Friday, November 16, 2012

Tavis Smiley Making Sense and Calling Out Foolishness: "Latinos, Women and Young People--That is the New Governing Coalition"

This is real simple for me. With all due respect to the formidable coalition of Latinos, women, and young voters, Barack Obama would not be sitting in the Oval Office right now had Black folk stayed home in their "house slippers." African Americans are his most loyal constituency and everybody in the Obama reelection campaign and in the Obama White House knows it. The president owes Black folk. BIG time. 
The poet Gwendolyn Brooks had this wonderful refrain, "the last of the loud." Respectfully, somebody has to remind the president day in and day out of the debt he owes Black America. After four years of being sidelined and silenced, it's time to get loud. We have to be willing to engage even if we are "the last of the loud." 
Our Latino brothers and sisters immediately (as in the day after the election) jumped on a national media conference call to make it clear that they saved the president in some key battleground states. I ain't mad at 'em. That's exactly what they should have done. Black folk taught the disenfranchised masses how to make demands in the name of unarmed truth and unconditional love. Ready for the hard truth? At the moment, our Latino brothers and sisters are better examples of the Black prophetic tradition than are Black folk.
Tavis Smiley is the second man in a tag team of provocation and "truth telling" with Cornel West. They have been calling out President Obama and his stable of academics and activists for many months, beginning with the president's first term. West cut another vicious promo against his opposition last week. Smiley, is choosing to take a different tact with this insightful essay on how African-Americans are being (conveniently) written out of Obama's re-election story.

Smiley is highlighting some uncomfortable truths that some in the black-brown coalition which defeated Romney do not want to discuss at this celebratory juncture.

How will the emergence of Hispanics as the country's largest "minority" group impact national politics, generally and black politics, specifically?

I am deeply suspicious of any claims regarding "natural" affinity between African-Americans and other minority groups. Race is not destiny. A shared status as "people of color" says little about how those identities, especially for ethnic groups like Hispanics (who can be of any race), are contingent and evolving.

For example, if Hispanics are inaugurated into "whiteness" what will that mean for shared interests with black Americans? 

Black Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans are competitors both in the labor market, as well as the political arena. There may be areas of overlap and shared concern; there will be, and are, areas of competition, as well as a divergence of interests.

The black/white binary has dominated American social, political, and cultural life for at least 300 years. In the United States, Asians, Hispanics, and other groups have been "triangulating" between these two poles. Here, political and economic power are two additional dimensions in a binary relationship which must be considered. White Americans are preeminently strong on both axes. Black Americans have been able to attain political power at a cost: they are weak in terms of economic power. Asian Americans have economic power. But, they are weak in terms of political power.

Thus, a question.

As Hispanics leverage their role in Obama's re-election and translate it into real political currency--something black people will not be able to do--what will happen as they gain access both in terms of economic and political power? Moreover, what happens to the United States (and to the African-American community) if Hispanics can use their status as an ethnic group to gain more political and economic power than Black Americans?

The shameless gloating about the decline of White Conservative Masculinity, and the demographic winter of white people, is an ironic and trickster-like mask: black folks are approaching their own demographic and political winter given the ascendance of Hispanics as the country's largest "minority" group. Whiteness is repositioning itself for this reality; Blackness needs to reposition itself as well. The "browning" of America may actually make for some interesting--and surprising--bedfellows.


A. Ominous said...

The seeds of the counter-argument are nested neatly in the argument: the Hispanics/Latinos/Chicanos will (or do) divide along color lines that are already class lines, largely, and the traditional political dichotomy in America... "fair" vs "dark"... will keep on keeping on: they're less of a monolith than Blacks (who aren't a monolith). Though I wouldn't take any bets on what the official language will be in 50 years!

Meanwhile: "light-skinned Blacks" capable of kinda passing (eg Missy Broadwell) will be jumping ship in increasing numbers, seeding the North American "Whites" (who are already far less than "pure") with sleeper DNA bound to wreak demographic havoc in a few generations! It should be interesting! Laugh

nomad said...

"The president owes Black folk. BIG time."

Don't hold your breath waiting for him to reciprocate. He owed black folk "BIG time" in his first election. What'd they get in return? He doesn't have to respond to blacks cause he knows they're going to vote for him no matter what he does. So he's going to ignore them this term just like he did last term. Unless, perhaps if black bloggers, pundits, intellectuals and such, are not so meek this go round. Power concedes nothing without a demand.

A. Ominous said...

"Power concedes nothing without a demand."

And it's far too late to make any demands. The best "we" can do with the next four years is learn from them; it's going to be a tough lesson.

Cavoyo said...

Here's some interesting statistics: in 1900, black people made up 13% of the American population. Today they make up 13% of the population. By 2050, they are predicted to make up... 13% of the population. So that's 150 years without any major shifts in black people's share of the population.

