Friday, August 19, 2011

Symbolic Racism in Action: President Obama Wants to Make White Americans "Dependent" on the Government Just Like Black People Are

"He's a very bright man. But think about his life. And think about what he was exposed to and what he saw in America. He's only relating what his experience in life was ... 
"His intent isn't to destroy. It's to create dependency because it worked so well for him. I don't say that critically. Look at people for what they are. Don't assume ulterior motives. I don't think he doesn't love our country. I think he does. 
"As an African American male, coming through the progress of everything he experienced, he got tremendous benefit through a lot of these programs. So he believes in them. I just don't believe they work overall and in the long run they don't help our country. 
But he doesn't know that because his life experience is something different. So it's very important not to get mad at the man. And I understand, his philosophy -- there's nothing wrong with his philosophy other than it's goofy and wrong [laughter] -- but that doesn't make him a bad person."
I was taught by my parents and god parents that as a black man in America I had to do at least ten times as good as a white person to get half as far. In the post-Civil Rights era I am at times tempted to drop that down to a ratio of five to one. But after seeing what the election of the first Black President has unleashed on the part of many white folks of a certain age, I am tempted to let the rule stay in effect.

Why? Because in all, the Age of Obama is an enema that has freed the most ugly types of Whiteness to act without shame or censure.

There are two concepts that students of race and politics find particularly useful as they work through how race and power intersect in American life. The more recent of the two is Joe Feagin's "white racial frame." This is really a foundational concept for understanding the many ways that whiteness is legitimated, and in turn quite literally frames how White America understands social reality and the very idea of what "normal" is.

The second concept is symbolic racism. Because racism has evolved over time from the classic slavery, hood and sheets type known as dominative racism, to the more contemporary "colorblind" variety, the language and theory has had to shift as well. These types of White racism often overlap, and one does not necessarily preclude the other. I would suggest that as we unpack the hostility of the White Right and the Tea Party GOP to President Obama, symbolic racism, and its auxiliary white racial resentment, remain the most revealing and useful frameworks for making sense of the foolishness we are witnessing.

Tom Coburn's recent comments about President Obama are an object lesson in the concept.

Symbolic racism is based upon the idea that the citizenship of blacks folks is always in question, our hard work suspect, and that we do not embody the intangibles of "Americanness." Moreover, Blacks defy the expectations of the Protestant Work Ethic, are morally suspect, complain too much about racism, and have received "special" benefits that have been denied to white people. This explains why the rhetoric of "take our America back" works so well for Right-wing populist thugs. Black Americans are the very definition of the anti-citizen and are imagined as both perpetually and existentially outside of the American mainstream.

The Tom Coburns of the world (along with the less polite Buchanans, Limbaughs, Becks, and Coulters) cannot conceptualize black genius. They cannot even accept the idea of the black middle class or that there are black and brown folks whose achievements are superior to those of the great mass of white mediocrities in this country.

Black success exists outside of their cognitive map. Beyond ideology (although Conservatism in noteworthy for its dependence on racial resentment and animus), many whites cannot even imagine the idea of a President who happens to be black. It is inconceivable. Thus, the attacks on Obama are about more than policy. They are assaults on his very personhood, attacks which are legitimated by the white racial frame.

That is the ultimate myopia of white privilege and Whiteness. The former tells white folks that they are always the best and are de facto qualified for any task or responsibility; the latter protects them from having to confront that the reality is otherwise.

Symbolic racism and Whiteness also team up to create a blind spot that is utterly devoid of introspection or critical interrogation. Does Tom Coburn know that more whites are on welfare and food stamps than any other group? What of the culture of poverty among whites in places such as rural red state America and Appalachia? Does he consider federal policies that both sustain and created the white middle class a type of entitlement? What of tax right-offs, farm subsidies, and the military industrial complex? Are those creating a class of white "dependent" Americans?

In the white racial frame black folks are always thugs, incompetents, welfare queens, and degenerate failures until we prove to the satisfaction of white folks that we are not. I know that President Obama is a forgiving and (to my eyes) naive soul on the ways of White folks. But, I do hope that Obama is finally learning about the limitations of Whiteness and how they color the vitriol and opposition he has faced every day of his presidency by Conservatives and the New Right.

