Friday, June 28, 2013

How Did Things Go So Wrong? Chris Hayes is Forced to Remind Black Americans of Their Obligation to Speak Truth to Power in the Age of Obama

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African Americans have been called the "conscience of the nation." We have also been described as "Blues People." Together, those two narratives are efforts to capture a sense that black folks, as a group who were uniquely marked as fit for the status of human property, have a unique insight into questions of social justice and freedom.

In all, we who have been systematically denied freedom because of our skin color, in a relationship and a society where White Democracy defined itself by virtue of our exclusion, should have some gifted insight into the nature of power and human liberty.

Such an insight is not a product of varying levels of melanin, the one drop rule, or other biological fictions that form the basis of the social construct known as "race"--and its resulting category called "racism." No, those people, around the world, who are subjected to oppression and violence as the Other, likely have a unique set of coping skills and strategic insights into the nature of Power which aided them in surviving, and in those best moments, to triumph and succeed.

People who have been historically oppressed, and where history continues to live in the present as a force that still impacts life chances and opportunities, are faced with a choice in terms of uplift and negotiating Power to a successful end. They can choose to be cooptated, and thus side with the very forces that have excluded them, or they can resist valiantly, with dignity, and to the very end, no matter what the outcome.

These just resisters may be vanquished; yet, these same people can choose to retain their dignity and righteousness.

What has happened such that African-Americans, we who are Blues People, need to be reminded by Chris Hayes on MSNBC of our own history and why we should be especially suspicious of domestic spying?

Infamous government programs such as Cointelpro and "stop and frisk" ought to make African-Americans especially suspicious of State power and violations of privacy. Moreover, black Americans are what Lani Guinier so smartly termed "the miner's canaries," sounding the alarm for the rest of the country about injustice not because we are particularly noble, but rather as a function of how those who are of color are usually the first to suffer any slights or shortcomings in this society. 

Has the symbolic power of our crowned black prince Barack Obama so thoroughly robbed Black America of our special obligation and gift to always speak truth to power? And if so, when and how did matters become so derailed?


Ben Grim said...

"Has the symbolic power of our crowned black prince Barack Obama so thoroughly robbed Black America of our special obligation and gift to always speak truth to power?"


" And if so, when and how did matters become so derailed?"

Propaganda targeting blacks and Obama cheerleaders like yourself.

Ben Grim said...

Censorship. The last resort of narcissists and cowards.

Heavy Armor said...


chauncey devega said...

again, I will break my own rule. you are not advancing the conversation. making silly observations about me being a "obama worshipper" of the like is just a broken record on your part that is tedious.

I have written two posts criticizing Obama and trying to figure out what the heck has gone wrong with the Black Freedom Struggle in this generation and support for domestic spying.

now you are name calling. not interested. go elsewhere. alternatively, when you can find a way to constructively engage then perhaps you will be welcome back at a later date.

Shady Grady said...

I don't know if you've ever watched "Weeds", but there is a point in there where a white Jewish child is telling his grandfather about the need to fight genocide in Africa. The old man is noncommittal. The boy tells him "Didn't you always tell us 'Never Again' "? The man replies "That was for Jews! Never again for Jews!!"

Similarly there is a scene in "I'm gonna get you sucka" in which the former militant reminisces about the day that "the brothers went down to a government building to take it over or burn it down. But the government was hiring that day".


My point is that on a lot of things black Americans are no different than anyone else, their self-interest is what motivates them. For most of American history black self-interest tracked pretty closely with justice. Now, that's not necessarily the case. The symbolism of a black man in charge and a black woman as first lady is pretty heady stuff. And by comparison, all in all one would be hard pressed to argue that PBO has treated the black community with less respect than LBJ or Clinton. Sure those are low bars but it is what it is. Most people, black or white, just don't care overmuch about civil liberties.

Learning is eternal said...

Mr. De Vega, a lot of us are still stuck mentally. For those who thought a black (bi-racial) impossible, myself included, don't see no more than that. They cheered his victory & went right back to their accepted post or conditions in life. For some it was inspiring, but why? Black/Brown 'sapiens been proved capable of phenomenal activity in all areas worthy of applause from antiquity to the present. More impressive & polarizing personas long before PBO. "They..." have had how many presidents? Please don't become content because they gave us 1. Shootings of unarmed black/brown people have equaled or surpassed those during Jim/Jane Crow under a black pres. Deportation of productive black/brown people even worse under PBO. So many of us are stargazing/sun watching are oblivious to their immediate surroundings. For those of who can see through muddy water we not making enough noise, awareness, attention (myself included). We tweet, Facebook, blog, all which can be easily suppressed.

