Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Since White Folks Have Decided They Get To Define Who Barack Obama Is, I Wish They Would Make Up Their Damn Minds!

The biggest flip flop in American politics is not being done by any politician, its being done by white folks. White people just can't seem to make up their minds about Barack Obama. Their view about this man doesn't change on a daily basis anymore, it changes on an hourly one.

He's too black, no wait, he's really more white! He's Muslim, no he's Christian, but distorting the bible. He's a militant, no he's a wimp. He's naive, no wait, he's "coolly arrogant." He's ghetto, no stop, he's elite, "he's the guy at the country club with the beautiful date, holding a martini and a cigarette that stands against the wall and makes snide comments about everyone who passes by." He's "testy" and "conflicted", no wait a minute, He aloof and disinterested.

He's inexperienced, no, no, he's a part of the Chicago political machine. He's not black enough, yeah, yeah, that's it. Well, most of us white folks are willing to vote for a black guy, but some of us still harbor racial prejudice against black folks. He's black, he's black, he's blackkkkkkkk, HE'S BLACK! (insert your own image of white folks shouting and waving their hands in a hysterical fashion)

By the way it's going right now, by November, white folks will still be flip flopping like Flipper the Dolphin over Barack Obama every fifteen seconds. The whole damn thing is giving me a major headache.


faith June 24, 2008 at 3:05 PM  

Oh come on now! You know Black people are doing the same thing. He's criticizing Black men, he's not down for the people, he's not progressive enough.....

The Angry Independent June 24, 2008 at 4:01 PM  

The pundits don't know what to do because Obama doesn't fit into any of the boxes that they are familiar with. He didn't emerge from the traditional Black elite leadership, ala Jesse Jackson, SCLC, NAACP, Civil Rights Inc., etc. And he's the son of an African Immigrant and a white mother from Kansas.
He doesn't seem beholden to any part of the Black political leadership (a good thing...and something that the media is frustrated with, because they want to pin that on him so bad...but they can't).

And it's not just Whites who are doing this. Black folks are doing it just as much. What kind of Black man is Barack Obama?....this is a common topic of dicussion. "Is He Really Black"? "How Black Is He"?. He just doesn't seem to be Black enough. Intelligence is often perceived as antithetical to being Black (often by Black people). In fact, I have experienced this more from Black folks than from Whites.

It doesn't give me headaches anymore... it's actually amusing to watch the media stumble & fumble over Obama. Perhaps, in the long run, it will change perceptions about what "Black" is supposed to be. Obama could broaden Americas view of Black people that much more.... it's a good thing IMO.

But they (the pundits/media) may eventually find a box to stuff him into before it's all over. They almost succeeded (and did succeed in the eyes of some) when they pulled that stunt in Ohio with that Farrakhan question. And with the constant repeating of the Rev. Wright story, they were trying to stuff him into a traditional box... Clinton was desperately trying to do the same..and it actually worked for her for a while. It was just too late in the primary season for her to catch up.

This is why Obama is struggling in a neck and neck race with John McCain.... when any Democrat should be consistently leading their Republican opponent by 10-15 points right now in the General Election contest. It is troubling that most polls show Obama running only a few points ahead, often within the MOE. Much of this is due to race and the negative branding around race that was done by the media and by Hillary Clinton over the past several months.

Obama will have to spend millions of dollars over the next several weeks, trying to rebrand himself and repair the damage that was done during the Primary campaign.

Professor Tracey June 24, 2008 at 4:19 PM  

"In fact, I have experienced this more from Black folks than from Whites."

Really? Clearly, you don't watch much mainstream media and didn't read the links in my post. What black media pundit has made these kinds of remarks? I'm sorry, but white folks have dominated this discussion.

No one is doing polls about whether or not black people are tired of voting for white men for president.
None of these discussions about Obama are going to broaden white America's view of black people because white folks are not trying to learning anything about black people. They are only searching for a way to be cool with voting for a black man or a way not to be perceived as racist for not voting for a black man.