Or as a "bound man," is Obama also blinded by Whiteness's glare? I do hope not.

60 comments:

ish said...

In all, the Age of Obama is an enema that has freed the most ugly types of Whiteness to act without shame or censure.

Great line. I'm quoting you!

nomad said...

Well, I don't think Obama is a bound man. Not to anything having to do with race anyway. His bounding, or allegiance, lies elsewhere. It has more to do with corporations than ethnicity. He is not really naive about how to fight racism, or any other societal force. He is lawyer, for gosh sake. He is trained for such fights. No. He is cynically using race to gain otherwise unwarranted support from black people. He only pretends to lose battles to the T-party and Repubs because he is at heart a conservative and shares the same agenda. His fights with them are as phony as pro-wrestling. Myself, I don't criticize him because he's black. I criticize him because what he is doing is detrimental to black people. I criticize him because he is anti-black, anti-poor, anti-peace and anti-justice.

Deb said...

"Ditto, nomad!"

G Newman said...

Thank you, CdV, for highlighting the concept of the "white racial frame" and linking to the scholarly "Racial Review" website. Good stuff.

I might add that this "white racial frame" concept has been recognized for decades. It was a philosophical underpinning for the Kerner Commission Report (1968) from the presidential commission that was tasked with explaining the big-city riots of the 1960s.

chaunceydevega said...

@Ish. That one came to me on the toilet. If I ever get to go on TV I have a bunch of quotables ready that will ensure I never return.

@Nomad. Corporatism > Blackness?

@Deb. You encouraging his mess. Bad on you!

@G. Newman. I learned something new. Send some links if you would.

Oh Crap said...

Meanwhile - this person is the likely competition in 2012.

Imagine if Herman Cain's Morehouse transcript looked like this.

nomad said...

@CD
It's hard to see the truth with your eyes closed.

Smartypants said...

Great information! Thank you.

And I was totally with you until you got to the part about Obama being naive about the ways of White folks. I wonder what makes you say that. Is it because he doesn't rant and rave about racism?

An alternative to naivete would be that he's at peace with who he is and has embraced another way of confronting it. I also think that perhaps he has had to grapple with the fact that - as ugly as racism is - it often emanates from white people who are otherwise good folks (ie, his grandmother) and that perhaps calling on that part of them is the way to challenge the rest.

Anyways, those are my thoughts - but the truth is, who knows?

Sherry Peyton said...

An excellent and informative post. I'm linking to you today. Always something valuable to learn here.

Colorbind said...

With all due respect, your denigration of black people may live a fine life in your mind, but they do not underlie conservatism in this country.

Your accusations regarding Coburn, Limbaugh, Coulter, et al are refuted by facts clearly in evidence, if you choose to look.

Conservatives in the main challenge Obama based on his policies, not his color.

Sadly, the blind spot of which you speak appears to be yours.

chaunceydevega said...

@OhCrap. Cain is their pet. I don't know if it would matter the same way. Thanks for the tip though I am going to share that.

@Smarty. I like to throw a swerve every now and then. Obama is a brilliant and smart guy who knows his stuff. But, being able to articulate the historical role of race in this country is different from using that as a tool of analysis for understanding real people's motivations. I don't know the man, although I have seen him at Walgreens, but his identity is a balancing act, and I would bet money that he assumes that the great majority of white people are like his mom and family. That is simply not true.

@Sherry. Thanks. And do chime in again.

chaunceydevega said...

@Colorblind.

You are deep in the sickness. This comment is proof:

"Your accusations regarding Coburn, Limbaugh, Coulter, et al are refuted by facts clearly in evidence, if you choose to look."

Evidence that they are drunk on white racial resentment? Uncle Pat of all people, "take the bone out of your nose" Limbaugh?"

Laughable.

Re: conservatism and race. do a bit more research on the topic, there is a good amount of social psych articles and project that clearly relate white racial resentment and old fashioned racism to Conservative personality types.

Scroll down and read the column I linked to by Campbell and Putnam if you want a taste of those waters.

I know we would like the world to be one way, but sometimes reality makes that a bit hard. Sorry to break the news to you.

nomad said...

