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Sununu's comment insults black Americans

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
October 27, 2012 -- Updated 0415 GMT (1215 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Roland Martin: John Sununu said Colin Powell backed Obama because he is black
  • He says it's asinine to say race motivates blacks' endorsements rather than accomplishment
  • He wants Sununu to explain how Romney's whiteness earned his support
  • Martin: It's childish for some whites to reduce black support to skin color, not character

Editor's note: Roland Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- When was the last time you heard someone say it's important to hire a qualified white person for a job? No, seriously, I really want you to think about that 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 there's no need for the qualifier "qualified."

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

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

Booker: Sununu's comment was 'unfortunate'

"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 stupid and asinine Sununu's remark was.

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

News: Obama and the white vote

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

But it really 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.

Colin Powell backs Obama for president
Powell: Romney will get over his gaffes
Powell on Obama's foreign policy

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 send him a dime. I recall betting a black New York media executive a big steak dinner that Sharpton would not win the primary in South Carolina, where nearly half of the voters are black. He was adamant it would happen, citing the Rev. Jesse Jackson's win there in 1988. Sharpton didn't win.

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.

Opinion: Why isn't Colin Powell a Democrat?

Amazing. Two black folks running for president -- one a prominent civil rights activist and 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 to explain to me how Mitt Romney's whiteness has been the deciding factor behind his being a major surrogate for the Romney campaign.

Please tell us, John, why you think 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 Romney's white supporters who are backing him because of the color of his skin to step forward. Please, don't hold back.

Powell is an American hero. He has served as national security adviser, head of the U.S. Army Forces Command, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, secretary of state.

Opinion: Both parties have a huge race problem

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

So, why did Sununu say it? Because it's easy to dismiss an accomplished black man who just praised 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 e-mails me, saying I owe my job to affirmative action. Their bigotry and racial animus is obvious, and I e-mail 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, and Powell owes Sununu and no one else an explanation other that what he said on CBS's 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 to reduce black support of another African-American to just the color of their skin and not the content of their character.

The opinions expressed in this country are solely those of Roland Martin.

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