Radio Personality Calls Condoleezza Rice “Aunt Jemima”

John Sylvester, the program director and morning personality on WTDY-AM in Madison, Wisconsin is under heavy scrutiny after referring to the newly instated Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as an “Aunt Jemima,” and proclaiming that she will not be a competent secretary of state.

Later, in a phone interview last Thursday he stated that the term “Aunt Jemima” was used on his Wednesday show to illustrate how Rice and other blacks in the Bush administration are in subservient positions.

During President Bush’s first term Rice served as a national security advisor, but will replace Collin Powell as the Secretary of State for this term. Sylvester also referred to Collin Powell as an “Uncle Tom.”

Sylvester, who is white, stated in his defense that similar remarks have been made by civil rights activist Harry Belefonte, who also believes that blacks in the Bush administration pay the price of docility and subservience. 

“They are using her for an illusion of inclusion,” Sylvester told the Associated Press in regards to Rice. He added that he feels her track record as a national advisor was proof of her lack of competence.

Many blacks are divisive on Sylvester’s statement. On one hand, many blacks agreed with Belefonte when he made similar statements, but coming from Syvester, some felt the statement is simply “insensitive,” which is how the Mayor of Madison, Dave Cieslewicz describes the statement to the Associated Press.

No one should expect an apology from Sylvester, who stated that he has a long history of civil rights efforts and support for the black Madison community, any time soon. “I will apologize to Aunt Jemima,” Sylvester told the Associated Press. He intended to give out Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup on Friday’s show.