed 'innocent.' An adult would have acknowledged his mistake, asked for forgiveness and moved on. Congressman Davis prefers the apology of children, "I didn't mean it, do it, touch it, etc." So who is actually acting like a boy?

    April 15, 2008 at 1:36 pm |
  29. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    Well put. I remember when I was a boy, my father made a point of calling me "boy". I knew that was his way of keeping me in my place until he was done raising me.

    But when I turned 18, he then made the point that he couldn't call me "boy" anymore - and told me not to let anyone else call me "boy".

    April 15, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  30. Dawn Martin

    Roland, great article. It 's laughable how some see what Obama said last week as him being as "elitist", yet the comment by Congressman Davis should be seen as a slip of the tongue.
    He knew exactly what he was saying, and why he said it.
    I know there are forces out there that truly want to see Barack fail.
    I pray for this man so much.
    I do hope and pray he gets the nomination, but if he does not, God has a bigger plan for him.
    I love watching you on CNN. Keep up the good work.
    God bless.
    Brampton, Ontario

    April 15, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  31. Iggy - Maryland

    This is the problem with white America today. They don't realize that it pains alot when you demean someone because of his skin color and that is what this congressman was doing to Obama. This type of behaviour should not be allowed to go on in America. I don't care whether you are the president, senator, judge, lawyer, congressman calling a grown up man a boy is demeaning to human race. This has to stop.

    If this congressman happened to be aa blackman saying this dirty racial remarks, the white people would have taken it to the waves forcing him to apologize to the whiteman. That is wrong. Maybe this congressman owes senator Obama an apology for callinh him a boy.

    Congressman Geoff were you born in America? How can you forget the history of the blaack people in America? Is it because you are a white and you have a free pass to say anything you want about Obama? Congressman your remaarks stinks and it makes you look like you are a racist. Do you want to be known as a racist congressman? I don't think so...then don't be ignorant about the Africaan-American History.

    You know what, this country is messed-up by people like you congressman Geoff Davis. This is 2008 and I can't believe there are still people like you in Kentucky. Your remaark of "boy" torwards Obama were outrageous and necessary and makes you look a bigotry.


    April 15, 2008 at 1:11 pm |
  32. Doug Pierson Tohatchi, NM

    I am a white middle class male and I find no excuse whatsoever for calling a black man a "boy". It is as bad as the N___ word and everyone knows it.

    April 15, 2008 at 1:01 pm |
  33. Maggie

    The problem is we are all too sensitive. I am offended by being called someone's "old Lady". Apparently that is a term of endearment from men. I still don't like it. You are saying is If I called an African-American (must be politically correct these days) child Mr. Smiths boy, instead of his son, they would be offended. Then yes, I agree...get over it.

    Obama acts like a child and lashes out in sarcasm like a teenager, so he acts like a child, is that better than saying he is acting like a boy? Honestly. Obama is overacting, and he does this to get the "African-American" vote, as he is one of them and no one understands "them" better than him.

    I have a small boy/ son/ kid/ rug rat/ ankle biter, who asked me why the boy at school told him that my son is "white and that he (the other boy) is black". He told me "mom, I am ham color and he is brownish", why does he say he is black? How about not all parents teach their children we are all the same inside, and I think it is the "African-American" community that will not let it go, and are too sensitive.

    April 15, 2008 at 12:59 pm |
  34. Sylvie Grace

    I totally agree with you. The congressman who called Obama a boy, called him that to disparage him. There are many people out there who do not want Obama to be the nominee for whatever reason. Calling him "boy" in my view feeds into that anti-Obama sentiment. I think when he called him boy, he meant boy in the historical sense, and to diminish Obama's manhood, is to diminish the man.

    Politics is a rough and tumble world. When you are black and a trailblazer, you are going to run into this kind of thing. Talking about racial thinking is a good way to make people aware of their prejudicial attitudes. Maybe through making it a greater issue we can work toward eliminating it.

    April 15, 2008 at 12:46 pm |
  35. Michael, NC

    Oh my God. This gets the "silly post of the day" award. I find it hard to imagine that even one person felt offended by this. I am sure there will be people agreeing with you all over this comment list, but I guarantee that they did not feel this way until someone made it a big deal.
    The ultimate sign of disrespect? Sounds pretty lame to me. I can show someone disrespect without saying a single word, this is not disrespect. Davis is Obama's elder, he has every right to call those who are ten, fifteen years younger than him a boy or girl.
    It is an age word-not a racial slur. He didn't call him a child or kid or "George" for that matter. You even told your own story of being called boy-a harmless comment, as you stated. What makes this any different? Oh yea-the fact that you and many others can't get over this race issue.
    "Easy to say when you aren't the one who is being targeted." Umm...I believe when you referred to those in Pennsylvania, they WERE the ones being targeted. Just my obvious interpretation.
    This is just an overreaction that will spark a heated racial inequality comment-fest. Let the posts begin.

