Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

This article states nicely something that many of us have known all along:  African-Americans are not a monolithic group who thinks, feels, and believes everything Obama and Reverend Wright think, feel, and believe. s/2008/05/renewed_wright_imbroglio_expos .html

I've been troubled by the meme that has emerged in this primary (pushed by the MSM and also, I think, by the Obama campaign itself) that all black people are alike and that a disagreement with the values or behaviors of one black person (e.g., Barack Obama) necessarily implies a disagreement with the values of all black people.   In addition to injecting an unnecessary amount of tension into the primary campaign, it has struck me as deeply unfair to the African-American community.

Like any other group in America, the black community enjoys a huge diversity of lifestyles and values.   There's a big middle class that goes to PTA meetings and ice cream socials, attends college, works in science, industry, law, medicine, education and government, shops at the mall and gives to charity.   And quite a large number attend churches where the message truly is hope and joy, not hopelessness and despair.  

Another concern I've had about Obama is expressed in this quote:

To many, Gillespie among them, Obama's problem is that he has never made explicit what, beyond symbolism, his election would do for black America. Now, he is rejecting Wright's racial agenda without having clearly articulated his own.

"The whole thing with Barack's campaign is making all the other black leadership be on mute," said Kevin Alexander Gray, an activist and writer in South Carolina. "The idea is that black people should just shut up and accept him as the prize of racial advancement with nothing given in return except him being the president."

Diarist Note:   I got this article off realclearpolitics and don't know the history or politics of the writer.   So I fully expect there will be commenters who call the guy "conservative wingnut" and don't bother to even read the article.  But folks, even a person with a different philosophy can, sometimes, speak truth.   In the article he quotes a variety of real people, and that alone is interesting.    Give it a try.

Tags: African-American, obama (all tags)



I thought the black vote was irrelevant

I thought the only votes who mattered are the Reagan Democrats

by Al Rodgers 2008-05-02 08:58AM | 0 recs
do you ever make a comment that is

not trollish?

by TeresaInPa 2008-05-02 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: do you ever make a comment that is

That's rich.

by emptythreatsfarm 2008-05-02 09:24AM | 0 recs
its totally pot meet kettle moment is not it

by kindthoughts 2008-05-02 12:51PM | 0 recs
This is really an important observation...

>"The idea is that black people should just shut up and accept him as the prize of racial advancement with nothing given in return except him being the president."

The problem with taking this attitude is that Obama's platform will actually HURT many people, relative to Hillary's, especially on healthcare and I suspect, job creation - and black people, who still have not caught up with white people (that has to be the understatement of the year- I really should rephrase that..) who still are TEETERING on the EDGE of the ABYSS.. ARE GOING TO BE HURT BY SOME OF HIS CRUCIAL OMISSIONS..

by architek 2008-05-02 01:41PM | 0 recs
I guess I do not really believe Hillary.

Myabe its too simplistic, but in some ways her in some wyas so called experience works against. I've see her wobble too much though.

But do not worry, she will get my vote over McCain.

by kindthoughts 2008-05-02 10:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

Well, yes. No demographic group is monolithic.

by politicsmatters 2008-05-02 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

The motivation behind that margin of support is still very troubling to me.  If Hillary Clinton was winning women's support 85-15 (we wouldn't be here right now first of all), what would we call that if not monolithic?  I know I sound like a broken record with this issue, but as a black man, the lock-step devotion to Obama is deeply unsettling.

by jarhead5536 2008-05-02 09:16AM | 0 recs
what bothers me

is that this really did not have to go this way.  Could they have resisted calling the Clinton's racist none of this would be happening.

by TeresaInPa 2008-05-02 09:21AM | 0 recs
Re: what bothers me

Have you ever been bothered that Democrats typically get 85-90% of the black vote in the GE? If not, then stop complaining that one candidate is more attractive to this group of voters.  

by politicsmatters 2008-05-02 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: what bothers me

On the flip side Obama's run is ending racism just not in the way intended.

In highlighting black racism and in a negative context it is healing wounds.

I think Obama is poised for a run in 2016 if he makes peace with team Clinton.

Hillary and Bill can smooth over the racial divide in the party on the white and latino side and Obama doesn't seem to need help on the black side.  

