A Sad Day For Uppity Negroes: The Day Obama threw Wright under the bus

Per The Black Snob’s list perhaps the “under the bus” phrase is over-used, however, I believe the metaphor makes sense:  Today we saw the clash of two uppity Negroes, members of the black elite have a bitter divorce on television.

Perhaps this is the bus Obama threw Jeremiah Wright under.

I’ll always remember the day, April 29th when in the middle of my Healing Miracles oral final exam when my friend sent me the text message that sealed the divorce between Sen. Barack Obama and Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.  I figured it was going to come either today or tomorrow pending whether or not Wright had made another public appearance or not.  Whatever the situation, I felt that this time Obama was going to do what was politically expedient.

This is where I have aught with Senator Obama, and not Rev. Wright.

To this uppity Negro, it seemed as though Wright had mentally divorced Obama with the first race speech Obama gave back in March.  This thereby freed him to have the National Press Club press conference and be the flippant individual that he can often be without consequence.  Frankly, I was on his side because I got past the grandstanding that is Jeremiah Wright and I listened to the words that he had to say and listened to the issues that he was bringing to the table.   Personally, I think the flippant comment that he asked the young woman reading the questions “Did you hear the whole sermon?…No?  Then that nullifies the whole question” was brilliant.  How DARE someone have the audacity to pose a question out of context.  The fact that we live in a society that operates off of soundbytes screams in the face of truth and fairness–we’re operating on half-truths, which in turn on half-lies!

Well, what is my aught with Obama?  It’s plain and simple: he’s refusing to be true to himself.


Frankly, I don’t care if John McCain or Hillary Clinton became president as a result of all this, I really don’t; there are far greater issues than the presidency at stake here as far as I’m concerned.  If Obama had denounced Rev. Wright again, but somehow been able to deal with the issues that Rev. Wright had brought up as far as “different not meaning deficient” and the issues of “the Black Church” then perhaps he would have lost Indiana and North Carolina proving him ultimately un-electable.  But for me, as long as those issues had been brought to the forefront of the American conscious I would have said “Job well done Senator.”

Need black America remember that for some reason Obama did not feel it necessary to go to Memphis to celebrate the death (did I just type “celebrate the death” –wow, we really are messed up in this country) of Martin Luther King on April 4th, 2008 even while John McCain stood and gave a speech in the pouring Memphis rain amidst boos from a mostly black crowd? 

(I should be real mean and bring this up, shouldn’t I?  *laughs maniacally*)

The fact that Tavis Smiley is sitting somewhere saying “I told you so” along with Dr. Cornell West, because Obama didn’t attend the State of the Black Union.  And to this point, yes I sided with Obama as far as a legitimate reason for not going, however, I defended Tavis as well by saying Tavis was well within his rights to criticize Obama for not attending.

The ultimate question on my mind and I’m sure many other blacks in this country is this: When the next racial flare-up happens (as is sure to happen, I mean, this is the United States) will Obama pander because he’s not the president of the United States of Black America, but rather the president of the United States of America including everyone? 

Frankly, I’m going out on a limb and saying this guy can’t be trusted in the black community. 

So, yes, it is a very sad day for the Uppity Negro Network and many other uppity Negroes across this country and abroad, as the UNN now officially ends Obamawatch! 2008 on April 29th, 2008 approximately at 9PM EDT, as this Network now is officially throwing Barack Obama under the bus, as The Black Snob suggested “shoved into the subway” or just be toally black about it and “pull a driveby” on his ass!  This reeks of politics as usual for those of us in the black community: white politicians and blacks who affectionately call Uncle Tom’s essentially grabbing us by the wrist and bending over to us saying “Naughty, naughty, naughty!  I ought to wash out your mouth with soap for saying that!” and then giving us a swat on the backside, sending us back to our crib.

can someone PLEASE do a political cartoon of that!

