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September 28, 2008 / JV

Power, Politics, Race, Movement

I just want to share a few ideas that I’ve been thinking about lately. Some of this was inspired by a conversation I had today with my boy Anthony Kelley, you can check it his blog here. I’m just looking to put these ideas out there, not necessarily because I agree with them but because I think they are interesting and worth giving some thought.

– Barack Obama represents the end of ‘African’ people’s history in america, and the end of black organized struggle (3:10). His story allows for the propogation of this idea that there is no black experience, there is only an american experience (which relates to why it is important to distinguish that he is not African american). Obama is being portrayed as this realization of the pro-capitalist “american dream”, although he is not descended from slaves and is from a middle class background. His slogan that there is no white america, there is no black america, there is one america — our america — foreshadows the effect his success could have on the construction of race in the united states. His ascendency to the presidency could potentially catapult this country into an allegedly post-racial reality. He did it, and he’s black, why can’t you?

– Society’s choice to automatically call Barack Obama black is in itself an acknowledgment of the white supremacist power structure. It acknowledges that someone is black based on their experience of anti-black racist sentiment in america, as opposed to what their parents’ races are. This is in response to white people who say “He’s ours too” when referring to the fact that Barack Obama’s mother is white. If racism didn’t exist, maybe we would be calling him white. This is not about the one drop rule, it is about one’s racial experience of oppression in the united states and how the social construction of blackness depends on white supremacy existing, as well as the social construction of whiteness.

– The fact that Sarah Palin has been chosen as John McCain’s running mate is not only embarrassing, but it is offensive and sexist. The fact that he would choose an uninformed, inarticulate, and just plain unqualified woman as his running mate on the sole basis of her gender is exemplary of the sexism in his camp. The fact that no one is calling him out exposes the sexism that is deeply embedded in the fabric of this country. McCain is unabashedly trying to use Palin as a political object, and her gendered image as a political tool, while letting it somehow compensate for the fact that she is very obviously not by any means equipped to be president of a small organization, much less a country. She adds absolutely nothing to the ticket, besides her mediocre to poor performance in college (which Americans seem to favor) and the fact that she is considered a semi attractive woman. That the extent to which she is qualified is not a factor is sexist, and unfortunately it provokes sexist reactions among many people who witness her public embarrassments. She is in many circles representative of “that dumb bitch,” as opposed to being representative of the severe intellectual and political shortcomings of McCain’s team that have resulted in poor decision making.

– Barack Obama IS mass movement. In response to the radicals who don’t believe in voting because it doesn’t matter. In response to those revolutionaries who want to create a movement around change, but can’t seem to create pragmatist approaches to attracting the people. Barack Obama has become the catalyst for this generation’s mass movement. Whether or not he will enact real change will have to be seen. But don’t deny his significance (not as a messiah but as an indicator of the prevalent social and political sentiment of the time) or underestimate his intelligence. I believe he knows exactly what he’s doing, watch closely.

– We are witnessing the fall of the american empire (and perhaps essentially the failure of capitalism). Not only has the dollar decreased 40% in the last six years, but it is not based on anything with real value (ie gold). It is paper that we produce and assign value, therefore, it is not “real”. What does this mean for the future of U.S. competition in the world market, and what does it mean for the supposed amero?

– Helplessness is not real. Everyone has power, it is just a matter of learning to access it and use it.



Leave a Comment
  1. Kholi / Sep 29 2008 8:02 pm

    – Helplessness is not real. Everyone has power, it is just a matter of learning to access it and use it.

    … awesomeness. my roommates and i were actually discussing a few of the things in this post earlier today … but mainly what it means for blacks (really african americans … if that even makes sense as a phrase) when (because i speak that which be not as though it were … and apparently i’m a scripture quoting christian now) Obama wins.

    I’m wondering 1. how african americans will feel when much of their lives remain radically … ummmm …. i dont know … the same. (and I am just putting it out there that I am a firm barack supporter) 2. how many of them understand that just because they want change and believe in barack does not mean that he will win … esp. if they don’t register and then ACTUALLY vote 3. whether white america (bc there is one despite what barack says) will want every black person to become the head of a corporate law firm and marry someone soon to be president … or be part of a super law firm and then be president … because honestly … our capitalist system which we are so struggling (and i do mean struggling … bc i thought 700 billion was unfathomable … but dow jones has taught me that 1 trillion is a lot more ridiculous) to maintain does not allow for that? especially in america where race and class (booo to naysayers) are so interchangeable.

    that’s it … nice blog … i’m done now.

  2. lunchcountersitin / Oct 2 2008 9:33 am

    Barack Obama does not represents the end of ‘African’ people’s history in america, and the end of black organized struggle.’

    As long is there is racsim and de facto segregation, there will be reason to struggle.

    Unless or until black people convince themselves that there is no need to organize and struggle, then you will see the agitation going forward.

    And I can’t see how Obama, by his lonesome, will end racism or segregation, or convince any group that wants to organize that they should stop doing so.

  3. soltrane / Oct 5 2008 2:53 pm

    kholi –
    1. true. i find it interesting how black people look to barack and black candidates to fervently address ‘the race issue,’ but don’t hold that same expectation for white candidates. i guess i can understand where that expectation comes from, but politically, to me, it doesn’t make sense. 2. word! 3. see below

    lunchcountersitin –
    i think there is potential for barack to function as a symbol of black achievement being included in this manufactured notion of ‘american achievement’, although he doesn’t represent “african american” socioeconomic mobility (he moved from middle class to filthy rich). maybe this election will vastly change the conversation (if it has not already been changed predominantly by white leftists) from one of race struggle to one of class struggle. i don’t think the argument is that there will not be reason to struggle, but that barack’s success will be used (not necessarily out of ill will, but out of ignorance) by people of all races to promote this idea that high achievement is a matter of individual determination in this equal opportunity, multicultural ‘mosaic’ that is america.

  4. thenydouche / Oct 5 2008 6:38 pm

    I think it only serves to keep black people down to raise the race flag for Obama. I am an Obama supporter who is white and I think black voters just voting for Obama because he his black only sells him short. When black people do this they sell themselves short too. Just because he advocates “Change,” does not mean that he is trying to change the race power structure in this country. Blacks who are voting for him because they think he is going to do this are going to be sorely mistaken.

    He is not going to swoop in and save the day (although, some people, including myself, think they don’t need saving.) He won’t even touch on it because it would be career/political suicide within his own party, with the public and with the media. Obama shouldn’t be held to this expectation because, frankly, it is unfair to be placed in this position by his own people. And, for that manner, he is not the type of politician to do this in the first place. He has already said there are no Blue Americans, there are no Red Americans, so what makes you think that he views us as White Americans and Black Americans?

    Please take a look at my blog to see more of how I feel on this topic:

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