OMG! President Obama is Black!?
by psychodrew, Fri Jul 24, 2009 at 08:36:01 AM EDT
Yes, he is. For all the talk about the first black president and what it means for America (and by that I mean all the back-slapping by Americans who are proud to not be racist), people seem shocked--SHOCKED--that the President of the United States could identify with Dr. Henry Louis Gates, the Harvard University professor who was arrested for disorderly conduct (read: mouthing off to the police) by officers responding to a possible breaking and entering at the professor's home. After the president stood before the media and the American people earlier this week to discuss the need for health insurance reform, all anybody can talk about is how the black guy (Obama) stood up for the black guy (Dr. Gates).
"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home," Obama said.
But, but, but Obama is post-racial. He won the Iowa caucuses. He's black, but he's not that kind of black! He's the Bill Cosby kind of black guy who lectures other black people about personal responsibility. He's not the Rev. Al Sharpton kind of black guy who confronts police brutality. A friend of mine put it better than I ever could:
I can understand the President's anger and frustration. The media celebrates him when he's cosbying black folks so to speak. He's telling us to take responsibility for ourselves, families, and communities, but someone he personally knows who has done all those things still ends up in the same position as a black man who has not. Now he has young black kids looking to him saying, "what's up post-racial black man?...you told us if we do all that good upstanding citizen shit we would stay out of police cuffs?!"
This is the problem with America. We want the Bill Cosby kind of blacks who will make the Rev. Sharpton kind of blacks seem irrelevant. We want to live in a post-racial America without having to do the work to make America post-racial. Too many Americans live in a dream world where if black people would just dress a little whiter, talk a little whiter, and realize that the president is black, then race relations would be perfect.
We don't want the Rev. Sharpton blacks reminding us that we live in a world where institutionalized racism persists, where 1 in 9 black men are behind bars and killing whites is more likely to lead to the death penalty than killing blacks. We want images of the president touring a former outpost telling his daughters that America is so different from the country that fought a civil war fewer than 150 years ago over the right to own another human being. We don't want to remember that the president's parents couldn't get married in many parts of the United State when he was born.
We can talk about freedom and equality and "the land of the free and the home of the brave" all we want. But it's just talk. Waiving a "Change We Can Believe In" might change Washington, but it won't change America.