I think Obama could truly take a lesson from Jeremiah Wright: be true to God and to himself, and no one else; not a Congress, not the white middle-class voters of Indiana, nor even the black community.  If his being true to himself happens to lie within one of those contexts, then so be it. 

Clearly Jeremiah Wright has no problems speaking on his convictions and neither should Sen. Barack Obama.

Keep it uppity, and keep it radically true, JLL


26 thoughts on “A Sad Day For Uppity Negroes: The Day Obama threw Wright under the bus

  1. I just feel like at some point you have to draw a line. I’m backing the Democratic nominee regardless, but I’m tired of the whole limp-wristed, hand wringing. Yes. Black America is complex. But no, you shouldn’t have to explain it away or apologize for it. Obama wasn’t asked to explain Wright, he was asked to explain why he went to Wright’s church and became so close to him. If he had focused on that maybe it wouldn’t have come to this.

    I realize that a lot of us want this for Obama so badly we’re willing to go through the next nine months bitch slapping anyone who speaks out of turn, but it’s silly to expect the more “colorful” members of the fraternity of Negritude to stay on message.

    And good luck on quitting “the bus.”

  2. Call me an idealist or whatever, I’ve somehow convinced myself that the issues Wright brought to the table have cleanly been swept under the rug. And we’re back to square one where we were a year ago questioning is Barack black enough.

    Granted I’d never ask that question in the basest of questions, but rather I would ask the question in the vein of Tavis Smiley and Rev. Al Sharpton, in the larger scheme of the country, does Barack Obama actually care about the black issues as well?

    But for the record, just like Michael Moore, I’m voting for whoever has the big “D” by their name on the November General Election ballot.

  3. Read William Jelani Cobb’s ‘Jeremiah’s Failed Crusade.’

    There is a real sadness in this whole media driven mess. Who’s throwing whom under what bus?

    We as a people will get to the Promised Land, driving our own buses while wearing bumper-butt protectors as pedestrians!

    This ‘Wright/Obama divorce’ is simply a political traffic jam that may slow us down, but the buses will roll on despite bad drivers and impatient voters. And please–remember that the revolution will not be televised.

    ‘Uppity is as uppity does’

  4. As a white guy supporting Hillary, can I ask the Black community if they really believe the Clintons are racist?

    One of the things that has really shocked me in this election is that the Obama team was able to scare black people in SC into thinking the Clintons are racists. Bill went from being the first Black president to being persona non grata, and Hillary went from 67% AA support to 13% in the span of two months.

    It seemed to me to be really hypocritical and disloyal. Now, I don’t fault anyone who switches their support from one candidate to another during a primary. That is Democracy in action, and it has nothing to do with loyalty. But why is it neccessary to smear the Clintons and their supporters as racist at the same time?

    Why is it that the only reason Obama won Pennsylvania is because white working class people are racists? Couldn’t it be that they prefer Clinton as a candidate?

    It seems to me that there has been a coordinated attack from Black leaders: Clyburn, Jesse Jackson Jr., Wright to paint all opposition as racist. I believe it does not serve the black community, and I know it makes me not want to support Obama if he end up being our nominee.

    Can I hear some feedback on that? Please don’t bother if you are going to call me a racist. Thanks.

  5. I feel you, Uppity. No fame is worth integrity.

    Found this “Stand by me” music video that shares this feeling.

  6. To Mawm:

    First of all, you’re not a racist, I’ve read nothing in your statement that would remotely reveal that. Secondly, my opinions are based on facts from a certain segment of the Black populace in this country: that is to say, I speak for myself and myself alone. I do NOT speak on behalf of the larger black community. There may be others who agree with me, but for the purposes of addressing your issues, just take this as one particular worldview of a relatively liberal 23 year old black male (extrapolate as necessary however).

    Firstly, I will generalize and say that race was a primary factor for blacks jumping to the Obama ship. I know that if Obama had been a white male, there would really have been a struggle for me as to who would I endorse. And I’m okay with that–I haven’t quite moved to a post-racial worldview yet. It’s not hypocritical in the sense that blacks were looking for a reason to vote for Obama–his main drawback was electability reasons and the fact that he did so stunningly well in Iowa and in the Super Tuesday in states with an overwhelming white population further solidified our resolve in voting for him, saying that he had “crossover status.”

