February 2, 2007

"Among many blacks, the awkward and painful debate about race, immigrant heritage and the presidency has been bubbling for months."

The NYT broaches the subject of the racial politics of Barack Obama:
The black author and essayist Debra J. Dickerson recently declared that “Obama isn’t black” in an American racial context. Some polls suggest that Mr. Obama trails one of his rivals for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the battle for African-American support.

“When you think of a president, you think of an American,” said [Calvin] Lanier, a 58-year-old barber who is still considering whether to support Mr. Obama. “We’ve been taught that a president should come from right here, born, raised, bred, fed in America. To go outside and bring somebody in from another nationality, now that doesn’t feel right to some people.”....

The black columnist Stanley Crouch has said, “When black Americans refer to Obama as ‘one of us,’ I do not know what they are talking about.”

Ms. Dickerson echoed that sentiment.

“I’ve got nothing but love for the brother, but we don’t have anything in common,” said Ms. Dickerson, who wrote recently about Mr. Obama in Salon, the online magazine. “His father was African. His mother was a white woman. He grew up with white grandparents."

56 comments:

Joe said...

No need to discuss his qualifications or views on the issues until we determine if he is sufficiently "black" first. When can we move on from the obsession with race? Who cares anymore aside from the race grievance industry?
I learned all I need to know about Obama's views when he came out for setting a definite deadline to withdraw troops. He is not all that bright if he cannot see why that is a stupid idea. Unless of course the goal is failure. Which, come to think of it, may be his goal; if all troops are pulled out by March 31, 2008, Iraq should be in a bloody, chaotic state by November, and the Democrats will try to use that against Bush. Once again, domestic politics trumps all, for the despicable party of Jane Fonda.

Zeb Quinn said...

No need to discuss his qualifications or views on the issues until we determine if he is sufficiently "black" first.

Yeah, but what's going on here runs deeper than that. This isn't just about Obama. This is about defining who and what qualifies as being black in America. And not only is skin color not the only factor, it isn't even the most important factor.

Joe said...

Zeb, that debate has been going on forever it seems. I remember when Ali fought Joe Frazier 35 years ago, Ali was portrayed as authentically "blacker" based on his politics, while Frazier's skin was much darker. It's just silly to me at this time in history.

PatCA said...

I agree, Joe.

And I don't want to elect somebody president who is "struggling with his identity." If he really wanted to get elected, he'd play down the race angle and go for the centrist vote, as it's obvious the left is never going to accept him as black enough.

RogerA said...

Rhetorical question follows: Why does every who quotes Dr. King, not subscribe to his best thought: content of character?

Apparently race will always be an issue in the US.

Elizabeth said...

And not only is skin color not the only factor, it isn't even the most important factor.

That's very much in debate, Zeb.

I'm reading this in my office, and I thought I'd ask my student worker, who is black, what she thought. "So, there's some debate about whether Barack Obama is black," I said. She looked at me patiently, waiting for me to make sense. Then she said, "Well, I guess if you look closely, you know, maybe at his hair, you can see he's mixed." And I said, no that wasn't the only thing, that his father's from Kenya, so his family is not descended from slaves. And he grew up with his white grandparents. This didn't sway her. Her opinion is that if he walks into a department store, just being a guy looking like he does, he's seen as a black man. No one's asking where his daddy came from. Well, what about the urban experience? The black agenda? She wasn't buying into the idea that ther's a single black experience that all black Americans share.

Okay, that's just one anecdotal experience, from one slightly bored, middle-class, not overly-activist college student.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Henry said...

Given that Bill Clinton was the first black president, Obama has a lot of work to do to fit the mold.

Doyle said...

The racial politics of Barack Obama? Again?

Great, because I can't read enough about how Ann thinks that Obama would be slinging fries at BK if it weren't for all this white guilt, and that his presidential ambitions are just a grisly business.

Keep on the story, Ann. Your perspective is so fresh.

MadisonMan said...

For some reason, I am reminded of this.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Good Lord! Can you imagine the absolute s*#@storm if the candidate and commenters' race were different?

"McCain isn't really white. He isn't one of us."

Will America ever get beyond the politics of racial identity?

