Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Why Does Barack Obama Hate My Family?

Kevin Alexander Gray writes:

Addressing a congregation at the Apostolic Church of God, one of Chicago's largest black churches, on Father's Day, Barack Obama said:

"Too many fathers are M.I.A., too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men."

This was his "Sister Souljah" moment. Just as Bill Clinton during his 1992 campaign tried to reassure whites that he wasn't too cozy with blacks by denouncing a rapper, Obama was appealing to whites by condemning his own.

Even so, I wasn’t surprised to hear him referred to black men as “boys.”

Obama has often taken to “playin’ blacks.” Playin’ in blackspeak means to fool or use a person or persons. (George Bush’s selling of a war on the Iraqi people to America is an example that readily comes to mind or - “Bush played us cheap" or “he played us for fools.” )

Early in the campaign year, Obama used one of the oldest racial stereotypes in a speech to black South Carolina state legislators: "In Chicago, sometimes when I talk to the black chambers of commerce, I say, 'You know what would be a good economic development plan for our community would be if we make sure folks weren't throwing their garbage out of their cars'.” Translation; black people are dirty and lazy.

One would think getting money is a better plan.

Then, the day before the Texas primary, he let loose again, in a predominantly black venue: "Y'all have Popeyes out in Beaumont? I know some of y'all, you got that cold Popeyes out for breakfast. I know. That's why y'all laughing. ... You can't do that. Children have to have proper nutrition. That affects also how they study, how they learn in school." Translation; black people are fat, stupid and lazy.

How would people respond if John McCain (or any person of a different race, nationality or ethnicity) threw out stereotypes like these? What would we say if a white person had stood in the pulpit of a black church, or anywhere else for that matter, and referred to black men as “boys,” in any context?

But since it’s Obama, sounding like Bill Clinton before his fall from black grace, or Bill Cosby speaking out of his own personal pain, the change candidate’s remarks were met with hosannas mostly by a vapid, racist, white-dominated corporate media, the black people who say what their white bosses want to hear, and blacks and whites alike who shout amen even when Obama’s saying something plainly contradicted by their own life experiences.

It was no big surprise that after the speech those critical of Obama were dismissed “as out touch” with the new “post-racial” illusion. Bob Herbert of The New York Times appearing on MSNBC’s Hardball went so far as to say that anyone who disagreed with Obama’s Father’s Day admonition to black men was living in a racial “fog” of the past. Newspapers across the county affirmed the smear with headlines like “Obama tells black men to shape up” or “Obama speaks ‘inconvenient truth’ to black men” or “Obama calls black men irresponsible” or “He's saying things people don’t want to hear” - with the inference that truth was flowing from his tongue.

I saw no headline lead with the word "some" black men.

Playin’ folk on any day is bad enough. But, as a father, grandfather and a black person, I see playin’ black men on Father's Day as even more repulsive. The day is for honoring fathers. We don’t honor the vets on Veteran’s Day by pointing out those who choose not to fight, or the cowards, or even the enemy.

The Obamalife narrative highlights that his dad abandoned him as a kid. So, maybe it’s his abandonment issues that he’s laying on the rest of us. That would explain why he kicked his father “under the bus” implying he had acted like a “boy” when he and his wife divorced each other. Was she acting like a “girl” at the time? It is as simple as one parent being good or a victim and the other a bad victimizer? And, what of the fact that both his mother and father remarried? Is it his wish that his mom and biological dad had remained unhappily married? Does he wish his half-sister had never been born? Is he against divorce? How does he feel about forced or even loveless marriages? Maybe he believes there should be a required economic declaration before a woman gives birth and that two signatures on paper are required before conception?

No doubt, there’s a difference between being a sperm donor and being a nurturing, involved parent. But you don’t have to share a living space with a child to have an influence on him or her. And you can share a living space and be a lousy father or mother. That’s life. I was very young when I first heard the phrase “staying together for the good of the kids.” As I grew I learned that oftentimes living arrangements between ex-lovers have to change for the good of the kids.

I’m not claiming to know the story behind the picture of Obama and his father at the airport, but I suspect that joint custody between Hawaii, Indonesia, Massachusetts, Kansas, New York, Illinois and Africa would have been tough.

