Obama, Iowa, Politics and Race
Every now and then I am inspired to write as a catharsis for frustration and disappointment emanating from someone with power and influence presenting disinformation to the masses. This time it was columnist George Will commenting on what the Obama victory in the Iowa Caucuses said about race relations in general and in particular how it meant the demise of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton and the question of race and racism in America. Obama is now being used as exhibit A for the defense of America against charges of white racism inhibiting black progress.
Obviously some white folks are atempting to project their wishes and or subterfuge as factual reality. Some whites, like George Will and countless others, maybe, subconsciously or consciously, trying to cloak their racism by highligthing the actions of whites who, for example, will vote for a black canidate. Would George Will vote for Barak Obama? If whites who vote for Obama means that these whites are not racist, does it then imply that whites who do not vote for him are? I will exame this later. Things are not always as they nominally appear.
I think that it is prudent that I first set the current context of America in regards to race. The current context that this issue of politics exists is one of racial agendas, conscious and subconscious. White people have an agenda and black people have an agenda in regards to race. Niether race is agenda free, or unbiased, as a general rule, in regards to the issue of race. White people’s agenda is to have the black condition of America today seen soley as a condition created by blacks and not the legacy of past and or present white racism, lest they feel guilt and responsiblity. Black people’s agenda is the opposite as blacks seek to have their condition seen as the legacy or result of past and present white racism and policy, lest they be seen as culturaly and or genetically inferior.
White racism is now seen by whites as something to be ashamed of and hence hidden. It’s seen as something that makes one who wears the scarlet letter seem dirty,evil and someone who should be spat upon by society. Moreover, its admission and or exposer is seen as giving credibity to the need for offsetting policies like Affirmative action, as well as, people like Jesse Jackson and Al sharpton. Consequently, no white wants to see him or herslef as racist or to have others see them as such. To expose white racism is to ligitimize an external cause to many deeply ingrained black socioeconomic problems and the need for government intervention.
It is painfully obvious for anyone to see these days that whites have now coined a different, self serving, working definition of racism; one in which they are the abritrators. This definition is predicated upon the presence of "hate" as one must harbor "hate" to be a white racist, while ingoring "rational" racism, which is simply the belief in black inferiority and or white supremacy, born from statistical analysis. They also have the power to propagate this working definition via mainstream media and in turn the national media intergrates this "New" definition into mainstream culture via the power of suggestion and repetition.
Another point of note is that most whites in America are very insecure about the issue of race. I have heard many whites comment that they fear talking to blacks concerning the issue of race due to the fact that they may say something that offends blacks or say something that will bring accusations from blacks that they are racist. What? I am 100% heterosexual. I don’t have a fear of being seen as a homosexual or bi-sexual because I don’t have the tendency or fit any pattern of gay people, as far as I know. Therefore, If I wanted to say things like a certain guy has a nice butt or nice lips, but feel constrained due to fearing that someone will label me as gay, maybe I am really gay but just in an advanced state of denial about it.
I cannot understand what it is that so many white folks want to say, but do not say out of fear they will be misinterpreted as racist, if they are not indeed racist. I don’t get it. It seems to me that the true fear is one of being exposed and not necessarily one of being labeled incorrectly. As a heterosexual I do not walk around in fear that I say or do will be seen as fitting the pattern of homosexual behavior, unless I am insecure about my own sexuality, which I am certainly not. If you are a guy and think that another guy has a nice butt, your probably gay. If your white and think that black higher rates of poverty are due to blacks being lazier and more irresponsible, then your probably a racist. In the 60's gays were insecure and in the closet and racist were overt and proud of it. Today, racist are now in the closet and gays are out in the open.
Given this current context as the background, how do whites handle a highly educated and qualified black candidate for office and what does it mean when whites choose one? Of course I cannot read minds, but I do understand human nature, denial and deception. What I can say, therefore, is that given the current reality and agenda of whites it is reasonable to assume that some percentage of them are voting for Obama in an attempt to demonstrate the absence of racism. It seems obvious to me that if a highly qualified and educated black man fails to get the white vote that such would be seen, by some whites, as evidence of the claim that whites are not ready to elect a black candidate because of racism. This leads some to subconsciously question themselves as to why they were not picking the black canidate. Was it due to racism? This is what I mean by racial insecurity.
Sometimes humans demonstrate the propensity of looking in the opposite direction than where they want to look, when they want to create the impression that they are not interested in something in the opposite direction. Thus, some people will vote for Obama because to vote for him is seen as the opposit behavior of one who is racist, which whites don't want to be seen as. These are people who are trying to demonstrate that they or America are not racist and feel that they have nothing to lose is the canidates essentiall have the same platform. When all else is equal, a vote for the black canidate, because he is black, serves a purpose. I can already hear their vote being used as defense against accusations of racism. “Hey…I voted for Obama Pal. Don’t brings me that racism crap”. It might replace the “Some of my best friends are black” defense for racist accusations. Pundits are already using the Obama candidacy for this purpose.
Let me break this racism phenomenon in America down a bit further, via analogy, as Some whites operate from their own working definition of racism. Far too many whites see racism as an absolute, no exceptions granted, all or nothing phenomenon motivated by hate in order to have a negative impact upon black America. I have literally had thousands of debates with whites on forums and blogs via the internet, over the years. The consensus rebuttal to claims and accusations of a racist America and its negative impact upon black America was for them to try and get me to see that not all whites are racist and in particular, that they were not racist.
