Are you ready?

I saw this article yesterday, and it’s just bugging the hell out of me. The more I think about it, the more it bugs me. I have the same question running through my head.

Just what does being “ready for a black President” mean?

I assume, since no one is asking, that we are ready for an articulate President. Barack Obama is certainly that. I know, there was that kerfufflette over his use of the word “wasted” in regards to the deaths of soldiers, but I don’t think that was inarticulate. I think it was spot-on. The people who demanded his apology were largely those who put feelings over facts.

No one is asking if we’re ready for a “clean” President, either. That’s just assumed, although it wouldn’t matter with our current President since no one who would even think of criticising him can get within sniffing distance.

For that matter, no one is asking if we’re ready for a President who’s a woman, a midget, or a world-famous yodeling hobo. Unfortunately, no one is asking if we’re ready for an honest President, either.

But back to the question at hand. Americans, especially in politics, trip all over each other to show that they aren’t racists and won’t tolerate it in others. They publicly jeer at the likes of Mel Gibson and Michael Richards. Yet, this question about our readiness to elect an intelligent, articulate, and most importantly, CLEAN man is considered a sensible one because he’s black.

And it comes from CNN. You know, the liberal media.

Well, I think I know what it means. It means that all the tsk tsking about racism is so much fluffly window dressing. It means that for mainstream America, which is comprised of all races, skin color still matters. It’s that simple.

The very existence of such a question not only reveals, but legitimizes the racism that America likes to pretend it has left behind. I honestly do not see a difference between the actual question “Is America ready for a black President?” and the hypothetical question “Why should we elect a darkie *?” The former question is merely more polite.

The rest of the article isn’t much better. We are to believe that it isn’t a question for white people, but for the black community. They are supposedly unsold on Barack Obama for two reasons. First, white people like him, so they are wary and untrusting.

That really sounds like crap. White people are squarely in his camp? Is that why there have been numerous attempts to malign his name by putting it right next to Osama bin Laden’s? Of course, no one comes out and says “They’re in cahoots!” They just put the two names close together and let people make their subconscious connections. What about the crap about how he was educated? As O’Tim recently pointed out, it worked, even though it was retracted the next day. These things didn’t come from the Rainbow Coalition. Besides, if black people don’t like a black man because white people like him, that is still racist. It also fails to explain why black people didn’t flock to Al Sharpton, whose support among white voters was scant at best.

The other reason is that, as the son of an interracial and intercontinental couple who was educated abroad and in Hawaii, he isn’t in touch with black America. He isn’t “black enough.”

Okay. Let’s digest this. America isn’t ready for a black President because the candidate isn’t black enough. That’s like saying that a diabetic can’t have a doughnut because it isn’t doused with molasses.

And exactly who IS in touch with the “black American experience?” Hillary? Come on. Bush? He’s in touch with the “black American millionaire experience.” Jackson, Sharpton, and Mosely-Braun may be, but they’ve had their shot. Were they also “not black enough”, or were they “too black?” How black is “just right?”

I’m hoping, against hope most likely, that people will see though this. I hope that white voters won’t look at this and think ” I won’t vote for him becuase his own people aren’t going to.” I hope that black voters won’t look at this and think” My people don’t support him? Then why should I?”

I hope, against hope most likely, that the election won’t be about personality. George Bush was elected in 2000 largely because he was the candidate that people would prefer to have over for Memorial Day barbecue. Look where that method of “thinking” got us.

I hope against hope that America’s issues – security, the war, health care, education, crime – can make a showing in this next election. Any articulate, intelligent, and of course, clean individual can address those things, regardless of his – or her– skin  color.

(* I purposely used an antiquated slur so that I could make my point without anyone mistaking me for part of the problem. Any negative term for extremely tan, highly rhythmic people will work here.)

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28 Comments

  1. Good post, Joe. Consider yourself starred with my Thinking Blogger’s award for Wednesday. 🙂 I wouldn’t not vote for Obama because of “wasted,” even though I think he shouldn’t have said it. It’s too minor in the scheme of things. I do think he’s kinda inexperienced, but maybe that’s not so important either. My daughter said this morning that maybe it’s better to get someone young with new ideas in there. Scary though. But McCain is scarier!

    I shook my head over that article too. Not black enough … too black … whatever. I have no idea.