Writing about Obama’s speech gave me a headache. I found myself getting testy just thinking it through and what it means to me and those around me. A lot of people have approached me to talk about Obama’s speech. People walk up to me at the gas checkout line and strike up a conversation about Obama. Just the other day, a black woman behind me in line pipes up and says, “Things sho’ gonna be better when Obama gets elected.” She was not pleased with my response to her uninvited optimism. But I don’t think what she said was or is helpful in real terms.

I was speaking to a single, black woman lawyer about my unease with the speech and she immediately went off on black men in general. Now, my lawyer friend is a smart, progressive person. She’s a former New York State prosecutor but I’ve never consciously deducted points from her humanity for her past employment choice. But in our conversation she threw out all the standard lines, “black men aren’t taking care of their kids,” and “they are sorry.” I countered by saying most social scientists believe that an adolescent girl is more mature than an adolescent boy, so, who do we pin being the most irresponsible on? I asked her: If we believe that it is a woman’s right to chose whether or not to be a mother, then why should irresponsible black fathers be the sole point of Obama’s attack? And why should any aspect of black male-female relations be grist for the campaign mill?

What Obama’s "bash the black man" game leads to is an environment where black people – separate and not equal – is the issue.

Moreover, it passes on one of the lowest of all the smears and stereotypes: the lie that black men have no morals. It reinforces the white supremacists’ notion of blacks as irresponsible, overly sexual beasts; a notion that far too many black folk as well as white unwittingly buy into.

I happened to have what turned out to be a very short breakfast meeting with a white female friend who was also a former Hillary Clinton supporter. She’s now onboard with Obama. As we spoke, after not seeing each other for more than a month or so, the topic quickly went to Obama with me telling her I didn’t plan to vote for him, his speech being just one of the reasons. She responded by threatening to never speak to me again if I supported Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney. I don’t know if she was serious or not.

On the subject of the Father’s Day speech she followed up by asking in a somewhat careful way, “Aren’t black women more responsible than black men? That’s what I’ve always heard.”

She’s been married 3 times and has kids by her first husband.

But I didn’t mention that. Instead, what I think might have ended our breakfast prematurely was my black man race card response to the "irresponsibility" question. It’s the answer I give to anyone – black or white - who raises the question: A black man would have to be full of self or group hate to believe that black men are more irresponsible then white men or men of other races or ethnic backgrounds. George Bush, Dick Cheney, and a host of other white guys who lied America into the Iraqi war, which has resulted in countless deaths, prove the point. And that’s just the most recent example of white, male irresponsibility. The history of the United States is drenched in blood due to the decisions of immoral, irresponsible white men.

A couple of weeks after the Father’s Day speech while waiting for a plane at Chicago’s O’Hare airport, I found myself in a conversation with a white, female airport worker. The woman, also a mother of mixed-race children, worked out on the pad, most likely unloading baggage and other such laborious tasks. She was sitting down resting between flights in the employee section, just a couple of seats away from me. She overheard me talking to a friend about the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. This prompted her to tell me about her taking her two kids on a trip to the historic site. I felt her pride as she told her story of her trip. She remembered how she welled up with tears looking up at the balcony, and her kids asked why she was crying. She recalled how her kids responded when they got on the old ‘50s city bus and the recording yelled out, “Niggers move to the back of the bus!” She said it was then her kids understood why she had cried earlier. It presented her the opportunity to tell them how far things have come and what it took to get here. It was one of those moments when a parent feels like they’re teaching their kids something important.

At some point we started talking about Obama’s black man speech. She supports Obama. She told me of the pride her mixed-race kids felt in Obama’s success, him being mixed race like them. But at the end of our conversation she too concluded that Obama’s speech was aimed at white people.

When I first heard Obama’s Father’s Day speech, my immediate thoughts were of Camille, my recently married 30-year-old daughter. Around the time she turned 25, she informed me and her mother that she planned to have a baby. I simply told her it was her choice since she had to bear the primary burden of raising a child. Or, as the song goes, “if you dance to the music, ya gotta pay to the piper...”

When my daughter came to us, as parents, what we consciously didn’t do was lay a single-parent stigma on her, since nobody really raises a child alone. At least where I come from. So, we got a granddaughter to help raise and nurture along with our two other grandkids by my son and his wife who, coincidently, was a teenage mother before she and my son began dating in high school.

