Monday, August 4, 2008 Guest Post: Why The Black Community Is Willing to Give Obama A Pass.

[Editor's Note: The Uppity Negro is a frequent commenter and avid member of AverageNation™. He sends me quite a few story leads, and even though he talks extra reckless about my home county, he's a generally good dude. I feel a bit embarrassed to admit that I only recently discovered this excellent blog, The Uppity Negro Network. Peep his different PoV on the Obama candidacy, and show some love you know where.]

I actually think the answer is quite simple as to why we are giving Sen. Barack Obama a pass. We want to have a black man in office. But the question I pose is at what cost do we want a black man in office?

None of us would vote for a Clarence Thomas and Alan Keyes would receive a resounding “Hell emphatically naw” from most of us if he were running. We might think about a Colin Powell, but even if it were Condolezza Rice, we’d want to vote for her simply because she’d be a black woman, and a smart black woman, regardless of her politics. But, again, some of us would be willing to look past her very tainted track record with the black community just to have stake in that historic inauguration day where this country saw the first black woman as president.

I think it first begs the question as to whether or not this country is ready for a black man to be president, and I think it’s clear that the answer is no. This country is merely ready for a president, who happens to be black. This is what Michael Eric Dyson in his book Is Bill Cosby Right? calls “incidentally black” is evidenced when he said, “I’ve said publicly that I do not subscribe to the notion that the painfully slow response of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security was racially-based. The ineptitude was color-blind….I see no evidence of active malice, but I see a continuation of passive indifference on the part of our government towards the least of these.”

Moreover, for the record, it was Hillary Clinton, or should I say, That Woman, who publicly called for the resignation, or firing, of then FEMA head Michael Brown.

The more national that Obama has become, the more that he has distanced himself from the so-called “black events.” Yes, he’s kept a relationship with the NAACP and the National Urban League, but during the primaries, he was quite sure that he stayed away from certain colorized events. I just think that its interesting that we live in a country, and participate in a system that allows for a Sen. John McCain to stand in the pouring Memphis rain amidst hecklers and boos on April 4th, 2008 commemorating the 40 year assassination of Martin Luther King and Barack Obama has to be somewhere in New Mexico talking about illegal immigration so as not to come off as the black candidate.

“Just until he get’s elected” is what most people’s rationale is. I think that’s a cop out and it screams a disengagement of intellectualism. Are we really willing to give him a pass for some issues just because he’s black? I mean, this guy gave up his pastor and his church—is he beholden to himself, or is he only beholden to the system? I think at the end of the day, he’s going to be no better for blacks than Bill Clinton was. It’s not the end of the world, but somehow blacks are really expecting this guy to push us over in the campaign season and then all of a sudden come out for us on some key issues when he gets in office.

Blacks are giving him this pass in the campaign season simply because we want to see someone with our skin color in office. It’s really that simple. We’ve collectively (not necessarily individually) thrown out all forms of criticism and labeled them as hateration: from Rev. Jesse Jackson to Tavis Smiley who was quite clear in The Covenant that we must hold our elected officials accountable regardless of race. (Again, another instance, we gave Obama a pass on the State of the Black Union two years in a row, but if Hillary Clinton hadn’t shown up, then black folks woulda been up in arms.) Newsweek reported in 2007 that Cornel West has told Barack Obama concerning a statement in his 2004 Democratic National Convention speech that “You have to be true to yourself, but I have to be true to myself as well." And this was following West’s remarks at the 2007 SOTBU asking him “what are you willing to sacrifice for.”

So far it’s only clear that he’s only willing to sacrifice for the presidency and not specifically for black Americans. And that many blacks are willing to sacrifice intellect and critical thought on more levels than just Obama is concerned just to justify getting a black man in office. It also appears to me that we, the black community will only be, yet again, the vicarious recipients of decent education and health care policies; we won’t be the primary targets, but rather “as a result of…” then we benefit, existing merely as an afterthought. Are we only happy with scraps from the massa’s table?

It’s a conundrum that we as black folk face, at least those of us who are incidentally black or intentionally black. But Don’t get me wrong, I’m voting for the guy because I agree with most of his policies and yes he is a breath of fresh air even for liberals, but he still doesn’t have the bite, it seems so far, to challenge the system. I think Audre Lord was right, and I think it’s apropos: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

Question: Does Obama get a free pass from the Black Community or do we need to put more pressure on him to represent our views?

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