    I do resent the “everyone who voted for Bush is an idiot” mantra, but whatever. Does it not occur to YOU PEOPLE that someone could have considered the two candidates and concluded that Kerry was the worse choice? Remember that the choice wasn’t Bush v. someone competent. Don’t kid yourself that things couldn’t be worse right now.

  2. Oh man Joe, I was right with you all the way. I was about to hop on my soap box and fasten on my thinking cap, etc. etc.

    And then I read “extremely tan, highly rhytmic people” and I just can’t stop laughing long enough to come off as “smart”.

  3. Paula- Gotcha! Not only did I not say anything about Bush voters being idiots, I specifically pointed out the 2000 election. I don’t think the 2004 election was about personality, it was about fear. I based my statement about Bush being elected due to personality on the exit polls in 2000. MOUNDS of people said that they voted for Bush simply because he seemed more personable than Gore.

    I do think that experience matters. I also wish that more people had felt that way in 2000!

    Anyway, I do not see at all how Bush is more competent than Kerry, especially when it comes to military matters in which Kerry has much more experience. Do you care to expound on that point? I’m guessing that would make for a lively discussion.

    You’re on my list of five as well, BTW!

  4. LOL! Yep, you got me. I did vote for Gore over Bush in 2000. Kerry had a few months of military experience, but mostly spent his life as a privileged rich man, same as George. Don’t see a lot of difference there. It was fear, absolutely. If not for fear, I would never, ever vote for an anti-choice candidate. George had a plan to deal with threats; Kerry did not. Turns out George’s plan was mostly shit, but we have not had another attack on our soil. You may attribute that to coinkydink if you wish. I don’t. That said, I will most likely vote for a Dem this time around. I was considering Guiliani, but not after what he said about the Supreme Court.

  5. I haven’t thought much of Rudy from the get-go. Sure he got snarky with an Arab that suggested that we find the motivation of the people who attacked us, rather than just spouting platitudes, but I don’t think snarkiness alone gets the job done.

    I do attribute the lack of domestic attack to coinkydink for two reasons: First, practically nothing visible has been done to secure our borders and ports. Second, I have to believe from prior experience that if there was another plot foiled, we’d see another banner hanging on another aircraft carrier. They would definitely want to use that good news to raise the poll numbers!

    I do agree about Kerry being a priviledged blueblood, but that is all we’re going to get unless we start changing the election funding rules. Frankly, I wouldn’t mind a ban on street signs and TV commercials. If liquor companies and tobacco companies can be denied this “free speech”, why not politicians? It isn’t as if they’re any better for us than booze and cigarettes. Replace it all with more debates.

  6. Good post, Joe – very THOUGHTFUL. You make it apparent that Rep. Lewis, while an experienced lawmaker and civil rights pioneer, is sadly, if unknowingly, thinking too far ahead in saying this country is “prepared to lay down the burden of race.” Still, I don’t think that precludes Obama from running a smart and successful campaign. I hope he can at least be vice president.

    Another minor point I see is – just how does the part of black America who thinks Obama isn’t black enough ever expect to have a black president? They’re less than 20 percent of the population, and if they don’t come to terms with that then we’re likely to see a Hispanic president first.

    Paula – Things could certainly be worse, give it time. Besides, I thought you divorced that guy. Don’t beat yourself up – MoveOn! 😉

  7. “we’re likely to see a Hispanic president first.”

    I think you may be right about that, O’Tim, but Richardson is going to have to work a lot harder to get my vote!

  8. O’Tim, you know we always go back once for old times’ sake. (And it’s never as good as we thought either.) 😉

  9. “that is all we’re going to get unless we start changing the election funding rules.”

    Amen to that.

  10. “And exactly who IS in touch with the “black American experience?” Don’t you know? It’s the almighty Oprah. You know, SHE is so proud of any black person who makes it in this country, and her pride is something everyone should seek. Right? If Oprah goes on TV and announces her pride in Obama, he’s sure to get elected.

  11. Fan-damn-tastic post! Change the campaign finance rules and dissolve the Electoral College. I don’t give a rat’s fart whether the next president is man, woman, gay, straight, black, white, or plaid. I’d settle for honesty on gov’t matters (I don’t care about their personal life), and someone from a middle-class, dysfunctional background. Someone we can relate to.

  12. Mr. Joe asked: “Just what does being “ready for a black President” mean?”

    It’s a variation on “He’s a credit to his race”, which is just as racist. When’s the last time you heard: “Great tennis match. You’re a credit to our race.” Why not? ‘Cause it’s an insult. Did anyone ever tell Annie Oakley, “WOW! A perfect score! You’re a great shot… for a girl.” Well, someone may have, but at that point he would have dropped out of history, so we’d never know, but you get my point, right?