Speaking of making races white, I've heard a good explanation of the trend of American racial formation over the past few centuries: it's gone from centering on being a WASP to centering on not being black. That is, racial privilege is becoming less based on which race you are and more based on which race you are not.

nomad said...

"And it's far too late to make any demands."
Not at all. The drones are not hunting us down in the homeland just yet. "We" have got to fight each battle as they develop. Like the current one. Stand up, speak out, especially those who have a podium. "HANDS OFF SOCIAL SECURITY, YOU MOTHERS!" Say it LOOOUUUUUUUDDDDDDD!!!!!

nomad said...

Sure, the odds are against. You may not even be heard. Not safe. Not politic. Not popular. You do it simply because it's right.

Anonymous said...

Good post. Unless they happen to be celebs who held fundraisers for him at their mansions or blew up Twitter on his behalf, Black(shee)people shouldn't hold their breath waiting for any special thank you from the Obama administration. The overwhelming majority demanded absolutely nothing from him, blindly defending his lack of attention to them and urban issues during his first term. "A rising tide what?" "Well, he inherited a big mess." Now that he's safely reelected, you can expect absolutely no traction on the issues that really matter to the community. I predict a lot of folk feeling like jilted side-pieces at the end of 2016.

nomad said...

"I predict a lot of folk feeling like jilted side-pieces at the end of 2016."

Oh, Anon, they gon be pissed!!!

A. Ominous said...

"in 1900, black people made up 13% of the American population. Today they make up 13% of the population. By 2050, they are predicted to make up... 13% of the population."

Too funny! That's what you call Creative Accounting.

A. Ominous said...


This is what I mean by "too late": what's "our" leverage now? Who really gives a shit if a million people "march" these days? Heard any good jokes about "OWS" lately...?

I've done some negotiating in my time and it's pretty hard to use the "poker bluff" gambit in lieu of actual leverage. Leverage is almost always about timing (unless yer daddy is a Gates or a Gambino and "our" daddies are neither). "Our" timing is now officially fucked.

Invisible Man said...

Good Lawdie Chauncey Vega done run off from the plantation!

What do you say Nomad, should we let him pass up the mountains with us Maroons?

nomad said...

My word, more powerful than my vote. I'm here to persuade the persuaders. Their first mistake was teaching me how to read.

chaunceydevega said...

@Invisible. Nope. Just building my own fortress in Florida.

@Nomad. You know the punishment for book reading don't you?

nomad said...

"They coming for your social security." Even Carlin didn't imagine that a black president would be leading the charge.


nomad said...

'This is what I mean by "too late": what's "our" leverage now? Who really gives a shit if a million people "march" these days? Heard any good jokes about "OWS" lately...?'

Things have changed. Matter matters but now we have something we never had before. The internet. The collective Mind. And we can mold it independent of the pundit brokers. That's why the PTB want to shut it down. And shut us up. At the moment now we have this incredible power. Use it before they take it away. Mind over matter.

nomad said...

"Their first mistake was teaching me how to read."
Their second mistake was the internet.

chaunceydevega said...

@Nomad. Boo! Did I scare you. More seriously, I have long argued that social security should be means tested anyway. millionaires and those with significant assets should not receive social security as they are already "secured" so to speak.

I also think that changes should be made for working class and poor people-and some in the middle class--so that if two spouses have worked their whole lives and one dies either before the age when social security kicks in or during retirement that some percentage of both monies should still be received.

100 for the surviving spouse who was already getting their own payments. x percentage of the check received by the person who is now passed away. the fact that those monies evaporate back to the state and people have to live in poverty (or keep a mummified corpse in the house) once a spouse dies is immoral and bad public policy.

A. Ominous said...


**"Their first mistake was teaching me how to read."
Their second mistake was the internet."***

I don't want to blow the conch shell of doom here (laugh) but I believe that the disadvantage (to them) of enlightening and connecting 2% of the population (us?) is more than made up for (to them) by gaining near-control of 98% of the population older than 5! Facebook is only the funniest example.

Net gain for "us", net loss for Duh Masses (who can't seem to wait to toss off that last little shred of privacy or individualistic thought).

Btw, I wouldn't worry *too* much about the "shutting down of the" (or, realistically, the two-tiered and heavily-PC-policed) Internet. The Internet is just a small part of the WWW...

(He said, cryptically)

A. Ominous said...


CNu said...


Hedging against the rising cost of brass and locking in a bearable price over a realistic timeframe. Nothing operationally unusual about buying bullets enmasse in the context of commodities being the only liquid market where you can still pull a return on investment.

nomad said...

Nothing to see here. Move along, folks.

Razor said...

CD, I am so happy that we are beyond the re-election of Obama vs. the scary political theatrical prop Romney.

