"Light skinned" and "no dialect"
When we thought we had buried such offensive terms as mulatto, quadroon and octoroon and the skin-hue bigotry that spawned them, here comes the senior senator from Nevada. In holding “light skin” and the absence of a “Negro dialect” as necessary qualifications for Senator Barack Obama to run successfully for president in 2008, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada offered up a rank insult to his colleague from Illinois. Senator Reid has rightly apologized to President Obama, but doesn’t seem to have contemplated how hurtful his words might be to those millions of African Americans who are not “light-skinned.” One wonders if he had seen the First Lady and her mother at the time of his remarks.
Incidentally, if an ethnic or regional “dialect” disqualifies a citizen from running for our country’s highest political office, then Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter were monumental frauds. What about the late Senator Strom Thurmond from South Carolina who ran as a independent candidate for president in 1948? His Southern accent/dialect was so deep that it was, at times, almost indecipherable.