Michelle Obama On "The Black Vote"

I am a 33 year old African American woman.

I am writing this diary because , as an African American, I have a right to have just as much input, if not more, on issues and statements that are directly aimed at the Black community as those who are not African American. Too many times, when something like this comes up, those who are not African American began , consciously or subconsciously , telling the Black Community how we should think and respond to something that has nothing at all to do with them. So, I am putting in my input first and I am doing it as an African American. I do not speak on behalf of the entire Black Community as you will see later in this diary. This is just my opinion based on my personal experiences as an African American. I will welcome mostly all comments.

Michelle Obama was recently interviewed on MSNBC and asked about her husbands poll numbers with specific regards to African Americans. Here was her response.


Michelle Obama is absolutely correct.

I was born a week after Nixon resigned ( I refused to be born under his Administration. I had to make sure he was out of the White House for sure before busting on the scene. JK ) But, still, in 1974, It was already decided that before I took my first breath, I would be reminded by society every single day of my life that I am a descendant of Slaves. That I am a descendant of parents who had to drink out of designated water fountains and that I had older siblings who watched Martin Luther King Jr. get shot. It was pre-determined that because of the color of my skin, while it is no longer legal to treat me like my predecessors were treated, there were people in this nation who would still do anything they could to get around the laws in an effort to deprive me of achieving the American Dream.

However, because I was raised by a father who embraced Dr. Kings message as opposed to Malcolm X's message, I did not grow up with a mentality that I was to be the sole enemy of the White man. But many Blacks have. Because my father embraced my white Brother-In-Laws and treated them the exact same way as his sons, I did not grow up thinking that the White man was out to get me. But many Blacks did not have this experience. Because my school was progressive and because they expelled a little White Boy for calling me a Nigger, ( The ONLY time in my entire life I was called that by a White person BTW) I did not grow up thinking that ALL white people were racist. Many Blacks have yet to see this. Many Blacks have never experienced circumstances that prove not all Whites are racist.

It is those within the Black community that Michelle Obama is talking about. It is the Blacks within our community who have been told all of their lives to beware of the White man. It is those Blacks who have only heard the negative history as it pertains to our race and the stereotypes have been reinforced within their society to the point where they really feel there is no difference between the History of our experience in this nation and the current day and age we now live in. They have never felt included and welcomed by Whites. They believe the scary stories that all Whites hate Blacks and are out to get us. They are the real victims of racism. Not Blacks like me. But them.

Those Blacks , who are saying that a Black man will never be elected, are  only saying that because everything they have been fed all of their lives tells them that it's their reality. They were told all their lives that White people genuinely hate Black people and that White people are so racist and prejudiced in their souls that they will never allow anyone who is not White to govern this nation. This is what they have been told. When Michelle Obama says, they will wake up, what she means is, they are about to finally get a different message. They are about to get the truth. They are about to wake up and find that America is not as racist as they have been told. They will wake up and be free in their own minds.

Tags: African Americans, Jim Crow Mentality, Michelle Obama (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

Re: Michelle Obama On "The Black Vote"

Younger Whites and Blacks must lead the way in this effort.

by BlueDiamond 2007-11-13 05:37AM | 0 recs
I am not black but here is my opinion

Without knowing I would guess that a black voter would be inclined to take a long hard look at a black candidate.  Even if it is a candidate they may have quickly written off otherwise.

I think that is true of hispanics or asians or any other race or ethnic group.  I am sure Bill Richardson is getting a long look from Hispanics who wonder if he could be the first.  

I am sure that Hillary is getting a look from many women simply because she is a woman.

I think after that look many voters will make a choice based on who they think the best candidate is.  Sure some, but I don't think most, will vote simply on a race (or gender) perference.

Barack is not doing as well as some would have thought among African American voters.  Clinton is keeping it real close.  There has to be a reason.  Obama is well funded and gets the media attention.  My guess is some African Americans don't see him as the best choice in this race.   That doesn't mean they think an African American can't win.

by dpANDREWS 2007-11-13 05:46AM | 0 recs
Harold Washington

There is a recent episode of This American Life that addresses with the issue Michelle Obama raises here. It is about Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, and it has a long segment on how Washington overcame the idea in the Black community that a Black man couldn't win. Barack Obama has said that Washington is a source of his inspiration.

by souvarine 2007-11-13 05:53AM | 0 recs
Clinton makes it tough on Obama

I think Clinton is an especially tough challenge to Obama among African American voters.  It doesn't help Obama that the Clintons were popular in the African American community to begin with.  But there is also the gender issue.