But if he doesn't make peace he may have permanent problems over Wright that prevent him from ever being the president.

by DTaylor 2008-05-02 09:27AM | 0 recs
well perhaps
but I can't help thinking about his behavior after the PA debate on ABC and wondering if he will ever be grown up enough to be president.
If he is "THE ONE" he has some work to do before he runs again.
by TeresaInPa 2008-05-02 09:33AM | 0 recs
Its going to be hard for him to overcome that..

Not impossible, but very hard..

he will need to build up a very solid track record of real accomplishments in the Senate.

by architek 2008-05-02 01:46PM | 0 recs
check out Field Negro's blog

there's a grand tradition in African American circles of criticizing your leadership. Jews have that too (just look at Lewis Black, that man knows how to rant!).

Keep questioning, keep thinking, and keep voting.

FWIW, in the South at least, College Educated folks are more likely to vote for Obama than Blacks.


by RisingTide 2008-05-02 10:07AM | 0 recs
That 'college educated' dichotomy seems very fishy

I don't see why the college educated would be any more likely to vote for Obama.. In fact, I have long thought this alleged Obama support among the highly educated is doubtful..

I certainly don't see that happening in my circle of friends..

Are they SURE that college educated people are more likely to support Obama, and why?

And if they are, are those RECENT numbers?

by architek 2008-05-02 01:56PM | 0 recs
You can look at the regression

it was Front paged here (about north carolina).

Obama is a college professor, and he talks like one (lectured the nation on race! -- if you haven't seen that speech, listen to what the audience did... they couldn't figure out where the claps and cheering should go).

College educated people are more likely to support obama, check out a few exit polls... ;-)

I don't remember for a while now when the college educated goes for obama meme started, but it's been in my head since a bit after Super Tuesday (my memory isn't good, though, so lookit up yourself!)

by RisingTide 2008-05-05 06:31AM | 0 recs
Hillary Clinton is winning white women

Two-thirds to one-third.  How is that not monolithic?

by Drew 2008-05-02 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Hillary Clinton is winning white women

monolithic means single lithic

you have 3 lithics and Hillary is only getting 2 of them =p

Seriously 92-8 vs 66-33 is a pretty big difference

11 to 1 vs 3 to 1

by DTaylor 2008-05-02 10:13AM | 0 recs
Both are far from

The supposed ideal of 50-50.  But only one is considered evidence of identity partisanship.  Wonder why that is?

by Drew 2008-05-02 10:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Both are far from

Again 11 to 1 vs 3 to 1

Both are identity partisanship but 11 to 1 is far from the expected 6 to 6 and far closer to 12 to 0

3 to 1 is half way between 2 to 2 and 4 to 0

by DTaylor 2008-05-02 10:44AM | 0 recs
Got it.

You think Barack Obama's the beneficiary of affirmative action but Hillary Clinton, in spite of similar statistics, is winning wholly without respect to her race or gender.

Nice little world you live in, D.

by Drew 2008-05-02 11:21AM | 0 recs
Re: Got it.

"You think Barack Obama's the beneficiary of affirmative action but Hillary Clinton, in spite of similar statistics, is winning wholly without respect to her race or gender.

Nice little world you live in, D."

Funny thing is the world I live in its actually ME who decides what I believe.

If Hillary had 8 years in the senate with a solid work ethic and good results, 8 years as the most successful president in modern memories #1 advisor and 12 years as the governor of Arkansas #1 adviser and that person said prior to winning the presidency that Hillary and him were a 1 2 punch then she would be getting those votes white, black man or woman against.....

Obama with 2 years of senate experience with solid work ethic and good results, some time as a part time state senator and some years as a community organizer, 2 books and a good speaking ability.  If Obama were white or a woman.

by DTaylor 2008-05-02 01:49PM | 0 recs
Phrase it however you like

It's not different from what you said - you believe that Obama's winning because of his race, but Clinton is surviving for some reason other than her race and gender.

It would be really nice if you could be as charitable to Obama's supporters as you are to Clinton's.  But clearly, that's too much to ask.

by Drew 2008-05-02 06:23PM | 0 recs
Blacks vote 92% democrat if women did that.....