One of the jobs of a parent or grandparent is to prevent a child in their care from being saddled with guilt, self-hate or any other baggage society would strap on their backs – regardless of the circumstance of their birth, which a child has no say in. I see our job as rejecting the stigma, which paints a child as “a mistake.” Or, in political terms, it’s as simple as reinforcing Jesse Jackson’s “I am somebody” in a kid.

You don’t need to be Alvin Poussaint to know that a child – any child, regardless of color or economic status- who doesn’t value their life or feel their worth as a human or feels unloved grows up to be an adult who doesn’t value life – theirs or anyone else’s.

When Camille and her child’s father were going through their breakup, I had one of those heartfelt talks with the both of them. She and the young man had dated since middle school. And, although they had a child together, they were at a fork in the road with one another. It was one of those moments when young people learn adult things, such as the fact that a child does not always make a relationship better nor can it keep an unhealthy or loveless relationship together. And, when a couple splits, in the heat of it all, it’s important not to do or say something stupid that would scar not only their individual lives, but their child’s future as well. We told the young man that he was the father of our grandchild and nothing could alter that fact. We assured him that we didn’t expect anything less than him having a full relationship with his child. He has done just that over the years. But we didn’t call him an irresponsible boy. That seemed not only counter-productive but holier than thou. Of course, we weren’t running for president; we were just trying to give a kid a chance.

Camille married 5 years after NyAshia’s birth, but it wasn’t to her child’s biological dad. It was to a fellow who has three children of his own. He also shares joint parental custody with his ex-lovers. In the three or four years of his courtship of my daughter, his kids called my wife and I grandmama and granddaddy. While a marriage license and church service made it official, it didn’t take all that for us to be family. Everyone in this blended situation – the biological father of my granddaughter, the biological mother of our blended grandkids, and the rest of us – have always shared parental responsibilities.

Now, I’m not trying to universalize my family’s experience. But I sure wouldn’t lay Obama’s take on responsibility on the people around me. Nor would I suggest that they adopt his worldview of what a family is or should be. Because by his two-biological, heterosexual parents residing in same household definition of a family, every other type of family setup is inherently deficient in every sense of the word: economic, social, moral.

In the days after Obama’s speech, Ishmael Reed, Dr. Ron Walters and others rebutted the candidate’s targeting of black men with a Boston College social psychologisit's study which revealed – surprisingly to some – that black fathers not living in the same domicile as their children are more likely to have a relationship with their kids than white fathers in similar circumstances. Walters, an Obama supporter, warned his candidate, “Black people are not voting for a moralist-in-chief.”

So, in light of the Brown study should we conclude that white men are more irresponsible than black men when it comes to spending time with their kids? Maybe Obama should find a white church and offer white men advice on Father’s Day? Can we expect to hear him call them “boys?”

Or maybe he should take a trip to the hollows of Appalachia and tell the “trailer park crowd” that if they would just “pick up the garbage” from around their trailers and “stop engaging in incest” (or whatever other stereotype that comes to mind) they would not have it so bad.

And shouldn’t he be advising the polygamist families out west? Or, hopping on a plane to Massachusetts to lecture the fathers and parents of the pregnant teens in Gloucester?

According to Health and Human Services, “throughout the 1990s, black teens have had the largest declines in teen childbearing rates of any group” while "Latinas have had the highest teen birth rate of any major ethnic/racial minority in the country since 1995." Why doesn’t Obama take his message to the barrios? Maybe he could go to a Catholic Cathedral in the heart of an East L.A. Latino community and challenge Latino men’s machismo. He should use “boys” in his speech and admonish the parishioners not to eat so many burritos.

Truth be told, I don’t wish to see a particular racial, sexual, religious or ethnic group singled out for derision or used as a campaign prop. Stereotypical remarks about blacks, Latinos and whites in Appalachia are just as inappropriate as remarks about Jewish materialism or Irish drunkenness.

I’m old fashioned about some things. My mother is prone to say, “Keep your business out the streets.” I’m only putting out my family’s personal stories to illustrate why I’m leery about Obama.

Many of those around me plan to vote for him. For the most part, my response is to ask folks to look at their lives and check whether or not what Obama is saying squares with their reality. Never mind how they “should” be living – never mind how Obama’s “current” family looks. I just ask if, with all the troubles of getting along day to day, is it helpful to have his polish on how they should be living piled on top?