    Nor am I making the projection that white working class voters in Pennsylvania are racist–perhaps prejudiced, but aren’t we all? It’s a fact of life that not many us, black and white, want to face.

    I think that we as American citizens must do a critical study of what we hear in the news and the Jeremiah Wright controversy taught me that. Many times when we hear black talking heads such as Jesse Jackson or a Jeremiah Wright et. al., we hear such condemnations of society and government.

    Let’s take Jeremiah Wright for instance.

    He said “the government lied about their involvement with AIDS…the government lied about putting crack/cocaine in black communities…” for some reason “government” has been replaced with “white folk.”

    I think Wright was quite clear that he speaking specifically about government and not about white Americans. Furthermore, I’d add that it would be very interesting to see Jeremiah Wright as anti-white seeing as how he’s a member church in a predominantly white denomination and with denominational presidents, who are white, that fully support his church.

    As far as the Clintons are concerned, I think as far as race is concerned that Clinton took somethings for granted because of his past “relationship” with the black community and yes, for what it’s worth, white liberals have to be VERY careful about what they say lest they be labeled a racist. I think Bill’s comments in SC about Jesse Jackson were ill-timed and more of a misstep than anything else. For anyone to alledge prejudiced, let alone racism on that comment is merely grandstanding for the cameras and is using it for political expediency.

    And again, understand that my response comes from a particular context, that is not necessarily the same as another black person you may encounter on your job or at the grocery store. I have my viewpoints, and even for this, I still consider this a cursory analysis of all the intricacies of what it means to be black living in America and how all of this shapes a particular world view.

    hope this helps, JLL

  7. Jlazard: Your post is worth reading and no, I do not for a minute regard Bill and Hillary as racists (although I don’t totally get the ‘first Black President’ schtick). However, the whole race issue came to a point in South Carolina….not the fairy tale or MLK remarks so much but when Bill, in answering a question about Obama winning handidly in SC, commented ‘Jesse Jackson won here too in 84’. What could he have meant by that remark OTHER than to marginalize Barack Obama as the Black candidate. There is no other way to interpret that remark as far as I’m concerned. He was saying ‘big deal, another Black man, JJ, won here too, doesn’t mean much’.
    By doing that, Obama has been put into a box, one that he did not ask to be put into NOR did he do anything to put himself there, quite the contrary. Of course he will be ‘Black’ when in front of a Black audience…just as Hillary will be more of the ‘feminist’ when in front of an all female audience or with certain groups. That is politics and there is nothing wrong with that.
    But now that the Clinton’s have put him into this box, all the racism and insults have begun…they were NOT there before Obama began winning some states and he did NOT bring them up. (I will certainly allow that it is not the candidates themselves who are doing this, but their surrogates and supporters and, of course, the media).
    Bills’ comments were not ‘ill timed or a misstep-it was exactly what he was thinking.
    Now that the media has played the wright and elite themes out for the past 5 weeks ad nauseum, it would be fair to get back to what is really happening…two candidates running for the nomination.
    it is beyond my comprehension what has become of this primary season…and a horrible statement on this country. There are two, count ’em, 2 candidates running for the dem nomination – no spouses, no pastors, no friends or enemies.

  8. Meh….lol…perhaps I’m going easy on Clinton! There is a particular way in which that comment could be viewed as particularly racist–however, I really don’t think that him saying what was on his mind makes him racist, if anything, it makes him truthful.

    Hell, he had a point.

    To Bill Clinton being “the first black president” was originally coined by famed author Toni Morrison (a quick google search will provide the original letter) and honestly, you’d have to understand the coded language in which she wrote. He speaking of black was this understanding of “ontological blackness” meaning that based on his upbringing, he could more closely identify with a larger cross section of black America.

