Monday, March 10, 2008

He's Supported by Who?

It's a well-known fact that Sen. Barack Obama is dominating the black vote. While this might not surprise some folks, it's worth repeating that early in this campaign Obama struggled to convince black people to take him seriously and abandon the Clintons. Shoot, my own father thought Obama was a joke at first, and now he's browbeating old ladies to give him one of their Obama lawn signs.

Despite our initial skepticism, black people now love them some Obama.

But, while that support has made the senator successful in some primaries, the latest news is that it hurt him greatly in Ohio and to a lesser extent in Texas. This Washington Post article outlines exactly how the vote broke down and how the support of black people may have turned off some white voters.

That's an interesting and ironic thesis.

Remember, one of the main reasons black folks were suspicious of Obama(besides his funny name and white momma) was his pretty hefty support among certain groups of white people. I mean, after his speech in 2004, Obama had a pretty good profile in the media and among the liberal elite.

In fact, although I despise the tone of Hillary Clinton's campaign, the remark by one of her surrogates that voting for Obama allowed certain white folks to believe they had a "hip, black friend" wasn't that far off base. Because of his mixed ancestry and race-neutral rhetoric, Obama was, and still is, the kind of Negro white people can feel good about supproting. And if there's one thing black folks have learned throughout history it's that it is smart to keep black people who are really popular with white people at a safe distance.

And it appears that some white folks have internalized the same mantra.

It really shouldn't be surprising. I've had many conversations with white folks who are considered to be "the salt of the Earth" (which is an interesting metaphor since salt is actually an anathema to agriculture), and I've learned some things about how this group tends to view the world.

Many, many of them really struggle to accept the idea that institutionalized racism and discrimination afforded their ancestors opportunities that minority groups did not receive. That means they reject the idea that they have benefited from anything but hard work and sacrifice on their way to obtaining the American Dream. Racism for many of them is confined to name calling and physical attacks, it has nothing to do with school systems and unions.

Consequently, they often view black people as rabid complainers who don't want to work hard. While these white folks may acknowledge exceptions to this rule, they still think it's the rule. And many of them blame black people for failing to pull their own weight and living on the tit of the federal and state government. Of course this is not based in fact, but Hillary's campaign has demonstrated white folks cannot be limited by facts when creating their realities.

So, it's really not surprising that a certain segment of white America would feel threatened by black support of Obama. Typically, it's the individuals scrambling to eke out an existence that harbor the most resentment towards minorities. Upper class white people can be virulently racist, but because they are secure in their own place in the world it can hard for them to generate the same level of resentment. After all, black folks are not a credible threat unless they meet us in a dark alley.

This dynamic not only concerns me in the Pennsylvania primary, but in the general election. Republicans are master of using resentment and fear as scythes to cut down unity and progress. I understand that Obama has won primaries in states like Wisconsin and Missouri, but I still have concerns about states where unions are prevalent and education is lacking. These people feel put upon, they feel shortchanged and it's highly likely they'll feel comfortable blaming a black dude.

It's the American way.


Lolo said...

Well, I wish I could disagree but I can't. I live in PA and well, I see far too much of "those blacks need to stop whining" and "all races are equal" and "it's discriminatory to favour blacks above whites" and "my people never owned slaves" and on and on and ON. Sigh.

If I ruled the laws of nature and the universe, I would decree that one week per year, you would wake and find yourself in somebody else's body, in their life. Heck, even one day.

I have hope, I'm a mother and I wouldn't be able to raise sane humans if I didn't but there are times that it all seems insurmountable.

serena1313 said...

Personally, I support Obama. Race did not deter me nor was it a factor in making my decision. I chose Obama because he has demonstrated leadership qualities. His reasoned logic, intelligence and superior judgment give me confidence he is prepared, as much as anyone could be, to become the next President of the United States.

Race nor gender qualifies or disqualifies a person. Those whom vote on the basis of either or both without considering the person's character or whether their words are supported by their actions cannot complain if they are dissatisfied with the eventual nominee.

For instance, in theory, women who believe putting a female in the WH is their highest priority, but do not take into consideration issues concerning foreign policy or corporate power or a host of other issues may find they sacrificed the latter and not even realize it until after the fact. How smart would that be !

There is no doubt in my mind that African-Americans have suffered a lot. Although some progress has been made one would have thought by now things would be a lot different, instead only incremental changes. That is my perception.

Suffice to say, too, it is my belief, that families pass their biases and prejudices from generation to generation. While some members are able to overcome distorted beliefs and perceptions, others fall victim to it. Sadly some adopt that as their identity. Granted negative encounters also can influence one's thinking, but it is a choice to believe they were a victim of circumstances in that respect. I also believe African Americans have had fewer opportunities. Anyone -- black, whilte, green or purple -- who believes they are victims tend to be less self-confident and eventually identify with that belief-system. It is a mentality that has been perpetuated for centuries that most are at a loss on how to change it.

The victimization concept is conceived by conditioning. Many outside influences constantly and consistently perpetuate certain belief systems, forthwith and insinuations, that dictate people's lives: telling them what to think, how to act that shape their perceptions of the world. Therein the dependency formed operates more on a subconscious level. In other words it would be inconceivable for millions to believe they do not own their own thoughts, beliefs or understanding of their experiences.

Individuals can learn to think for themselves; it requires a conscientious willingness to do so. In the macro-sense breaking thru generations of established societal mores would be best served by a leader who transcends race and gender in uniting people who share a common vision: bettering the human condition and furthering equality thru social justice is something all of us can agree on which in and of itself represents hope and unity.