My new son-in-law has two young boys and a daughter. Like so many other black teens who weren’t as lucky as Obama, he got busted in his teen years and did a little time on a drug arrest. Obviously his life has turned around. Luckily, he’s a brick mason. If he didn’t work for himself in a skilled trade, it would be hard for him to find work. He knows that because he went to jail his sons have 60 percent likelihood of going to jail. He has to fight extra hard to make sure his kids are not that statistic. And it’s a tricky thing. You want your kids to understand the many race traps but not be defined by them.

After Obama won the South Carolina primary, whenever I was asked, I’d say that in the general election my vote was his to lose. Prior to and after their wedding, my ex-offender son-in-law, somewhat of a race man (he planned to vote for Obama "because he is black"), who just recently found out he could vote despite his conviction, constantly reminded me of what I had said, “Remember, you said your vote was his to lose.”

Shortly after his and my daughter’s wedding, a couple of day after Obama’s Father’s Day speech, we were sitting together with a friend of his, a young, married father of one, who was in their wedding party. Once again he reminded me of what I had said about "my vote to lose." I let loose with just about everything I’ve said in this article. I told him to look at his own life and then tell me what he thinks about Obama.

I asked my son-in-law to think about his wedding and the people who were there. There were lots of young mothers and fathers and children, divorcees, second marriages, common-law arrangements, ex-lovers, step-parents and grandparents, etc. Many of those people, if they believed Obama, could be passed off as being “irresponsible” and their kids dismissed as “mistakes.” I asked him: Did he truly believe that many of the people in that church, whose lives he knew, were less moral or responsible than others, as Obama inferred? Ex-offender, former unmarried father of three, rap music producer, isn’t he who Obama is condemning? On paper, anyway. Yet, he has raised three good kids.

Whenever I suggest to Obama insiders that he’s a lot like Bill Clinton, they go apoplectic. Yet, as race-baiting and race politics goes, Obama has proven himself to be as good, if not better than Clinton, long considered the modern master of race politics. If you believe, as I do, that he “played black men to court white voters,” then all Obama’s protestations about Bill Clinton’s race-baiting were just a ruse. And, in that light he is no better than Clinton when it comes to using race fears. He may even be worse than Clinton because he plays it both ways – assaulted and assailant. I’ll be willing to bet that if Clinton were honest in revealing how he really felt about Obama, that would be at the heart of his grievance.

No doubt, people are excited about the prospect of a young, vibrant, black person as president. They see their choice as between John McCain and Obama, and conclude that Obama is “the only option,” or say “He will never be as bad as Bush. He will never be bad as Reagan.” Or they say their man Obama “has a chance to win. We need to give him some latitude.” “We need to let the man do what he needs to do to win.” “We should trust him.” “Barack is one of us, no matter what he sounds like right now.”

As critical as I am, I actually want to believe he’s “one of us.” But I don’t see it.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing for Obama. If people like me don’t see Obama as “one of us,” that strengthens the powerful’s belief that he is “one of them.”

For sure, Obama has most black voters in the bag. I’m pretty sure that my vote falls in the "doesn’t matter so much" column. And from listening to Obama, a whole lot of my family members’ lives don’t matter much either.

I’m not really looking for change from Obama should he win. I’m looking for the fight to come.

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9 Comments:

Anonymous Stephanie - Chicago said...

Kevin Gray writes a compelling narrative that illustrates why Obama's Father's Day tirade was an affront to specifically to Black men and to the African American community in general. I, too, am not interested in electing a moralist-in-chief, or a preacher-in-chief--one who talks jive to my people and talks public policy, economics and law to others. Obama speech was a calculated political move to distance himself from the sons and daughters of African captives brought to the Americas, while simulanteously spotlighting his own African-ness as something unique and peculiar---or profilic at the same time. "I am not like THEM," his speech said to his hidden white audience, "because THEY don't have the same values that I have..." because "I am more like YOU (white mainstream) though I may look like THEM...just remember WE are together..."

His "black" speeches can be analyzed as simply playing the dozens. We get race entertainment and moral codes, while the "real Americans" get position papers, theories and platforms. And I suppose we are supposed to sit here and take it because "this" is "our" moment? There can be no dissent. No critical thinking. No thinking for self. We must all think as group, which means the group cannot think at all.