  9. Since almost 90% of the blacks voted for Obama, it couldn’t be because they thought he was so much better on the issues than Clinton. It was because he was black. The blacks voted for Jesse Jackson because he was black. Once the poll results for South Carolina came out, one didn’t need Clinton to compare him to Jesse Jackson to come to that conclusion. It was obvious. The racist theme from Obama’s camp was simply to cover up that bald fact, they already knew the blacks were going to vote overwhemingly for Obama.

  10. Again, Jlazard10, I do NOT think Clinton is racist….but his remarks were what he was thinking and he defined Obama as being the Black candidate – this is politics, not racism. My horror is at what this ‘painting’ of Obama brought on and what has resulted.
    I totally understand Toni Morrison’s remarks and realize that she was commenting on his upbringing and identification – I guess I am just a little perplexed that he would be thought of that way because of his background and habits – I’m sure I’m missing something in this identification and what/why.

  11. To bereft:

    I think you’ve misunderstood the black point-of-view. Without sounding condescending, I hope you’re open-minded enough to know that there is a black point-of-view that often is in contrast to what is considered mainstream thought. Blacks voted for Jesse Jackson because he advocated the closest to policies that aligned themselves with the school of thought of most blacks. The fact that he happened to be a black man was a plus–not the selling factor.

    Based on that line of thinking African Americans would have overwhelmingly supported an Alan Keyes or a Colin Powell for office–but I don’t hear ANY blacks lamenting on the failed bid for the Republican nomination in 2000 nor the non-candidacy respectively. And most blacks uniformly don’t support the anathema of blacks who vote democrats: the Black conservative, like a Clarence Thomas or a Michael Steele (former Lt. Gov. of Maryland).

    Let the record show that black support did not shift to Obama until the black community viewed him as an electable candidate and that was after January 5th’s stunning Iowa caucus win. He has been able to capitalize on the bandwagon effect.

    To Ellen:

    His background of single mother who suffered abuse by his father, and growing up with a man who wasn’t his father in the house were among many of the “blackness” factors. The tongue-and-cheek part of me would want to respond to the “i’m sure I’m missing something in this identification and what/why” would simply reply that:

    You just have to be black to understand!


    But honestly, a lot of what gets said in the black community would need decoding to those outside of the black community and the black experience. And this is one of those things. I think I’ve explained it about as best as possible, and for us the end results justify the logic used to arrive at that point. I would encourage you to do a Google search and try and find the orignal letter Toni Morrison wrote and read it in context. Remove yourself from your cultural context and try reading it through the lens of someone else who you perhaps don’t identify with on a day to day basis and see what conclusions you come to.

  12. Thanks for your reply. I have read the toni morrison letter – albeit a long time ago – I guess I thought there was more to the clinton-Blacks relationship than his background – such as all that he did for Blacks during his terms in office. I know that unemployment was low for most of that time, and with the internet ‘bubble’ a lot of money to be made for a few years until it popped. Clinton also appointed many Blacks to judgeships and other positions. Am I getting it? (you don’t have to answer…this is not of huge importance – just interesting to me.

  13. Thank you for such an interesting discussion. I agree with the comment above: “One of the things that has really shocked me in this election is that the Obama team was able to scare black people in SC into thinking the Clintons are racists.”

    I find it disturbing how the Obama campaign, especially Jessie jackson Jr., call the Clintons racists. The Clintons strike as many things, but not racists.

    What I find missing in Obama is a celebration of the rich and beautiful African-American culture–especially the literature and music. I have always been drawn to this culture as I am drawn to Iirsh music and literature, even though I’m not either.

