Monday, March 9, 2009

Why Are So Many Blacks Unwilling To Offer Valid Critique of President Obama?

In responding to this post by blogger CPL at Jack & Jill Politics, "Does the POTUS Have Problems with African-Americans In His Cabinet?" you'd think she asked if Obama was the anti-Christ. Here's an excerpt:  
I have said (and got shot down for my efforts) that who Mr. Obama chooses for his Administration would indicate how he intends to run the country, and who he thinks are the best people to help him govern. I stand by that statement, because I would hate to see the first African-American President be no better than his predecessors in terms of pulling the wool over our eyes and we not see the devastation of their policies until years after they have vacated the White House, and earning fat paychecks on the speaking circuit and writing memoirs.

I am well aware that MRS. Obama is surrounded by some quality sistas IN THE WHITE HOUSE - so don’t throw Desiree Rogers’ or Mona Sutphen’s names at me, please, when we have this discussion about the lack of African-American nominees in the Obama Administration. I don’t care to have second-in-command people pointed out to me, either; all that means is that if something happens to the Head Person-In-Charge, the Second-In-Command just assumes the position and hopes he gets invited back to finish out the term (someone should ask New York Governor David Paterson how’s that working out for him these days).
Oh the howling that begins every time CPL posts something that's mildly critical and asks the "difficult" questions. I can point out several Black bloggers who get so much grief for merely suggesting that President Obama does not walk on water. For the record there are those that have critiques that they've never extended to other Presidents, do so out of animus and offer no alternatives. We all come from different walks of life and have different perspectives. What I find is that most people aren't able to engage in a serious disagreement and offer counterpoints without allowing emotionalism to take over or to go into full-on attack.

I allowed myself to invest emotionally in an argument with a commenter at another blog over Prop 8 and their using what I'd term a fake religiosity to derail an entire conversation and support the equivalent of gay bashing. The reason why I did it was because so many were silent in addressing how Blacks tend to gravitate towards using the "church" to talk about how sinful it is to "engage" in homosexuality and how they're not hating, they're following God. Well there's some wiggle room with that argument but the bulk of that is bull. Not when people fornicate, get drunk, do drugs and have illegitimate children without skipping a beat, but suddenly put on the cloak of the holy when it comes to the latter. Don't even get me started! 

There are also some Black bloggers who take a much more firm stance in calling out Obama's practices than what appears at JJP. They may or may not like him but that doesn't necessarily invalidate their evaluations either. I've questioned his policies as of late and I was very invested during the primaries. I volunteered, I attended the Nomination and the Inauguration and then the bloom faded for me as I'm sure it did for him. Now that he's got the job I expect results. I know how jacked up the situation is - wait, actually I don't. I'm sure it has to be far worse than I can imagine. 

It's just that I see Black people sputtering in my opinion. The idol worship is way too intense. The Civil Rights organizations are useless. I don't know how we can force them to change their do-nothing agendas when we can't even agree on what needs to be done. Scratch that - we can't even agree that ANYTHING needs to be done at all. Too many have adopted a "wait and see" attitude and get highly offended when you even question them why they'd do that instead of demanding he prove himself by his actions. Those demands have to be carried out in an effective manner of course, but I haven't seen individuals or any group put together an agenda or strategy method. It's very frustrating!

I'm aware of the impact of systematic racism but as I keep asking: when are Black people going to kick *ss?! Not just a few individuals who may then distance themselves from the masses (which may in the end be prudent) but a large swath of people causing the tide to rise and carry many boats?

Who am I? Just one lone woman. Yeah I'm happy that Michelle Obama and her "scary toned biceps" occupy the West Wing. Some question what she has done for Black women that's tangible. I'd like to see how she wields the power of the First Lady and as the one person who can bend the ear of the President at all times. The image is powerful and symbolism alone is as filling as dust when you need a meal instead, but it still offers something powerful when people think there's nothing in its place. When things are broken we have to start somewhere. I just question whether people will walk, trot, run, get in a car that works or stand in place with their finger in the wind. Are we victims of circumstance or do our circumstances make us victims?

Here's how I responded: 
I wonder if this is the type of conversation that can be engaged at here. There seems to be a missing piece of critical thinking skills where people feel personally threatened by the idea of asking what should be standard questions about Black appointees and what Obama owes Black people. If people place the bulk of the value in emotionalism and symbolic gestures expecting reciprocity would seem like asking for the moon. If you consider yourself an equal partner and have high expectations of course you'd want to see the proof being in the pudding, not a speech or singling out a student though those are nice gestures as well. Let's just say the opposite had occurred and Obama had 7% white appointees in his Administration: white people would be howling and Obama would be under fire. But let's be clear: it would never happen. Blacks voted for Obama at a 97% rate. No other group of people gave him that unconditional support. He has not specifically promised Blacks anything. So while I'm glad he won and I want a successful Presidency we need to be a little more ruthless and clarify what our position is and demand it. But that's not going to happen because people are waiting for a hero to do all the heavy lifting and those that would be more critical who are doing so w/o animus are always challenged by those that want to tell them they're asking for too much and settling for crumbs (look at what he's done so far, blah blah) when it's simply expecting the same thing that EVERYBODY ELSE IS GETTING. Since when is that too much?
The protestations were immediate. 
I, for one, don't feel threatened by anything said on this blog. Sometimes disgusted, sometimes outraged. Often overjoyed. Never threatened.

As for the subject at hand: I have no aversion to a question being asked about the composition of the President's cabinet, even as I express a sense of "here we go again" when the question arises. Again. If I did, I'd skip the discussion altogether.

But if the person asking the question has discounted facts when asking the question, which means the questions isn't based on accurate information but, well, emotionalism, then how much critical thinking can rule the debate? If we are going to be ruthless, as you suggest, we must begin by being ruthless in gathering all the facts first. If not, we're simply bloviating. Which is perfectly fine, of course. But that's not going to bring about much critical thinking on the matter. 
Those "facts" were that other Blacks are serving in his administration, but the original post didn't discount that. The point was about who was at the highest level and whose job would have the most impact on the lives of the majority of Blacks, not just in this country but around the world. It seems people aren't considering that either. If you will recall Clinton was embroiled in the Monica Lewinsky drama and the US public was riveted by that because corporate media made it look like such a big deal, but millions of people were being slaughtered in Rwanda while the gov't stopped the United Nations from intervening. It's very easy to miss the boat. Too much is at stake right now and people have got to be more actively engaged. I don't consider myself even remotely knowledgeable about how to move in these circles but I have my opinion and this blog format to ask questions. It would seem that many people who consider themselves active would in fact choose to do nothing.
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Anonymous said...

I am writing about this today as well. I will link!

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Welcome Carmen: Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the link love!!

Renee said...

In terms of blacks not criticizing Obama I suggest you check out this link.