Charles “MODI” Modiano is now my new favorite columnist, because he just wrote an eloquent eulogy to a despicable term: “the race card.”

His sharp analysis highlights the ridiculous double standard aimed, not only against NY Mets manager Willie Randolph, but any Black person who tries to even hint at the slightest possibility of racialization in these (nominally) United States of America.

His point, essentially, is that by claiming Willie Randolph is playing “the race card,” most of the ESPN bloggers and commenters are blatantly displaying their own ignorance and bias, because Randolph has been the absolute paragon of grace and humility throughout his playing and managerial career. His overall demeanor of quiet dignity stands in sharp contrast to the profile of activists like Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who are known to court controversy.

By accusing someone like Randolph of “playing the race card”, MODI says, all you’re doing is trying in vain to shield yourself against any charge of racial bigotry, whether or not there is actually any truth to the accusation. Such blanket denials are anecdotal evidence that there’s no reasonable defense against the charge.

This is the main reason why I abhor that phrase, “the race card” — even more than I hate the d-word.

I wish that being Black was something I could just conveniently pull out when it suited me. Because then I wouldn’t have to sweat as much if I get pulled over by deputies in rural Oregon counties. If I could keep the race card in my pocket, and make sure it doesn’t slip out when I’m handing the officer my license and registration, then life would be a lot simpler.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way. Which is why, if I lived in the South instead of the Pacific Northwest, I wouldn’t even bother driving through picturesque countryside roads with my Caucasian bride. When you take into account how much we both like road trips, I’d be statistically likely to lose my life before the age of forty.

I don’t really care that much about Willie Randolph or the NY Mets.

But I do hope that as a phrase, “the race card” will ultimately fade away into the quaint lexicon of a less enlightened era, along with other loaded terms like “pro-choice” and “full-blooded Americans.”

Maybe in the future, smart netizens will abide by the old Usenet flame-war rules, where the first person to invoke the “race card,” just like the first person to compare their opponent to the Nazis … automatically loses.

No rebuttal, no appeal, just straight-up GAME OVER.

Is it a pipe dream?


But as long as I’m dreaming, I might as well come up with the ultimate come-back to the “race card” charge:

Homey don’t play dat!

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for mixin’ it up with me.


Leave a Comment