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Tracey
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« on: July 20, 2008, 04:05:26 PM »

The political stage has brought forth some interesting views about the possibility of what it means for the US to have a Black president, and how that symbolism once again, can be used to serve the Imperialistic agenda to actually preserve status quo.


Excerpts -

Because He's Black: Race, the Ruling Class, the Left, and Obama
By Paul Street:



"Not All That Black." A significant part of Obama's appeal to white America has to do with the widespread Caucasian sense that Obama "isn't all that black."  Many whites who roll their eyes at the mention of the names of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton - former presidential candidates who behave in ways that many whites find too black - are calmed and impressed by the cool, underplayed blackness and often ponderous tone of the half-white, Harvard-educated Obama. Obama doesn't shout, chant, holler or drawl.  He doesn't rail against injustice, bring the parishioners to their feet and threaten delicate white suburban and middle-class sensibilities. He stays away from emotive "truth"-speaking confrontations with power.

 To use Joe Biden's unfortunate terminology, Obama strikes many whites as "clean" and "articulate" - something different from their unfortunately persistent image of many blacks as dirty, irrational and unintelligible. "Among the factors contributing to Obama's rise," Washington Post writer Liza Mundy noted in the summer of 2007, was the interesting fact that "his appearance, his voice, and his life story are particularly well suited to attract white votes."

As a black professional I know recently remarked when I mentioned "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" in connection with Obama: "it's like that movie in the sense that a black man has to be almost 'perfect,' like Sidney Poitier, to be accepted by whites." The translation of "perfect" is racialized, of course, and includes a sense of being suitable to white sensibilities and safe for white privilege.
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- "Race Neutral" Obama. Thanks in part to the fact that his technical blackness triggers white racial fears, Obama has gone to remarkable lengths to distance himself from the struggle against racism.  During the primary campaign Obama was if anything more conservative on racial justice than Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, not to mention Dennis Kucinich. Eagerly accommodating mainstream white attitudes, the "deeply conservative" Obama has run a "race neutral" campaign falsely proclaiming the essentially "past" nature of racial oppression and pointing strongly to poor blacks' personal and cultural responsibility for their disproportionate presence at the bottom of the nation's hierarchies. The fact that he is black has helped make such racism-denial and victim-blaming especially imperative for the Obama campaign. The predictable eruption of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright fiasco has pushed Obama yet further over into what the left black commentator Glen Ford calls "white space" on questions of American empire and inequality, past and present.
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- Last March, the "liberal" white Newsweek columnist Jonathan Alter voiced an interesting racist opinion on what he called "the Obama Dividend." While "Obama's unique assets" [a reference to the Senator's blackness and multiculturalism, P.S.] have been viewed in international terms," Alter argued, the presidential candidate's "most exciting potential for moral leadership could be in the African-American community."  Alter praised Obama for being a potentially "important president" simply on the grounds that the Senator would tell and inspire "black adults and children" to behave better and thereby to stop sabotaging themselves and alienating culturally superior whites.  Obama could mishandle U.S. foreign or economic policy, and fail in his tepid efforts to address social problems at home, but he would leave a powerful and important legacy, Alter argued, if he could just get "black adults and children" - a category that technically includes every single African-American human being - to think and act in a more positive and productive fashion.

The problem with such incidents and commentaries - widely emblematic of mainstream white sentiment in the post-Civil Rights Era (PCRE) - is that institutional racism remains alive and well in every area of American society, providing the essential explanation (the supposed "excuse") for a savage racial wealth gap that grants the median black household seven cents on the white median household dollar. The appointment of a few select blacks to upper-echelon positions - the Supreme Court, Secretary of State, and even the presidency - does not change this deeply rooted societal reality. It can actually make that reality worse. The deeper structures and practices of institutional white supremacy are cloaked by regular rituals of Caucasian self-congratulation over white America's increased willingness to embrace "good" - bourgeois, power-elite-approved and "not all that" - "blacks" like the corporate mass-marketing icon Oprah Winfrey and mendacious imperialists like Powell, Condi Rice, and (now) Obama.
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Call it "the identity politics of Empire." Superpower needs new clothes and Obama is just the man to model them.

Full Article:
http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/18205
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