The Spectacle Blog

Come Again, Ma’am?

By on 7.27.09 | 5:32PM

Brief sidelight on the recent dustup between Harry Alford, President  and CEO of the Black Chamber of Commerce, and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), in which Boxer countered Alford's skepticism about proposed environmental legislation not with a direct rebuttal of his data but by citing opinions to the contrary by the NAACP and by John Grant, CEO of 100 Black Men of Atlanta… arguing, in effect, "Yeah, well lots of other black people disagree with you." (YouTube link here.)

Alford took offense, rather theatrically; Boxer responded by stammering and fumbling and shuffling through papers before stating that, in any event, she was sure that Grant "would be proud that you were here. He's proud, I'm sure." Because, I suppose, Alford is one of those "articulate and bright and clean" black guys Joe Biden likes to talk about.

But now the sidelight: Several times during their exchange, Alford addressed Boxer as "Ma'am."

Maybe my memory is shaky, but didn't Boxer just last month dress down Brigadier General Michael Walsh for calling her "Ma'am" rather than "Senator"?

So is the Boxer Rule that black guys get to call her "Ma'am" but white guys better stick with "Senator"?

Just asking.

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