Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Blacks Support(ed) An Obama Presidency - And Why We Need to Reevaluate Things

As I continue shedding old skin and reordering my thinking now that I'm outside the Matrix I find myself revisiting my support of Barack Obama. While I would still likely vote for him again I have to think of all the ways I can benefit from this alliance while measuring it for reciprocity. You can't ask for anything until you know what you want though. I'd like to think of myself as enlightened on some topics. Still with other issues I am just now realizing how much I'm learning. Discernment is more valuable than all the coltan in the world.

So aside from the usual arguments from people about how we need to give Obama time (sounds like an excuse) or how much is on his plate (he wanted the job) I want to explore the reasons why he gets so much support from blacks and what influences that decision.
  1. Michelle Obama and the (assumed automatic) kinship she's thought to have with other black women. Also the one we want to have with her.
  2. Powerful Symbolism - aka the "razzle dazzle" "pomp & circumstance".
  3. Seen as validation of  blacks' worthiness - continuing to use outside signifiers instead of building strategic alliances.
  4. Not Clinton/Edwards/Mccain. 
  5. He's a man - because if it was about qualifications and race more would have voted for Cynthia McKinney.
  6. Emotional payoff - the comparisons to MLK (and somehow NEVER to Malcolm X). 
  7. Cheap thrill to stick one's tongue out at whites.
  8. Believed the promise of "change".
  9. Decided he was "black" enough after the Clintons started race-baiting. 
  10. Many (most?) think he will look out for black interests strictly because he identifies as black.
We need to rethink our loyalties. Black women actually represent the single largest percentage voting block for Obama, yet I don't recall him discussing ANY specific agenda or policies that directly and singularly assist us. I know health care, green energy and other things will benefit everyone but still we have a unique set of needs. This doesn't mean our needs can't be addressed but we have ensure that they are and be prepared to walk away if they aren't. Will blacks actually do that?

The White House Council on Girls & Women doesn't have a prominent placement or direct contact on the White House web site. It has potential to be a heavyweight office but like everything else we must measure how things have improved from their previous condition and what are expectation for the future are. He nominated Regina Benjamin to be the next Surgeon General and she gets attacked for being overweight. I saw the larger black community's complete SILENCE on this issue with few exceptions and only after WHITE oriented-media and feminist organizations stood up for her. How many black men publicly decried her treatment? Now think of all the print and tv time given to covering Skippy Gates - why even the President stepped into the fray. People spend their time and resources on things they love - not things they feel obligated to. I find it rather challenging to even have a conversation around the Idol worship going on. Blacks are NOT prepared for the brewing backlash. We are spend, spend, spend with NO safety net. 

If financial advisors like Suze Orman urge people to save at least 8 months' salary in cash to use for a rainy day fund when the times were "good" to cover during the hardships and unexpected tumbles then how much more should we be doing this for our political lives? No wait, our "actual" lives. We know whites have been stockpiling weapons. The KKK has resurfaced - they're never far away. I'd like to petition the Justice Department to classify then correctly as a domestic terrorist group and use the full weight of the Federal gov't to crush them once and for all. 

Then there's these birthers, the teaparty participants and all those other agitated people who showed up for the McCain/Palin rallies. They haven't gone anywhere. The only thing I'll mention with regards to Skippy Gates (since I've discussed why he's NO friend to black women) is how he's considered an upper class, non-threatening black man. If it's open season on grandpa then it's open season on ALL blacks and not just the men. Black women are also victims of law enforcement railroading tactics.

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Anonymous said...

As always, thanks Faith for your perspective and transperancy as you travel through this journey, as well as challenging the rest of us!

I was listening to The Marc Steiner show which is hosted on WEAA at Morgan State. The guest was Tavis Smiley and he was talking about the follow up book to his "Covenant with Black America", Accountability. The part I happened to hear was how then-Senator Obama was throwing around the buzz word "accountable" and how it is our right, as citizens, to hold the President to this. (Granted, I have my own feelings about this, because NOW we want to staunchily hold a President accountable???) But anywho...then the health care reform was mentioned on the show. Tavis was pointing out that during the election season and way before (2003ish), Obama was touting single-payer health insurance. Now, single-payer advocates are no where near the table, let alone front door, to be involved in this issue.

Faith said:So aside from the usual arguments from people about how we need to give Obama time (sounds like an excuse) or how much is on his plate (he wanted the job) I want to explore the reasons why he gets so much support from blacks and what influences that decision.

So I mentioned something about the single-payer health insurance along the lines of "Mr. President, can we get this single-payer advocates to the table like you said they'd be there?" One of my commentors said "They're not giving him time"


Soooo, it's okay for the President to not have the very peope he said should be at the table to be the mouth piece of millions of Americans who are not able to afford big name health insurance and pharma companies??? Okay.

I'm finding more and more of what you've outlined in your post in many of the people that I know who are Obama supporters. I think it is perfectly normal and healthy to have respect for someone, but to decipher and analyze their moves, and to question things that are questionable. I guess as the Obama-ssiah, it doesn't pertain!

