Donna Brazile Talks Gumbo and Politics

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Picture by Alexander Crook/Foghorn

The secrets of a great Gumbo recipe are in its wide variety of ingredients. Political analyst, author, and professor Donna Brazile favors Tabasco. “Gumbo was meant to keep us together,” she said. “You stir in the good times and the bad times.” Brazile tied in gumbo, a type of stew originating from Louisiana, to the inner-workings of family, of a community, and of a country.

Brazile also mentioned menopause at least twice. As well as Victoria’s Secret, Cosmo, wrinkles, more gumbo, and the current state of politics in the post-Obama era. These were just some of the ingredients thrown in Donna Brazile’s discussion on Feb. 25.

Brazile is a pundit on George Stephanopoulos’s and Wolf Blitzer’s CNN and an adjunct professor at Georgetown.  Though she mixed in a wide range of topics, she ultimately came back to politics. Her personable character and wit, coupled with her wide range of knowledge, captivated those in attendance.

Brazile shared her views on politics and commented on the weight that the students in a video composition expressed when discussing Obama’s presidency.

“The American people are experiencing buyer’s remorse.  We are seeing an anxiousness that is driven by the recession, the second depression,” said Brazile.

Brazile defended President Obama’s actions thus far, saying he is trying to do things in a way that won’t shake things up too much too fast.  She emphasized that “he is not Jesus” and that the American people need to be patient before they turn their backs on him.

Healthcare and other policies also came up.  Brazile reprimanded Democrats for their actions during this trying time.

“Democrats are intellectual arguers as opposed to Republicans.  We do a bad job of communicating our problems and solutions,” she said. Brazile said, that she advises Democrats to use “five cent words” when relaying their information. Five cent words are small words that everyone has in their knowledge and can understand.

Sophomore Valeri Aragon, who attended the talk, said, “She wasn’t like most Democrats; she didn’t try to act as if she is the smartest one in the group.  She brought it down a level and was a great speaker.”

Brazile included all facets of her identity in the discussion.  She spoke from the standpoints of being black, Catholic, a woman, and a Democrat.

Although Catholic values do strictly enforce all of her actions and beliefs, Brazile said that she won’t just follow blindly the Catholic doctrine, but will stand up for her beliefs.  “I don’t let anybody get in my face about my beliefs.”

Originally from New Orleans, Brazile commented on how black and other marginalized people feel about the rebuilding of their city and the aftermath of Katrina.   She also relayed the viewpoints and emotions in New Orleans since the election of the first white mayor in over three decades in this heavily black populated city.

“The citizens of my hometown are tired of talking about race; we are waiting for results,” said Brazile.  “I can’t say it’s an issue, but they want to see a renaissance take place.”

James Taylor, a politics professor at USF, asked Brazile what her advice was to the young people who were beginning to feel weary about the presidency and the current state of the country.

Brazile said that is our turn to speak up, to “Tweet, blog.  Be involved.”

“Do you want to make history or wait for history to be made?  Personally, I don’t want history to catch up with me and see I was sleeping when I could have been marching and speaking and fighting,” she said.

Brazile’s speech was well received by the audience and reached above and beyond their expectations.

“I didn’t know what to expect.  I am very pleased with what was covered in the dialogue.  It was very interesting and kept my attention,” said, Sacramento resident, Johnson Chandler.

“She was great.  Funny.  Witty,” said Joe Marshall, former USF trustee.  “I didn’t expect anything different.”

Alexander Crook/Foghorn USF professor James Taylor (right) led political analyst and Georgetown professor Donna Brazile in a discussion of politics at an event hosted by the Black Student Union last Thursday. Photo by Alexander Crook/Foghorn

The discussion invoked a wide range of emotions in the audience.

One student aggressively demanded Brazile as to why she was not doing more to influence politicians and the President to take grand action in ending the war, fixing the economy and getting pertinent polices passed.

Devon Holmes, professor of Rhetoric and Composition at USF, had a completely different feeling in the moments following her speech.  “I loved it.  I am still on high.  I thought she was absolutely amazing,”

The event was organized by the BSU, African American Studies programs, and the McCarthy Center.  It was also sponsored by a slew of other organizations and programs.

“It meant a lot for her to come to our program and be a part of our Black Cultural Dinner for Black History Month.  We are honored to have such an intellect and well-known black woman speak at our event,” said Onyi Oriji, BSU e-board member.


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