Colorblind! What a name. I have often wondered what it would be like if we were colorblind. More specifically, how would we react towards Obama as president if he were white. There would be less there for us to be proud of, that's for sure. And certainly white people would give him more respect. They wouldn't be shouting "You lie!" and claiming his presidency illegitimate. That's for sure. But, by the same token if a white president, like,say, Bush, were even to attempt some of the things Obama has done, the black political classes would be up in arms. The blogs would explode with outrage. Make a deal behind closed doors prior to a corporate friendly health reform? Outrage! Bail out the people who caused the economic collapse? Outrage! Extend the Bush tax cuts? Outrage. Put Medicare and SS on the chopping block? OUTRAGE! That is what you would be hearing from the black blogosphere if Obama were white.

You know, I think we need a new rule, so we don't make this mistake again. Anybody who becomes President must give up his ethnic heritage. I don't know how that would work. Might involve some bleaching of skin and straightening of hair. Let me get back to you on that.

Colorbind said...

@cd

You wrote: The Tom Coburns of the world (along with the less polite Buchanans, Limbaughs, Becks, and Coulters) cannot conceptualize black genius. They cannot even accept the idea of the black middle class or that there are black and brown folks whose achievements are superior to those of the great mass of white mediocrities in this country.

If you merely check the reality of who the named people deal with, work with, respect, and even have at their wedding, you would see that your charge is overblown and lacking factual foundation.

Colorbind said...

PS:

The name is Color BIND,

not Colorblind

chaunceydevega said...

@Colorbind.

Same difference in this context, no?

Colorbind said...

@cd

No. Just another wrong assumption.

chaunceydevega said...

@Colorful person. Color struck. Color blind. Colored. Conservative Colorism....etc etc

You don't get the joke? Alas. Me sad.

You do need to up your game on thinking about the nature of white racism. You are still caught up in the racism is what people say and is in their hearts, and who they hang out with. It is much much more than that.

"If you merely check the reality of who the named people deal with, work with, respect, and even have at their wedding, you would see that your charge is overblown and lacking factual foundation"

For example. I could care less that Limbaugh had one of his many marriages refereed by a black person (if I recall). Who cares? I am more interested in his daily race baiting assaults on black and brown people.

There were slave catchers who were black, and white slave owners who sold off their own black children. So individual behavior really is the wrong level of analysis for making a claim that someone/is/ain't/could be/maybe not racist based on the company they keep.

Again, you don't respond to the facts of the matter re: demonstrate through their words--they ain't hard to find--that the rogues gallery of white racially resentful conservatives I mentioned are the loving pluralists and colorblind folk you want to imagine them to be?

Please do a bit more work on the empirical side of this as well before you offer qualifiers about race and Conservatism.

Colorbind said...

@cd

With my screen name you made a wrong assumption when the evidence was right in front of you.

With Coulter, Limbaugh, et al, you claimed that they could not conceptualize black genius or even accept black achievement. Their behavior and the evidence clearly demonstrates that again you are wrong, although this evidence didn't happen to be on this page.

When do the facts take precedence over your preconceived notions?

chaunceydevega said...

I will try again, but I think we may have had this conversation elsewhere perhaps...

1. You don't engage the sum total of what I have offered. Please review what I wrote above.

2. Don't mistake that there are racists who may like some black or brown folks but have disdain for them as a group. Those are the "special ones" as we like to call them...Cains, Thomases, and the like.

Ultimately, the white conservative rogues gallery I alluded to above may hold black people in contempt and see us as incapable of genius as a people, but they can see their own pets as exceptional.

I cannot convince you of the obvious, especially if you are so deep in the sickness that won't engage the facts of the matter.

Moving on.

Deb said...

CD...maybe I should've added to which points the ditto referred:

Part 1

"Well, I don't think Obama is a bound man. Not to anything having to do with race anyway. His bounding, or allegiance, lies elsewhere...He is cynically using race to gain otherwise unwarranted support from black people. He only pretends to lose battles...because he is at heart a conservative and shares the same agenda. His fights with them are...phony...I criticize him because what he is doing is detrimental to black people. I criticize him because he is anti-black, anti-poor, anti-peace and anti-justice."

Like nomad, I think the Changeling is only bound by the tangible dollar bills he can get, and hold onto - with nary a nod to race, poverty, peace or justice.