  14. You say here a lot of the things that I’ve been thinking and saying about Rev. Wright, but I’ve found only one or two others. So thanks for saying it ’cause now I might be able to trust my brain again. For awhile …

  15. you have to be uppity to know the price of arugula…of course he eats pancakes in a manner-less, not even close to uppity, fashion

  16. To ellen:

    I think the part of her letter that caused it was this:

    “After all, Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working-class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas. And when virtually all the African-American Clinton appointees began, one by one, to disappear, when the President’s body, his privacy, his unpoliced sexuality became the focus of the persecution, when he was metaphorically seized and bodysearched, who could gainsay these black men who knew whereof they spoke? The message was clear “No matter how smart you are, how hard you work, how much coin you earn for us, we will put you in your place or put you out of the place you have somehow, albeit with our permission, achieved. You will be fired from your job, sent away in disgrace, and–who knows?–maybe sentenced and jailed to boot. In short, unless you do as we say (i.e., assimilate at once), your expletives belong to us.”

  17. Wow, it is the boy syndrome…I guess that is why one owns oneself. It is a tough decision but we will get through this and hopefully we can talk without being labeled. Thank you!

  18. For me, part of the thing that freaked me a bit about Obama’s first-one-way-then-the-other reaction to Wright is that … it seems as if what he threw under the bus was not so much Wright as his own blackness.

    It seemed to me that he sat in that church to get a black identity for himself, and not because he expected to put out any real sweat and effort on behalf of the community. Other well-known black leaders like the already-mentioned Jackson Sr. have done so. Men and women like him and the late, great Barbara Jordan, and even entertainer Winfrey as well, have really put out effort on behalf of the black community. They went to the mat for their community, repeatedly. Obama never has.

    And it feels like to me, on some level, Wright has come to an ugly realization that he and his church were used by this man to obtain credibility. This man who, for want of a better way of putting it, isn’t black. Or at least, wasn’t until he created a black identity for himself that was black enough to gain the support of black voters (for whom he’s done nothing) but white enough not to creep out white liberals.

    Basically, he’s crafted a blackness for himself — and this was a conscious effort on his part, I am FIRMLY convinced — to be black enough to work as a surrogate for black aspirations, but not so black that upper-class white liberals would be scared off.

    And you can’t craft a black identity like that without stiff-arming black issues. If he’d been actively black, a real advocate for the community, he’d have been too black for white rich people like Dean and Pelosi and those zillionaires in San Fran to want to have anything to do with him.

    And now, because it’s equally expedient for him to slide out of his black identity by stiff-arming Wright and go around giving interviews where he mentions his DNA (bi-raciality, in other words — don’t forget, listeners, my mother was white!), this is what he’s doing. Sliding OUT of his black identity like he’s sliding out of an overcoat.

    But he wouldn’t do that if it had been something he’d really worked his ass off for! If you work for something, you’re not willing to put it under the bus for anything. You treasure it, and Obama’s blackness isn’t something that I get the feeling he treasures. He pulls it on and slides out of it depending on who he happens to be talking to, and on a national stage, that sort of chameleon act will get noticed.

    I hope I’m not doing the ideological equivalent of belching in church over here; I admit I’m not the most deft person when it comes to the finer points of issues of black identity although gawd knows ethnic and general outsider identity is something I know all too well. I also don’t want to step on toes as an outsider talking about who’s “really” black and who isn’t. But it seems to me that Obama tossing his own blackness aside now that it’s lived out its political usefulness to him, and that Wright is (or seems) angry on a thermonuclear scale that he and his church were used by this man to create a blackness for himself that is valued so little that he feels free to slide in and out of it at will.

  19. To Janis:

    I’d simply ask “what is blackness?” and who determines it, and is it a one-size fits all definition?

  20. I don’t know — that one question will keep people talking for decades. I don’t think there is a single short answer for it, but I think it’s probably one of those topics that can create meaningful conversation.

    It does strike me that Wright is reacting to some realization that he and his church has been used to create a blackness of some sort. There’s been a Newsweek article lately that has talked further about this, specifically about why Winfrey left the TUCC and Obama stayed, where the piont was made that she may have left because she felt less like she had something to prove. The phrased used in the article was “more secure in her blackness,” and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve heard biracial people say that they often go out of their way to identify with the most radical cultural elements of their heritage in an effort to prove membership in some way.