Anyway, aren't these the same people who said the last guy was the first black President? How can a white southerner be more "black" than Barack Obama?

peter hoh said...

Doyle, didn't you mean to say that Ann's perspective is "clean"?

By the way, when I was a kid, it was only racists who classified one's race on the basis of one's grandparents' race.

Cedarford said...

RogerA said...
Rhetorical question follows: Why does every who quotes Dr. King, not subscribe to his best thought: content of character?

Apparently race will always be an issue in the US.


Pretty much, the reason the quote gets short shrift outside conservatives selectively quoting the One Perfect Man since Jesus is that MLK was a strong believer in affirmative action, financial redress, and inside cities - strict quotas.

King made many special visits to cities just to demand & insist on raciallty based hiring until all categories of municipal employees matched the percentage of the city's population of different skin colors.

As for character, King was a socialist, with many communist advisors, who saw government aid and vast new bureaucracies set up to "help" dependent "oppressed people" as the solution. A believer in the Welfare state and arguably someone that ironically sowed destruction on the black family and inner city by reinforcing dysfunctional behavior by strongly urging a social safety net that removed penalties for much dysfunctional behavior.

And his own character is such that his files detailing his frequent whoring and beating of women while using drugs and drink at parties (supposedly 5 file drawers full of such encounters from 1958-68) are under Federal seal until 2027. His hogging credit for other's work and diversion of civil rights funds for personal use was noted and discussed by other leaders -though in their later books they do not openly denounce him, but carry him as the Martyr and Leader of All Blacks he never was in life. And, had he lived, he would have had his "Dr." title removed after discovery of his PhD thesis was largely plagarized.

Sorry, but one day history will know the real MLK and the days of his being the only person worthy of a national holiday and his near-Godlike reputation will be over.
I can see MLK Birthday being renamed "Civil Rights Day" to commemorate not just him, but the thousands of other blacks, hispanics, whites who made great contributions to civil rights in American history.
************************

It is unfortunate that it took 40 years for some black politicians determined to move past "grievance politics" and singing "We Shall Overcome" while rattling slave chains and calling every dispute they had in America "another Selma" -- to emerge.

Kings message may well have been a dead end. Advancement of blacks into true power was not done by "Reverends" playing "Black Moses" to their people or becoming "mayor or Congressman For Life" in a nearly all black District or city. Or by refusing to evolve past protest and grievance cycles set in stone back in the early 60s.
Part of the problem "authentic" blacks have with Obama is they always thought a preacher guy with roots in slavery acting like the Great Dr, King would rise to the top for "His People" and are disoriented that a new generation of blacks, many immigrants with no slave roots and working for all Americans and not talking the race card talk would emerge and eclipse the now-old and partially failed, civil rights Bulls.

Naked Lunch said...

And I don't want to elect somebody president who is "struggling with his identity." If he really wanted to get elected, he'd play down the race angle and go for the centrist vote, as it's obvious the left is never going to accept him as black enough.

WTF are you talking about? LOL

You mean media and right wing pundits are struggling with his identity? To me he seems more comfortable in his own skin that other candidate running.

It's revealing to see righties channel their angst for Obama thru phantom liberals who don't exist.

RogerA said...

Cedarford: please dont misunderstand me: I didnt mean to conflate my personal opinion of MLK or his politics with the sentiment expressed in the content of character aphorism. The sentiment can stand by itself, and should.

Mike said...

"Among many blacks, the awkward and painful debate about race, immigrant heritage and the presidency has been bubbling for months."

Says who? Maybe, as Elizabeth's anecdote suggests, it is not bubbling throught the black community. Maybe it is just bubbling through the racial grievance profession from which the NYT assuredly got its story.

vbspurs said...

Okay, that's just one anecdotal experience, from one slightly bored, middle-class, not overly-activist college student.

Good stuff, nonetheless, Elizabeth.

Now, if you could take a walk to a black colleague's office, one who looks harried, not bored, and yet is undoubtedly middle-class (at least, now). Helps if they are a Black History professor.

Ask him or her the exact question you asked your student.

Then, report back with your findings. God, I sound like M, and you're 007.

The geese fly at dawn.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

P_J wrote:


Anyway, aren't these the same people who said the last guy was the first black President? How can a white southerner be more "black" than Barack Obama?