I don’t need to count the ways that his corporation-friendly track record to date bears that out. All we need do is look to his pre-, post and probably, pre-selection-again coffers for confirmation of that fact. The dismal reports of the widening of the wealth-gap, the continued, bullshit war-mongering under the pretense of humanitarian concerns (on an African, sovereign nation especially!) and the woefully inadequate policing of the police also bear witness to who’s being served by his presidency.

*dons protective pads and helmet*

IMO, like Cosby and others, he mirrors the worldview of Feagin’s white racial frame - ”The only worldview it sees is the white world and all the economic trappings that go with it to keep whites safe from the contamination that exists outside that frame, the existence of minority racial groups and the unnecessary problems they suffer created by a racist society because of the color of their skin.”

From Rev. Wright, to triflin’ Black fathers on Father's Day, to Pookie eatin' cold chicken in front of the TV, to mandated health "insurance" reform (if you're damn-near broke or poor already, where in the hell will you get money for mandated premiums or the fines assessed if you don't?? It'll be interesting what the "Supremes" have to say on that one!) – he’s made plain his intent to kick that “contamination” under the bus.

Given the purposely-created-for-us, NOT LEVEL playing field of slavery, Jim Crow and the prison industrial complex - I, unlike nomad, criticize him SPECIFICALLY for being "Black" and, not robustly addressing any of those issues (rising tides submerge, not lift boats with holes).

*blocks incoming volley from white folk saying, "But he's half-white too!" with forearm*

Yeah, ya'll's ass should be pretty damned mad too, seein' as, per CD's observation, there are more of you availing yourselves of social services than Black or brown folk! But I digress...

Deb said...

Part 2

As much as we want to act like that one-drop rule is old history - it ain't (trust me, it's been my lived experience for the last 30 years, 9 months!).

Yes, Coburn et al are consumed with symbolic racism in the white racial frame, but they are not alone – which really makes them pretty stupid.

Were they able to practice some semblance of restraint, they could STILL accomplish their desired ends since there are plenty minorities who can't ever "become white" due to skin color, but share white America's views on minorities (in the frame).

If they'd just shut the hell up and let him continue on his right-of-center way, the “faithful" (of every stripe, seein' as Black folk are only about 12% of the population), dreamy-eyed about the first Black president, would have eventually either withdrawn their support once "he showed himself" - Result: he's gone (think 2010 mid-terms); OR, they'd have continued to support his policy decisions out of what I see as, "They like me! They really like me!" PTSD - Result: they get every damned thing they wanted (think recent debt ceiling negotiations).

Either way, they would've won. If I was one of those “tenth-dimensional" chess players (which I'm not, but one must think like one is), that’s how I would’ve played it!

Hands clean - they could crow about how they had little, if anything to do with either his demise, or the cutting of key social programs; or bank bail-outs; or the escalation of war for empire; or the 1 million deportations (the recently called-for 300,000 DHS reviews notwithstanding); or Gitmo remaining open; or continued calls for assassinations, extraordinary renditions and the calling for leaders of sovreign nations to step down so we can engineer regime change for resources; or the increased power of telecoms to spy on American citizens or disrupt dissent by shutting down their services (see BART's recent bullshit); or war on whistle-blowers (Yay,Bummy Greenhouse!); or women being hoodwinked and bamboozled with Ledbetter, when Paycheck Fairness was the correct answer, etc., etc, etc. - even though they really did, because of their inherent white racial frame and symbolic racism!.

*takes off protective gear saying, “F*ck it!"*

Look, I’ve no alphabets following my name in psychology, nor have I seen the brother in Walgreens, but I don’t see the Changeling as either forgiving or naïve. And as Smartypants said, “Who knows?”

I do, however, see him as a mixed, man-child, who lost both parents too early for him to form a critically thought-out self. Left with grandparents who certainly existed within that white racial frame (the story of his grandmother clutching her purse still resonates), he seems to “get in, where he fits in”, instead of using “the historical role of race in this country as a tool for analysis for understanding real people’s motivations.”

nomad said...

Well said, Deb.

Sorry, Colorbind. I really did think it was Colorblind. My bad. But I probably would have used the colorblind analogy regardless. Or some other imagineifobamawaswhite analogy. I've been thinking about it for a while. Looking for an opportunity to use it.