Women dont vote 92% democrat if they did we would have a Womans Party that ruled America that would practically be undefeatable. So you cant compare the women vote to the black vote. Clearly there are plenty of female Republicans who feel that Womans Rights as an issue is not important enough for them to cross party lines.

Women have are well represented in the goverment. There have been 2 black govenors in American history. There are probally right now over 10 female govenors in office including Michigan, Conneticut, Hawaii, Arizona etc... So being a woman is not half bad. Being black on the other hand is certianly more of a obstacle to success.

Identity politics aint it grand

by edtastic 2008-05-02 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: Blacks vote 92% democrat if women did that

In case you haven't noticed, women make up over half of the population, while African Americans only make up about 12% (and half of them are women too). That explains most of the disparity in representation.

by LakersFan 2008-05-02 04:47PM | 0 recs
It's understandable on two counts:

1.  Clintons as questionable on race:  Obama campaign has done a good job of making lots of Americans believe that the Clintons are either outright racist or at least insensitive enough to use race against Obama.  That's an untruth, but it's been a very successful untruth.  A lot of Americans, white and black, believe it.   African-Americans who believe it would be completely justified in voting against her, in my view.  Racism and race-baiting are offensive!   A lot of whites are also against Clinton for that reason.

2.  Peer pressure.   A lot of Obama supporters, white and black, have been simply over-the-top in the pressure that they place on their peers.   I've read articles about young women feeling completely unable to admit that they like Hillary, because their young men colleagues would be all over them.   So, they keep quiet.   I think an average black person with tendencies toward Hillary might experience the same thing among black friends.  

One interesting question, to me, is how many of these ambivalent people might actually pull the lever for Hillary when they're in the voting booth?   All of our "demographic" data come from exit polls -- since it's illegal to actually observe how a person votes -- and so one has to wonder how many people are walking out of the polls with friends and family and so feeling some pressure to report the "correct" vote?   The whole exit poll thing is weird since in our country we're supposed to have SECRET ballot which means you don't have to tell anyone how you voted.   I wonder how aggressive are exit pollsters in forcing people to answer?  It should be illegal to force people IMO.  

by miker2008 2008-05-02 10:25AM | 0 recs
Re: It's understandable on two counts:

Um, Miker, can any African American or white come to the conclusion "that the Clintons are either outright racist or at least insensitive enough to use race against Obama" without having been "made" to do so by the Obama campaign.  Otherwise, that whole monolithic thing is still ruling their actions.  In short, when I'm voting my interest and 90 percent of the people who share my skin color vote the same way in the Dem primary, it's identity politics.  When I vote, presumably with you, in the general and 90 percent of the people who share my skin color, then I'm OK, legitimate, worthy of a discussion beyond the phrase "identity politics?"

by niksder 2008-05-02 10:37AM | 0 recs
If you've not been "made" to and

have come to this conclusion on your own, then you are indeed a terribly poor observer of reality.  

The reality is that it was not the Clintons who injected race into the campaign.  The Clintons campaigned against Obama as they would campaign against anyone.    The elders of the Civil Rights movement all reassured Bill that they saw nothing racial in his or Hillary's statements early on.   Andrew Young has joked that "Bill Clinton has slept with more black women than Barack Obama has."   The Clintons have unassailable credentials on issues of importance to the black community and on the intangibles of living and working closely with African-Americans over decades.   And this is well known to anyone on the "inside".  

But the Obama campaign pushed the anti-Clinton myth in South Carolina and with the MSM, who picked it up and ran with it as a "juicy" story and thus created (or helped Obama create) the myth that the Clintons were racially tainted.    So a lot of people NOT on the inside have been misled.

by miker2008 2008-05-02 10:47AM | 0 recs
Re: If you've not been "made" to and

You're assigning motivations as if you purchase them by the carton.  Unassailable credentials is an interesting phrase as it relates to issues of importance to the black community. And if the black community (that lovely monolith) feels differently then they've been misled and presumably uninformed, and you know this because the elders (those who make it incredibly easy to distill what all African Americans think) have reassured Bill.  You know what, if you want to know how blacks feel, just ask Jesse Jackson.  One word of warning though, according to Bill Bennett, Obama's win in Iowa means that blacks no longer had to follow Jackson or Sharpton.  If only blacks had your insight, Miker.  Then Hillary wouldn't have those pesky identity politics to deal with, except of course when she wanted to appeal to women.

