There is a racist poem entitled, “Niggers in the White House,” in the Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library at Dickinson State University. The poem, which was written in 1902, was a reaction to the Roosevelt’s White House invitation bestowed upon Booker T. Washington.

The intent of the poem is to sneer at blacks in the United States who were at that time, able to efficiently defend themselves intellectually and perhaps economically, even those born into slavery. The poem also alluded to Roosevelt’s “death” for allowing Washington in the White House.

Before I address the WestView News article, I want to say that the first eleven stanzas of this poem are very important as they may relate to Mr. Collier’s intention. I just don’t think that his intention was anti-Obama.


Six Months Hence

Things at the White House,

Looking mighty curious;

Niggers running everything,

White people furious.

Niggers on the front porch,

Niggers on the gable

‘Niggers in the dinning room;

Niggers at the table.

‘Niggers in the sitting room,

Making all the talk;

Niggers in the ballroom

Doing cakewalk.

Niggers in the East room

Make a mighty throng,

Niggers in the music room

Make coon songs.

Niggers in the hallway

Taking off their wraps

Niggers in the billiards rooms

Shooting game of craps.

Niggers in the storeroom

Packing away their plunder,

Niggers in the bedroom

Snoring like thunder.

Not a room in the White House,

Without a nigger many;

Baby in nursery,

A Nigger pickaninny.

Niggers on the stairway

With very much satiety,

Niggers in the Blue Room

Assembled for society.

Niggers in the front yard,

Niggers in the back;

Niggers on the omnibus,

And niggers come in hack.

On they go to Washington

With a mighty rush;

Forty thousand niggers,

Getting in the push.

There’s trouble in the White House,

More than you can tell

Yelling like wild men,

Niggers raising hell.

The problem that I see with Mr. Collier’s article is that he’s very manipulative with his words. Perhaps his intention was to conclude that conservative whites dislike or even hate President Obama because he is black, but:

1.) Who doesn’t know this?

2.) His intention gets lost and much like this poem does, he places President Obama in the White House as an outsider.

These are his words, not mine. Much like the poem, the word “nigger” evokes images of violence, bigotry, white privilege, fear, pro-slavery, and death. You don’t go throwing that word around unless you expect a rise out of someone. You don’t expect more of a rise than people of color, especially people of the Black Diaspora. You don’t go addressing your President as such. This is what makes this article so sly. I’d be amazed if he had never heard of this poem. Amazed.

I agree with Mr. Collier that there is a “irreducible measure of racism” in the United States of America and that the majority of conservatives who attack President Obama do so because he is black. I do honestly believe this. I do not, however, believe that it is only conservatives who attack President Obama and do so because he is black. Conservatives are racist, people are racist. Liberals can be racist as well. Moderates, Hipsters, Independents, and so on.

There is, and has been, trouble in the White House for a long time and as I stated before, I don’t think that the title of this article is a coincidence. I stated before that I wasn’t sure of Mr. Collier’s entire intent when he wrote the article, but one thing that I am sure of is that using the word, “Nigger” to describe the President of the United States of America reads as a threat which alludes to the past and present trouble in the White House from a perspective that is pompous, privileged, and predicable.

L’Oréal Snell is a poet and creative nonfiction writer. Her poems have appeared in Ithaca College’s IC View Quarterly Magazine, Coon Bidness/SO4 Literary Magazine, Reverie: Midwest African American Literature, Cave Canem’s XI and XII anthologies, Toe Good Poetry, and . She been a featured poet at the Shadow/Ava Lounge in Pittsburgh and The Studio Museum in Harlem. L’Oréal received a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Non fiction from Chatham University and a Master in Arts in Drama Therapy from New York University. She lives in Pittsburgh.

Twitter: @snelloro

1 thought on “The P Word

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      This is an amazing lack of perspective and of self-reflection. How hypocritical for someone to cast such a blanketed claim that conservatives are racist, and that most of those who reject Obama’s ideas do so because of their steadfast bigotry. How can one be taken seriously, when they are spewing derogatory statements against large groups of individuals they apparently know nothing about, and they are name-calling these individuals, for the reason, that they view these individuals as spewing derogatory terms against Obama. How can someones mind be so closed, to the poin where they cannot even entertain any other reasoning for opposing Obama. I often wonder if these people who are American and believe Obama is the epitome of liberty and America itself, even understand or have any knowledge in such things as, natural rights, federalism, the roots of conservatism and the recent (since late 19th century) Ameican progressive liberalism. I feel like they must not, otherwise they would not make the fallacy of believing and then stating these bigoted, simplistic explanations as to why others do not think identically as they do, or in other words. Why others do not participate in the “group think”, that they themselves subscribe to.

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