LTanya Spearman said...

First I'm a 68 yr. old African Amer. and you can judge by my age, that I lived & living the black experience in Amer...
Second, I don't need any pundit/blogger telling me what I should or shouldn't feel or think about any matter that concern my life (in any shape or form)...
Thirdly, the disrespect that all Amer. media (white/black) along with political opposition to this president is a disgrace, if I want to know what this president have accomplished, I could find out for myself their plenty un-tarnish info. to judge PBO..
In conclusion, my ques. to this author & Chris Hayes. 1) Is your judgment so weak that another writer make you have doubt yourself that you have a need to write about it? 2) What is Hayes agenda? Is he trying to plant a seed of doubt about this Pres. and undermind what this Pres. is FIGHTING FOR BY HIS-SELF? Mr. Hayes is trying to beef up support for his friend Glen Greenwald & the Leaker Snowden.. Before anybody jump on this bandwagon check your facts about all 3 characters.. They all have a history especially Greenwald who wrote a book, Snowden is a criminal period.. We can debate about what he leak but Snowden is a CRIMINAL PERIOD..

juiciebell said...

Nonsense column. First and last visit.

chauncey devega said...

Mighty great example of unreflective writing. Let's just take a step back. No one is telling you what to think. You chose to read and comment. The truncheon is not at your head.

How do you reconcile Cointelpro and the surveillance society's deep history with regulating, harassing, and yes, murdering people of color, with black Americans support of such programs in the present.

An interesting puzzle is it not?

chauncey devega said...

" So many of us are stargazing/sun watching are oblivious to their immediate surroundings."

And not taking a personal account of how well the black community is not doing under the country's first black president. What do they say about religion being an opiate of the masses and filling empty bellies? Is Obama that drug for too many black Americans? A religious figure of sorts?

chauncey devega said...

"My point is that on a lot of things black Americans are no different than anyone else, their self-interest is what motivates them."

You are a mind read. Got something on that next week. How do we define "black politics" and the "black community" in an age of corporate market democracy?

Ben Grim said...

the comment was relevant. he just didn't like the answer. that he and other supporters of Obama played a role in 'what the heck has gone wrong with the Black Freedom Struggle in this generation and support for domestic spying". What went wrong is OBAMA. odd though. if he deleted the relevant one why leave the (less than kind) response to the deletion? certainly that was the more offensive of the two. and at least the deleted comment left the door open for further discussion of Barama's role in putting the final nails in the coffin of said freedom struggle.

Learning is Eternal said...

"A drug/religious figure of sorts?"

Yes/to a degree. Chauncey, if we look back @every era since our introduction into ameriKKKlan as slaves to the present we fought so hard for basic liberties that should be afforded every man/woman under basic human right not law/constitution just a paradigm of an existing life. To some African in ameriKKKlan his election was the apex, summit, pinnacle of what our people died/were slaughtered for. Your response summed up my point exactly. Opiates is one hell of a drug. It excites feelings of euphoria but lowers comprehension, consciousness & heightens ignorance to the umpteenth exponent. It was in that moment 'we' knew 'he' had an actual chance of winning the was when "our special obligation and gift to always speak truth to power... matters became derailed." We were now burning our vocal chords defending him. Whatever
plights we had locally were cast aside and were now given a parallax view to focus on 'our messiah.' 'They' know what they are doing. Don't ever be too gracious because the boss gave you a raise. If my goal was a million & I made 10 million what is it to me to give you a raise. You'll love me for it (maybe) but I'm not elevating to my status just helping you accept yours. Stargazing. Our mindset, hustle, grind should be the same as it was through each epoch that should have rendered us extinct. Now is the time to get reacquainted w/our goals.

blavag said...

Remember Fanon's comment on the oppressed...

Mr. pop pop said...

Matters have not become derailed I'd venture to say that just the opposite is true. one must consider that black people are acutely intuitive in determining friend from foe as a matter practical survival. In their hearts they know that this president is not going to institute any programs or measures that will have a direct or peripheral detrimental impact upon their wellbeing as evidenced by his continuos push back against those entities whose intent is to stifle and impede black participation in any self determinant and important fashion.
Also, one must take into consideration the litany of false scandals the opposition have proffered as pure political tools to discredit andandand malign the president. so with this being the case it is only logical that any accusations of misdeeds by this president will be viewed with severe skepticism by black america , until a substantial drill down
Of the facts.