Now black folk finally are ready to at least begin to start the rudimentary process of at least talking about holding him accountable. The sad truth is that the Hispanics, people who did not vote for him enmasse the way that blacks have in the 2008 election, have the sense to come out of the gate demanding immediate attention.

The issue about the economic and political "triangulation" involving the Hispanics and Asians is a very interesting one. It is another reason why this New Age Political Black, personified best by President Obama and Corey Booker, to me presents a serious existential political, social and economic threat to the future of Black folks.

I am glad that Tavis and Cornel West, who have a large audience, have lifted their voices, even though it has been very unpopular among the majority of our pundit class. They have gotten criticism mainly because black folk would rather have a black president than eat. That he has acted like a slave-catcher be damned.

SA, you can criticize OWS all you want, but I believe that there will have to be an active repudiation of our country's course in that fashion.

A. Ominous said...


"SA, you can criticize OWS all you want, but I believe that there will have to be an active repudiation of our country's course in that fashion."

What, some kids and some homeless people camping out with no particular plan... that's an active repudiation? The first OWS only served to taint that option, in the future, for the majority of Duh Masses; a "protest" like that only works if it captures the imaginations of more than the idealistic young and/or the super-marginal. And media (which is the ninja butler for the 1%, after all) only gave it as much coverage as it did because it was not, in the end, a threat. What They *don't* want to happen again is for Duh Masses to start falling in love with the romance of the labor union and effective tools like targeted boycotts and collective bargaining.

Why do you think They put *so* much energy into making labor unions seem like vulgar fronts for organized crime... while at the same time polluting our collective mind with plutocrat-porn like Pretty Woman?

Any time media promotes a "movement" with the defacto rallying cry of "No Leaders! No plan!", we should be on our guard.

@CnU: point taken! But I believe that They believe in killing three or four birds with one stone.

A. Ominous said...

"Now black folk finally are ready to at least begin to start the rudimentary process of at least talking about holding him accountable."

Still curious as to how that would work. Again: with what leverage?

CNu said...

Given that the Hon.Bro.Preznit.Double-0 was the elite establishment's handpicked negroe - picked, prepped, and presented to an eager and suggestible black audience that fell for this production hook, line, and sinker...,

nomad said...

...germinated,picked, prepped, and presented...

nomad said...

...inseminated, germinated, picked, prepped, and presented...

A. Ominous said...

Let's not forget Deval Patrick, one of the understudies (who was such a near-clone that Obama was caught using ghost-written texts that Patrick had used first) in case, you know, BHO was hit by a car in college or something

nomad said...

Their second mistake was the internet.

Here's one thing the internet can do. Tired of being sprayed like roaches? Sign the petition.

nomad said...

Here's another:
"The masks are falling to the floor, the internet is uniting like-minded souls across the globe, and in doing so is de-facto releasing the souls themselves, and the internet is merely the forerunner, moving us toward an understanding of our true oneness. It is an important step towards the soon-to-occur Unification of the Cosmic Mind, which will open the way for a telepathic-interconnectedness that will ultimately shrug the vampire from our necks, and reduce the parasite to dust."

A. Ominous said...


What, the "Cosmic Mind" waited a few billion years for the development of fiber optic cable before it could coalesce? Sounds like a "hip" version of pie-in-the-sky, Dude, and it reminds me of how They used media in the early 1960s to derail the well-organized anti-war movement of the 1950s with the multi-colored distraction/diversion of the "cosmic" Hippies.

The FIC (fuckers in charge) aren't going to be that easy to shake... especially since they're in charge of feeding us our favorite myths and junk foods!

PS Also: do you really think signing a petition on a website is going to do much? If so, why are all those SuperPacs blowing millions on bribes when they could be signing petitions instead? Laugh

nomad said...

I dunno. Tiltin at windmills, I guess. What's the alternative?

nomad said...

"What, the "Cosmic Mind" waited a few billion years for the development of fiber optic cable before it could coalesce?"
We can't really speak about a few billion years. We only have "knowledge" of a fraction of that. A few thousand. And we've probably misinterpreted much of what we know about that. Who knows how many times this cycle has been repeated? And what other means it may have been transmitted? If the cosmic mind stands outside of time the notion of waiting would be meaningless.

nomad said...

Also, most people can't even conceive of the possibility that they are being fumigated daily by some unknown cabal. If a petition actually rises to awareness of the gummint, they'd at least feel its okay to see the depravity being written in the sky. Instead of blinding themselves as per the program.

A. Ominous said...

I would suggest a possible actually *doable* project could resemble: Seeding crystals of the like-minded across whatever Social Media Platform... congregating people open to, eg, being educated with pro-Labor Union counter-propanganda and other nuggets of Real History? Bring the crystals along slowly as they grow; seed each crystal with a handful of Enlightened Post-Writers (aka Leaders)... nurture the crystals with every trick in the book (eg carefully-administrated comment threads and really sexy entertainment) until, over the next 5 years, each crystal represents millions of Facebook-style-friends? Only it can't be Facebook (for semi-obvious reasons). Take the chaos and rudderlessness of OWS out of the equation put keep the passion/idealism of OWS into it. With the added benefit that it starts virtually... nobody pointlessly freezing their asses off to provide water-cannon target-practice.