by niksder 2008-05-02 11:44AM | 0 recs

"The most recent polls -- at least among those that have disclosed their demographics -- have converged around a black percentage of 32-33%. Needless to say, given the near monolithic support that African Americans have given Barack Obama, that percentage will ultimately be critical to his share of the vote on Tuesday."

by miker2008 2008-05-05 07:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

Now you say that the Clintons care about AAs?  Too little, too late.

by Spanky 2008-05-02 09:16AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

What a truly incredible statement.  How on earth did Bill ("The First Black President") and Hillary Clinton, THE champions of the poor and dispossessed I have observed during my lifetime, come to have such things said about them?  And that these things be actually believed?

Sanity has long left the building.

by jarhead5536 2008-05-02 09:33AM | 0 recs
Last time I asked First Black President
Not a Compliment.
by RisingTide 2008-05-02 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Last time I asked First Black President

Keep your context to yourself.

by niksder 2008-05-02 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

Long term one of the effects of ending racism is that we will lose roughly half the AA vote.

When racism is truly over minorities won't have a single party they flock to.

When we win this issue we will need to re make our coalitions.

So the AAs who threaten to vote GOP although probably doing it out of spite are possibly moving to end racism.

We must be aware that racism has aspects that help the democratic party AAs voting for us over GOP 80-20 or so.

We must not hold on to the parts of racism we like at the expense of the parts we don't like.

by DTaylor 2008-05-02 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

Another diary where the seething racial resentment of the author is hidden just below the surface.

by Democratic Unity 2008-05-02 10:03AM | 0 recs
Wow, that's a laughably inappropriate

comment in a public forum like this.   Fully deserving of a troll rating (if I believed in troll ratings, which I don't).   But someone with such strong convictions must have SOME kind of evidence or logic to back up their claims.

So let's hear it.

by miker2008 2008-05-02 10:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow, that's a laughably inappropriate

Miker, you're the only one who was contending African Americans were monolithic.  Blacks and thinking people pretty much already knew, without a poll, that they didn't have to follow Obama or Rev. Wright.  Obama's been on the national scene for a year and Rev. Wright a few weeks.  There is no logic to your premise, so the "claims" don't need a whole lot of support.

by niksder 2008-05-02 11:50AM | 0 recs
It's not true that I'm the only

one.  Um, for just one very recent example, check out this diary: /55377#102

by miker2008 2008-05-02 12:24PM | 0 recs
From "near monolithic"

"The most recent polls -- at least among those that have disclosed their demographics -- have converged around a black percentage of 32-33%. Needless to say, given the near monolithic support that African Americans have given Barack Obama, that percentage will ultimately be critical to his share of the vote on Tuesday."

QED, baby.

by miker2008 2008-05-05 07:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

I don't know a thing about the author, but the repeated misuse of the term "black nationalism" strikes me as rather blatant.  When the Irish Catholics all voted for JFK, was it Irish nationalism?

by Steve M 2008-05-02 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

Not per se, just identity politics, which I had hoped to see the end of in my lifetime.  Not so much I think anymore.

by jarhead5536 2008-05-02 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

It will never end.  May not be race.

Then you will have the classical music crowd, the rock music crowd, the rap music crowd, the talk radio music crowd etc

But identity politics will always be how politics are done.

by DTaylor 2008-05-02 10:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

I think we'll see the end of black voters being excited about voting for a black candidate once black candidates become commonplace.  Otherwise, it's a bit unrealistic to hope for it at a time when black candidates remain as rare as a three-dollar bill.

My only point is that we didn't see many laments about identity politics back when the Greeks all voted for Dukakis.  Everyone accepted it as normal and expected.

by Steve M 2008-05-02 10:18AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

What were blacks identifying with when they voted 9:1 for white Democrats?

by niksder 2008-05-02 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

You must think I am really, really stupid.

by Steve M 2008-05-02 12:24PM | 0 recs
They didn't have an AA candidate

to vote for?

by miker2008 2008-05-05 07:17AM | 0 recs
See Barack Obama's own writings

(Dreams of my Father) for an equivalent use of the term.  E.g.,

"Yes, the nationalist would say, whites are responsible for your sorry state ... "

by miker2008 2008-05-02 10:55AM | 0 recs
I am curious

I am curious to see what the polls wind up looking like in North Carolina, after real, live people have voted.

