October 02, 2008

Fear of a Black President

So, this has been on my mind for a long time.

But first, a speech from Richard Truma of the AFL-CIO:

Now, lets be clear, there's race-based voting happening all over the place.

As a Democrat and as an American, I am proud of the stand, the policies, the campaign, and the kind of thoughtful, principled Federal government that Barack Obama represents. In many ways, he's an extension of what I loved so much about Dean for America.

But, as a Black man in America, I am even more proud that it is a Black man at the center of these representations.

So, yes, there are probably a fair number of people, across all races, who are voting for Barack Obama simply because he's Black.

Now, I'm going to say something that will probably get me into a lot of trouble, but, fuck it, here goes.

I have much less of a problem with people voting for Barack Obama just because he's Black than I do with people voting for, say, Michael Steele or Alan Keyes just because they're Black, because, frankly, I consider Steele and Keyes to be sellouts.

There. I said it.

And here's why.

Whenever you hear about voter suppression, it's almost always targeted at poor Black communities, and it's almost always done on behalf of Republican candidates. It's been that way since Nixon and his so-called "Southern Strategy". Someone, somewhere within the GOP has decided that they stand a better chance of getting into office when Black people are prevented from exercising their rights as American citizens to participate in the electoral process.

Now, if you're a Black conservative - you believe in strong defense (whatever that means) and lower taxes and school choice - that's all well and good. We can agree to disagree on this point, and I can respect your convictions.

But I have NEVER, EVER heard a single Black Republican condemn the obvious and well-documented history of Black voter suppression committed by their own party. Not one. Which says to me that they're more than happy to keep more people who look just like them from voting as long as it helps them advance.

If you are willing to get ahead at the expense of large numbers of people from your own ethnic background who're less fortunate than you, you have, by definition, sold out.

My larger point is, while there is plenty of race-based voting to go around, there is very little moral equivalence, in my mind.

So, just to be clear, yes, given the history of this country, I do think there is, in fact, some nobility in being more inclined to vote for Obama just because he's Black.

Now, let's look at the other side of the equation.

There are two types of anti-Obama race-based votes. There are those who just hate Black people, and there are those who are afraid of Black people.

Needless to say, there's probably quite a bit of overlap there, but I want to speak to these two camps.

Well, I only really want to speak to the 2nd camp because, frankly, if you just hate Black people, chances are, you stopped reading this blog the minute I wrote "as a Black man in America..." And, honestly, what do you and I have to say to each other? You hate me because....

Remind me why you hate me again?

Because I went to Princeton and you didn't? Nevermind the ~3000 rich white people who also got into Princeton while I was there, you're mad at me and the other Black Princetonians (who, at the time, I believe, comprised somewhere between 4-6% of the student body, i.e. half the percentage of our representation in the general population).

Because I got a certain job and you didn't? I'm always amazed when racists complain about how the negroes are taking all of their jobs. As I said before, we're only 12% of the population, and, in case you haven't noticed, a whole lot of us aren't working. Again, maybe you should talk to the 10 other white kids who got hired at that company's particular office at the same time I did. They might have a bit more to do with it, statistically speaking.

Because I hooked up with your sister? I don't know why? I mean, she sure seemed to enjoy it. :-)

Which reminds me of a story one of my college classmates told me, about a study session where the instructor made a comment about the presumed sexual prowess of the Black man, and some young white guy just blurted out "BUT THAT'S JUST A MYTH, ISN'T IT?"

Is that really what the race hatred all comes down to? Should I rename this post "Fear of a Black Penis", just to make it more accurate? And are all of these other little hate bullet points just variations on that theme - the sense of powerlessness and inadequacy that then gets personified in the form of the opposite, the other, The Blacks, and the only way you can prove that you are not, in fact, impotent, is to destroy and humiliate and dehumanize The Black?

In the end, I suppose, it's all based on fear.

There's that word again.

Which brings us to the other, probably larger camp: those who won't vote for the Black man out of fear.

Consider this report I saw a few months ago on AlJazeeraEnglish, at about 2:20 minutes in:

It's the heart of the same fear that mobilized so many in opposition to the Black Panthers. This notion that the Black people, after years of getting dumped on by the white establishment, are going to flip the script as soon as they get into power and bring some righteous retribution against the white majority.

Or, as John Stewart so succinctly put it to Senator Obama himself during an episode of "The Daily Show":

"Is it true that, once you're elected, you intend to enslave the white race?"

I wonder how many people know that the full name of the organization was "The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense"? Or that it was originally conceived in response to rampant police brutality and officially sanctioned violence against Blacks in cities around the country?

The short answer is, those of you who're afraid that Obama's going to mandate that all the major broadcast networks air a new reality show called "America's Next Top White Lynching", take a chill pill. Your fear has yet again demonstrated your ignorance about Black America. When we say we want what you've got, that doesn't mean we want to take it from you. It means we want one of those for ourselves. This is not a zero sum game. As my dear friend Brokenbeatnik likes to say, the pie is enormous, big enough for everybody to have as big of a slice as they like.

I mean, really, when people say they don't trust Obama or they're afraid of having a Black president, what do you really think is going to happen? Seriously?

Take a moment and really look at your fear. Spend some time with it. Talk it out.

And let's take a step back for a moment. For those of you who say "well, I don't think he's sufficiently patriotic enough to be President, what with Bill Ayers and Rev. Wright and all of that."

Let's just assume, for argument's sake, that you're right. Let's assume that Obama has a negative view of America, which means he wants to be president in order to change it into something more to his liking. Let's assume all of that.

Because clearly George W. Bush and Dick Cheney love America to death. Literally.

It's like, they loved America so much that they gave the country a gigantic bear hug for the last 8 years, breaking all of our ribs and puncturing our lungs in the process. Yeah, they really loved the Hell out of America.

I think what many Whites may not understand is that Blacks are deeply acquainted with the concept of "tough love". In other words, because I love you, I'm going to tell you about all of the unpleasant stuff you don't want to know about, because I believe you can be better and I'm not going to allow you to keep slacking off.

I think we could use some of that kind of love right now. Don't you?

Coming in the air tonight

I think this video says it way better than I ever could:

Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Except for the telcos that were hoping to make a mint off of new exclusive rights, and who're already unleashing the stormtroopers of lobbying to make that happen.

Do us all a favor. Sign the petition.