And then slowly start flexing a radicalized Social Muscle with targeted boycotts, sit-down strikes (which only work when your strikers are employed and can therefore disrupt an Industry)... with the greater goal of undoing all that anti-Union/Collectivist brainwashing we've been doused with since *after* McCarthy!

Something like that?

You might need some venture capital to fund the code-writing for the Radical Platform. It could look like a sexed-up Friendster/ MySpace (laugh). It would have to be the anti-Twitter: 140 characters per pop is the dumbing-down bullshit the FIC love!

And: (home-made High quality anti-hegemony trendy-feeling) Films and Music could be a big part of it. You'd need a dedicated intelligentsia to kick in the content and sculpt the *Very Carefully-Considered Plan*.

It could be done. And the mood in the country two years from now will be perfect (when the extent of the Obamacon becomes obvious to even the diehards).

The goal should not be that ridiculous (and sinister) pipe-dream called "Communism"... the taboo we need to bring into the sunlight, in America, is SOCIAL DEMOCRACY.

I live in one and it is (Or was) beautiful (though the "Americans" are slowly fucking with that, over here, as we speak; it's still good for another ten years I guess). Don't listen to the propaganda: we had it fucking PHAT over here for the longest time...

A. Ominous said...

"If the cosmic mind stands outside of time the notion of waiting would be meaningless."

But, Nomad, factual or not, that trope is as unverifiable as The Holy Ghost. Where did it come from? Are you sure it's even Ancient Wisdom (and don't forget how ignorant the Ancients were): most of that "cosmic" talk started at the turn of the 20th century... and ramped up in the 1960s and '70s. Again: whose best interest was it in to tie us up with unicorns and angels while They (the FIC) were busy writing Nazi Code into the Lawbooks?

nomad said...

"I would suggest a possible actually *doable* project could resemble: Seeding crystals of the like-minded across whatever Social Media Platform."

Good ideas. In my own small way that's what I try to do. Plant seeds of independent thought. Water the seeds planted by like minded folk. If, for example, someone reading this thread decides to look up and wonder about the white stripes criss-crossing the sky, I've succeeded. Especially if they sign the petition. If someone reading something I've posted wakes up to the Obamacon, I've succeeded.

Cosmic mind? I don't know. Not really my construct, but I'm open to it. Anything to help deconstruct the lies that have terraformed my brain.

Holy Ghost unverifiable huh? Who'd a thunk it.

A. Ominous said...

Yep, the Holy Ghost (aka Vishnu) is still way out there with Bigfoot and The Living Elvis, working for peanuts in the National Enquirer

A. Ominous said...

"Good ideas. In my own small way that's what I try to do."

That's what we're all up to here: Phase One

Razor said...

SA, I get that OWS was not a well constructed movement and therefore was able to be twarted in it's infancy principally through old fashioned orchestrated and calculated brute force. However, the more important thing about it was the attention it brought to the collective process of resistance to the status quo of corporate control of America. Hey, it's a beginning.

You are correct, I believe, about the need for intelligent collective action on the labor front. However, with the advent of globalization ushered in by Clinton, and with Obama about to put the nail in the coffin with the impending Trans-Pacific Trade Partership agreement he and his benefactors are secretly meeting about, we are about to be faced with "multi-racial" slavery and severe class conflict, which is why this Orwellian-style surveillance state apparatus is being assembled as we speak, labor unions are about to become public enemy number one.

I expect to see the intelligent growth of collectives for a variety of needs. However, even that kind of independent seeking behavior will become a threat to the present structures who fear socialistic (community over individual) thought and action.

Even while we are discussing whether black folk should have the gall and temerity to ask President Obama to finally throw us a bone, it shows just how out of touch with reality we as black folk have become. While our black aptly named mis-leaders have sold their souls to the corporatocracy, along with our black president, having flooded the labor market with cheap NAFTA displaced Hispanics, we are now faced with this so called "triangulation" with them, who we never slaves in this country...who didn't build this country...and we are cheering the slave-cather. God help us to wake up.

Razor said...

I have one other point about the emergence of the Latinos and the point CD makes about being uncomfortable with any designation of racial affinity with them.

Even they see themselves as being superior to blacks having been proselytized by Europeans. The US already is willing to consider many of them "white" and like many of the Eastern and Southern Europeans they are eager to be considered "white", and have demonstrated that they will vote against black folks interest.

Again, sleeping black folks...don't be fooled by this faux-black Obama phenomenon.