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Category Archives: Black America

A great many people voted for Obama simply because he was black. All of the people responsible for the appointment of Michael Steele did it because he was black. He was born out of crass cynicism. The same naive cynicism that put a woman on the McCain ticket. And clearly, Caribou Barbie got more traction than Mr. Steele. Now these GOP cynics want him gone. Me too. I don’t like the idea of any black man in national leadership until they produce a birth certificate. After all, this Steele guy looks a little foreign to me.

My black friends argue that the pathologies of black America are all rooted in slavery. In other words, “White folks made us this way.” While there is a grain of truth in this, it misses a larger point; white folks are in pursuit of a far happier, tamer black America. In fact, white America wants a whole new negro. Clean-cut, articulate and virtually sexless. We think we have it in Obama. We thought we had it Tiger. Our bad. It’s the reason we love the plot of a movie like The Blind Side. Thaddeus Russell explains:

Though raised in Memphis housing projects, he uses no slang and dislikes the taste of malt liquor. Instead of Ecko and Sean John, he wears Charlie Brown-style polo shirts. His table manners are impeccable. He exhibits virtually no sexual desire. He is never angry and shuns violence except when necessary to protect the white family that adopted him or the white quarterback he was taught to think of as his brother.

Though he appears to be made of (large amounts) of flesh and blood, Michael Oher performs miracles for white people.

In other words, Michael Oher is the perfect black man.

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This is what middle-class black America love about Obama:

For black people, the clear benefit of Obama is that he is quietly exposing an ancient hatred that has simmered in this country for decades.  Rightly or wrongly, a lot of us grew tired of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, mostly because they presented easy foils for Limbaugh-land. Moreover, again rightly or wrongly, they were used to define all of us.

It’s intensely grating to live say, in Atlanta, and have some dude in Harlem crowned as your unelected leader. It’s even more grating if said dude’s agenda seems, in large measure, come down to standing in front of cameras and tweaking his opponents. It’s no mistake that O’Reilly and Sharpton would break bread together at Sylvia’s–they feed each other.

But Barack Obama, bourgeois in every way that bourgeois is right and just, will not dance.He tells kids to study–and they seethe. He accepts an apology for an immature act of rudeness–and they go hysterical. He takes his wife out for a date–and their veins bulge. His humanity, his ordinary blackness, is killing them. Dig the audio of his response to Kanye West–the way he says, “He’s a jackass.” He sounds like one of my brothers. And that’s the point, because that’s what he is. Barack Obama refuses to be their nigger. And it’s driving them crazy.

It is always refreshing to see a politician pander, particularly those who ride around in buses marked “Straight Talk.” So this week, when John McCain addressed the annual NAACP convention I couldn’t help but snicker as he invoked the name of Martin Luther King and recounted the lessons he taught our country. I seem to remember John McCain voting against the MLK Day bill. And again, when it became federal law, giving hearty approval when his state of Arizona resisted putting the holiday on the books. The only thing that did ring true about the Senator’s pandering remarks was the particular Dr. King lesson he wanted the African-American crowd to remember. Forgiveness.

The Rev Jackson is a master of oratory. Although, I don’t ever recall “I want to cut Obama’s nuts off” as ever being a part of his purple prose. This, of course, does more to move Obama to the middle than an policy refinement could ever do. Obama advocates faith-based initiatives and Jesse wants to neuter him for it. “Hmmm,” thinks the West Virginia Hillary supporter, “Obama isn’t so bad after all. Jesse hates him.” So much for black solidarity.

