This was a recent article regarding Barack Obanma’s Presidential campaign. The article is an interview with Michelle Obama, in it she says some interesting things about Black America and their desire – or lack therefore – to vote for her husband. In it she basically tells Black American to wake up and vote for Barack, The following are some of my thought about the Obama campaign and Mrs. Obama’s comments. I would read the article before you read my response however
If Black America’s goal was to simply get a “Black” – I firmly consider Obama as bi-racial- into the Presidency then Mrs. Obama’s comments are right on the mark. However, in its desire to reform socially and economically, I believe that Black America (when I use black America it is going on the fact that the majority of Black America is African-American) is smarter than that. Black America wants a President who will understand them and lobby for advances in the African-American community; that doesn’t inevitably mean a Black president (as shown in the lack of support for Alan Keyes in 2000 – one can also argue that he was in the wrong party to get a majority of black votes). Black candidates aren’t the end all for Black America especially Black candidates they are unsure
Having a “Black” President would do a lot for history books, undoubtedly assist in improving the validity of being Black and perhaps have positive results within the black community, but it would not necessarily change our nation’s dealings with Black America.
Candidly, I don’t believe Black America believes Obama is “Black” enough. Although, he married to an African-American woman and has been involved with community development in urban Chicago, he doesn’t come off as the great Black leader that Black America votes for. First off, he grew up surrounded mainly by his white family, and even though he did seek out his identity that was largely after he have grown accustomed to his white ancestry.
Second of all, his black lineage is directly African rather than African-American. Racially, this makes little difference, but ethnically it is a different story. Although he is Black, his ancestors were not brought to North America on slave ships; they did go through American war after war hoping that this fight would be the fight for their freedom, they did not go through the bitter sweetness of reconstruction, they did not live in Jim Crow America and they did not go through the American civil rights era. For many African Americas, all these characteristics make Obama more unlike them than similar.
Lastly, Obama’s standard of living does not resonate with those in the general African-American society. Although Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are also in a high socioeconomic status for many they have seemed to come up because they pursed after rights from African-American. Inversely I believe African-American society views that Obama has been a silver spoon child. The complexity of his socio-economic status, complexion, background, and privilege may even make some African-Americans see him as a “house slave”.
All that being said, If Black America’s goal is to have someone in office that will ultimately improve its existence then I quasi-agree with Mrs. Obama. I personally favor Barack as a candidate – much more than the other possible milestone maker, Hilary -, but I don’t favor him because of his over or under whelming blackness or because I think he will concentrate his energies in America’s Black community. I favor him because I believe he is fairly balanced, he brings a new vivacious energy, and most importantly he seems to seek justice for all people – which, in my opinion, will ultimately foster the most progress for Black America because it will be part of the American picture rather than under the American microscope.
My belief is that Obama brings one of the most balanced platforms and that even though I disagree with some of his policies I do not believe that he is act completely on his own will, but will openly listen to citizens and advisors. Obama’s being a new face in politics is present in so many ways. He is not the typical candidate, he is very young for a candidate, he is verbally and mostly on records bi-partisan, and he is not a white male. This uniqueness is more than just “hopeful” as Obama’s campaign’s emphasis, they are real. The nation is not the same as it was 40 years ago, the nation isn’t the same as it was 10 years ago; his candidacy is welcomed by me, because it seems to represent who we are and who we are becoming as a nation. As a black male I see this as paramount first to the entire United Sates and consequently to Black America.
Ultimately, Black America’s goal is – and should be – the latter. However, that goal becomes muddled in the fact that is natural to assume that the person, who looks, walks, talks, behaves and grew-up like you will, in the long run, grant you the greatest advancement. In this sense Black America is sleeping – yet in a different manner inferred from Mrs. Obama- and dreaming for the reincarnation of Martin Luther King, Fredrick Douglass or DuBois rather than realizing that this real-life Kennedy/King fusion that Obama possesses perhaps their best bet.