Because he acts "blacker"?

I mean, I don't know how this is possible either, or if it's even true; my own black friends, of all backgrounds, don't think this way.

They do not call Obama "high yellow", they don't look at him and go for the "ruler test" or the "paper bag" test, or any of the other criteria that black people use, when talking about fellow black Americans.

However, at the end of the day, I think Obama is a presidential candidate that is not there to appeal to black Americans, but to white ones, SPECIFICALLY.

If Clinton is the first black president, then if Senator Obama is successful in attaining the presidency it could be that he's the first black president aimed for white people.

That must hurt.

P.S.: You know, if any of this is true, I think this is a problem only with black activists like Sharpton and Jackson, because they realise people like them, will NEVER be president. It takes a guy like Obama, to be seriously considered for the Presidency. In other words, for them, a "white-acting" Democratic dude.

Cheers,
Victoria

Elizabeth said...

M, please direct me to location of keys to really my cool BMW in faculty parking lot. Stun pen would be appreciated as well. Friday faculty meetings are running long.

Revenant said...

Ok, wait a second.

I thought the significance of a black President was that it repudiates racism and shows that blacks are being included into our society. If what matters is that the guy be part of American "black culture"... why would we want that? American black culture sucks. Outside of the entertainment industry, successful black people are ones who largely *reject* that culture. That's why black immigrants do so well here; they aren't part of the failed African-American cultural experience.

Doyle said...

American black culture sucks.

Right. Fortunately, American white culture is scaling new civilizational heights. I mean how totally awesome is American Idol? Then there's Desperate Housewives, Super Bowl commercials, and Britney Spears!

vbspurs said...

Revenant wrote:

American black culture sucks.

Jesus, since when?

Rap sucks, IMO, but that's not enough to say all black American culture is lousy.

Outside of the entertainment industry,

That's a big "but", Revenant.

You take away black culture from the US, and you have taken out almost half of what has made her singular, culturally.

We won't even talk of sport.

successful black people are ones who largely *reject* that culture.

That's true, but I don't see why you predicate rejection of black culture, to be a sign of black success.

--Or--

That just because you're a stockbroker or physicist, and black, that you somehow don't listen to Fitty Cent.

Cheers,
Victoria

AJ Lynch said...

I think Elizabeth's anecdote will be the rule in this case and that will cost Hillary black primary support in places like S. Carolina where the black electorate is a material portion of Dem total.

Cause there is no frigging way blacks (or any other minoruty group for that matter) will overlook their first real candidate cause he is not black/ ethnic enough; the MSM is trying mightily to prop up Hillary by printing these fishy stories.

Naked Lunch said...

Right. Fortunately, American white culture is scaling new civilizational heights. I mean how totally awesome is American Idol? Then there's Desperate Housewives, Super Bowl commercials, and Britney Spears!

And don't forget Kenny G.

"But when Kenny G decided that it was appropriate for him to defile the music of the man who is probably the greatest jazz musician that has ever lived by spewing his lame-ass, jive, pseudo bluesy, out-of-tune, noodling, wimped out, fucked up playing all over one of the great Louis's tracks (even one of his lesser ones), he did something that I would not have imagined possible. He, in one move, through his unbelievably pretentious and calloused musical decision to embark on this most cynical of musical paths, shit all over the graves of all the musicians past and present who have risked their lives by going out there on the road for years and years developing their own music inspired by the standards of grace that Louis Armstrong brought to every single note he played over an amazing lifetime as a musician".

Heh. Indeed.

Naked Lunch said...

Oops wrong link. See here.

Thorley Winston said...

I learned all I need to know about Obama's views when he came out for setting a definite deadline to withdraw troops. He is not all that bright if he cannot see why that is a stupid idea. Unless of course the goal is failure.

I actually learned all I needed to know about Barack Obama when prior to going into Iraq, when speaking to a friendly audience he said that the whole Iraqi phase of the war was simply a plot cooked up by Karl Rove to “distract” from issues like poverty.

If he really believed that, then he’s insane.

If he just said that to play to his audience, then he’s no different than Jackson or Sharpton.

Robert said...