It is not good to overlook Obama's faults, simply cause he talks good and looks pretty.

Deb said...

Thanx nomad, just callin' it as I see it - and I agree with your, "It is not good to overlook Obama's faults, simply cause he talks good and looks pretty."

Oh and CD? "Bummy Greenhouse" should've been Bunny Greenhouse - http://www.democracynow.org/appearances/bunnatine_bunny_greenhouse - fingers tend to move faster than the brain sometimes! :-)

nomad said...

@Deb
I should be thanking you. I was a lonely voice crying in the wilderness. But I knew someone eventually hear me.

An interesting aside. Your name for Obama. Did you know that I am the Changeling? That is the title of an episode of Star Trek from which I took my screen name. I was about to go on one of my periodic nomad rampages, but thanks to you I don't have to.

Deb said...

nomad...I've not seen any of your "periodic rampages," but I do know that "lonely voice crying in the wilderness" feeling.

No, I didn't know that. Though I used to watch Star Trek, it's been so long ago - this old head certainly can't remember episode names! :-) I call him that, because that's how I see him - as a "turncoat."

I've been following him since his speech at the 2004 DNC (when I first thought he "talked good and looked pretty" - and was saying something), I remember telling a friend then, "Hell, I'd vote for him if they're grooming him to run for president!"

But by campaign 2008, I'd seen the puppet strings and watched him morph enough to know that I'd never vote for him.

When the RBC decided not to count our (FL) primary votes in May, I was really through (silly me, back then I thought democracy meant that everybody's vote counted)! I dropped the "D," picked up the "I" and voted for Cynthia McKinney in November.

I can't lie, after seeing the "hard-legs" monopolize and screw up shit for years, I felt the office could use some female sensibilities (full disclosure - Hillary got my Dem. primary vote. Suffice it to say, I realized since then, she'd have been worse than the damned Changeling!). I still do - only more along the lines of an "unbought and unbossed" Shirley Chisholm than a Hillary though.

That's my story, and I've been "crying in the wilderness" ever since.

"I was about to go on one of my periodic nomad rampages, but thanks to you I don't have to."

Happy to oblige!

nomad said...

LOL. I'll be visiting your blog.

nomad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
nomad said...

Sorry. Posted wrong link. This is the one I intended:

Here's Nomad on the rampage.
http://youtu.be/r8VkzG2S0-Q

Thrasher said...

CD...Your Black genius only confirms the presence of many millions more Black folks like you exist on the planet..

I can't believe how blessed my life is when I encounter black genius of late it seems to be everywhere of course this admission of mine only reveals my level of contamination and the wounds I have sustained from being a Black Man living in America during the reign of white supremacy

The beauty of my station is that I am still alive and now a Living Free Black man more Black genius to meet and be exposed to...WTF..Life is grand being a Free Black Mannn

chaunceydevega said...

@Deb. Great comments. Really and appreciated. What smart folk hang out here on occasion. The idea of Obama as a changeling has a lot of mileage to it. You should really develop the concept.

@Nomad. You sound like you cutting a a promo on the O-man. Bad look son.

@Thrasher. Always free. that is a goal for us to strive for. So kind again. I am just a mediocre guy of his thirties trying to make sense of the world.

nomad said...

@CD
Yeah, it's a bit unpolished but if your posts were more balanced I wouldn't feel I had to offer these corrections. And I go with the flow.

nomad said...

LOL.
Looking over that again. Deb hands you your head and you "appreciate it". But I have a "bad look". HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA...(and so on).

I dunno. Maybe I do feel like a rampage.

chaunceydevega said...

@Nomad. I am the Kirk! ;)

Is my mind disorganized and confusing? Are you unsettled?

Deb said...

nomad...Damn! Leslie Uggams?! Now that was during my time! I should remember that episode! Drop in anytime, Man and I'll do the same (I went to that other link you posted and noticed there were other blogs listed. Which one do you update regularly?).

cd...Thanx, I appreciate the conversations I find over here at W.A.R.N. Like Thrasher said, I'm just happy I'm still alive and - after much hoodwinking over the years - living way "freer" than I ever have (being honest about, and totally owning the shit I didn't know/realize helped tremendously in that regard!).

