The United States is Not Ready for a Black President

In fact, on the contrary, we’re only ready for a president, who happens to be black.

Well, let me first put a few things out here just so you know where I’m coming from.  I personally believe that there NEEDS to be a Congressional resolution that formerly apologizes for slavery and Jim Crow laws to the descendants of slavery.  Personally, I’m only three generations removed from slavery; that means my great-great grandparents were born slaves in Mississippi and Louisiana respectively–and I can trace my heritage ONLY that far. 

Sorry, I don’t have the privilege of going all the way back to “the old country.”

As I was frying chicken on Monday, it was the first time that I heard about a real apology from Congress regarding slavery and Jim Crow laws in the South.  And of course I was expecting to hear the name U.S. Rep. John Conyers somewhere in the story segment.   I just heard it once.  But this particular resolution was being sponsored by some white U.S. Rep. in Memphis named Steven Cohen–who took over a predominantly black district after Former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford lost his U.S. Senate bid to the very conservative Bob Corker (I was in Tennessee in 2006, that guy Corker was really a piece of work!).  So I don’t know if history will record Steven Cohen or John Conyers as the true author of this resolution–what do you think?

So, now the story hot off the AP wire is that “Obama opposes slavery reparations, apology”  from this morning, buy by 11:45, the morning of August 2nd, the AP has retracted that story line and changed it to “Obama opposes reparations for slavery.”

There’s something amidst here if you ask me.

“I have said in the past — and I’ll repeat again — that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed,” the Illinois Democrat said recently.

Okay, well so far so good.  I’m not in favor of handing out one big check for amortized wages from 1619-1865 for my entire family and dividing it up according to living family members.  I’ve kind of always said that I’d just be happy with an apology–which in some weird way, I think this was about the most piss-poor apology ever given in the history of established governments in the world–but as I’ve gotten older, I think there also needs to be some action behind the words.  An apology would be nice, and I guess, as to not offend whitey’s sensibilities, don’t call it reparations, and then do what Obama suggests.

The article goes on to read:

“Let’s not be naive. Sen. Obama is running for president of the United States, and so he is in a constant battle to save his political life,” said Kibibi Tyehimba, co-chair of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America. “In light of the demographics of this country, I don’t think it’s realistic to expect him to do anything other than what he’s done.”

But this is not a position Obama adopted just for the presidential campaign. He voiced the same concerns about reparations during his successful run for the Senate in 2004.

There’s enough flexibility in the term “reparations” that Obama can oppose them and still have plenty of common ground with supporters.

Well, still so far so good.  I’ve been saying from jump what Tyehimba was quoted as saying.  There is NOTHING in Obama’s past that would necessarily dictate that when he gets elected that he will begin to look out for “black issues.”

Then, this is where me and Brother Obama depart ways:

Obama says an apology would be appropriate but not particularly helpful in improving the lives of black Americans. Reparations could also be a distraction, he said.

In a 2004 questionnaire, he told the NAACP, “I fear that reparations would be an excuse for some to say, ‘We’ve paid our debt,’ and to avoid the much harder work.”

While I agree that his assessment of reparations is enlightening and a new perspective, and one I actually agree with, I firmly believe that the apology (perhaps an even better one) would be a great first step in the forgiveness process.  Whether whites want to say it’s wrong, or “they just need to get over it” (which is the height of insensitivity–why don’t you tell the Jews to get over the Holocaust while you’re at it?  But I’m sure you wouldn’t tell a white person ‘Get over it’) the fact and reality of the situation is that blacks cannot get over it.  It’s part of our culture, and it’s a part of this country’s identity.  So until whites come to grips with this part of fact and reality that blacks aren’t going to any time soon get over the hurt and anger attached with their skin color, the conservative right can expect this issue to keep on coming up and continue to surface until it is fairly dealt with.

The last part of this article is the reason why I entitled this blog as such.  I think it’s true and tell-tailing of this “post-racial” society we live in.

“If we have a program, for example, of universal health care, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because they’re disproportionately uninsured,” Obama said. “If we’ve got an agenda that says every child in America should get — should be able to go to college, regardless of income, that will disproportionately affect people of color, because it’s oftentimes our children who can’t afford to go to college.”

One reparations advocate, Vernellia Randall, a law professor at the University of Dayton, bluntly responded: “I think he’s dead wrong.”

She said aid to the poor in general won’t close the gaps — poor blacks would still trail poor whites, and middle-class blacks would still lag behind middle-class whites. Instead, assistance must be aimed directly at the people facing the after-effects of slavery and Jim Crow laws, she said.

“People say he can’t run and get elected if he says those kinds of things,” Randall said. “I’m like, well does that mean we’re really not ready for a black president?”

Well, I think Professor Randall is perfect in her analysis.  We’re not ready for a black president, only a president who happens to be black.  I think it even goes to address Obama’s quip about not looking like the other presidents on the dollar bills–well, hell, it’s true!  Even Roland Martin was equating that comment to a gaffe.  I’m not persuaded, I think it was perfect coded-language to blacks who have often times made that statement about who’s on the picture of the money is the one who controls the money and how they certainly haven’t been kissed by nature’s sun.