The media kerfuffle over 'Is Obama black or not?' reminds me of something a friend said about Eldrick 'Tiger' Woods. If you read the very first news stories about him (back in his teens) and follow the media coverage, you can actually determine just how much money you have to have in America before you're not 'black' any more.

The idea that significant numbers of black Americans would look at Obama, listen to what he has to say, read about his background, and then say, "Well, he's not really black," strikes me as wishful thinking on _somebody's_ part.

In America, at least, race is perhaps the second thing people notice upon meeting someone for the first time (gender is the first). I've known a number of people - men and women - who are 'racially ambiguous', due to mixed parentage or other factors, and they have become accustomed to being questioned by strangers, sometimes obliquely, sometimes as bluntly as 'what _are_ you, anyway?'.

For that matter, Alan Keyes was certainly identifiably black, and it didn't seem to help him any - most black people thought he was crazy, and most Republicans thought he was, well, black.

Thorley Winston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

most black people thought he was crazy, and most Republicans thought he was, well, black.

I thought he was a crazy black man. Can I now claim to be a black Republican?

Kirby Olson said...

Sadly, I think there's something to the feeling of affinity that someone is "one of us." You can sense it.

The only top politician I ever really felt this with was Paul Simon, from Illinois. I didn't know it at the time but it turns out he was a Lutheran. I felt that I could understand him from the inside.

I also feel this with the basketball player Tim Duncan. He grew up in the Danish West Indies and I can feel an affinity for what I take to be his Lutheran attitude.

I don't understand affiliation by skin color or gender, but do understand something mediated through a common cultural institution.

I just don't think outward characteristics can determine inner characteristics. But I think I'm in the minority on this.

Fatmouse said...

All liberal trolls, especially Doyle:

Yes, american black culture sucks. Do you do anything besides watch TV?

Let's talk illegitimate children, murder rates, drug abuse, abortion and gang membership as a way of socially upward movement, shall we? Compare and contrast with the culture of every other ethnic group. It's a massive clusterfuck.

Oh, and:
"> I mean how totally awesome is American Idol?"

You are aware that they let them coloreds watch that show and even be on it, right?

vbspurs said...

You are aware that they let them coloreds watch that show and even be on it, right?

I'm guessing, Fatmouse, that you are Hispanic, because this word throws people into disarray, when Hispanics use it.

See, "persona de color", which they translate as coloured person when speaking English, is the polite usage in Spanish.

Negro (neh-groh) is considered a bit harsh, as it now is in English too. But back then, it was the bees' knees.

(Some day, I will write a monograph on the historical usage for words meaning "black people" in America. The more we know!)

If you're not Hispanic, and weren't using the word to be funny, I would suggest perhaps not using this word, since it's not the done thing, these days.

Just a friendly suggestion, is all. Carry on, Nurse.

Cheers,
Victoria

Fritz said...

Obama is an islamofascist. Does anyone think the press would have dropped the investigation of that school in Malaysia if it was Bush? How many times was Bush's Guard duty investigated. CNN only spoke with the current school master.

Doyle said...

Fritz!

Cedarford said...

Doyle - Great, because I can't read enough about how Ann thinks that Obama would be slinging fries at BK if it weren't for all this white guilt, and that his presidential ambitions are just a grisly business.

It's all about race, Doyle.

There are thousands of others with his sort of academic resume, many with military command and executive expierience and more experience in national office.

None are being discussed as the black who will be savior of America. Possibly because 98% of them aren't black.

If you look at past Presidents, they run when they have over a decade of military command, national office, or private executive experience. Some over 20 years like Truman, Nixon, Reagan.

Even JFK had 18 years of combined high level experience before he ran.

Obama has 2 years in national office. No military/ No executive. The only President since Herbert Hoover with no military experience was Clinton, and he still had 10 years as Gov and years of working with the Arkansas National Guard commanders..

We also know poorly the US Senate normally prepares members of "The Club" for the Presidency.

Obama has future potential, but right now he brings the credentials of the Pat Robertsons, Alan Keyes, George Clooneys, Pat Shroeders to the table.

Before the quicksand of Iraq grabbed Condi Rice's ankles and dragged her under, she had her "Obama Moment" - as Republicans enthused on how smart, articulate and clean...err forget the last - she was. Despite having no military, no elective office, no executive experience until 2004 - she was the Negro that fed Republican dreams of an affirmative action bonus pointed savior with supreme black moral authority.

