Wednesday, January 30, 2008

You Can't Win!

All my black folks know that feeling.

That nasty swirling in the pit of your stomach when you realize that because of the color of your skin you've been backed into a corner where there is no clear good choice, but only a less evil choice.

Barack Obama is there now.

After months of having to answer questions about whether he's truly black, whether Bill Clinton is blacker than him and whether he's getting a little too black, Obama understands how the (white) world backs black people into the corner. If he didn't understand it before, he surely understands it now.

The latest example is the newly bubbling media-created controversy over whether he snubbed Senator Clinton by not shaking her hand at the State of the Union. If you follow the political news you've now heard it dubbed "The Snub."

It's bullshit.

As a media member, I know how the game is played. I know exactly how much power reporters have, exactly how we decide what is and is not newsworthy. Apparently, the mostly white press corps has decided that Obama not "playing nice" and shaking Hillary's hands was a huge snafu and proof that maybe he's not the coalition builder he's promised to be.

Excuse me, I call bullshit.

It wasn't that long ago that the media was telling Obama that he need to be tougher, that he need to fight back more. Then, when he had a few chippy exchanges with Hillary, (or chippy in their eyes) suddenly he wasn't very gracious and maybe he's not all he promised he would be.

Funny how that works, you know.

Almost every black person in this country has been in this position before. If we're quiet we're anti-social, if we're gregarious, we're unprofessional. Be assertive, you'll probably be labeled aggressive, be aggressive and you'll likely get hit with the "angry" tag.

You really can't win.

But, the stakes for the average black person are a little lower. See, for the most part, we don't need a consensus from white people to do our jobs. We don't have to constantly seek their approval to do our jobs. We do some of that, but it's not like what Obama has to do.

By virtue of his skin color and the job he wants, Obama must be everything to everybody. He has to walk a tightrope so high that altitude sickness is a very real possibility.

And all that time he has to deal with media jackals who crave respect, access and attention. A press corp that has yet to make an all out push to truly document how Hillary and Bill have tried to marginalize Obama. A press corp that shies away from words like racism and bigotry unless there is a cross burning in someone's front yard. A press corp that regularly complains if the campaigns don't have enough "fireworks."

I thought I called bullshit.

No comments:

Raving Black Lunatic