It has yet to be mentioned. No pundit has brought it up. Yes, Obama is the first African-American presidential nominee of a major party. Yes, he is a black man. But he is not the grandson of slavery. His ancestors came to America on student visas, not slave ships. Granted, there is an institutional racism that he and his father had to face. Although, it was dialed back. It was his father’s accent not his skin tone that was likely ridiculed. The devastating generational legacy that most black Americans have had passed down, Obama can experience only as an interested bystander. Perhaps, this is why he sees Rev Wright’s racially-charged rhetoric as outmoded. Perhaps, this is why he has a growing reputation for being an elitist. The fact is, no one on either side of this family tree has felt the sting of the slave driver’s whip, the callouses of the cotton fields or the humiliation of the auction block. Obama has a whole other heritage. Yes, this is a historic moment for black Americans. Just not historic enough.

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The Easter season is a a good time to reflect on the importance of context. On Friday, a nailed-up Jesus looks pretty helpless. On Saturday, a dead-in-the-grave Jesus looks pretty hopeless. But on Sunday….my, my. Sorta like when you take the time to watch the excerpted sound bites of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons in their actual sermon. When you hear the pastor’s message in its actual context. When you hear what the Reverend is actually saying. And who he is actually quoting. My, my. You see, it wasn’t a sermon full of hatred and violence. It was, in fact, a sermon AGAINST hatred and violence. Funny, the difference context makes. Funny, how FOX News doesn’t seem to care much about context. Funny, how 2,000 years after Christ’s resurrection, some people are still more interested in crucifying than in rising again.

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Given all the patriotic hew and cry over Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s prophetic call for God to damn America; Given all the conservatives who have gotten their knickers in a twist over Barack Obama’s refusal to repudiate his pastor; I’m just a little bit curious why no one ever asked George W. Bush to repudiate the man who led him to Jesus. The man who, on more than one occasion stated that if God did not judge America, He would owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. Not exactly a 4th of July flag-waving sentiment. I mean, Rev. Graham and Rev. Wright seem to be swimming in the same baptismal fount on this topic. Aren’t they? So where was the outrage then? Why did Presidents from Nixon to Bush get to pal around with this old hell-fire prophet with impunity? Why was Graham not banned from every presidential inaugural? Every White House prayer breakfast? Could it be that those of us in the majority culture have less of a problem with a white evangelist enumerating our nation’s sins than with a black preacher casting stones? Could it be that the racism that Rev. Wright finds so endemic in our nation is the very thing that makes us smile when Billy likens us to the sinners of Sodom and makes us spit when a black man makes the same observation? Could it be that Rev. Wright has struck a nerve? Could it be that our sins have found us out?

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It was not Obama’s best speech. But it may be his most profound. As a bi-racial fly on the wall, he has personally witnessed more bigotry, resentment and race-based anger than most of us––from both sides of a fence that he has straddled since birth. Reverend Wright is not the only American mouthing of about what they are frustrated with in this country. You know it. I know it. Barack clearly knows it. People who love their country most, and love their country best, seek its advancement and deplore its failings. It is the most authentic form of patriotism; lapel pins, flag decals, notwithstanding. No, this was not his best speech. But, perhaps, this speech will help us understand the other guys’ frustrations. The other guys’ indelible hang-ups. And if we listen to it closely, it might remind us that this imperfect Union will never become a more perfect one by us licking our collective wounds and dwelling on past injustices. It we listen closely, we can be reminded that we are all in this together, and that all of us pushing against each other is never as effective as all of us pulling together. That’s the bottom line. I’m not sure this speech can help this campaign, but it can certainly help this country.

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Well, New York has it’s first black governor! And better yet, he is legally blind! Wow! A twofer! If only he was a woman! It makes me warm all over. Nausea does that. Listen, I have nothing against blind black guys. Big fan of Ray Charles, in fact. But I buy Ray’s albums for the same reason I vote for someone. The person’s proven abilities. Not their disabilities, their race or their gender. So I am a little annoyed by all this Obama would be the first African-American president. Or Hillary would be the first female president. Or John McCain would be the first tortured Vietnam vet president. This election should not be about having to publish an updated edition of the Guinness Book of Records. It should be about the candidates’ proven abilities. Their record, their gifts, their judgment. This election should not be a referendum on how far blacks, blondes or blind folks have come in this country. Of course, not everybody votes the way I do. And I guess some people buy Ray Charles records because he’s black and blind. So if all that you care about in this election is whether the next US president wears pants, a pinafore or a flag pin…go for it. And excuse me, while I go throw up.