At this point in the game, since I seem to be a conflicted minority who’s dissenting against Obama, I’m curious as to just how much Black America is willing to give up to put Obama in office.  We’ve pushed out the NAACP, to some level, and labeled them as archaic without raising up another organization, not even the National Urban League. In my own opinion, I think the NAACP does have some issues that need addressing, but I think the overall black community is to willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater to get a black man in office.  We’ve also given up, it seems, the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton just because they’re doing the same stuff we’re doing individually behind closed doors, but for some weird reason, we think that they shouldn’t be allowed to.  Essentially, we’ve castigated major voices and outlets of intellect in hope for a future that is named Obama.

I mean, I’m all for moving forward, don’t get me wrong.  I’m quite clear that I’ll be happy to attend the funeral services of Andrew Young and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, but I think the black community is making a crucial mistake by discounting many of the old guard just because Obama is now on the scene.  I mean, if we really think that just because we have a black president, who has the same skin color as mine, named Obama that suddenly our problems will begin to be addressed, then we’ve really been sipping the Kool-Aid (prolly red flavored, you know how the darkies like bright red ish).

Frankly, as far as Obama is concerned, I’m no longer that damn impressed.

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

Don’t forget to nominate me for the 2008 Black Weblog AwardsI’d love for you to go ahead and vote for me.

10 thoughts on “The United States is Not Ready for a Black President

  1. I think most blacks are willing to give up a lot to make sure Sen. Obama is president. They are willing to give up common sense, practical thinking,questioning authority and policy analysis at least. I have never been one to throw away the hard work that many of the “old guards” for Obama. He record is thin and all you need to do is look at his state senate district and see what’s going on there. I’m not all that impressed.

    I think Sen. Obama is a great politician, and a smart man. Black people seem to hang their self worth and what they can accomplish on him becoming president. I can’t understand it. There are so many black people working hard for the black community that we can look up to. This man becoming president might not be all it cracked up to be. I do believe that sooooo many people have drunk the red (lol) kool-aid and he will be President. I hope it’s worth it though

  2. @vixen

    In his defense, his state senate district when he was elected was faring pretty well and he was effective enough to get elected against old guard politicians. And he did try and run for the 1st Congressional District (my district) and my parents voted against him.

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say “I’m not impressed” simply because not enough time has passed to be influenced either way. However, with what has happened in the campaign has definitely left me saying “I’m not impressed.”

    I talked to my friend today and he said Obama will probably be about the same as a Bill Clinton in office. Not the end of the world, but certainly not the One either.

  3. I so dont consider Barack to be the Holy Grail nor do I believe that his mere presence in the whitehouse changes all the pathologies in the black community! But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m inspired by him! his message! the hope, style and charisma that he brings along with his STORY of triumph over tragedy In addition to that damn RELATIBILTY white americans have had the privelege to enjoy 43 times!!! My titles vary as an employee, volunteer, supporter and member of my local NAACP, Urban League, National Council of Negro Women, National Coalition of 100 Black Women and Urban League Young Professionals and I’m enthralled when I talk to the “old guard” I revel in their wisdom, expierience, intelligence whenever I can i dont believe in passing the buck I believe in standing on the shoulders of our leaders in the community and our leaders at the forefront of this movement please dont think that this is the first time we sought to change strategy attempting to get from shackles to jim crow and from the factories to the boardrooms and now from the soap box to the oval office in the illustrious words of Jadakiss
    “we switched it up and went SOUTHPAW!!!!”
    Barack didnt pass me any koolaid nor did any members of his campaign but i wholeheartedly believe that it is OUR time For a complete overhaul of institutionalized racisms and its practices NOOOO Barack wont do it alone but…
    when he goes everywhere there are brown people who’ve been told they’re not good enough or are dysfunctional. He will be A giant walking, talking weapon of mass inspiration to black people throughout the diaspora

  4. I have to disagree with you on the notion that a “better apology” would be the first step towards forgiveness. The only way you get to point of forgiveness is that WE CHOOSE TO FORGIVE. It’s that simple. No apology will fix this. The sad reality is, some of us don’t want to forgive. We want someone to be the bad guy to help us forget about the areas we’ve failed in ourselves.

    This notion that the white races apology as a whole (who’s a satisfactory representative for them?) will help the process to heal us is an illusion. We are the only one’s who can heal ourselves by letting go and realizing we’re all guilty of this race problem. Imagine the resentment it creates for those who never had any involvement in slavery. It’s like asking you to apologize for your cousin’s mistakes. You’d take offense. It’s human nature.

    Since we were the first to enslave ourselves, who should apologize for that? We enslaved our own people and sold them to the Europeans. Who should apologize for that? Who should apologize to the Hebrews when WE ENSLAVED THEM AS THE RULERS OF EGYPT? I’m not giving whites a pass on their envolvement in slavery…but the only way we get to the truth is to look at ourselves as well.

    I’m no fan any politician, but Obama is right. The only needed reparation is better schools. Give people the power of knowledge, then they’ll begin to heal themselves. If we go through life needing the healing of others, we’ll be weak all our lives. Forgiveness is a choice.

