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Obama Should Want To Be Black

The Obamas

My favorite person in politics at this moment has to be Michelle Obama, the wife of the latest African American political candidate with presidential aspirations. It’s understood that Ms. Obama isn’t running for a political office, that it’s her husband who’s the actual politician. But these days, where spouses are campaigning just as hard as the spouse with political ambitions it is more than fair to say that Barack Obama’s run for office is Ms. Obama’s run as well.

Ms. Obama was in the news for making a comment about the black community’s relationship with her husband. There are some political polls that suggest more African Americans are planning to support Hillary Clinton than the number willing to support Barack Obama. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of black voters claims that Barack Obama is trailing Hillary Clinton by nine percentage points, thirty seven percent compared to forty six percent.

However, Ms. Obama expressed complete confidence in the fact that when it comes time to vote, the black community with support for her husband. Said Ms. Obama,

“First of all, I think that that’s not going to hold, I’m completely confident. Black Americans will wake up and get it. But what we’re dealing with in the black community is just the natural fear of possibility. When I look at my life, the stuff that we’re seeing in these polls is played out my whole life. Always been told by somebody that I’m not ready, you know, I can’t do something, my scores weren’t high enough.

“There’s always that doubt in the back of the minds of people of color. People who’ve been oppressed and haven’t been given real opportunities that you never really…That you believe that somehow someone is better than you. Deep down inside, you doubt whether you can do it, because all you’ve been told is, ‘No, wait.’ That’s all you hear.”

Michelle Obama also relayed a story about an African American flight attendant who told her husband that he could not win the presidential election because he’s black. Said Ms. Obama, “That’s right. That’s the psychology that’s going on in our heads, in our souls, and I understand it, I know where it comes from. And I think that is one of the horrible legacies of racism and discrimination and oppression.”

Being a black man I must confess that I would welcome the idea of a black person as President. I also must confess that when compared to the current presidential administration of the United States, I’d like to see anybody who doesn’t think like a racist spawn of Satan as President. After George W. Bush I’d welcome President Sprittle and Vice President Chim Chim, characters from the old Speed Racer cartoon. I’m pretty sure that if Barack Obama was just an average President, after this administration he’d look brilliant.

Unfortunately however, I’ve never seen Barack Obama appear at the forefront of any issue that has impacts for the black community. Barack Obama didn’t address the black community’s march against the Justice Department that was held last week. Mr. Obama didn’t address the case of the Jena Six until it became big news in the world of media and after some of his competitors had voiced their opinion. Mr. Obama made it very clear that he wanted to distance himself from Barry Bonds on the eve of breaking the homerun record.

And when the next issue regarding someone from the black community comes up I doubt very seriously if Barack Obama would don the courage to do anything to make his affiliation with the black community a matter of public record. So if the black community cannot count on Barack Obama, why should Barack Obama count on the black community?

Mr. Obama obviously wants to make his bid for the White House with as little attention to the fact that he is black as possible. He wants to be careful not to raise the suspicions of white people that he would take a sympathetic stand on matters close to the black community. Barack Obama has to appear to all voters and not just the black voters and so he wants to remain race neutral. Unfortunately, this is also a part of the legacy of racial discrimination that black people have to deal with as described by Ms. Obama. Just like the story of the flight attendant who expressed doubts for supporting Mr. Obama, Mr. Obama shows doubt for supporting other black people. Deep down inside he doubts whether he can be a black man and still appeal to enough people in the white community.

But on the flip side the black community isn’t so foolish to believe all our problems will be over if we elect a black person to the office of the President. Even if we were able to elect the black person who is the most conscious of the current relations between the black community and white community, as President he still has to work with a Senate and a House of Representatives. If a good chunk of the Congress isn’t on board for political support the President, whoever he or she may be, can’t get jack done. So the people in the black community have to be sure that not only do we elect for President the person that will have our back, but the person that can get things done on our behalf. Does this sound like Mr. Obama?

It would be nice to give Mr. Obama a resounding “yes”. But the reality is that in many respects, Mr. Obama is as clueless as his competitors when concerns of the black community catch the public’s attention. If Mr. Obama wants to take the black community for granted like many politicians do than he should know that he does so to his own detriment.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - Posted by | African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Community, Black People, Life, Michelle Obama, News, Philosophy, Thoughts |


  1. Actually, I am from Illinois and therefore have a bit more on Senator Obama’s background. Believe me, he does NOT shy away from issues that disproportionately affect the African American community.