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Geraldine Ferraro, former Democratic Vice Presidential candidate, seems to have an interesting take on race in America. Apparently, Barack Obama’s success is about him being a black man. It seems, according to Ms. Ferraro, that black men have an “edge” in this country. Surely you’ve noticed? They dominate the NBA, Rap music, tap dancing, and the prison population. Black men lead a charmed existence. Everything they put their hand to, turns to gold. Americans are just gaga about African-American men. Personally, I blame Barry White for this. Well, I am glad that Gerry Ferraro has unmasked this Obama runaway lead for for what it is. Yet another brazen example of Black men in America getting all the breaks.

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Ah, the good old days! Back when we could hate a man for the color of his skin. Life was so much simpler then! Now it’s a much different story. We good, white Christian people know we can’t hate Barack Obama because he’s black. That would be very backward of us. So we find all sorts of reasons to dislike him. He is too ambitious, we say. Of course, every man or woman who has ever desired this high post must be equally guilty of such inordinate pride. But this guy is downright uppity …er… confident. But that doesn’t quite capture our antipathy. Oh, no, I just put my finger on it. He is a secret Muslim. Barack Hussein Obama, no less! After all, his father was a Muslim and people don’t just turn into Christians overnight. Except for that born again thing. I forgot about that conversion thing. Wait just a minute! If Obama is indeed a Christian, then to Islamic jihadists he is an “Apostate.” The only thing worse than an infidel to those towel heads is an apostate! We might as well put a target on our backs as to park this backsliden Muslim in the Oval Office. We’d be just asking for another 9-11. Of course, my favorite reason to hate Barack Obama is because he is the Antichrist. That one pretty much touches all the bases. That one is pretty much a slam dunk. After all, all this talk about change, hope and peace. That’s got 666 written all over it! Yup, I sure don’t like that guy, Obama. For any number of reasons. Although, I am totally cool with the fact he is black.

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One part Reagan, one part Martin, add a dash of Kennedy and stir. Barack Obama is an intoxicating blend of wide-eyed optimism, stirring oratory and a comforting bit of gravitas. It energizes the young, invigorates independents, makes Democrats whoosy and Republicans, Obamacans. It is not some cynical concoction thrown together by a Karl Rove mixologist or a slash-and-burn James Carvel chemist; it is a powerful, refreshing elixir that Senator Obama comes by honestly. It is an authentic vision that refuses to pit the black against the white, red state against blue state, Christian against Muslim, the old-world immigrant against the new-millennium illegal. It all rises up from a man who is himself an exotic mixture of a white mid-western mom and black African dad. A man who for a lifetime has known that you must embrace the totality of who you are or let the warring factions of your soul rip you apart. It all adds up to a man who is at ease with himself and hopeful about tomorrow. And this is something we all want to imbibe. This is the cocktail of the American dream.

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Barack Obama has won South Carolina. But Hillary Clinton has won the race. You see, a week ago, Obama was the idealistic, insurgent Democratic candidate who happened to be black. But thanks to the Clinton campaign, he has emerged as the black presidential candidate. We’ll ignore all those affluent, college-educated Democrats and independents who chose Obama over Hillary Clinton. We’ll gloss over those young white students that this hopeful hopeful has energized. The new narrative is the black guy got out the black vote in that predominantly black primary state. You know, like Jesse Jackson did on two separate occasions. How quaint! It conveniently makes Clinton’s second place win look inevitable, and frankly, inconsequential. Jesse Jackson won seven primary states in his day. No cause for alarm. We big-hearted Clintons like to see it when black folks do well. Just not too well. It’s Hillary turn, and don’t you forget it.