To hear some barbershop talk, it is as if the racial progress in
America that Obama’s success has helped to crystallize also brings with
it a death knell for true racial justice. If Obama becomes the
president, every remaining, powerfully felt black grievance and every
still deeply etched injustice will be cast out of the realm of polite
discourse. White folks will just stop listening.
black president means that America no longer has any race problem to
talk about! It would mean there is no longer any special debt to
African Americans to be repaid! Kiss that 40 acres and a mule goodbye,
my friends (or that BMer and a Rolex in modern reparations exchange
I have two thoughts about this piece, if it’s OK for a white guy to weigh in on this:
- Talk about what the election of Barack Obama as a black man means misses the point, since — as a lot of black folks asserted last year leading up to the primaries — Obama simply is not a "black man" in the sense that the phrase has meaning in American history, sociology and politics. I’ve got a column I’m planning on writing about that, after I read his autobiography on the subject. It will be headlined "Barack Like Me," and it will be rooted in the experiences he and I share spending part of our formative years in Hawaii (where race simply did not mean what it means here) and outside the United States — both in the Third World, in fact. None of these experiences are common to the sort of guy we describe when we say "black American." I hope to write that one before the summer is over.
- Because the popular narrative of this is that Obama IS a black man (despite all the evidence I see to the contrary), that’s the way an Obama victory will play in the public imagination. And that WILL be a death knell to the kind of black politics of resentment and grievance practiced by Jesse Jackson and (even more so by) Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright and to some extent by black politicos here in SC (such as Leon Howard, who said the former superintendent of Richland 1 had to go because "He catered to white folks").
Mr. Bobo agrees with me on the latter point, by the way:
"The politics of the perpetual outsiders demanding inclusion will finally end (read: Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will get less face time). And good riddance (perhaps). We’ve come too far over too many years for shrill protest to still be our main political posture today, no matter how necessary and relevant in the past…."