Fritz said...

Brett Favre would make a better President than Obama. Brett made my day. I'm glad he is staying on for another year. Da Pack Obama rminds me of the flipant Grossman.

Naked Lunch said...

Fatmouse said...
All liberal trolls, especially Doyle:


Oh so I'm only a liberal troll. If I would have implied Toby Keith is a hack with no talent that's been ripping off black artists for years, then would I be worthy of name recognition?

And I promise I'll refer to you from now on as John Rocker.

Mike said...

Brett's staying??!!

Fritz said...

Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre will return for his 17th season, Favre told the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss., on Friday. “I am so excited about coming back,” he told the newspaper. “We have a good nucleus of young players. We were 8-8 last year and that’s encouraging. “My offensive line looks good, the defense played good down the stretch. I’m excited about playing for a talented young football team.”

peter hoh said...

Once again, let me recommend the movie STREET FIGHT. It's a terrific documentary that feels more like a political thriller. It tells the story of a young black politician taking on the entrenched black establishment in Newark, New Jersey. Al Sharpton makes an appearance.

From the DVD jacket: "Though both candidates are African-American, the election becomes racially charged when the mayor accuses Booker -- a Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law School grad -- of not being 'really black.'".

Revenant said...

Right. Fortunately, American white culture is scaling new civilizational heights. I mean how totally awesome is American Idol? Then there's Desperate Housewives, Super Bowl commercials, and Britney Spears!

In the past generation, American black culture has produced three things: crime, sexual promiscuity, and songs celebrating crime and sexual promiscuity. Black culture used to be a dynamic source of ideas; these days its just a festering turd on the sidewalk of American life. Black kids succeed by, in the words of their own peers, "acting white". How freakin' sad is that?

Mainstream American culture -- which you wrongly call "white culture" despite the fact that it is in no way restricted to white people -- is vastly superior in every way. It is more dynamic, more diverse, and more inclusive. Yes, it produced Super Bowl commercials... and the Superbowl, and the companies that run the ads. It produced Desperate Housewives... and The West Wing, The Sopranos, Lost, House, and 24. And seriously... in a world where hip-hop artists shoot each other down on a regular basis and earn zillions sampling the work of actually *talented* musicians of the past, is Britney really that big of a deal?

Mortimer Brezny said...

And seriously... in a world where hip-hop artists shoot each other down on a regular basis and earn zillions sampling the work of actually *talented* musicians of the past, is Britney really that big of a deal?

Hmm. The same corporations produce pop and hip-hop. And the target audience of both is white teens. I don't see why you think hip-hop is black culture, when the people who produce it, market it, it is marketed to, and who primarily buy it are white.

Doyle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TMink said...

Wow. There are myriad black cultures, they are a heterogeneous group, same as whites like me. In my practice I see black nerds, black farm boys, black thugs, Christian black folks who wear hats to church, you get the picture.

ALL the social science research (hard research at that) shows that groups vary more when compared to themselves than they do when compared to another group. Now sure, white have problems with anorectic girls and blacks have a higher incidence of fatherless families, but we are varied cultures.

The black cultures suck comments come across as bigotry. They read that way. I don't know the posters who wrote that, and I am certainly not accusing them. But they read poorly.

And for the record, I am not a rap guy either. I prefer reggae.

Trey

Naked Lunch said...

Revenant,
I'm guessing it's just killing you huh; the two head coaches in the Superbowl being black and all. So why don't you try to demonstrate some stones and come and say you hate black people?

First you claim in the last generation, (100 yrs) the "black culture" has produced three things; "crime, sexual promiscuity, and songs celebrating crime and sexual promiscuity".

Then you boast (proudly?) that, yes, white producers are making movies, ads, and songs about; [yes you guessed it!]; "crime, sexual promiscuity, and songs celebrating crime and sexual promiscuity".

So basically what you're saying is that it's okay if a white producer sells violent, or sexually implicit material, but not okay for a black producer. Because they would then be "earning zillions". Talk about The Man!

Revenant said...

Tmink,

In my practice I see black nerds, black farm boys, black thugs, Christian black folks who wear hats to church, you get the picture.