As I listened to (and then read) that "Father's Day" speech before Apostolic, I envisioned the faces of my father, grandfathers and uncles---strong, beautiful, courageous Black men, who were not perfect but who did what they had to do. They provided for their families, loved their spouses and children and did what they had to do. I thought about my own brother who did not marry the mother of his only child--a son, whom he has been barred from seeing over the last 15 years. I imagined him listening to Obama's speech that called him a boy and chastised him for being irresponsible...and I imagined his pain turn into rage. My brother loves his son deeply and dearly and Obama can only imagine the heart-wrenching pain his removal from his life has caused. But to sweep my brother or other Black men into some stereotypical category based on the old slave sexual codes is irresponsible and dangerous.

Obama should apologize. But he won't. He needs to show America (white people...no middle class and upper income white people)...that he AINT LIKE US....


Big ups to Brother Kevin for daring to speak truth to power. So be it. If Obama wants to play the dozens, let's go. If he wants to talk about our mamas (and daddies)...remember two can play that game...but before we get to that...what about jobs and economic opportunity, universal health care, a working justice department, equal high-quality education for all children, a restoration of our civil liberities, a relief from student loans, a mortagage crsis plan, fair sentencing laws...stopping the flow of guns and drugs into our communitites...



Stephanie

12:11 PM  
Anonymous AJ said...

Man, this sounds like some Micheal Eric Dyson chastizing Bill Cosby bullcrap! Obama's speech was the same speech that Barack has given on Father's Day of EVERY YEAR, to a very receptive BLACK church audience.

If you want to get beyond the rhetoric and look at the LEGISLATION that he has introduced 3 times in the US Senate about fathers you would not be so overly critical of his speech. He address
economic opportunity, training, & education and many other issues.

Furthermore, I bet all of us black men can name 10 others who are acting like boys. Doing dumb shit and not taking responsibility! So Barack didn't call all black men "boys", he called the one's that aren't even trying "boys".

Ya'll starting to sound like you wanna to vote for John McCain. Yeah go ahead and put that idea into people's heads and see what will happen to the Black Family under a McCain presidency.

12:23 AM  
Anonymous Dwayne, Beaufort. SC said...

I now regret voting for Senator Obama in the South Carolina Primary. Leading up to the primary, I was partial to Senator John Edwards. Senator Edwards was the only candidate tactically speaking to the issues that I cared about (launching his campaign in the lower 9th ward impressed me). However, after Senator Obama's win in the Iowa caucus, black people in my community began to jump on the Obama bandwagon. White people began canvasing the neighborhood encouraging support for Senator Obama. I began to think that something was wrong with me. Why am I not on the Obama bandwagon like the rest of these people? If whites are supporting him, why am I "hating".

Then came the weekend before the SC primary and the first racial remark by President Clinton. It's funny, I can't even remember what it was now. But the Clinton remark and the media spin associated with it caused me to change my vote to Senator Obama. I even felt vindicated after the second Clinton remark that compared the Obama win to Reverend Jackson's previous primary win. After Senator Obama began to string wins together, my friends started donating money to his campaign and encouraging me and others to do the same; get involved, become a fundraiser and so on. Well, I didn't go quite that far. But here's the point I'm trying to get around to making - (as Mr. Gray wondered) - Senator Obama is not one of us! What do I mean by "one of us" ?

My ancestors are buried on what used to be plantations all over northern Beaufort (SC) county. I live one block from the Fred Washington, Sr. Grand Army Hall - the lodge hall formed by black veterans of the civil war (1st SC Infantry of African Decent). I have a grand-uncle that fought in World War One. My dad was a Marine, stationed at MCAS Beaufort. In other words, I know and feel the history and struggle for dignity black people have gone through in this country. The black men I descend from, though not perfect, were proud and dignified. My problem with Senator Obama is that when I hear the sound bytes of him speaking, particularly to black audiences, I don't hear and feel him expressing his blackness as connected to the African American struggle for dignity in this country. And perhaps because this is the reality; he's not connected to it.

