First, America got a brother in the White House.
Now, Florida has a homeboy in the Governor's Mansion.
The surprising news was disclosed this week during Gov. Rick Scott's luncheon for 20 black legislators.
Lawmakers expected to hear the governor defend budget plans that cut out the heart of programs such as health-care funding for the poor and state support for two historically black colleges.
They never anticipated he would let slip he was just a good suntan away from being a soul brother.
"I grew up probably in the same situation as you guys," Scott said. "I started school in public housing. My dad had a sixth-grade education."
No doubt his declaration prompted lawmakers to pound their mental rewind buttons.
Had Scott actually implied that all the black legislators gathered at the Governor's Mansion hailed from the ghetto and had under-educated dads?
It's no wonder some lawmakers took umbrage. Rep. Betty Reed told the Miami Herald, "He assumed that everyone [in the room] was poor and that can only be because you're black."
And that's a problem.
Don't think I'm suggesting Scott is a racist. After all, some of his best friends, er, or least the lieutenant governor is, well, you know.
And on the racial cluelessness scale, the remarks didn't rise to DEFCON Fuzzy Zoeller — the golfer who famously remarked about Tiger Woods after the 1997 Masters tourney, "Tell him not to serve fried chicken next year … or collard greens or whatever the hell they serve."
Truth be told, Scott's observation was probably a clumsy attempt to reach across the racial aisle, an attempt to reach people with whom he clearly lacks familiarity.
It could have been worse. He could have gone gangsta and tried to rap. Heard of 50 Cent? I give you MC Megabucks.
But seriously, his words betray how stereotypes still substitute for experience, all the way up to the Governor's Mansion.
It's why I secretly prayed President Barack Obama's first executive order would have been to ban watermelon and fried chicken, and why I was relieved he didn't break out the malt liquor for his infamous beer summit.
In this case, Scott's dusty vision obscures the great strides black Americans have made since the 1960s, growing a significant middle class. And it overlooks the reality right in front of Scott's face.
Surely, Scott's broad-brush strokes raised the eyebrows of lawmakers such as Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, whose dad was a college administrator.
Unquestionably, many blacks were launched into society from ramshackle circumstances. Yet, the black experience is anything but homogenous.
Hard to effectively represent a segment of the citizenry that you don't really see.
It's no wonder Scott later shucked when asked about his comments: "I had a great meeting with them on Tuesday. We had a great lunch. ... The issue that we have in the state right now is jobs, and that's what my focus is."
That's where his focus ought to be, particularly given how hard the slumping economy has torpedoed the aforementioned black middle class.
But perhaps as a tip of the hat to Black History Month, Scott could take some time to update his "Good Times" assumptions. A few reruns of "The Cosby Show" might show many of us have come a long way from the projects and government cheese.
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