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Sassy J: Thank you for riding along! I take exception with anything Tavis Smiley says because he has an agenda to undermine the President. If Tavis wants accountability he should be able to provide some of his own. After TEN YEARS of these State of the Black Union yak-fests he should've been able to put together some type of workable coalition. He hasn't changed ONE LAW, introduced LEGISLATION or improved the lvies of the black people he cares so much about. He has sold his boks and gotten huge fees for speaking engagements while underpaying his staff of mostly AA women. The typical "mules" who support all the Civil Rights orgs, etc and get nothing in return. He's just another infotainment hustler and self-important, self-appointed wannabe "leader". Along with Michael Eric Dyson and Cornel West. They are the trifecta of useless pontification but they don't actually DO anything but complain.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I totally agree! When I was listening to the show, every other word was "I" or "me"! Dyson has a one hour radio show via NPR which is aired from WEAA and I can only stomach 5 minutes without feeling like I need a dictionary/thesaurus to listen to the show. Same for West. I was a little too through, but not surprised, that West had a child with a white graduate assistant...huh? But, okay!

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Sassy J: I really do like your moniker by the way. I once did a post titled Attack of the Sassy Black Woman but I digress...yeah Cornel West and his love of sexing the white undergrad/grad students is allegedly the REAL reason why he had to leave Hah-vard. Some of those parents were RIGHTFULLY upset. So now that you've mentioned a child was produced from one of these liaisons? And Larry Summers works for Obama now after West had his public cry-fest and questionable racism charge. No wonder he doesn't want to go to the White House! SMH these educated but NO VALUE fools just reveal themselves far too easily.

ZionFulfilled said...

You don't even have to publish this comment, but I want you to pray on starting your own magazine for black women. Something with substance needs to replace Essence. This does not have to be published, but I really want you to pray on it.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Researchbluff: Why thank you for the suggestion! It is something I've actually been thinking about. I'd like to say many of us put our stamp with media ventures that are uplifting and empowering - the exact opposite of what MESSence has become!

K.C. Jones said...

I am not quite disappointed as some of my other friends are that voted for him are-I say I'm a realist, but some might say a little cynical...but the way I always figured it, he was the best of the two final candidates, but I still didn't think he would do everything promised, especially things that would benefit womyn, because 1) he's a politican 2)he's male 3) he's straight. (The one thing I fell for was that he was going to eliminate the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.) BTW, I'm working on trust issues with straight men, but it's hard when I'm so often proven right...

roslynholcomb said...

I'm too much of a pragmatist to see any politician in a Messianic light. I voted for the man on healthcare and the economy. He seems to be addressing those issues. If he doesn't get this healthcare bill, then yeah, I'll be taking it to the streets, but other than that, I'm still cool with the man.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

KC Jones: He's a politician. I don't think orientation has anything to do with his weaknesses. It has to do with him being surrounded by people who are loyal to others and who were not made by him or owe him anything. It's going to come down to how many average people - the voters - push back on this. With Big Pharma and Big Insurance spending millions per day fighting AGAINST us and buying politicians it's going to take more than HOPE to get this agenda through intact.

Rosyln: If the public option is removed this health care bill is OVER. If he can't get this done by September it's OVER. I think people will let Iraq & Afghanistan go unfortunately but this health care plan is a problem. Many people are looking at the advisors behind the scenes with their theories about eugenics and population control and are not happy. We'll see....

roslynholcomb said...

I agree. If they take out the Public Option I will definitely be taking this to the streets. Obama will never get re-elected if he goes down on this. Unfortunately, the Republicans are right; this could well be his Waterloo.

K.C. Jones said...

"I don't think orientation has anything to do with his weaknesses."

Of course it does! Just as he may not be aware of all his male privilege, he cannot be aware of all of his straight privilege. Not being aware of the privilege a certain person has makes a person not want to make the changes neccessary that would better the lives of those who do not have those privileges. I am incensed that he has not repealed many legalities that restrict the rights of GLBTQIs, but especially the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. I'm mad at myself for trusting a politician and yes, I do acknowledge that he is a politician first, but it seems he also is a straight man who has not fully recognized his straight privileges.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

KC: I think you are placing a lot of emphasis on Obama in particular. How many other cisgender hetero men are aware of their particular privilege who've been President? Orientation alone has no bearing on being sensitive to the needs of others. If it did then gays and lesbians would not have a well-documented history of violence and opposition to trans men and women. They wouldn't have pushed for marriage equality written so that it invalidated their marriages. I was called the N word to my face in the Castro by a white man who identifies as gay so that argument doesn't hold water. Also I will remind you this post is about Blacks' relationship with Obama so if you are going to comment then I insist you stick to the topic at hand. You need to remember that you entering a forum where I am discussing situations pertaining to a specific group. While I appreciate your presence this post isn't about you and I do not want the conversation being misdirected. Now had I written a Top 10 LGBT post that would be one thing - but I wouldn't do that. I am always careful to not try to appropriate other people's experiences or steer the conversation in another direction even as I discuss them here on this blog. I ask the same of you.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Faith! *Sassy J* became is/was my alter ego when I began writing some fiction work. I will definitely look up the post to which you are referring to.