    [confused] Annie Oakley… what was my point? Oh, right. The backhanded “compliment” implies that the peeps of the race/gender/wotever in question, no matter what accomplishment, will never be as good as a major league player. Either Obama is a good presidential candidate, or he isn’t. If you add a “race” column to the Presidential Qualifications spreadsheet (so to speak), how do you score that?

    SuperSnark wrote: “Change the campaign finance rules and dissolve the Electoral College.”

    Oh, gawd, yes! Especially the latter–Are we ready for a direct nation-wide vote? Hell, yeah.

  13. Interesting post Joe. The local editorial staff here keep harping on his “depth” of color. Is he not black enough? I guess once the media decides what the proper toaster setting is for a president they’ll let us know.

  14. This is an outrage. First a lesbian hosts the Oscars and now a black man is being seriously discussed as Presidential material!

    What’s gone wrong with you, America? I thought this was the land of opportunity (for Dick and all his chums).

    I blame your liberal media 😉

  15. (bush was not elected in 2000, Gore was, just for the record.)

  16. also, for more information on John Kerry’s service to this country, i would suggest watching a film- available on dvd, ‘going up river’. it has a lot to say about the man.

  17. You know, according to Debra Dickerson, an “expert” in US cultural studies (I use scare quotes not to disparage the woman, but to emphasize that the term expert is now overused), Obama isn’t really black. At least not in the context of American cultural history.

    Her reasoning follows thusly: Being “Black” in America is a long, historical contstruction common to those individuals who are descendants of West Africans brought to the US to be sold as slaves. Barack Obama is a descendant of a Central African immigrant (non-US slave ancestry), and thus is not “Black” in the historical, sociological context. That isn’t to say Obama didn’t suffer prejudice, racism, and all the other negative effects due to his ethnicity, but that, as an artificial construct relevant only to American culture, Obama is not “Black.”

    On the surface, it seems absurd, but in an academic, pointy-headed, intellectual frameowrk, dealing with the intricacies of social criticism and the like, it does actually make sense.

    The take home message here is, the whole issue of whether the US is “ready” for a Black president is moot, since Obama isn’t black. So, feel free to vote for him!

    Ook ook.

    PS: Ms. Dickerson was a guest on the Colbert Report a while back, and the segment was hysterical! She proved herself to have both a sense of humor about the whole thing, and held up well with SC. Check it out.

  18. “(bush was not elected in 2000, Gore was, just for the record.)”

    Since he’s been the Prez for 6 years now, I’d say the semantics of that situation are moot. The aformentioned useless electoral college saw things differently. The fact that our much-hailed democracy doesn’t actually reflect the will of the people is a seperate topic.

  19. But people ARE asking if America is ready for a woman president. It will happen eventually, and we will also eventually have a black president. Once we get past that first time in either case, it will no longer be a question. Then we will find someone else to discriminate against.

  20. One important distinction to made is that we don’t live in a democracy. We live in a republic. There is a big, big difference between the two. The founders of the country consciously chose to create a republic instead of a democracy (also called a mobocracy). I’m not writing this to debate the merits of either, just simply to point out that the electoral college was created as part of a republic, not a democracy.

  21. ” There is a big, big difference between the two.”

    {sigh} That’s what I was trying to say about this topic and the one I wrote about.

  22. Word.

  23. Back to the Obama’s not “black” thing. Okay, so I see the stringent academic argument…but by that definition, is Clinton “woman”? I mean, if Obama only looks black on the outside and hasn’t got the sociological cred to back it up, then Clinton only looks like a woman on the outside and hasn’t got the sociological cred to back THAT up. She didn’t struggle with her female minority status, she didn’t suffer from inequality, nothing held her back, right? Which is why I think that’s horseshit. All due respect, Fez Monkey, because I do see where Dickerson’s coming from.

  24. Blitz Krieg wrote: I guess once the media decides what the proper toaster setting is for a president they’ll let us know.

    That’s a keeper.

  25. You make a lot of good, clean, honest, points here young man! Personally I don’t see why anyone should have a problem with a black president or a woman for that matter we had Maggie.

  26. I always maintained that first and foremost, I never want to be more intelligent than my president. I just want to wake up from this eight-year nightmare.

  27. […] 8- Are You Ready? […]


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