June 3, 2012 10:25 pm

Is the First Black President Black……. Enough?

It Hurts to See Obama Sitting in Rosa Parks' Seat.

It Hurts to See Obama Sitting in Rosa Parks' Seat.

You should read “Still Waiting For Our First Black President” if for no other reason than to shake yourself free of the notion that the black electorate is reacting unanimously to Obama’s first term.

Although I rattle the cages, black Obama supporters are reluctant to engage in conversations about whether Obama is rooted in values that have come to be associated with American blackness. I was thinking about this when I read a comment by “houlyn” in The Washington Post’s comments section:

I’m a liberal and this article bothers me. Anytime someone says, he’s not black enough, she’s too white, he’s not proud enough of being Asian, she speaks Spanish and isn’t American enough… I get really upset.

If the writer wanted to accuse Obama of pandering and then not delivering, that is fair game. A white candidate could pander and not deliver as well. Using Obama’s race to say that the President should be loyal to his people is racist. Obama represents all of America. The inequality blacks face needs to be addressed, and maybe with tailored policies, but there are poor white, asian, hispanic, native american… people as well. Also, tailored policies meant to help specific groups can be racist too, because who is to say that all black people are the same? Obama has to strike a difficult balance and right now he is probably thinking that a stronger economy will help all.

To which I responded:

It bothers you because you’ve been trained, for lack of a better word, to allow it to bother you. You think, thanks to a slew of black protectionist writers, that anytime anyone questions Obama’s “blackness” we’re questioning his pigment or his white mother. Not at all. What we’re questioning are his values. We (African Americans) are assessing whether his values are in line with our own. Whether Obama is anchored in the African-American traditions of fairness, equality etc. There is a bit more to being black than skin color. There are cultural values. And this is a cultural conversation.

This conversation really shouldn’t be disregarded because it makes anyone uncomfortable. What’s uncomfortable is that blacks are being forced to ask the question “is Obama black?” or whatever, when no other demographic would ever or has ever been placed in such a precarious situation.

George W. Bush took care of the right wing. Lieberman looks out for Israel. Get my drift? Blacks tend to be the only ones left standing alone at the prom, after the one who brung us to the ball developed a wondering eye and decided to fish in more promising waters. ¬†We’re hurt, and somewhat embarrassed. And it really doesn’t much matter to us how some liberal white chick is “bothered” by the framing of the conversation. Sorry.

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  • Anonymous says:

    It was a great article, and the comments section was full of predictably asinine, ‘colorblind’ nonsense.

    I do wonder when more Af Am critics of the president will move beyond the equity argument and more often lay bare the president’s often open contempt for Af Ams and other Africans. Two talks by the president over the last couple weeks brought this point home. The more recent was the president’s deportation rules relaxation news conference, where he gave a full-throated (‘Because it’s the right thing to do!’) paean to Hispanics — a campaign move designed to end-run Marco Rubio’s dream act, but still. Contrast this with the president’s earlier campaign speech to a largely Af Am audience in Baltimore. I’d swear he wasn’t two minutes into his pre-speech thank-yous before he started in on ‘personal responsibility’ admonitions, dressed up as compliments to local politicians, but laced with criticism and contempt for the ‘shocking ignorance’ masses. It was disgusting to watch.

  • Yvette says:

    It is disgusting to watch him lecture grown black men and women, many of whom were risking their lives in the Civil Rights movement while he was sitting under a palm tree in Hawaii, about responsibility.

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