Posted by: nquest2xl | June 22, 2008

Why a Black president Obama won’t necessarily mean progress – Part II

Behind the False Black Flag

The famous line from the novel, “A Tale of Two Cities”, goes like this:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

I’m not big on American Lit but it seems to me the idea Dickens conveyed noted how the good and the bad can exist at the same time. With that in mind, this idea of racial progress can be seen as a mixed bag.

One ominous sign in these historic times comes from a likely source with perhaps an unlikely disposition. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Watch site has an article noting how many white supremacists are anxiously awaiting, even celebrating, Barack Obama’s possible election as president of these not-so-United States. That should be the first clue that different people can agree on the same thing for different reasons. Because of that, and what I’ve said before, I’m leary of people who want to assign the progress tag to either Obama’s Democratic nominee status or his eventual assumption of the office of president.

Did you catch that? I believe Obama will be the next president. To be honest, I think I had my doubts prior to Iowa Caucus 2008 but I didn’t completely rule it out. Now, when it came to a Obama-Clinton ticket (which people always wanted to put the other way around, for some reason), I’ve always said that was too much to fast no matter who headlined the ticket. The idiots at Fox News agree and they don’t even wear sheets??? (eyebrows raised). That’s the reason why I believed an Obama-Clinton ticket it’s too much, too fast. Which brings me to the points made in today’s Washington Post.

Many think Obama has the potential to transform current racial politics. Nearly six in 10 believe his candidacy will shake up the racial status quo, for better or worse. And by nearly 3 to 1, those who think Obama’s candidacy will affect race relations said it will have a positive impact. (Four in 10 said it probably will not make much of a difference.)

African Americans are much more optimistic than whites on this score: Sixty percent said Obama’s candidacy will do more to help race relations, compared with 38 percent of whites. Two-thirds of those supporting him for president think it will improve the situation.

Those 62% of White Americans who don’t think his candidacy, let alone an Obama presidency, won’t help really put a damper on things especially when 66% or so of his supporters believe it will.

Speaking of dampers, I got the Black Flag idea from David Dukes website. Color me bad for following the link on Hate Watch but I can’t help but to think that this kind of idea, from Duke, exist in the minds of non-sheet wearers:

In auto racing, a black flag is the signal used for the car to go to the pits. Barack Obama winning the Democrat Nomination is a black flag for America, a sign of where we as a people and nation are heading…to the pits.

I’m not even trying to entertain all the stuff on Duke’s mind but with signs of our nation’s economic times, the lingering, if coded, questions about Obama’s “inexperience” even when his opponent, McCain, openly shows his ignorance and need for the Dummies Guide To The Economy, the Internet, Iraq, etc., etc., etc. Them Dukes (white supremacists), however, aren’t banking on Obama being better on the economy than McCain. To the contrary, they are hoping for the worst which would be good for their cause.

Likewise, there’s been plenty of White emotions invested in an Obama’s presidency, the seminal post-racial moment some have longed for, because it would signal the end of “excuses” for African-Americans which apparently includes the end of affirmative action. (I won’t even comment, here, on the “excuses” slur and it’s use by some African-Americans and Obama, alike.)

Then there’s all the questions floating around all election year about Obama’s scary blackness — from Rev. Wright, Farrakhan (and even Father Pfleger) to his wife, Michelle Obama, and, on the other side, Obama’s white mother and being raised “white” (i.e. by his mother and grandparents). In her oft referenced and frequently misunderstood commentary (even as problematic as it was), Debra Dickerson actually touched on something that shouldn’t be so readily dismissed. From primary, to now the general election campaign, people have understood that Obama has had to avoid appearing “too black” or the “black candidate.” Worse, most have insisted that shouldn’t be as if any of the characterizations, even the “angry Black” stereotypes, whether it’s Obama as “angry Black male” or Michelle as “angry Black woman“, represent something wrong.

So it’s that kind of compromised individual who is supposed to represent this racial progress our nation has made. Well, IMHO, that’s reason enough to call bs on the notion. The worst part of the whole “black” label (“black candidate”, “too black”) is what lies behind that black, false flag. While popular narratives suggest Obama has gotten as far as he has because of his apparent break from the identity politics — aka “the politics of greviance” — of the past, what’s hardly ever clearly articulated is what this means:

“…over half of whites in the new poll called Obama a “risky” choice for the White House, while two-thirds said McCain is a “safe” pick. Forty-three percent of whites said Obama has sufficient experience to serve effectively as president, and about two in 10 [White Americans] worry he would overrepresent the interests of African Americans.”

To steal a page from Obama’s book: the projection is real.

Never at any time that I’m aware of has anyone questioned whether the nations long list of White presidents overrepresented the interests of White Americans. Apparently, that’s okay. And, by the looks of it, it’s that very truth, the very fact that for centuries the American government has unquestionably overrepresented White interests, elite or otherwise, in the decisions it has made up to and including civil rights legislation.

That’s why affirmative action has a black eye (i.e. it’s the idea that Blacks may benefit that’s bothers a lot of people). White women have been said to be the main beneficiaries — and, indeed, they were the bargaining chip used to either make or break the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 — but you’ve seen few if any high profile law suits at major universities, for example, that allege a White female took somebody’s spot.

And that’s just it. The prevailing, yet undisclosed sentiment that seems to be behind all of this hinges on an idea that, IMO, extends far beyond David Duke klan. Though the idea of African-Americans, particularly the Black “underclass”, as undeserving often find explicit expression among such credible people on the right like Rush Limbaugh (note: the Clintons have shattered whatever myth that existed), Obama’s campaign, and how often he’s been allowed to place racial justice issues center stage in his campaign, make the subtle point this commenter on Ta-Nehisi Coates blog was too clumsy to make (because his was relatively blatant):

I have a notion that if black America were to expose this internal debate they are having to a wider realm of people [to let others see the internal self-examination that goes on and the culture of personal responsibility in the Black community], and risk exposing themselves to shame, they might be surprised at the level of support they would get. If defensive whites got a sense that blacks are trying to deal with these issues in a way other than complaining about grievances and injustice, and whites got a good look at this side of the black community that is not about anger, I think they would have more sympathy, and be less racist, and more open to supporting the kinds of social and economic programs the black community desires.

That point is a resounding one that should be obvious in the projection of fear among some Whites that Obama would “overrepresent” the interests of African-Americans. What is really being said is that things clearly in the interests of African-Americans, no matter how just the policy would be and no matter who else would benefit, shouldn’t be adequately represented at all. Unfortunately, our nation hasn’t made progress on that front, at least not on a national scale and Obama merely holding the office won’t do it.

For the record: I put that assumption, that a president Obama would mean something significant in terms of racial progress (which is not to be confused with things symbolic which too many pro-Obama whites, and Blacks for that matter, act as if that would be enough) on the same scale as Republicans cynically flaunting Bush’s appointment of more Blacks to high level cabinet positions than Democrats.


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