Never thought about it as "developing the concept," but I've been writing about him as the Changeling since, well, I started writing about him! :-)

"I am just a mediocre guy of his thirties trying to make sense of the world."

I've found plenty of hardly-mediocre knowledge here, cd. And that you keep trying (and sharing what you learn) is the most important thing! Keep it up!

P.S. nomad...LOL! Now see, I JUST stopped lurking here recently. Why you wanna get me in trouble with cd?! I was just sharing my POV. :-)

Nite folks!

nomad said...

Cause the he started in on the ad homenim. I don't play that.

chaunceydevega said...

@Nomad. Roy Kirk says to calm down. Slow down your processing.

You know I was kidding right?

nomad said...

"nomad...Damn! Leslie Uggam
s?! Now that was during my time! I should remember that episode! "

"I am just a mediocre guy of his thirties trying to make sense of the world."

Okay, I think I'm beginning to understand what's going on here. It's a generational thing. It's been many years since someone has called me "son". Except on the web, once over at the ROOT. Man, you young guys need to cut it out. If you're not sure you're talking to someone of same generation, you need to cut it out. It don't go over so well with us senior citizens. Ghetto nerd? I'm the original ghetto nerd. I was a ghetto nerd before anybody in the ghetto knew what a nerd was. Son? Man are you kidding me? Get off my lawn, kid!

That also explains why it seems my critique of Obama is disregarded. From the perspective of growing up in the Civil Rights era, I am able to see the degree to which Obama is a betrayal of that heritage. I guess it's hard to recognize an impostor if you've never seen a genuine black leader.

chaunceydevega said...

@Nomad. I think there is the gem of an interesting idea there. How do we locate Obama relative to the Black Freedom Struggle? I never saw him as a civil rights leader (he ran against that tradition--his much touted speech on race is proof of that, when you get a chance read it, don't listen to it), but I can perhaps see how some would.

What is your take on that? Moreover, with the benefit of a longer view, your point on him not being a genuine black leader is sharp. What would/does a "genuine" black leader look like.

My head is pretty well attached...I think ;)

BTW "son" is a turn of phrase, not meant as disrespectful. Sometimes you got to smile and relax Nomad or you will blow a circuit.

Black folks are always so grumpy!

nomad said...

@CD
Naw, man. Old folks is grumpy. I'm old and I'm grumpy and I'm ready to exterminate the biological units infesting this planet. And unlike the Star Trek Nomad I won't mistake one of them for my creator.

But first...

That is a good distinction to be made. Between civil rights leader and political leader. The civil rights leaders, with a couple of exceptions, never made the transition to political leadership, meaning actual positions in government. Instead the perennial slave-driver class took the positions in government that the civil rights leaders opened up. Mayorships, Congress members, etc. These black politicians continued the same oppressive practices of their white predecessors, by and large. Their job, like all slavedrivers, is not to improve the condition of the black underclass but to control and manage them. And this is the function of the ultimate slavedriver.

Barack Obama is not a civil rights leader, but through a shrewd marketing (psy-ops) program he has been sold to black Americans as the culmination of the efforts of the civil rights movement; conflating in the minds of most blacks the image of the civil rights leader with that of political leader. The result is securing the allegiance of blacks for a president who is, in all practical ways, working against their own best interests.

What would a genuine black leader look like? A genuine black leader in government. By his policies ye shall know him.

Deb said...

nomad..."It's a generational thing."

Yes it is. The conversations I have with my 27 & 30 year-old sons are proof positive of that for me! :-) But I keep pluggin' away with real history (not the "Lies My Teacher Told Me") and tangible personal experiences (some of which they've witnessed). I can't say they always get me - but I won't rest, because as you know - the struggle continues.

cd..."How do we locate Obama relative to the Black Freedom Struggle?"

Looking forward, not back.

"What would/does a "genuine" black leader look like."

I'm going to leave that one to nomad, I've been hogging enough space! :-) I will say though, besides the most commonly known leaders like MLK and Malcom, true leaders of the struggle have been legion! I recently re-watched "COINTELPRO 101" and was once again reminded, not only of how many "genuine leaders" fought the good fight, but how the Black Freedom Struggle inspired many "Others" to grow their own grassroots movements for freedom, dignity, respect and self-determination - as well as how the U.S. government still hasn't changed - even with the Changeling at the helm.

