Friday, March 7, 2008

We Ain't Stupid

We've all heard the comments.

"Black people are voting for Obama because he's black."

"Obama's a big symbol for them."

"Black people don't even follow the issues, they just see skin color."

Anyone who has traversed the blogsphere has seen these "truths" repeated constantly. We've also seen black bloggers and their readers attack them constantly, pointing out the inherent racism in a thesis that boils down to "black people can't think critically, but white people can." It's a common assumption that black people are too emotional and lack the intelligence and objectivity to "transcend race" in their decision making.

It's also ludicrous. Quite frankly, white folks have historically been the group making inane decisions because racial prejudice turned their brains into mush. But, then again, when has logic ever prevented white folks from making an argument about their superiority?

However, a recent comment on this site illuminated an even better reason why black folks would never support Obama just because he's black, and I just had to discuss it some more. It's one of those arguments that very few white people would ever make or even be aware of.

Black folks would be hard pressed to get behind a mediocre and unqualified black presidential candidate because we know that if he screws up, all of our asses are on the line. We don't have the luxury of supporting somebody like Bush because we know our support of an idiot would be used as proof of our inherent stupidity for generations to come.

Look, that doesn't mean that all black folks thought Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were incompetent when they ran for president. Nah, the reverends are intelligent and articulate men who have done a service to the black community by constantly advancing black-centric positions through the media. Now, I don't care for Sharpton's conk, or Jackson's penchant for rhyming, but that doesn't mean I think they are useless.

But, what I do know is that most white people dislike them more than affirmative action. If you did a nationwide poll, I would guarantee that white people of every political persuasion would list Sharpton and Jackson as two of the top three most dangerous and irrational Negroes in the country. (The other one is of course the bogeyman known as Minister Louis Farrakhan.) So, given their damaged profiles, it makes sense that their bids for president(except for Jackson's first attempt) didn't inspire the same response as Obama's.

Black folks were playing the percentages.

We knew that not only could Al and Jesse not get elected, but even if elected through a miracle on par with the virgin birth of Christ, there was no way Sharpton or Jackson could do a good job. White folks would have not let those two Negroes succeed, they would rather die. Every move they attempted would have been stonewalled while the media castigated them for inaction and futility. It would have been ugly.

With Obama, black folks see somebody who has a track record of making white folks comfortable enough that they won't fight everything he tries to do. Sure, if Obama is elected he'll face unfair scrutiny and be held to a different set of rules, but at least he'll be given more of a shot than a traditional "black candidate."

Besides, if Obama can't handle double standards and illogical behavior from white folks, he really can't lay claim to being black. Any black person who hasn't fought those battles has either led a life more charmed than Paris Hilton or is more assimilated than Clarence Thomas.

So, I think Obama has been vetted by black folks in a way that white folks can never understand. Sure emotion plays a role in our decision, but emotion is a part of everyone's political choices. How else do you explain Dumbo's two terms? But, black folks are much more calculating than white folks understand, particularly those of us who have had some success in the white world.

We know that the actions of a single black person can cause a ripple effect that eliminates opportunities for scores of other black folk. Conversely, positive actions can cause more opportunties for all black people, but typically that operates at an exchange rate similiar to the dollar and the Euro.

Truthfully, you don't even have to search that hard for examples, just try to catch a cab in New York at night.

So, given these indisputable facts, why would we as a people support somebody who we thought couldn't get the job done? Why would we hamstring our own hustle?

We ain't stupid.


Anonymous said...

That vetting process was what you saw while the Clintons were over there counting all the Black Votes they THOUGHT they were going to get. Black Political Junkies knew what time it was only a matter of time before the rest of Black Folk caught up.

Danielle said...

Excellent points! Of course you want to back the person you think is a winner and has a chance to get things done. Thanks for brining this one up.

Big Man said...


I'll admit that I am far from a political junkie, so it wasn't until I watched a few speeches and read the brotha's book that I did my vetting. But, I still found him to be an intelligent thoughtful man who seemed interested in his place in the world.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I love your writing.

Timi said...

Hopefully, ALL black folks will catch on sooner or later. That Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (or whatever her name is) makes my blood boil. And don't get me started on Maxine Waters....

Raving Black Lunatic