The vast majority of whites I debated seemed to erroneously believe that for my claims to be true, then all whites had to be racist. Thus,by demonstrating, or attempting to, that they were not racist their rebutal invalidateted my claims of the existence and impact of white racism historically and contemporarily upon the present black condition. Huh? They operated from the train of thought that if some whites can be proven to be non racist, then racism does not exist, or it exists without impact upon blacks. Huh?
George Will's comments fits and follows that pattern gleaned from countless debates with whites concerning race. Thus, Obama getting over 30% of the white Democrats vote in Iowa is now being used to demonstrate that race and racism is no longer an issue in America. Huh? Fact: The problem is that the majority of whites are republican and thus getting over 30% of the white liberal vote in Iowa likely represents no more than 20% of the aggregate white population in Iowa. So how does 20% voting for Obama exonerate the remaing 80% from potentially or in fact being racist? Huh? Arguing or demonstrating that some whites are not racist does not negate the potential existance of racism in other whites. That is a glaring fallacy widely argued in their defense.
Lets look at the hypocricy, if not absurdity, of this reasoning a little more from another angle in which whites probably can better relate....Crime. We know how white folks are scared to death of crime and particular crime from the black community. How much is crime a problem in America? How much is violent crime in the black community seen as a real problem in America? Now ask yourself what percentage of blacks in America commits acts of violent crime (murder, rape robbery)? I don't know the exact percentages but the answer is that a very, very small percentage of blacks actually commit violent crime; let’s say 5%, which is probably too high, as most is by repeat offenders.
People say that crime in the black community is out of control and whites live in fear and feel threatened by this crime. How can black violent crime be seen as such a big problem and threat, in the eyes of whites, when less that 5% of blacks commmit violent crimes and the vast majority of those are against other blacks? Yet, white racism is not seen as out of control and a threat to blacks when likely a much, much larger percentage of whites are racist? In other words, why do whites see such a small percentage of blacks as problematic for America and their safety, while alluding that all or most whites have to be racist for it to be problematic for black America? If that is not absurd enough, they allude, indirectly, that laws against racial discrimination elimiated the problem. Huh? Yeah right....just like laws eliminated murder, rape and robbery.
If only 16% of whites are racist, that is one white racist for every black man, women and child in America. Most blacks have to traverse the white world because whites run and control most things and there is no telling where that racist 16% are lurking. For sure a racist act is not usually the same intensity as a violent crime, but it results in denied housing, denied jobs, sub prime loans, loan rejection, higher sentencing, black youth being labeled behavior problems in school and more. All these things stunts black growth. It’s a fallacy to believe that racism has to stop ones growth in order to be seen a problem. Racism also stunts growth. For example, a person with a net worth of a half million dollars could have possibly had a net worth of 1 million dollars if not for racism encountered in their life that stunted them.
Obama’s victory in Iowa proved what in regards to race then? Even with all that said racism is not how one feels about a member of a race, but rather how one feels about the group. The vast majority of people believe that there are exceptions to general rules and hence are willing to grant exception to members of a race as not being “like” the stereotypical member of that group. Moreover, politics is not about whose color a politician represents, but rather, whose interest and values a politician will represent. Consequently and theoretically, a situation can manifest where a black candidate is representing mainstream white interest with the support of the majority of whites, while not having the support of the majority of blacks. A white candidate can be seen as representing mainstream black interest and have the support of the black majority while not having the support of the majority of whites.
The issue of race and racism in America is not exposed by the color of the individual candidates, but rather, the color of the mainstream interest group candidates represent. As I noted earlier, most whites vote republican while the vast majority of blacks vote democratic. Thus it is obvious that black mainstream issues differ from white mainstream issue. White racism manifest politically via a resistance to black mainstream issues and beliefs, not a resistance to a black candidate, who may very well support white mainstream issues and beliefs.
The legacy of racism in this nation has created competing issues and beliefs between blacks and whites in America. The color of the candidate only matters if one assumes or fears that the color of the candidate will always map to the mainstream interest of their race. Obama has not embraced the black mainstream and has not been widely embraced by blacks. This likely gives many whites comfort that Obama will not lean towards black interest because most whites see those interests as a threat to their own. Moreover, many blacks today are "used" in a strategy by whites against other blacks. They will prop up one black and use them to attempt a diminishing of other groups of blacks. If people like George Will is suggesting that Obamas victory is discrediting Civil Rights type blacks, then it is obvious to me that some peoples motive is to vote for Obama for this purpose, given that there is not that much difference between the democratic canidates.
In closing, America has obviously come a long way in regards to race. That is crystal clear and I would never argue that such is not true. The country today is much, much better than it was in 1760, 1860 and 1960 in regards to race in black and white. We have come a long ways, but having coming a long ways is not the same as arriving at ones destination or not having a long ways to go. Many whites are now behaving like kids on a long road trip. They are always lamenting in a whine “are we there yet?”. “when are we going to be there”. Their tired, anxious and figety. They are tired of this trip. The difference is, however, that unlike our kids who have no power or control over the matter and who sit in the back seats, the opposite is true for white America. Its blacks who are riding in the back seats while whites collectively exercise control from the front seat. Consquently, on this long racial road trip, whites have decided to pull of the path and claim that we have arrived, because they are sick and tired of this trip. Meanwhile, blacks are sitting in the back with the obvious realization that this place does not look like the destination.