He is dark-skinned; yes, but he does not share the history and legacy of African Americans and other blacks in the West whose ancestors came here in the holds of ships. I was inspired by Reverend Jeremiah Wright's speech at the Nation Press Club. Senator Obama felt the need to denounce him. That was the beginning of the end for me. He is not campaigning for the black vote, he is assuming it. At this point, I intend to vote for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney if she becomes the Green Party nominee and is on the ballot in SC. Unless! There is some other "racial" remark between now and November that compels me to remain in solidarity with my "race" and vote for "change you can believe in".

Dwayne
/*
.

1:29 AM  
Anonymous Jim Holstun in Buffalo said...

Dear Mr. Gray,

Thanks so much for your brilliant and moving CounterPunch piece—the turn to your personal history was particularly effective, because it makes readers (including white readers like me) reflect on their own families, which also wouldn’t stand muster with Reverend Obama’s holy standards. That’s why it appeals to while racists—it allows them to forget their own families while hating black ones. Freud calls it “displacement.”

It’s amazing to think about the things that can be said (HRC’s “hard-working white people,” BHO’s “boy,” FOX’s “Obama’s baby mamma,” etc.), and the things that can’t be said: “Tax the rich,” “white supremacism,” and “Jesse Jackson,” in any kind of positive sense. I’m getting sick of hearing people call Obama the first serious black presidential candidate. In 1988, Jesse Jackson was the frontrunner after he won the Michigan primary. He also won ultrawhite Vermont, and the Texas caucuses. That’s what sent the white money pouring into Michael Dukakis’s campaign. And that’s what prompted the Democratic Leadership Council to start organizing against him and against any kind of populist Democratic agenda.

Jesse Jackson should be a little more circumspect around New York Times reporters and FOX News microphones, but I wish he were running this year—looking back at his platform from 1988 is enough to make me weep for what we have now:

** creating a Works Progress Administration-style program to rebuild America’s infrastructure and provide jobs to all Americans,

** reprioritizing the War on Drugs to focus less on mandatory minimum sentences for drug users (which he views as racially biased) and more on harsher punishments for money-laundering bankers and others who are part of the “supply” end of “supply and demand”

** reversing Reaganomics-inspired tax cuts for the richest ten percent of Americans and using the money to finance social welfare programs

** cutting the budget of the Department of Defense by as much as fifteen percent over the course of his administration

** declaring Apartheid-era South Africa to be a rogue nation

** instituting an immediate nuclear freeze and beginning disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union

** giving reparations to descendants of black slaves

** supporting family farmers by reviving many of Roosevelt’s New Deal–era farm programs

** creating a single-payer system of universal health care

** ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment

** increasing federal funding for lower-level public education and providing free community college to all

** applying stricter enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and

** supporting the formation of a Palestinian state. (from Wikipedia).

The only decent presidential candidate we’ve had in this country since Henry A. Wallace was the child of an unwed black mother and a deadbeat black father—even though Obama can’t bring himself to utter his name.

Compared to this, what does Obama have to offer us? No single-payer healthcare, increasing the size of the military, threats to bomb Iran, praise and money for Israel’s apartheid regime, support for domestic spying. We’ve gone forty years backward rather than twenty years forward.

Jim Holstun
Buffalo NY

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Allegra said...

I found that Kevin Gray’s article on Obama cleaned up my thinking. I’ve been on a see-saw ever since that speech of Obama’s, which I found condescending and rude (my gut reaction). I didn’t like it any better when Crosby did it either. What right does anyone have to chastise an entire racial group regardless of the color of one’s skin? It makes for sweeping generalizations that cannot possibly be fair or just. As Gray said, as well shake the finger at rednecks in Appalachia living in trailer parks, or Hispanics in L.A. Did any white person (or anyone, for that matter) come down on all Irish Americans when Timothy McVeigh blew up that building in Oklahoma? To curry white favor by putting down black people is the lowest of the many low things Obama has done lately.

Racially I am all mixed up. Quarter Cherokee, eighth black, eighth Cajun, half Welsh. But none of that made a difference when Obama appeared on the scene with his passionate rhetoric and incredibly charismatic speeches. I felt a weight lift off my heart that has worn me down ever since that scum Bush stole the White House in 2000. At last, I thought. God or Karma or the Universe has heeded our prayers.