Not sure the ages of your students, but there are some pretty enlightening oral histories/downloadable audio clips and a small number of videos over at Freedom Archives (http://www.freedomarchives.org/index.html) that night inspire some critical thinking among them.

Deb said...

nomad...now "THAT" was to the point and very well said!

Deb said...

Damn! night = might in previous comment

Thrasher said...

Great talking points here today..I am also an old 'G' and I don't subscribed to nomad's analysis of Obama..

As I have posted here many times Obama is a sum total of his cultural dna..He is man with feet in both racial camps as such from my perspective this binary stew makes him externally Black but his interior is not...I never expected to Obama to be a 'genuine black leader he simply does not have the ingredients for such a persona.

Obama is a generational figure not a leader or even a superior politician...He is the result of a convergence of good will,circumstance and timing.. He captured the moment and ran with the gravity of change and discord ...Race at point had little to do with this emergence now of course it has a lot to do with his descent..

Obama was what white folks wanted and were prepared to handle as usch he is without question a creation of thier paradigm... Despite our incredible genius and cultural ethos in America right here..right now we are still in peril and a margainal factor in the Americana( CD's word) Empire...

Now we must really hustle and stay focused I fee the race is more vunerbale now than ever before because I feel the Americana Empire is in a state of flux...They simply are lost at sea and don't know what to do..This scares me especially as a Black man and a Black Activist...

Obama can't help because he has no roots and Obama can't help because the meltdown is bigger than him..It is the empire in a spiral tailspin..

nomad said...

Come to think of it it's not generational. Most of my older relatives also support him. So that can't be it. No. It must have something to do with one's political outlook. Through what prism do we view the world. Conservative people will have a conservative outlook. A liberal personality liberal. Etc. Etc. The empirical evidence interpreted accordingly.

Deb said...

nomad..."Come to think of it it's not generational. Most of my older relatives also support him."

Thought you were talking about the, "in the thirties" crowd not quite understanding your perspective - my bad.

I think the older relatives' support may be coming from the fact that they, for all intents and purposes, feel they've gotten what they never thought they'd have - a "Black president." Just a thought.

Thrasher..."He is man with feet in both racial camps as such from my perspective this binary stew makes him externally Black but his interior is not...he simply does not have the ingredients for such a persona.

Interesting, and if you're talking about him specifically, I can agree, given who raised him - but I don't think it applies to all those with similar "ingredients."

"This scares me especially as a Black man and a Black Activist..."

Funny you should say that, I was thinking the same thing!

Thrasher said...

Deb,

We are talking about Obama who esle??Nomad does not embrace the 'generational narrative but Obama is not an old man so I think it is generational many older Blacks thought MLK was an agitator and many did not like the noise he was making especially Black folks going up the middle class ladder the "sid-dity negroes:.. Obama is a flashback proper negro one that does not make waves..

As I noted white folks prepared the stage for just the colored guy they wanted..

Deb said...

"We are talking about Obama who esle??"

You're right - but dang, Thrasher! I was just sharing a thought!

"...many older Blacks thought MLK was an agitator and many did not like the noise he was making especially Black folks going up the middle class ladder the "sid-dity negroes.:.. Obama is a flashback proper negro one that does not make waves.."

Now that's something that never occurred to me, but you've got a really good point there. But it doesn't explain people supporting him like John Lewis, who made a bit of noise himself with SNCC - he was crying like a baby on inauguration day!

Oh Crap said...

How did I miss this party?

Ah, well...

@Thrasher:

Obama is a flashback proper negro one that does not make waves..

Interesting point, though I'm not sure about it. Any "first" makes waves just by showing up, which could land you in the hospital.

I also don't see him as some tragic mulatto, either. That sort of thing works for 19th c melodramas but real life?

And then there's the reality this country hasn't moved past 19th c stereotypes of us, so there's that.

nomad said...

No Deb, you read me right. I was just musing about the other side of the argument. I'm little groggy right now. Just got up. Will be back later.

40 said...

Full-time reader, part time commenter. But I wanted to add on to the tailend of this discussion with being "the Black first". I wrote this for one of my people's blog's three years ago. Comparing my experience under another first high profile black dude who has now fallen into relative obscurity and the arrival of BO...

