Thursday, October 27, 2011

At the Core

Check this out:

"Okay, we now have a fourth national poll revealing this striking disconnect: Americans strongly disapprove of Obama on the economy, and are deeply pessimistic that it will get any better — even as they strongly approve of the actual fiscal policies the President is championing.
The new New York Times poll finds that Obama’s numbers on the economy are awful. Only 34 percent approve of his handling of the economy. Only 40 percent approve of his handling of jobs. Seventy two percent think the country’s on the wrong track. A plurality thinks we’re heading into another recession.
But the poll also finds that Obama’s new jobs plan, and the provisions within it, have clear public support:"

I jacked those graphs from Prometheus 6 who I believe jacked them from the New York Times. As you can see, they provoke some interesting questions about Barack Obama's role as a messenger in today's United States.

See, some people might posit that Americans disapprove of Obama while approving of his policies because they are largely ignorant of his actual policies. And you know, that is probably true to an extent. Everyday, I'm shocked at how often people develop strongly held beliefs based on very little actual information. It's pretty damn shocking to be honest.

Obama may just be the latest president to be victimized by an American public that gets its information in carefully crafted soundbites that impart very little actual understanding. People don't like to read long policy stories, or watch debates about them on the news. Plus, with more and more people getting their news from sources they agree with, it's way less likely that people are getting information they can truly use. So, it's quite possible that Obama's low approval rating is disconnected from his actual policies because people are genuinely ignorant with no malice.

It's possible.

But, possible and plausible are slightly different. It's not that I think that ignorance isn't a factor, it's that I also think that people, white and black, have become disenchanted with their personal Magical Negro in the White House and really aren't trying to learn anymore about what he's actually doing

Whenever I have conversations with people complaining that Obama is doing nothing, I start talking about the system changes in the Justice Department. The payroll tax changes, the housing changes, the regulation changes and things of that nature. I'm not an expert on the president's accomplishments, but I do know a little bit. And inevitably I find people, people who claim to have been Obama supporters, shrugging off those actions and instead complaining that he hasn't done enough, he hasn't been strong enough that he's failed to live up to his promises.

 Granted, there were a lot of promises made during the election, and several of them have fallen by the wayside. Yes, the economy is tanked, yes we are still fighting shadowy wars and yes the rich continue to get richer. But when I get to the core of many people's complaints, I discover that they are based around some nebulous sense that Obama just hasn't cut the mustard. That he's been a disappointment because based on their expectations, expectations that are as variable as the wind, he didn't deliver what he promised.

 And then the question becomes, "Well exactly what did he promise you?" See, I expected him to be a competent politician. Particularly when compared with the alternative. I've been rewarded for that belief. Beyond that, I hoped he would be fair-minded when it came to blacks folks and not implement policies that  kept us as second class citizens. Again, I feel he's done that. Now, I understand that everyone doesn't have the same expectations as me, but I'm curious about exactly what they really thought was going to happen.

Certain blacks seem to have believed he was going to right racial wrongs and champion our causes. Not sure where that came from. And even worse, many white folks seem to think that just because they "took a chance" and voted for a black guy, he should be the greatest leader of all-time. It's not enough that he was the best possible choice, and that's why he was selected. In order for his selection to be justified, he can't be normal, he has to be extraordinary.

And that pisses me off royally because I understand the roots of that mindset. I've seen it way to often. There are few things more frustrating than always being expected to be extraordinary, while secretly considered inferior. Few things at all.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Messengers and Messages

Bryant, Bryant, Bryant...

What were you thinking homie?

It's not that your comments are off base. It's not that they don't belong in this discussion. It's that I have to believe that when you made them, you knew how they would be received.

Which makes me wonder what you were thinking. You know that invoking slavery pretty much eliminates the chance that white people will think critically or have a decent discussion. Just the mention of the word drives them insane like Pavlov's bell. So, why did you do it?

The cynical part of me says you want to move units. That is you want to drive eyes to your show by stirring up some controversy. But, that seems like a sucker's bet. Yeah, white folks will watch you for a while, but if they think you're going to consistently talk about race, it won't be long before you fall out of favor. Not long at all.

So, was this just a selfish power move, or did you really feel so angry and upset by Stern's tactics that you didn't give a damn who disliked what you had to say? Were you so upset that you weren't looking to create a serious debate, but you just wanted to vent? Maybe.

If that was your goal, you succeeded. I've already argued with multiple people about this clip, and I"m sure I'll speak to more. I don't have a problem with your comments, and it's cool that you said what a lot of black folks have been thinking. But, I'm not sure where things go from here. I doubt anybody's mind will be changed, and I doubt this helps the players at all.

And, I'm not sure you care.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Dream

I dreamed a terrible dream the other night.

I was on trial, facing death or at best, life imprisonment. Accused of a murder I knew I did not commit, I was still convinced I would be convicted. Why?

Because it was the Jim Crow South.

I don't know who I was supposed to have killed, or why I was believed to be guilty. I don't know who I was, or where I was, or who put me there. I just knew it was the South, and I was going to court, and I was going to suffer.

Even asleep, and with the vague inkling that I was only dreaming, my angst was horrible. My heartbeat was elevated, I felt queasy to my stomach, and I couldn't tear my mind away from my impending fate. It was a slow march to doom, and every step cost more than the last.

I was only dreaming, but it felt real. My fear was so real that it gripped my bowels forcing me to the toilet, and as I slowly shook off the cobwebs of sleep, something hit me.

This was how it felt. For so many men who looked like me, my dream was their life. They took that same walk, and faced those same fears.

My dream was only a pale reflection of that terrible reality, but even then, it was almost too much for me to handle. How did they find the strength? How did their families ever overcome that fear and anger? How did they learn to forgive?

We have failed in this country to truly understand the scars left by this country's past. We've spent far too much time trying to put things behind us, sometimes as a coping method and sometimes as a way to avoid blame. But, that decision has left our past misunderstood and, in many ways, forgotten. That means it will only be a short fall to descend back into that madness.

A short fall indeed.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Niggerhead's Hidden Story

Who is really surprised about Rick Perry's sign problem?

Seriously, raise your hand if you honestly can't believe that he grew up hunting in a sundown town in Texas, where black folks were greeted with "Morning nigger" and knew better than to be caught across the tracks after dark?

Come on, now that's like being surprised that the moon comes up at night.

What was really interesting about this Washington Post story wasn't the revelations about Perry's sordid racial past, and current penchant for lying because those are to be expected. No, what's interesting is the glimpse it gives certain folks into just how dehumanizing life was for black folks in the South. Not just that, but the glimpse it gives us into how so many white people can be deluded about that past.

Seriously, if you read the story, older white people actually appear to believe there was no need for a Civil Rights movements in their neighborhood. They say their black folks were perfectly happy. And, that's in the deep, harsh Jim Crow South. So you know older white folks up North saw no need for Civil Rights in Maine, or New Hampshire. And they passed those feelings on to their children and grandchildren, and we ended up with the racial morass we have today.

Racism is always somebody else's problem, and is stirred up by outside agitators. It's never personal, never something folks need to address in their own lives.

And that's what I learned from the story of Niggerhead.


Raving Black Lunatic