    The thing is here that Obama’s gone backwards after appearing to cast himself in completely with a very strongly black-identified church and culture, and when it became a serious problem, he backed away from it — indicating that he feels it’s something he can back away from, that he feels that he can or should stay on some sort of fence. I don’t know. That reaction plus the way that his campaign reacted to his being compared with Jackson in SC indicated to me that he almost hoped white people wouldn’t notice that he was black.

    It’s a rough thing, because I think that a candidate with a long, illustrious history of working on behalf of the black community wouldn’t have convinced the DNC bigwigs that he’d had the “crossover appeal” that they figured he’d need. Women have to do that dance all the time — you get put in charge someplace, in a position where you can make even a small difference for other women, and at that point, you are terrified to do just that because you feel that it will label you as The Woman — out of some illogical but existing hunch that if you don’t call too much attention to it, no one will notice. Believe me, that’s one balancing act I can have total sympathy with, and it’s misogyny and racism that MAKES people have to do it.

    Sorry if this is rambling; I’m on a text browser and can’t go back and edit. But whatever “blackness” may be, it’s true that there are things that read as “more” or “less” black according to some probably contradictory, constantly changing, and impossible-to-pin-down standard used by white people and I’d imagine by black people as well.

    And that Obama spent twenty years firmly identified with that long enough to have relied on it to give him a push toward a national ambition that then requires he stiff-arm it. And after 20 years of what must have seemed like unshakeable commitment, Wright’s resulting anger makes sense.

  21. I should also say that it’s fairly common for women to become frustrated as hell with women politicians who begin using right-wing language to talk about things like abortion and gay marriage. We’re used to politicians who we’re pretty sure feel one way on gay rights and who talk anotehr way when they have a national stage to play on, as well as politicians who we know are in favor of abortion rights but who still have to recite the “oh but it’s still a terrible tragedy and no one should be able to do it casually and what an awful thing” mantra.

    So it’s not like I’m not used to seeing politicians look askance at stuff they’ve supported out of a desire to have a broader appeal. But this is the first time I’ve seen a politician spend two decades in a relatively radical atmosphere, use it to propel his career, and then disavow it.

    It’s as if Gavin Newsom were running for Governor of CA having gotten vast amounts of support from the gay and lesbian community, being almost on the brink of making it, and suddenly talking about the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. You’d hear the howls of outrage from the far side of the Moon.

  22. Sorry to blast your blog with longwinded comments, but I think I found the right way to describe this for myself. Okay, Obama should have been playing it a lot more moderate if he’d had national ambitions, much like Winfrey did in realizing that she was a businesswoman with an international scope and that she’d have to pull back.

    For a variety of reasons, Obama chose not to pull back … which left him in the ugly position of having to carry out twenty years’ worth of moderate political triangulation in a span of fifteen minutes with a dozen cameras on him.

    To use the Newsom comparison, there are definitely gay and lesbian politicians who, in their heart of hearts, support gay marriage and everyone knows it, but who call publicly for civil unions and have done so for years because they knew that you have to take the thing in half-steps and appear more moderate — and the gay community tacitly lets them get away with it. What they don’t do is hold fast to the more radical position for decades and then try to make a moderate of themselves within fifteen minutes, when they suddenly have to appeal to a demographic beyond their original base.

    Witness when Clinton was on the Ellen show, and both she and Ellen knew damned well that the civil unions position was inconsistent and insufficient … but when Clinton came out with supportive but very moderate language about gay and lesbian partnerships without once mentioning the word “marriage,” Degeneres let her dodge on the subject. There was an unspoken “we’ll let you get away with this one” between them. Had Clinton been a total gay marriage devotee for years and then suddenly gotten wishy-washy, it would have felt like a lot more of a betrayal.

    It’s just a matter of his trying to carry out two decades worth of triangulation in the space of fifteen minutes. That make sense as a metaphor?

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