ROLAND S. MARTIN: It’s A Black Thing, Right John Sununu?

By Roland S. Martin

When was the last time you heard some say that it is important to hire a qualified white person for a job? No, seriously, I really want you to think about the question.

Whenever there is a discussion about diversity, inclusion or affirmative action, we always hear folks say, “We do a great job of trying to find qualified minorities.”

That always tickles me because when it comes to hiring whites, the assumption is that all are qualified, so no need for the qualifier “qualified.”

That was the first thing that came to mind when former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu gave his opinion on Piers Morgan Tonight regarding Gen. Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Barack Obama.

“Frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama,” Sununu said.

When Morgan asked him what that reason is, Sununu said: “Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”

Oh, John, you’re such a charmer to say you applaud Colin Powell for being a righteous brother and supporting his brother from another mother.

All I could do was laugh at how incredibly asinine Sununu is.

But Sununu isn’t alone. He’s like the many idiots who have emailed and tweeted me over the years, suggesting that comments perceived as favorable to President Obama boils down to skin color. Accomplishments? Oh no. Intellect? Forget about it. It’s always a black thing.

See, I’m not one of these black folks who are quick to deny that anyone voted for President Obama solely because he’s black. Actor Samuel L. Jackson has made it clear that he backs President Obama because he’s black, and he doesn’t give a damn what any white person thinks.

But it is Sam’s responsibility to tell us exactly why he supports the president. It’s not our job to automatically assume that skin color is the reason during this season.

For instance, in 2004, the Rev. Al Sharpton ran for president of the United States. Now we know he’s black, but a ton of black folks didn’t even think of supporting him during his run or even send him a dime. I recall betting a black New York media executive a big steak dinner that Sharpton would not win the South Carolina primary, where nearly half of the voters are black. He was adamant it would happen, citing Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.’s win there in 1988. I told him he was nuts.

Sharpton didn’t come close to winning, and the executive has still yet to pay for that steak dinner.

During that same primary, former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun also ran for the Democratic nomination. Her campaign was about as ineffectual as Sharpton’s, and few people, even black folks, backed her campaign.

Amazing. Two black folks running for president. One, a prominent civil rights activist, the other, a former U.S. Senator, and black America as a whole didn’t even give their candidacies a thought.

So if in Sununu’s mind a Powell endorsement comes down to race, how does he explain the many times a black candidate runs for office and black support isn’t guaranteed? What about all of the years black folks voted for white candidates? Was one whiter than the other?

Since Sununu thinks it’s about race, I need him then to explain to me how Mitt Romney’s whiteness has been the deciding factor behind him being a major campaign surrogate.

Please, tell us John, why you think Mitt Romney is “The Great White Hope” who will take down “Soul Brother No. 1” at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.?

Turnabout is fair play, right? If Powell is backing Obama because he’s black, I need all of Mitt Romney’s white supporters, who are backing him because of the color of his skin, to step forward. Please, don’t hold back. Surely this vote based on skin isn’t limited to black folks, right John?

When someone white assumes you are supporting someone because of their race, it implies they believe you cannot think critically. Gen. Powell is an American hero. He has served as national security advisor, head of the U.S. Army Forces Command, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state.

As a distinguished military man who has worked for four U.S. presidents, he has witnessed what it takes to be president of the United States and commander in chief. It is ridiculous to assume Powell would be so shallow to think of race as the only determinant. In fact, the suggestion is beneath him.

So why did Sununu say it? Because it’s always easy to dismiss an accomplished black man who praises another accomplished black man. By boiling it down to race, it’s easy for others who think such a thing to say, “Oh, that’s it!”

Unfortunately, we see this type of thinking in America all of the time.

I crack up when someone white emails me saying I owe my job to affirmative action. Their bigotry and racial animus always flares up, and I email them back saying I’m laughing at them. Why? Because it must hurt more to have a black man they can’t stand, laugh at them.

My accomplishments are clear and many. I owe no one an explanation for my success. Gen. Powell owes neither John Sununu, nor anyone else, an explanation for his vote other than what he said on CBS’ morning show, citing Romney’s confusing foreign policy views and Obama’s steady leadership.

“When he took over the country was in very, very difficult straits, we were in one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression,” Powell said. “We were in real trouble.

“I saw over the next several years stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up after four years, it’s starting to pick up. Consumer confidence is rising. So I think generally we’ve come out of the dive and we’re starting to gain altitude. It doesn’t mean we are problem solved, there are lots of problems still out there. The unemployment rate is too high. People are still hurting in housing. But I see that we are starting to rise up.”

Ain’t nothing like a critically thinking brother, right John?

This issue will not get a rise out of President Obama or Gen. Colin Powell. They won’t even dignify Sununu and others who think like them. They’ll just keep laughing all the way up the ladder to the next successful step, marveling at the childishness of some whites reducing black support of another African American to just the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


  • deborah paulin

    Well, that should shut them up! (If only.) Well done, Mr. Martin.