Then Obama got the nomination and everything fell apart. He rushed off to AIPAC to grovel and kiss ass, he threatened Iran, he went belly up on campaign finance, he directly reversed himself on FISA and gutted the Fourth Amendment, he voted for more war funding, and THEN he gave that terrible speech to black people, which was in reality a slap in the face to anyone with a shred of dignity and self-respect regardless of skin color. He could have said to all Native Americans, “get off your asses and make something of yourselves on those lousy little reservations.” But we Cherokees (and all the other tribes) aren’t worth the trouble – not enough votes in it. Otherwise, I daresay he would’ve curried favor with black people by putting down the Indians. Or at least tried. Watch him in the next month or two as he goes after the Hispanic vote. It’s a big bloc. I bet he plays off African-Americans again. Maybe it’s easy for him; as Stephanie and Dwayne point out, he’s half black, but he’s not African-American. He’s half African, half American. It ain’t the same thing.

Now, after all the lowlife things he’s said and done, I feel like I have no one to vote for, except if McCain gets in we will be well and truly screwed. Surely even now Obama has to be better? I don’t fool myself that Nader or McKinney are worth a vote in terms of making a difference, and hollow defiant gestures aren’t my thing. Gray’s article made me think, rethink, reconsider everything. Even if I just come back around to knowing I have to vote for a man I’m beginning to think is a real bastard, at least it’s best to go into a situation with your eyes open.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had to say you've really hit the nail on the head. Six months ago I grew tired of accustions from well-intentioned friends berating me for pointing out uncomfortable facts about their surrogate idol Obama. And I actually voted for him in the primary, which is more than most of them could say.



We could extend your essay to cover so many policy issues where he "disappoints," hell, betrays, the deluded, but generally progressive voters who put him where he's at now. But you have captured the media marketing, focus group tested, psychological heart of the matter--he's white corporate america's "black: candidate.



I tried to pass it off as a campaign necessity, but I never could stand his slick toastmaster-inspired pandering that mutated for every audience he talked down to.



Ah, well, we're stuck with beauty pageant as politics and condemned to argue the merits of debutants who would be emperor. When we should be discussing the world and our place in it.



I fear for us all.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Nfamous said...

I couldn't agree with you more. It is a frustrating feeling to see black folk as a whole throwing away their vote on a man who has repeatedly distanced himself from us and our causes. Most of us haven't even heard of Cynthia McKinney or the Green Party and the only thing we associate with Nader is that "talking white" comment that was overblown and Gore losing the 2000 election, (as if it wasn't stolen in 2000 and 2004). I'm a 38 year old, agnostic SBM with no children and I've grown to realize something. The world is chocked full of average people and there is nothing anyone can do to keep them from veering down self-destructive paths. They have their own personal baggage to deal with and it is always reflected in their politics.

Black people have never had any power in this country. Sure we were able to shame whites into the Voting Rights Act and other legislation that Republicans circumvent every chance they get but we are still powerless. The term "black power" makes us feel good because it brings up those old images of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale maintaining black communities but we saw what happened to them. As soon as the white power structure saw the slightest hint of black self-determination or independence, they sent their undercover thugs and henchmen to stomp it out. COINTELPRO is still alive and well today in various forms as you are probably aware. Malcolm spoke truth to power but in the end the Nation of Islam was infiltrated and Malcolm's life cut far too short. Black people are hopeless and have good reason to be. All we have is the promise of heaven after death from manmade religions. It is truly sad. We refuse to even embrace our own African roots, clinging to a religion handed to us by the white man, as if it could possibly be well-intentioned. Religion is control and we are being controlled by this system. There are people making a difference but not nearly enough to effect the broad change that is needed to avoid the coming disaster. This is not to say that we should give up. I believe we do have hope Pan Africanism and realizing ultimately that we are a global majority while whites are but one in ten worldwide. There is strength in numbers if we stop allowing whites to divide us along socio-economic lines.

It is truly a sign of mentacide when black people embrace a man that has putatively rejected them. Collectively our souls are damaged. Our culture, god, names and history were all brutally stripped from us on the voyage to America. Ironically our ancestors were probably more free than we are today. They were chattel slaves yes but their minds were still free. Our minds and bodies are enslaved at birth now from the onslaught of corporatism and historical revisionism in the public school system and media. For Obama to take advantage of this speaks volume to his lack of character. He is a pawn of the elite and their megacorporations. He means us no well. My mother is a huge Obama supporter. She has his campaign signs all over her yard. When I tell her of Obama's support of Israel and their genocide of the Palestinian people she shirks and basically blows it off as if our genocide was and is ok too. Our grenocide is still going on in different ways. There is nothing anyone can do when a person hates themselves so much that they are willing to embrace a man of color that hates them even more. Yes Obama does hate our families.