Every culture can be divided up into subcultures until you reach the level of the individual human being. That doesn't mean the larger culture doesn't exist. There are French nerds, farmboys, thugs, and Christians -- that doesn't make it bigotry to refer to "French culture".

The black cultures suck comments come across as bigotry.

The black people quoted in the article above also lumped black Americans together. If you think that's bigotry you've got a long list of people to complain about, and I'm not at the top of the list.

Naked,

First you claim in the last generation, (100 yrs)

A generation isn't a hundred years, moron. A generation is around thirty years -- i.e., the length of time from birth to parenthood. With rare exceptions humans don't even LIVE for 100 years.

Then you boast (proudly?) that, yes, white producers are making movies, ads, and songs about; [yes you guessed it!]; "crime, sexual promiscuity, and songs celebrating crime and sexual promiscuity".

That's a complete lie on your part; I said nothing of the kind.

Naked Lunch said...

Rev,

I pasted the wrong edit.

You said...
Yes, it produced Super Bowl commercials... and the Superbowl, and the companies that run the ads. It produced Desperate Housewives... and The West Wing, The Sopranos, Lost, House, and 24.

These are mostly about violent crime, sexual promiscuity, and pure decadence and excess. Something you took harsh offense to if a black partook in, or sold the same things. So why the hate Holmes?

Johnny Nucleo said...

I am not black, but I do have the funk so I know what I am talking about.

Barack Obama does not have the funk. This is obvious to anyone who has the funk. Since most white people do not have the funk and are total squares, they think Barack Obama - because he is black and has a funky name - has the funk.

What's funny about all this is that white liberals think they are so cool. But Barack Fever has shown them to be total squares, just like white conservatives.

The irony is just too ironic.

Here's a prediction: Barack is through because white liberals will never forgive him for exposing their squareness.

Mind you, Hillary does not have the funk either, but Hillary is a gangsta bitch.

Joe said...

Revenant: you should know the template by now. Never criticize a black person or any facet of black culture, because no matter how well reasoned your criticism might be, you will not be engaged on the merits. You will be called a racist, and that pretty much ends the discussion.

Revenant said...

the West Wing, The Sopranos, Lost, House, and 24. These are mostly about violent crime, sexual promiscuity, and pure decadence and excess

First a generation is "a hundred years" and now The West Wing is "mostly about violent crime, sexual promiscuity, and pure decadence and excess". That sound you hear is every person who's ever watched "The West Wing", "Lost", "House", or "24" pointing at you and laughing, Lunchy. You ought to take your show on the road.

Also, I did not cite those as "white-produced" shows. I cited them as products of mainstream American culture, which, as I specifically noted, is not exclusively white and in fact contains many black people, particularly immigrants, who reject the "who cares about work, marriage, or obeying the law" ethos so prevalent in black American culture.

vbspurs said...

The black cultures suck comments come across as bigotry. They read that way. I don't know the posters who wrote that, and I am certainly not accusing them. But they read poorly.

Yes, they do.

As poorly as other comments about "white culture":

Even if they're written ironically, to make a counterpoint, or with ideological breasts being beaten, this whole conversation about 'cultures' makes for much queasiness. Blech.

And for the record, I am not a rap guy either. I prefer reggae.

Hey, me too!

That and punk rock (which is the whitest of the whitest rock around, come to think of it).

Cheers,
Victoria

michael a litscher said...

Johnny Nucleo: Barack Obama does not have the funk.

Blacks Without Soul

hdhouse said...

we haven't, as a nation, discussed it in years... may be about time. it is healthy to air it and if obama's running for president brings it out and on then so much the better.

frankly i would like to know that a future president, white or black, whatever, treats a minority and regards them the same every day....or better yet, doesn't notice skin color or ethnicity first.

bearbee said...

Barack Obama does not have the funk.

How 'bout one of these guys ?

PatCA said...

"WTF are you talking about? LOL"

This is WTF: his big old book called Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance.

But since he "resolved" his conflict on the last page, I guess we can't mention it.

TMink said...

Joe, I certainly never called Rev a racist. I was careful to avoid that because I have no reason to think that. Read the words that people actually post, they are more important that the words you think that people post.

Trey