From Black Agenda Report…
Barack Obama’s corporate-made and -financed presidential campaign is the product of three distinct factors, all mitigating against Black self-determination and political cohesion: 1) corporate decisions, made a decade ago, to provide media and financial support to pliant Black Democrats that can be trusted to carry Wall Street’s water; 2) a widespread desire among whites to prove through the safe and simple act of voting that they are not personally racist, and/or to dismiss Black claims of pervasive racism in society, once and for all; 3) a huge reservoir of Jim Crow era, atavistic Black thinking that refuses to evaluate Black candidates’ actual political stances, but instead revels in the prospect of Black faces in high places. A President Obama would, of course, be the zenith of such narrow, non-substantive, objectively self-defeating visions.
In 2007, the Obama “package” amply satisfied all three “constituencies.” Corporations found him a loyal ally on Capitol Hill and on the speaking circuit, rewarding him handsomely for his fealty; millions of whites came to believe Obama could solve the “race problem” by his mere presence, at no cost to their own notions of skin privilege; and infinitely manipulable Black dreams of the ultimate Head-Negro-in-Charge. Many, if not most, Black folks yearn to see a Supreme HNIC before they die, and will not question how he got there or whom he really serves.
Paul Street has written often in these pages and elsewhere of Obama’s political charade: his impudent posing as the “Joshua” to succeed Dr. King’s “Moses Generation,” while supporting none of the fundamental social transformations sought by King; his fawning praise of the same U.S. “free enterprise” system that King thought was incompatible with racial justice and peace; Obama’s ridiculous and statistically baseless declaration that Blacks have already come “90 percent of the way to equality,” inferring that his election would provide the final ten percent; the senator’s initial insistence, later modified, that the Katrina catastrophe and the Jena outrage had nothing to do with race; his remarkable pledge to the Foreign Relations Council to increase U.S. troops strength by 100,000 soldiers and Marines, all the while maintaining the farce of being a “peace” candidate. The list goes on, and will doubtless lengthen as the campaign continues.
However, we at Black Agenda Report are most concerned with the paralyzing stupor that Obamamania has induced in the Black polity. Even committed Black progressive activists have jumped on the candidate’s bandwagon-to-nowhere. My saddest, and yet most telling, experience with Obama-coma came late last year, when I was bracketed with New York City Councilman Charles Barron on Ron Daniels’ weekly WBAI Radio political discussion show. Barron is one of my favorite politicians, a former Black Panther who is also a grassroots community activist and implacable foe of racism and entrenched power. Barron announced that he and the local activist group with which he is affiliated were endorsing Barack Obama for president.
In what turned into a debate between us, I confronted the councilman with all the facts outlined above, and more. He, like every other Black Obama supporter, could offer no coherent response, except to pillory Hillary Clinton, Obama’s political twin. Indeed, the interview/debate experience was audibly painful for Barron, who knows full well that Obama stands on the opposite side of the political line – when he decides to stand anywhere, at all. Finally, Barron could only offer that he “wants to give the brother a shot.” That was it. The phrase, which he later repeated, was like an exhalation of used up air, an abdication of the imperative to Speak Truth to Power if the representative of Power is Black and seems to be an unstoppable phenomenon.”