What percentage of African American voters are women?  At the end of the day many may be pulled in the direction of gender over race.  Hard to say.

by dpANDREWS 2007-11-13 05:54AM | 0 recs
I found her statement to be patronizing
and it seems to be an excuse for why he is not doing better.  There is a gender gap in the AA community just like the White community.  It may be that all demographic groups are going for Clinton and women are going for her in bigger numbers even black women.  For over 200 years people of both sexes voted for men based on the simple idea that they were more qualified to lead.
Hillary Clinton looks more like a leader, sounds more like one, seems like she can kick republican ass more than the other candidates and has been a champion on women's issues.  That may just mean more to AA women than being African American.
In addition, experience counts and Clinton has more, no matter how you want to spin it. That is what all groups except the online bloggers think.
People are just going to have to accept that as being the truth.  If Obama can change that perception, fine.  But this excuse making by his wife is not going to do it.
In addition, I was born in the 50s and you might want to have a little more respect for the experiences of people who have lived through tougher times than you can imagine. You got called  "the N word" once and think you can speak for all those "poor disadvantaged people" who have had it so much harder than you?  They are all beaten down and so they don't know how to make a good choice about how to vote?  Well thank God they have you more advantaged folks to help them out, you and Michelle in her million dollar house.
by MollieBradford 2007-11-13 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: I found her statement to be patronizing

to clarify:

Hillary Clinton looks more like a leader, sounds more like one, seems like she can kick republican ass more than the other candidates and has been a champion on women's issues.  That may just mean more to AA women than being African American.

I should have added that it may mean more to them in choosing a candidate in this particular election.

by MollieBradford 2007-11-13 06:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama On "The Black Vote"

Great diary, Blue.  You should cross-post it.

by Piuma 2007-11-13 06:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama On "The Black Vote"

I have my friend.

;p

by BlueDiamond 2007-11-13 06:50AM | 0 recs
This Entire Diary is Patronizing

If Barack Obama is not getting the support of the majority of the African-American electorate, then Obama supporters need to look at what THEY are doing wrong instead of trying to cast most black voters as being too psychological disabled,  oppressed, afraid and beaten down to support their enlightened cause.  

It's strange how this purported psychosis didn't exist in the black community when Jesse Jackson was winning primaries with 90% of the black vote during his campaign for President.  And while she didn't get full backing, there were plenty of people who said "you go girl !" when Shirley Chisolm ran for President a full two years before the author of this diary was born.  It's time for some Obama supporters to "wake up !" and realize that Obama has to EARN the votes of African-Americans like everyone else.  It's a sign of the increasing sophistication of the African-American electorate that we can now judge candidates by the content of their character.  When it comes to getting votes, just being black ain't good enough no more.

by Grand Poobah 2007-11-13 07:03AM | 0 recs
Never thought of it that way

You are so dead on here.  At the end of the day you earn peoples votes.

by dpANDREWS 2007-11-13 08:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama On "The Black Vote"

Very interesting diary.  We're all molded by our experiences.

I don't know how many black voters truly fall into this category of "I'd vote for Obama, but I don't believe a black man can win."  Obviously there are plenty who prefer another candidate on the merits.  But I do think it's disappointing for anyone at all to be in that category - I can't promise them they're wrong, but it's obviously a self-defeating attitude either way.

by Steve M 2007-11-13 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: One thing I predict

that poll is from June. it was an outlier then.

by MollieBradford 2007-11-13 07:39AM | 0 recs
The poll doesn't exist

It is from May or June.  Why someone linked to it now is bizarre.

Look at the date.

by dpANDREWS 2007-11-13 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Michelle Obama On "The Black Vote"

I want to see where she's playing the race card. She's read the same stories about Black folk saying that they won't vote for Barack because

1. They don't think White people will vote for him.

2. They are ' protecting' him, because they think that he will be assassinated.

In case you don't recognize it, BOTH of these positions are born of FEAR.

White people don't believe this, no matter how much Black folk tell them, but Black folk are CONSERVATIVE PEOPLE BY NATURE.

Our very SURVIVAL IN AMERICA HAS DEPENDED UPON IT.

Michelle Obama isn't saying anything that I haven't heard.

And, let's be for real - what, about the history of The United States of America, would make Black people believe that White people would actually vote FOR a Black man for President of the United States?

I have written repeatedly that I do not know IF White people will actually vote SERIOUSLY for a Black man for President of the United States.

I only know that I want the answer to the question, which is why I support Barack Obama.

by rikyrah 2007-11-13 11:51AM | 0 recs

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