THOSE E-MAILS on the March 19 "Amiri Baraka disses Condoleezza Rice" column continue to pour in. (Love that Internet.)
Most were supportive of the national security adviser and defended her against Baraka's reference to her as a "skeeza," a derogatory street term for a woman. As if to prove that America's lunatic fringe is alive and kicking, some seconded Baraka's motion.
"I beg to differ with you," one man wrote. "Although 'skeeza' is a street term, I think it aptly defines Rice. In my opinion she and [Secretary of State Colin] Powell have prostituted themselves to George W. Bush. After all, she shows allegiance to a man who visited Bob Jones University and failed to mention that the university practices racism. After all, she is the same person who admitted to [having] benefited from Affirmative Action and promptly supported Bush against the University of Michigan, which by the way does not use a quota system. After all, she is the same person that backs the unjust war against Iraq. And I can go on and on. So as an African-American male I believe the shoe fits."
A "proud black woman" from Scottsdale, Ariz., wrote:
"Baraka is entitled to speak out on any issue he wishes. This is still America and we still have free speech and he is still an American whose ancestors gave their lives to make this country great. There is his entitlement! Baraka can speak out against Condoleezza because he is Black, as well he should speak out, especially since it has long ago been time for Black people to 'wash our dirty laundry in public.' We need to 'out' those Negroes who are selling us out. ... I agree with Baraka. Condi has prostituted herself. There was a black woman on one of the TV hot-air shows recently who was wearing a T-shirt that read: 'Condoleezza is NOT my sister.' I'm in accord."
One who definitely disagrees is a guy from New Orleans.
"I'm just a pathetic little white boy living down here in New Orleans (I grew up in D.C.) but I will tell you this: Condoleeza Rice is everything a woman should be. If anyone calls her a 'skeeza' in my presence, be they black, white or whatever, I shall be compelled to challenge them to fisticuffs."
One black man -- one of Rice's more rational critics -- condemned the "skeeza" comment but asked, "What has Rice done for black women?"
Some pro-Rice e-mailers had their own answers.
From a white, 49-year-old housewife in Cape Coral, Fla.: "It is hard enough for Black people in this country to get over the hump of all that is before them, without people of Baraka's ilk clouding the waters with disgusting hate speech against one of the finest Americans I know. Dr. Rice is a wonderful role model for ANY man, woman or child. Sadly, this is not the case with Baraka. Let's hope that your bringing this to light will help young black people to see the difference between real leadership and terrible skewed rhetoric."
From a "middle-class white male" in Plainfield, Ind.: "I have the highest respect for Ms. Rice and felt compelled to commend your article in defense of her. It is sad that modern Black culture is so negative about success. ... Powell, [Supreme Court Justice Clarence] Thomas, Rice and so many others who faced adversity and prevailed should be heroes. Hell, they are MY heroes. Maybe therein lies the problem. If Whites like you, there must be something wrong with you."
From a reader in Riverdale, N.J.: "What I do not understand is why Condi Rice is not held up as a role model by the black community. My thought is because she's a Republican. I mean here you have a black woman in America who now sits in one of the most powerful jobs on Earth. I think that says a lot not only about the strides black women have made in America, but also about the confidence the president has in her abilities, regardless of color. She should be hailed across America. But instead, you have this rank divisiveness still festering, and it's all political.
"I find it sad that those who proclaim themselves black leaders do not praise her. Instead they accuse her of being a sellout. How pitiful is that? I hope some day she runs for president. I would gladly cast my vote for her.
"MSNBC had a town forum or something along those lines the other night, and a black woman with a real angry attitude had a shirt on saying 'Condoleezza is not my sister.' My answer to her is, 'You'd be a lot better off if she was your sister.'"
A Utah man went past all the political stuff:
"Personally, I'm infatuated with Condi Rice. ... I'd marry her in a minute, except I'm already wedded (25 years last week) and my wife wouldn't understand."