The media is plays a huge role in this perceptions. Black people would never embrace Clarence Thomas like this. Obama is not even black in strictest terms since none of his ancestors were slaves. Being black in America means looking black and not being famous. Obama is famous so the rules do not apply to him. He can proclaim his biracialness and distance himself from blackness at will. What an insult to his wife Michelle and their daughters!!! How far will he go to appease white voters? Apparently he will do anything to win just like Clinton. Ultimately it doesn't matter though because whoever is in the White House is a tool of the elite and their corporations. It's almost as if blacks believe that Obama will "flip da scrip" when he gets enough of the white vote to get elected. I'm not sure why because his allegiances will still be in place for the remainder of his term as president. If he became a militant after the inauguration, which he won't, he would be killed in the same fashion as MLK, Malcolm, JFK and RFK. Eventually Americans are going to have to realize who their enemy is because right now we still think it's each other. There are people in high places pulling all of these strings (Rothschilds, Rockefellers) who will do anything to maintain their hegemony over the planet. Their goal is global enslavement and depopulation. Race, religion, gender and materialism are just a few of their tools to divide and conquer us. Having said that I cannot be overly hopeful about this failed experiment called America. Anything rooted in genocide and slavery is doomed to failure. Right now everything in this country is being run by Israel, Britain and Pakistan behind closed doors. Most Christians are terrified to speak against Israel because of the Bible's reference to them as "God's chosen people", as if a loving God would do such a thing. We are wayyyyyyy past the point of reform. Reform implies that the people still have a voice. The only two choices left for America are 1) violent revolution and 2) total economic collapse from which something better may emerge.

The Black masses continue to treat Obama like we are an abused wife or girlfriend in a codependent relationship of sadism and masochism. The Jim Crow generation sees Obama's skin and draws hope from his sudden ascendancy but it is a false hope of empty promise. We have, in laymen's terms, drunk the Kool-Aid and plenty of it. Obama has us hook, line and sinker. All that remains is for him to reel in our votes. I have often said Obama's book should have been called "The Mendacity of Hype" instead of "The Audacity of Hope" . He is playing the emotions of volatile and vulnerable Americans, much like Bush did after the false flag terror attack on 9/11. The end of America is near. Globalism demands it and corporations demand it. We have been spoiled for too long, sitting back while the rest of the world suffered while we sung our national anthem and recited our pledge of allegiance. I have no allegiance to this country or any other outside of the cause of justice, equality and environmental sustainability. My allegiance is to humanity. We are the only species on this planet that willingly destroys itself. I fear our time is almost up. Sorry so doom and gloom but sometimes a dose of reality is needed. It's far too little and too late this time though. I wish you well. Excellent read.

George Thompson
Charlotte NC

4:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just briefly want to thank you for your article in CounterPunch. My mother and I have had many discussions lately about Obama. As I've researched his voting record and listened to his speeches, there are certainly some issues that I disagree with him on. Admittedly, this is no different than for other politicians, particularly during the election season. I hoping that perhaps some of the changes he was proposing would get me excited enough to vote for him in the general election. However, the turning point was his Father's Day Castigation Speech. I'm 43 years old, raised by a single mother with a father who left when I was 6 years old. I've had no contact with him since then.And you know what, I probably also have abandonment issues. But never have I condemned all Black men. In fact, I know of more responsible Black men than irresponsible ones. And for him to use that as a Father's Day speech and throw Black people, particularly Black men, under the bus as so many others do, was enough for me NOT to vote for him. And even my mother, who was left to raise me without input from my father, has never condemned all Black men like that! While she's always been a little leery about Obama, after that speech, she's indicated that she definitely won't be voting for him. So, he's had a couple of more votes to lose...and with us, he's lost them.

So, once again, that you for your critically constructive article. It's very timely...and appreciated!

10:38 PM  
Blogger (^oo^) bad girl (^oo^) said...

Very good......

8:48 AM  

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