    April 15, 2008 at 12:34 pm |
  36. Makk Cradduck

    While I agree with the points you make, I nevertheless believe that it is better for all of us to say whatever we wish and for which we are willing to take a beating. The other alternative leads to the logical extreme of being criminalized for saying anything with which the government disagrees. Legislating proper/healthy/safe behavior has cost use more freedom than any other laws passed by the Federal government.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:56 am |

    It breaks my heart whenever people make racist comments or sexist comments, I don't get it,it's really sad so many things are going on in the world I feel that people the media especially are not paying enough attention.We are supposed to be a country of Christians or beleivers in a much higher power,but meanwhile we are judgemental
    it's really sad and painful,we as humans cannot be forgiving ,loving toward one another.Don't get me wrong ,we are all humans we will say and do things and then apologize,why not think about what we're going to say before we say it.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:49 am |
  38. Anthony-Minneapolis,MN

    Let me get this straight and to use the statement of Keith Olbermann of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann. A white man named Geoff Davis arbuably and/or coincidentally named after the former president of the confederacy in an old confederacy state calling a sitting U.S. Senator, an African-American "BOY" and this not getting coverage. IT BETTER GET COVERAGE!

    This is a MAJOR Slight and DISRESPECT and should not be swept under the political rug as a gaff by Congressman Davis of KY. Does anyone including you Roland Martin find it interesting that a congressman who in our form of government is below a senator calls one a boy to somehow elevate himself above Senator Obama. It is also not surprising this is from a Republican congressman.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:45 am |
  39. ebony

    why would this not blow up into a major story as obama's comments were. i think blowing this up would be a good opportunity to start the conversations about this type of covert racism. i would like to hear all the experts give there comments about what was meant by these statements.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:38 am |
  40. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    You don't because it's derogatory and reeks of the Plantation Old South...And until people stop making derogatory, stupid comments like this without thinking (or God forbid still doing it on purpose) we need to have these conversations until behaviors change. I really think I live in a perfect bubble some days because until this election I honestly didn't realize how ignorant and bigoted a lot of America still sadly appears to be in ways I never considered.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:32 am |
  41. William


    As a Black Man I do not have a problem with this Congressman saying Boy. I would rather know a racist when I see him, than have to try to figure out who is who. I am glad that the younger generation is nothing like the older generation. That's why the younger generation Loves Obama, and more Republican Congressmen are loosing their seats in Congress.

    One Black Boy

    April 15, 2008 at 11:27 am |
  42. lodig

    Roland–Thanks for writing this. I remember my deceased father telling me (he was born 1913 and raised in Mississippi) that he was called "boy" throughout his life in the South. The word "boy or kid" actually meant(s) the "N" word to African Americans., and many of us know that. It not only insults Senator Obama, but it insults every African American. Another thing, when European Americans make comments like that, they hope we do not get it–they laugh it off and say, "that's not what I meant. What anger sme most is that, the media allows them to get away with it. The nerve of the media and the Clintons to play on the word "bitter!"

    April 15, 2008 at 11:14 am |
  43. Kevin

    People try to be too PC now a days for fear of being called racist or whatever. We can't always nor should we have to sensor our selves. That's the beauty of living in America...we can say anything that we want.

    Calling someone a boy or a kid in the past may have been a bad thing but now it isn't. We don't live back then it is dead and gone and we need to move forward and stop always dragging up the past.

    April 15, 2008 at 11:04 am |
  44. Joe

    all i have to say is that if obama gets the nomination, no black MAN can ever call for racisim again. it will be over.

    April 15, 2008 at 10:56 am |
  45. Bev Town of Tonawanda NY

    Mr. Martin: For once I agree with you. No excuse for using that name. You can't explain your way out of that – it wasn't a "mistake", it's how blacks are referred to, especially in the South. This happens over and over again with the remarks usually coming from "educated", southern, white men. (By the way, I am a white, middle-aged woman who lives in NYS)

    April 15, 2008 at 10:49 am |
  46. Chris

    It's been generations since blacks have had to ride in the back of the bus, drink from separate water fountains and be treated like 2nd class citizens.

    It's time to get over it.

    Compared to most politicians who run for President a mid 40's candidate for President is a mere boy. It's not color, it's age. Obama's people should have responded by referring to the others as Gramps.

    Just how long will liberals let Obama and his people pull the race card?

    April 15, 2008 at 10:36 am |
  47. Les Wheeler

    Well said. The reality in all of this is that Davis spoke what he honestly believes; his forum gave him the courage to speak what is truly in his heart and how he really views "those people". So, the seed of cynicism is once again planted in the cavities of the conscious. I have more respect for those that are up front and honest about how they truly feel about certain Americans, rather than those of this mindset. And just think, we pay for this things salary and then some.

    April 15, 2008 at 10:32 am |
  48. Todd Lewis


    I am a black man who was called 'boy' by (southern) white friends in jest during my childhood. They knew it's context as you explained, but not everyone does. Although I wasn't offended as they were friends, it remains that this term still has a markedly pejorative connotation.

    I'm glad, as a black person, that Sen. Obama has given this country to look at its cultural values as this surely would have not been in the news if these comments were made a year ago.

    Please continue to cover stories like this; I believe it is paramount for people to begin open dialogue about race and I hope Sen. Obama's historic candidacy makes a good catalyst for doing so.

    April 15, 2008 at 10:32 am |
  49. Kelly

    Similarly us Asians were (still are in some areas) being called "Charlie" in real life, and or movies. It is not a term that we appreciate or want associated with. We all have our own unique names; call us that and be done with.

    April 15, 2008 at 10:23 am |
  50. Renee

    Wow! You learn something new every day! Just asking Roland, if someone called you "son" would that be offensive?

    Seeking first to understand. Don't kill the messenger.

    April 15, 2008 at 10:16 am |
1 2