There is a difference and neither has anything to do with getting to know or understand black Americans.

BLKSeaGoat June 25, 2008 at 10:24 AM  


Now you know white folks and their arrogance drives them to categorize people who do look like them in an an effort to understand them... in their own minds.

This is the reason Obama is such a problem for them. It's not just merely being abysmally deficient and lacking in self awareness. The inherent racism that's a part of their socialization makes them they way that they are.

Whites are never accused of not being white enough, or are never racist for voting for white people only. Whites are also never accused of racial solidarity when they refuse to sit with black folks in public settings. Black people bear the brunt of this because whites have created those arguments.

Unfortuantely, many of us have become too satisfied with those arguments and too lazy to start defining ourselves as we see fit.

This is why I LOVE ya'll (meaning the black blogosphere, but you and the others in my immediate network specifically)because ya'll get it.

I loved this post.

The Angry Independent June 28, 2008 at 7:09 AM  

Prof. Tracey

Clearly, you don't watch much mainstream media and didn't read the links in my post. What black media pundit has made these kinds of remarks?

Quite the opposite. I probably watch too much mainstream media for my own good. But that is luckily not the only source for my information. I'm well aware of what they have been doing regarding Obama...and how they have played with Race.

We don't disagree that white media has used this angle. I was simply pointing out that Blacks have done the same to Obama.

Are you not familiar with all of the Black bloggers, the Black newspaper writers who were raising the Blackness question several months ago?.... Tavis Smiley of all folks...do you recall that dust up? Do you recall Jesse Jackson's comments? Andrew Young and Julian Bonds comments? Cornel West has also hinted at the same...although more nuanced...since he has more of a connection to the campaign. But all of that essentially had to do with the Black establishment challenging Obama's "blackness".

Whites have not had a monopoly on this foolishness.

I also threw my personal experience in there... I was just telling you how I have experienced the same nonsense from Blacks.

But I do agree with your larger point...they can't make up their minds...and they seem more concerned with sculpting their own Obama as they see him rather than genuinely getting to know him. And a lot of folks are looking for excuses, both ways.

But I do believe that it has broadened the view for Americans (in terms of how they see us and how they see Black candidates), especially the younger generations of White Americans who didn't grow up under Jim Crow...or who were not the sons and daughters of Jim Crow era parents. Although it may broaden their view only incrementally.

It will make it easier for other Blacks to run for office elsewhere...the way that Adam Clayton Powell did, the way that Shirley Chisholm did, the way that Jesse Jackson did, The way that Doug Wilder did, etc etc. Even the way that Bill Cosby did with his TV show...he changed the perspective as well. But there have been many examples...and Obama is one of those. Obama's experience will be looked upon in history as one of those moments...whether he wins or loses in November.

Obama has shown Americans that an African American can be a very serious candidate with a broad appeal.... something that has not been done before on a National level. IMO, that is helpful towards broadening that view, although in small steps.

We just have a difference of opinion on that.

Professor Tracey June 28, 2008 at 12:45 PM  

@Angry Independent -

I see your points, but when you first made your comment, it seemed like you were implying that blacks were treating Obama more in this fashion than whites and that's just not true.

And how many of the big names that you mentioned are supporting Obama now? I don't think Tavis, Cornell, or Julian Bond have changed their minds. And in many cases they were questioning what Obama would do for black folks and I have no problem with that.

And Tavis got at him for skipping the Black State of the Union and I agreed with him on that point. I disagreed with Tavis rejecting Obama's suggested sub.

And the real point is to me is that black folks at least had the right to ask the question(s). And when black folks were asking, our voice did not care the same weight.

Yet, it's national news when white folks question Obama's race and class status. And I disagree with you completely about broadening perspectives. White people have not learned anything more about black people since Obama started running.

They have only used his race as a tool to bash him and his campaign, not as an opportunity to learn something about being black in America.

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