"Tempered Expectations on Barack Obama" - http://dallaspenn.com/weblog/?p=2746

nomad said...

@Deb
So basically, Deb, that's what my rampage looks like. Although, by nomad standards, it seems a bit mild. Nobody died this time (if I believed in smiley faces I'd put one here).

Anyway, you asked about my blogs. They are mostly a collection of internet articles and videos in the categories of politics, religion, government conspiracies, science and the unexplained, and art. The one which is to be the one where I actually write stuff is ironymous.wordpress.com. But I don't, unfortunately, spend a lot of time there. For some reason my first blog remains my primary one.http://ironymous.blogspot.com/

nomad said...

"I think the older relatives' support may be coming from the fact that they, for all intents and purposes, feel they've gotten what they never thought they'd have - a "Black president." Just a thought."

Yes, I think so. The support of Obama from older blacks arises out of a different motivation than that of younger blacks. That is why I never did anything to contradict the awe that the election of Obama inspired in the heart of my mother. That the daughter of a sharecropper would ever live to see such a thing. That's a different story than what's happening with the 30 somethings.They have no idea what liberalism actually looks like. They have never known anything but neoliberalism. They, no less than their white counterparts are Reagan spawn. Born in a time period where the politics have shifted so far right that a conservative like Obama can be seen as someone to rally the black community behind.

Deb said...

"by nomad standards, it seems a bit mild."

But no less effective!

"Yes, I think so. The support of Obama from older blacks arises out of a different motivation than that of younger blacks."

Me too, but Thrasher made an interesting point as well. Though my mother's been gone for 15 years now, and I'm sure, given her marchin' and rabble-rousin', would not have supported the Changeling - I do know people at home who still think like those he described.

"They have never known anything but neoliberalism."

A one-sided picture indeed. As bad as growing up in the Jim Crow South was, I'm glad now, that I had the benefit of knowing a more well-rounded picture of our existence in these United States. And that's not to say that when I was younger, I didn't think like today's 30-something's, I did - but because of the benefit of a different perspective, I realized somewhere along the line that "gettin' in, where you fit in" might benefit one financially - to a point (there always is one) - but it does nothing for that real man/woman in the mirror.

Went to the last link you posted, and found lots of thoughts in common! Might have to pinch that, "All I Wanna Say Is..." for my sidebar (with attribution of course!). Appreciate the conversation, Man...

nomad said...

Thanks. Good to find one of my kind.

Thrasher said...

@ Oh Crap,

Who said he was a tragic mulatto?...BTW being first is often an unearned windfall in to many racial equations..

Weird Beard said...

I see a lot of folks frustrated with the direction politics have been steering this country in the past number of years. I would like to draw a distinction (at least one percieved on my part) between what Obama would do if he had things his way, and what Obama ends up compromising to when some good ol boy 'Merickan rednecks have a political revolt over a Black man in office, and decide to vote in a festering crop of obstructionist douchebags that won't let ANYTHING reasonable pass in congress. what the f*ck is he supposed to do with that group of tea baggers shutting down the functionality of government? And the republicans have all shifted over to the please the Tea Baggers. I don't think in his heart of hearts Obama would prefer a 50/50 comprimise between his ideals and those of the Tea Party, but to get anything passed and to avoid absolute government shut down, what else is to be done?

Don't mistake his comprimises for his vision.

What comes out of washington has been hi-jacked by the Tea Party plain and simple.

Oh Crap said...

@Thrasher

Who said he was a tragic mulatto?...BTW being first is often an unearned windfall in to many racial equations..

Put your feathers down, it was something I brought up myself. As for any windfalls from being a first, I don't see any. It's quite overrated, if you ask me.

nomad said...

@ W Beard
"I don't think in his heart of hearts Obama would prefer a 50/50 comprimise between his ideals and those of the Tea Party"

You're right. If he was free to do as he wished without pretending to be liberal, he could go full on T-party. Like his mirror image, Herman Cain. Obama ought to be running as a Republican.

Thrasher said...

@Oh Crap,

I am a Free Black Man don't need wings...lol,lol,lol,

With regard to the windfalls of being the first for many people the rewards have come in many ways..