I believe Obama is the catalyst that starts moving the country and the world in that direction.

Let me reiterate, neither race nor gender hold any significance for me and millions of other people who fully support Obama.

We share a vision that is bigger than ourselves. That is why I believe Obama can and will win the nomination and the general election.

Jhoffa_ said...

Your blog is a word mess.

Blacks are the 13% minority who commit half the crime and are more likely to be "on the Government tit" as you put it.

And I could give a crap about your ancestors.. AFAIAC, the only "internalized racism" that exists is directed AT Whites and Asians.

As a Conservative Republican, I do plan to cross over and vote for Obama.

He represents our only chance for real change.

This country is being looted by the establishment candidates. John McWipe and Satan's wife represent the status quo.. More off shoring, law breaking, war starting nonsense.

For many of us, this election turns on so much more than race.. Obama could be fucking green for all I care, and I would still support him.

Dubya might even find himself joining the Henry Kissinger "There's places I can't go.." travel club before it's all over.

Big Man said...


Did you pull those crime stats out of your ass, or do you have an actual source to back it up?

I'm willing to wager money that blacks do not commit half the crime in America. Shit, I'll put up my house.

Anonymous said...


Your ignorance is exceeded only by your venom. I am surprised that you can see straight enough to appreciate the danger this country is in.

I am proud to be an Obama supporter. Although demographics dictate that I should support HRC, I find that she and the Ferrarros, and Coulters of the world have betrayed the highest ideals of feminism in a cheap attempt to use gender as a tool of power. Racists and corporate tools will always find a persuasive rationale to advance themselves. Those of us who still cherish hope for humanity support Obama. Not for his skin color, not for his rhetoric, but because he at least demonstrates awareness of the conditions with which most people of this society must cope, and offers us the leadership to hope that we may yet create a world where our children may live together in peace. Back in the day, we had a saying addressed to those who eventually destroyed our dreams of a better world, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way". I choose to gladly follow, pushing and cheering all the way!

afish said...

"Many, many of them really struggle to accept the idea that institutionalized racism and discrimination afforded their ancestors opportunities that minority groups did not receive. That means they reject the idea that they have benefited from anything but hard work and sacrifice on their way to obtaining the American Dream. Racism for many of them is confined to name calling and physical attacks, it has nothing to do with school systems and unions."

You are so right on with this and it's exactly these white folk who are supporting Obama but insist it has nothing to do with race.

I was up front in saying it's about time we had a president who is not a white male. I could not choose John Edwards, because he just was not exceptional enough to outshine the other two remaining candidates.

MarkH said...

Obama took a chance with his campaign (as he requently reminds us) and this year enough Whites supported him (and walked away from Hillary!) that the Blacks decided he was going to be accepted. They then jumped on his bandwagon. Did they do it just to have a "brother" as president? Did they really know the man and his politics?

Obama has a good senate voting record, a nice suit and good speech-making abilities. Is that enough? Nobody knows yet.

Can he win the general election or will his Republican support (wtf?) walk back to their side and vote for McCain -- leaving Democrats bruised & abused and wondering what happened?

Identity politics is very unappealing to me. I sure hope (if either Hillary or Obama are elected) our president governs as a Dem. We certainly can't afford more Republican rule.

Hillary was a Goldwater Girl and is now campaigning with rough tactics, but Obama isn't exactly playing nice either. It doesn't inspire trust in either of them. I don't mind toughness and the fight, but throwing racism and misogyny around is stupid Republican crap we can do without.

America needs better.

FYI, I support John Edwards -- the ONLY progressive in the race.

Hoomai29 said...

Well, I did support Edwards because he was the only candidate fighting the corpocracy we've created here in the US. Since he's now out of the race and there are only a pair of corporatists remaining, I choose Obama because he is the best speaker since Kennedy and King, is a less dirty politician, and because he's a great organizer and is bringing many disaffected and younger voters into the process for the first time.

Big Man said...

You know what's funny about Edwards supporters?

They forget that Edwards' wife once complained that he wasn't getting enough support because he wasn't black and wasn't a woman. The forget that Edwards regularly advanced the idea that as a white male he was the only person who could compete with McCain in a general election.

It's amazing how the "Saint Edwards" lie has been advanced.

And could somebody please tell me all the dirty politics that Obama and his surrogates have engaged in? Somebody please?

Big Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Avedon said...

They forget that Edwards' wife once complained that he wasn't getting enough support because he wasn't black and wasn't a woman.

No, she complained that the media was less interested in covering Edwards' campaign because having the First Credible Black Candidate and the First Credible Female Candidate were just more interesting to them.

(And to the guy who thinks blacks commit such disproportionate levels of crime, let's not forget that the cops seldom stake out white neighborhoods to bust middle-class white kids for drugs. More blacks get arrested because blacks are targets of the police and whites are not. If the War on Some People Who Take Some Drugs were aimed at whites the way it is at blacks, calls to end it would be so overwhelming that it would be legislated out of existence in six weeks.)

I don't see much to choose between Obama's legislative record and Clinton's, but I think Clinton is mortally wounded without the support of the black community, so it's fine with me if Obama gets the nomination over her. He'd just better win the damned White House if he is nominated, or we are all cooked.

I'll vote for whichever one is the nominee. Neither one of them is as bad as the Republicans. But neither one is as good as I want them to be, either, and I hope we can all push them to be better than they are. We're going to need all the help we can get.

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