    Here is one example:

    I’ll quote a bit from this link:

    To remedy the problem of racial profiling in Illinois, the ACLU is endorsing a proposal, Senate Bill 1324 filed last week by state Senator Barack Obama (D-Chicago), requiring all law enforcement agencies in the state to gather and report data about the race and ethnicity of all motorists they stop for traffic violations – whether police issue a citation or warning. The information about traffic stops would be collected at the county level and reported to the Illinois Secretary of State, whose office will analyze the data for trends and make a report about evidence of racial profiling to the General Assembly.

    Note that this is from January, 2000, long before anyone had him running for President.

    Comment by blueollie | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Reply

  2. PS: I should disclose that I am an admirer and a supporter of his. 🙂

    Comment by blueollie | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Reply

  3. Thanks for the feedback blueollie. It’s good to see that Mr. Obama has some history of doing what’s necessary to help eliminate discrimination. So why do I have the impression he does his best to avoid racial controversy now?

    In his statement about the Jena Six he talked about healing and unity. That’s nice to hear from the church leader or community organizer. But when it’s a person seeking an executive office it would help me, a black voter, to know that the black candidate actually understands the sensitivity of this issue from the perspective of the black community. After all, the white district attorney didn’t have a problem publicly demonstrating his affiliation with his white community.

    Mr. Obama had to hem and haw over whether or not he would congratulate Barry Bonds. It’s baseball not rocket science. The man has never failed a drug test. But because public opinion is so negative Mr. Obama wants to steer clear of baseball’s new home run king. Congratulating him may have been a polarizing issue. But to face that issue with political courage would have been nice to see instead of playing it safe.

    I really don’t blame Mr. Obama for tip toeing around the issues that are close to the black community. It simply would be wonderful to see him embracing black people instead of keeping us at arms length.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Reply

  4. I, too, am from Chicago and was an organizer as Barack. The struggle I feel is in many ways strong in support of him, yet the issue of being Black enough is hard to comprehend. I get the concern raised on when and how he speaks out on issues that have civil rights implications. I get the existential struggle of being good, or smart enough that some black folk have to contend. But for me those are just the reasons he will make a stronger president. Many, if not all of are past presidents started their work feeling entitled from birth to rule – GWB the son of a president and grandson of a senator.

    So, yes we should support him, yes we should keep the struggle a part of what he owes an allegiance. Support him none the less.

    Comment by oldude59 | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Reply

  5. Thanks for the feedback oldude59. I’m rather embarrassed to have this issue boiled down to whether or not Mr. Obama is black enough. But if a candidate feels that he or she is entitled to the black vote then the question as to whether or not they are black enough may not be that far fetched. Since I don’t have a history with Mr. Obama I have to look at what he says on the campaign trail and compare that to what the other candidates say as well. I have been somewhat disappointed with what I see as Mr. Obama’s timid responses to racial issues. It’s good to see Mr. Obama made a call for law enforcement to be monitored in Illinois. So as my president I might be able to count on Mr. Obama to pass a federal law requiring statistics be kept on law enforcement. Is that the extent of what I can expect?

    As I said before I would like nothing more to give Mr. Obama a resounding yes and endorse him as if I was Oprah. But I don’t know him that well. And he isn’t making it easy for me to develop that resounding yes.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Reply

  6. She reminded me of Darth Vader the way she was dressed during the Oprah rally. I think it demonstrates strength and feminine power. Condi tried that look with the black power-suit and the black Nazi boots. Michelle don’t be putting up with no bull!

    Comment by johnnypeepers | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Reply

  7. Thanks for the feedback johnnypeepers! But somehow I doubt if Darth Vader could look as good.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Reply

  8. I agree if Obama feels somehow entitled to the black vote simply for being black then he has a lot more to do to get blacks to join his camp. It is not good enough that he has black skin, he also needs to be able to identify with the problems of the people who he feels entitled to represent. He seems to understand that he isn’t entitled to the white vote so he tries to let them know why he is their guy and I haven’t heard that for the black community.

    I am open and willing to listen to his views on issues. Yet the problem is he doesn’t seem to hit on any issues that I would hope a black candidate or one who feels aligned with the black voters would. Such as racism, race disparity etc. What is he going to do to end the status quo? From what I hear from him the answer is nothing. So what makes him more viable a candidate for me than any other one of the status quo pushers?

    So I just can’t slap my vote into someone’s hands simply because they look familiar. He needs to let me know where he stands on things besides healthcare which I feel he can do better on.

    Thanks for a great post.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Wednesday, December 12, 2007 | Reply

  9. Thanks for the feedback theblacksentinel! I wouldn’t vote for Mr. Obama just because he’s black. However, I had an expectation that we would have a connection because he is black. Unfortunately, that connection hasn’t materialized.