  5. @Dark Angel

    Let me crystal clear, I only want an apology from the government, I’m not expecting nor wanting an apology from white people per se. I think this was something that the collective American psyche suffered from during the Jeremiah Wright controversy because somehow many people equated government with “the white race” and that’s simply bad and faulty logic on all levels.

    Secondly, it is a historical fact that the Africans on the West Coast who enslaved local tribes DID NOT participate in the chattel slavery that was practiced by the European colonies. There was not broad governmental legislation in place that allowed for the enslavement of other human beings such as was here in just this country not to mention the rest of the Americas. Nor was there broad profiteering as a result of the sale and trade of human bodies. Not to mention the number of deaths that are associated with the Atlantic Slave trade.

    And you’ll have to help me understand what you mean by “we” as the rulers of Egypt. What I will say is that the construct of “race” as a result of skin color was not quite the same. The issue at hand in the Bible was much more of a cultural delineation. Perhaps race played a role for the books of the New Testament simply because there was a stark skin color difference between those from Rome versus those in first century Palestine (ie Jesus, Paul, the disciples et. al.)

    There is something to be said about the prejudices based on SKIN COLOR ALONE that transmogrified into racism. The cultural differences between whites and blacks were secondary to skin color.

  6. i have to agree with what dark angel said in his/her first paragraph. in my mind, forgiveness isn’t given so much to benefit the receiver, but rather to create a sense of release for the giver. whether someone apologizes or not, i think that forgiveness or attempts thereof are imperative for moving forward [personally]…notice i said, moving forward, not necessarily forgetting totally.

    @ uppity…you stated that you wanted an apology from the government. albeit a piss-poor job, the attempt was made. now what?

  7. “There is something to be said about the prejudices based on SKIN COLOR ALONE that transmogrified into racism.”

    So let me get this right. Knowing blacks were sold into bondage for money makes you feel better than if they were sold because of race? I’m sure you don’t believe that…you’re way too intelligent to think that way.

    How do you state in one line that slavery in biblical times was “cultural” and then in the next sentence state race may have played a factor. Either way, the construct of “racism” existed long before the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was not unique to America. People have used racial & physical biases to make class distinctions out of people since the dawn of man. That’s human nature. This behavior even exists in the animal kingdom.

    Now, just because there was no European-style of governing that you can use to compare slavery in Africa too, does not mean there was not a systematic manner in which people were chosen to be slaves by the African rulers who sold “us” (African decendants who now live in America) into bondage. And since African warlords didn’t keep count like the American colonies, you can only assume the death toll in America was bigger.

    Humbly, I say your “HISTORICAL FACT” is somewhat inaccurate. While the west coast Africans didn’t participate, Africans from other regions (commercial & political elitist) transported the slaves they acquired from wars and slave raids and provided them to the Europeans. I believe in dealing with the root of the problem, not the symptom…Africans sold themselves.

    There was broad institutional slavery and PROFITERING, just not in the manner that you recognize today. The essence of the slave trade is economic gain in some manner. This is what I call American arrogance to assume only because something was “bigger in the U.S.” it was less impactful if done eslewhere. I can assure you, the beating from an African warlord is as painful as the beating from a European settler. One slave or one million slaves, the act is still wrong. Like I said before, we’re looking for someone else to be the “bad guy.”

    But you got me off of my point entirely. LOL. The issue is forgiveness. Our government has issued an apology from at least three President’s that I know of. Another was just issued by Congress. It’s like the wife who’s been cheated on but agrees to forgive her husband but keeps bringing the issue up over and over again. She can’t move on because she doesn’t WANT TOO. The government can issue all the apologies they want, but the minute a co-worker says something we deem as racist, the wound is reopened. Someone will always offend us in life and the government can’t stop that. That’s life. We got a choice…stay mad and let the offenses of others poison our life. Or forgive and move forward.

  8. @Dark Angel

    Fine, be my guest–blame it all on the Africans since they were the ones who started it all. I just won’t be a part of that movement.

    Secondly, black folks internally forgiving their oppressors (be it an entire race or the American government) is the same thing as telling a teenager to forgive their daddy for molesting them every night as a child, while still sleeping in the same bed that the father crept into every night–oh and by the way, the daddy is still sleeping in the room next door.

  9. It’s not about blame, I’m just merely stating what was. I could personally care less about who started what, but I’m no fan of myths about slavery. I’m about resolutions. Blaming never gets you to the point of resolution. And anyone who’s ever been the victim of any crime knows that the only way they heal is to forgive (I’ve worked with enough victims of crime to know this as fact). You can’t move forward staring in your rear view mirror. But thanks for the dialogue.

  10. @Dark Angel

    Yes, I fully agree with the idea of forgiveness. However, true forgiveness is not forced upon a victim while they are still in the midst of being victimized.

    One would never ask (in their RIGHT mind) to ask a child to forgive daddy while daddy is sleeping in the next room.

    The same is true with the black community in the United States. Why should we be forced to forgive while daddy is sleeping in the next room?

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