Right now, fairly or not, folks in North Carolina are being confronted with two vastly different images of how we move forward as a people.

On the one hand, they are seeing clips of Wright's most recent, fully-in-context speeches.  They are reading articles analyzing Barack's decision to embrace Wright, say that context would make all ok, and then later to reject him.  They are trying to sort through all that and understand what it means.

On the other hand, they are seeing coverage of local events, along with paid advertising, featuring Dr. Maya Angelou, explaining that Hillary "dares to believe" that what we all have in common is greater than our differences.  She is asking voters to look beyond complexion and think with their minds.  And she has shown great respect for whatever conclusion others may reach (she explained that her daughter supports Barack).

I cannot help but think that the unintended juxtaposition of these two figures, Wright and Angelou, is going to have some impact on people.  But perhaps not.  So I am going to look closely at the turnout and voting pattern for the African American community in NC.

Barack has lost his edge with Independents and is even losing his edge with youth.  He has been unable to touch Hillary's coalition in recent contests.  He has weakened across the board with on exception: the AA community.  If there is even a small dent in his AA support, I could be devastating for him.

by bobbank 2008-05-02 11:07AM | 0 recs
Re: I am curious

What is the evidence that BHO has weakened across the board (except AA)? If you compare exit polls from OH and PA (if this is legit...), he seems to have gained a little ground in some of her dominant demographics.

Trust me - I am fully aware that HRC has her coalition...but I havent seen much evidence that educated white people, youth, or AAs are moving in her direction either....

Seems like a pretty big stand-still right now.

by Newcomer 2008-05-02 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic
Identitiy politics will never be over.
It is the means by which we prioritize information.
If you don't believe it, tell me this...
When you hear a new peice of information or opinion on a political issue, think how the person informing you affects how seriously you take it.  
I know personally I'm more likely to listen if its from a libral, secular, educated, gay Democrat, becuase those are my identifiers.  Others are concerned wih race, religion, and income.  I am more wary if the info comes from a Republican, moderate, christian, and to a much lesser extent straight (unless they identify as a GLBT supporter).
People who share an identity can be somewhat sure that they share some issues.  Racial minorities share economic hardships.  GLBT individuals share fears of discrimination in similar areas.  People of a certain religion share some values.
The GLBT movements would not have survived without identity politics, nor would the women's movement, I won't say that AA's and latinos wouldn't improve their conditions but the progress would be a lot slower.
We have identitiy politics because we need identities.
Now, I won't deny that identity politics can blind us to issues and set us back at points.
Logic doesn't necessarily determine which identities we chose to act on.  Researchers have done experiments that show participants will act togetheras a group over maid up (and functionally useless) identities.
The key is not elliminating identity politics but checking it with logic and tolerance and compassionfor those who do not identify with us.
by goodleh 2008-05-02 12:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Good News: African-Americans NOT Monolithic

just to clarify, i say racial minoritiesshare economic hardships in regards to work place discrimination via hiring, wages, promotions, and educational opportunities.

by goodleh 2008-05-02 12:02PM | 0 recs
Yes but those discriminations are increasingly

class based and not race based. I am not trying to trivialize racism, just trying to point out that its not the same kind of racism that we used to have.. and much of it may not be race thats driving it.

The issue and the pain still hits African Americans hard but a reason for people's problems may perhaps increasingly be because many African Americans are also poor. That discrimination is more and more because of THAT.

At least that is what I suspect.

Perhaps the legacy of racism also effects people's ability to excel because of STRESS. The continuing income disparity that effects black Americans doesn't seem to effect black people from other countries who come to America as harshly, my feelin is perhaps its because people who come here do not internalize the racism that they experience as much, it doesn't effect them as viscerally because they know that there is a world where it doesn't happen. (or where the discrimination that does occur takes other forms than race?)

In some ways, I envy some black families - the ones that are very strong and closely knit.. more so than many white families. That can help people overcome a lot.

Its a complex picture that really defies simplistic generalizations.

by architek 2008-05-02 02:11PM | 0 recs


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