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I aspire to be the Locutus of the Black Borg who gets invited on TV to do the obligatory "what do black people think about X issue?" segment. Until then, I will have to be satisfied with having my Twitter utterance about the "Scold-in-Chief" Barack Obama included in this piece over at Mother Jones.
My earlier essay about how Obama's March on Washington Anniversary speech was just one more example of the country's first black president deciding to publicly shame African-Americans, and portray us as racial grievance mongers, has generated some interesting comments.
Gable1111 offered a provocative observation about Obama and the idea of a "beloved community" that I would like to highlight:
A lot of us thought that the second term would reveal "the real Obama," but instead of "Trouble Man" we get Irkle; instead of swinging for the fences he's humbly bunting with the lowered expectations of just getting to first base, only to continue to get kicked in the teeth by those who's favor he seems to seek. That he continues to do this at a point in time when he clearly doesn't have to says this is not a feint; this is who he is.
Dr. King had not just love but an obsession for his people. He talked about the "Beloved Community." Is it not possible for Obama for just once to celebrate black folk? Is the only context he will ever speak of his people is to scold?
For a lot of us the problem is with the "first black president," we thought we were getting W.E.B. Dubois, but instead we're getting Booker T. The March on Washington speech makes that even more apparent.Nothing is more threatening to White America than black self-love, self-reliance, independence, and uplift. Such values are supposed to be quintessentially "American". However, when black folks who are deeply rooted in the African-American community espouse such principles (excluding paid for lapdog Tea Party GOP black conservatives), the white racial frame views them as dangerous "radicals" and "separatists" who are "anti-white".
President Obama plays the public scold of Black America in order to maintain his bonafides as being a "race neutral" policymaker who is in no way threatening to Middle America like those "angry" black people.
In this role, Obama embodies a dualism wherein his election allows for a sense of racial transcendence for white folks, while simultaneously serving colorblind racism because he will do nothing to address the specific challenges facing the black community.
But, what if Obama responded to those critics who argue that he seems to take particular delight in lecturing black Americans about their failings--and remaining quite silent about the various pathologies that are running amok in White America--by publicly offering some version of the following sentence.
"Yes, I have a deep and abiding love for the black community."
I can imagine three responses.
Obama's declaration of love for the black community is implicitly "anti-white" and an example of "black racism". Two, this is more "proof" that Obama hates white people. Three, the White Right (and others) will of course ask, "what would happen if a white president proclaimed his love for the white community! Double standards! Hypocrisy!"
In all, public expressions of affinity and a sense of linked fate for, and within, the black community by its members are in many ways still verboten in American life.
Why? Because Whiteness and its incumbent systems of White Supremacy and White Privilege are at their root dependent upon a denial of black humanity, dignity, and full equality. Ultimately, black and brown folks loving themselves and each other without fear of white approval or white consequence is a threat to the very foundation of White Supremacy as a racial ideology.
What responses would you imagine if Obama stopped being the Scold-in-Chief of Black America and instead decided to be a black president who publicly announced his love for black people?