Barack Obama and Black History
“[H]is Presidency will have a seismic impact on history and forever changing the perception of what black folk can be in America.” – philly on Barack Obama’s run for the presidency
Now that Barack Obama has been blessed, or cursed depending on perspective, with winning the Democratic Party nomination he has made history. If he wins the presidency he will make even more history. His will be the latest achievement of African Americans on top of a long list that includes the first Mayor, Governor, congressman, Senator, judge, Supreme Court justice, Police Commissioner, millionaire, billionaire, chief executive, heart surgeon, and etcetera. A lot of black people have made history. And through all of these accomplishments, the black community continued to suffer through a lack of finances, a lack of wealth, a lack of consideration from police, a lack of a competitive education, a lack of employment opportunities, a lack of medical care, a lack of legal assistance, and a lack of etcetera.
Truth be told the long plethora of historic accomplishments by members of the black community has done seriously little to help the black community. The black supreme court justice rubs elbows with white people and goes home to his white wife. A black man is arguably the best golfer the world has ever seen and he rubs elbows with people from the dominant community and goes home to his white wife. A black woman is one of the most popular television talk show hosts in the world with a top selling magazine, producer of some of the most popular shows on television, prides herself on her virtually all white support staff. Black comedians are praised by white people for making America’s racism fun and entertaining. Famous black actors and actresses with supposedly serious influence and long careers in the movie making industry are happy to appear in productions with somewhat junior white actors and actresses. Can anybody name a young up and coming black actor or actress that hasn’t appeared in a music video?
People like to talk about history. It will be historic. And? What the fuck does that mean to the black man that can’t get a job? What will that mean to the black woman who can’t get an education? What good will it be to have a black man as President in Washington, DC, while we watch the news to see a gang of New York police officers dragging black people out of their car and beating the shit out of black men because they ran from the police? What good will it do to say there is a black President when we watch a black woman shot by police while holding her baby because police were looking for her boyfriend and she has a police record? What good will it do to have a black man as President when that black man works to keep a distance between himself and the black community while bending over backwards to embrace the white community?
The idea that the success of one black person will automatically lead to the success of the general black population is a concept that carries practically no weight. Hattie McDaniel was the first black woman to win an Academy Award for her portrayal as the servant Mammy in Gone With the Wind. Ms. McDaniel was paid a small fortune and educated white people on how black servants were to be treated and educated black servants on how they should respond to white people. Jackie Robinson is famous for being the first black man to play major league baseball. History shows that he wasn’t the best black player to play the game. But he was the most manageable black person to be offered a chance to play with whites. His invaluable contribution to the world of sports was to demonstrate to black people that in order to be accepted in the dominant society you had better demonstrate a willingness to tolerate racism with a smile and never do anything to threaten white privilege.
So Barack Obama will be the latest to break another color barrier. What lessons can other black people take away from the first black President being elected? Mr. Obama reinforces the need for black people to distance themselves from other black people, at least officially and very publicly. When people from the establishment say that the only reason a black candidate is successful is because he or she is black, then black people should follow Mr. Obama’s example and brush it off like so much dust or dander on the shoulder. But let a black, close, personal friend say anything that harshly criticizes white privilege and/or black subjugation then black people must demonstration complete and utter devotion to the status quo by drop kicking that relationship to the trash heap with as much indignation and dramatic outrage as possible. Only then will white people feel comfortable letting that black person achieve a foothold in their inner circle.
If more black people follow Mr. Obama’s lead then it will be inevitable that more black people will be making history. The establishment is very cordial to black people who really do know their place and really do know how to play the game. Black people cannot be free to achieve until they are free to leave the black community behind.