    The black community has a history of dealing with black people who use their position of authority to reinforce the subjugation of the black community. Clarence Thomas quickly comes to mind.

    It is good that other people feel a connection to him and support him in his bid for the white house. Maybe some people think my expectations of a black presidential candidate are too high. But in all honesty I don’t hold Mr. Obama to any standard that I wouldn’t expect from any other presidential candidate.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, December 13, 2007 | Reply

  10. I agree with you brother peacemaker but would you like to know why you know nothing about him…..because you seem to get you info from mainstream news outlets. He has been to black neighborhoods and discussed black issues but the media only shows him in white ones because they feel that that is the story. He stands for a lot of things that effect the black community but as you know, now that he is running for president he is trying at all costs to leave direct references to race alone while making more veiled and metaphoric references in order to make his message more universal. He understands certain issues that goes on in the black community and have taken stands especially while he was in the Illinois State Senate. I enjoy and respect thefact that you are really looking into a candidate before you support them. But I find that black people are extremely hard on him and sometimes unfairly (Black Adgenda Report hates him) I know why many feel this way, we are used to sellouts!! and people using us for votes then taking us for granted…I was worried about that too. But I would like to hear what some of the many white politicans that blacks have blindly supported (Clintons) done for us.

    Michelle is great!! But shes not running for pres. so she can always be more direct.

    Comment by Rhonda | Saturday, February 2, 2008 | Reply

  11. Thanks for the feedback Rhonda!

    I know very little about Barack Obama because I am not a resident of Illinois. Up until just a few years ago he didn’t exist in my world. It wasn’t until he became a senator that I finally took notice. I understand that he is running for the presidency and has to keep a broad appeal to the entire racial spectrum and so may have to keep his ethnic connections on the down low. That’s not hard to figure out. And so since I don’t have an experience with Barack Obama I have to do a little research to find out who he is and what he has done for the black community and for his constituents in general. I have heard other people say that he has taken stands but I have yet to hear what those stands are. As far as what he says in his bid for the presidency I must confess to some disappointment.

    For example, Mr. Obama says he wants to make medical care affordable for everyone with tax breaks. This may sound like a good idea. But unless my tax break amounts to ten thousand dollars a year medical insurance will remain extremely expensive for my family and I. And I will still have to work with an insurance system that will make more money by denying people heathcare. If this country does anything less than a true universal healthcare approach we will still have a small group of people making a great deal of money while a large number of people will suffer from a capitalistic driven healthcare system.

    I was disappointed to see Barack Obama distance himself from Barry Bonds. Although I really could care less about baseball Barry Bonds is being railroaded by a system that seems intent to focus on his steroid allegations but overlook all the white people who have used steroids. Like so many black men Mr. Bonds is guilty before the evidence supports his conviction. And this was on the eve of Mr. Bonds breaking the home run record, one of the most prestigious records in the game of baseball. In effect, the establishment has been able to tarnish Mr. Bonds accomplishment. Why? And instead of Mr. Obama standing and supporting a potential black constituent and giving a subtle message to the black community that he is supportive. Instead, he submits to the hearsay of the dominant culture.

    So why don’t you help me out and explain some of the specifics that Mr. Obama has done for the black community so that I and other black people can feel better about supporting him? If I can’t get accurate information from Newsweek magazine, Time magazine, Bill Moyer’s Journal, Meet the Press, Democracy Now, National Public Radio programs such as All Things Considered, Fresh Air, Talk to the Nation, and from The Nation, where can I get an accurate portrayal of Barack Obama’s contribution to the black community?


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Sunday, February 3, 2008 | Reply

  12. Rhonda,

    I don’t think that people blindly support white candidates nor the Clinton’s. I feel that if the people have a brain they listened to the issues and picked the candidate that best espoused their views. The problem with Obama is that he doesn’t say anything. I have been listening very hard. He talks of change, what change?

    He constantly plays down race and you say it is so that he won’t be polarizing. Well is that really what we want? If he can’t talk about racial issues now then what about when he gets into office and can’t talk about racial issues due to the senate being partisan. Then re-election, then something else. If he can’t address what he wants now then he will probably not address them later as well.

    I don’t like his policy for health care among other things. I don’t think that the black community is just blindly going after this man due to his race. I think that his policy is pretty bad and would not help me in the least. And in fact I can see it making things worse for me. So that is what people see when they decide this may NOT be the candidate for me.


    Comment by theblacksentinel | Sunday, February 3, 2008 | Reply

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