Obama–Not Exactly an Agent of Change…

As, no doubt, many of you have been, I’ve been thinking a lot about our new chief.  I voted for him, and I’m not ashamed to say that.  As candidates go, he’s exceptional.  He has an exceptional family, his family is exceptionally well-educated, and he has an exceptional mind.  And really, I want my commander-in-chief to be more intelligent than I am.  I want to be able to look to that person for guidance when I don’t know what to do or say.  Obviously, and forgive me for not passing up this obvious opportunity, I could not rest assured with our previous president, who, might well be labeled as the physical manifestation of how far you can go when you’re White, male, and a member of a powerful social network.  Who needs a meritocracy?!  

Anyhow, Black people in general support Obama, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.  What Blacks should not be doing is looking to Obama as our Jesus character.  Straight to the point: there is a difference between a Black individual holding a position in a historically White organization or institution and a Black individual holding a position in a historically Black organization or institution.  The difference is agency.  One has agency to bring about change, and the other is simply keeping a position warm.

In the case of Obama, while I think a great deal of that man thus far, he is simply occupying a position folks.  That is the very nature of bureaucratic organizations.  The position, and all of the role responsibilities and privileges are attached to the position.  It doesn’t matter who is holding the position.  The privileges and responsibilities do not change.  This is the very nature of the presidency.  The presidency does not exist for Obama.  It exists regardless of him, and if it had not been him who was elected, then it would have been McCain.

My brotha and co-administrator here learned what it meant to be in a bureaucracy when he was a teacher.  The California standards run the classroom and dictate the nature of the pedagogy.  While Earpiece could be categorized as a very conscious individual with pro-Black sentiments, his politics, cultural worldview, and race were completely made moot in the classroom after he was told to remove the titles of books like Roots, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X from the chalkboard in his classroom dominated by Black students or be “removed” from the classroom himself.  While it was nice for his district to be able to boast of having employed a well-rounded and dynamic Black teacher, they really wanted a Black-skinned teacher with no Black culture.  That is, he was to hold the position of Black teacher while operating under the traditionally and decidedly Eurocentric (read White) rules.  No problem there.

My point is that there is no reason for Whites to be afraid or for Blacks to be super excited about Obama’s presidency.  He is only one man, and the Democratic Party has no real interest in raising up the poorest and most socially damaged of this nation–regardless of what they say.  It is simply outside of the realm of Obama’s power to bring about sweeping changes that are race-targeted.  In fact, he would be committing physical and political suicide to attempt to do so.  He may accomplish one major change (perhaps in health care), but I am not looking to receive reparations, and neither should you.  It is doubtful that this nation will ever print an apology for chattel slavery, and we should look to Obama to make that happen.  You will still have to pay your bills Black people, and there will be no White slavery.  Obama occupies a position–albeit a very powerful one–but it’s just a position.  The position defines his behavior.  He is operating under the weight of US tradition and mandates.  Even if he is secretly a Black Nationalist, those sentiments won’t come to bear during his tenure as president.  Believe that!

That said, I hope that man does well!

7 thoughts on “Obama–Not Exactly an Agent of Change…

  1. “who, might well be labeled as the physical manifestation of how far you can go when you’re White, male, and a member of a powerful social network.”

    Man, truer words have never been spoken (of course, I have no way of measuring that statement, or really even justifying it in a way that stands up to strong scrutiny, but damn it if it aint the best preacher hype I ever dun heard).

  2. I got to disagree that he;s just holding a place. I think he’s redefining what it means to be president. He’s redefining the AGENCY. After Obama, it will no longer be quite as “weird” or “uncommon” (for lack of better words) to have a person of color be the president of the USA. I think his election has deeper ramifications than you give it credit for. It tells all children in this country that it is absolutely possible that they could be president one day, if they work hard and are among the best and the brightest (both Barack and Michelle are not from wealth – they are there because they are exceptional people).

    I mean, there is an “old boys” club in DC, and a power structure that has been in place for some time, one that allowed the horribly incompetent W to become president. However, the voting demographic is changing as well. the republican party is now relegated mostly to the white wingnut southerners, and many of the new voters in the 2008 election did not fall into that demographic – instead, the new voters are of a “rainbow coalition” that is ever growing and WILL overtake the southern redneck vote in terms of pure numbers. This, of course, is cause for optimism!

    • Hmm…a seventh grade student told a friend that she didn’t regard Obama’s election as anything so great to celebrate because a Black president was bound to happen. Now, the whole of history rejects her premise. There is no reason to assume that progression will simply happen. There is no such law; however, I get what she was trying to say. She was sort of looking at the whole of the Black struggle, with many victories (some small, others large), and seeing this particular victory as inevitable. Such logic takes away from what has been accomplished here, and I don’t want to make that same mistake.

      I don’t think Obama will have the ability to change the presidency itself, but I DO believe that he and his wife are very good example of what can be accomplished here. This doesn’t mean that all Black people will be able to succeed, but I do admit that the Obama’s give me hope (as corny as that may sound). One thing for sure that Obama’s presidency has shown me: It is most certainly true that if you are Black you must be twice as good to be considered for the job of a White person. Look at the ease at which our last president gained office (twice) even though he failed at just about every venture he through his lot in. Obama, the other hand, had seen success at just about everything he attempted–he mostly lead in fact. I really want him to do well because he’s Black, and because this country REALLY needs it.

  3. “While Earpiece could be categorized as a very conscious individual with pro-Black sentiments, his politics, cultural worldview, and race were completely made moot in the classroom after he was told to remove the titles of books like Roots, and The Autobiography of Malcolm X from the chalkboard in his classroom dominated by Black students or be “removed” from the classroom himself.”

    LOL! You have gotten a lot of mileage out of this incident. I almost feel as if I need to have some new stuff happen to me so we can have something else to to use when validating our points.

    Having said that, this article is on point. He is a Black man in thee Whitest institution one can think of. Not to mention the fact that he is daily scorned by both the Left and the Right. The Left wants him to prosecute the Bushies and are pissed because he won’t, and the Right hates him because his dad is from Kenya. An untenable position indeed.

    • Yeah man. You need to put yourself in a few more positions wherein you can be exploited, devalued, and reduced to skin color in a heinous way cuz I’m running out of material! lol

  4. I think there is plenty of reason to think that Obama can change the presidency. Don’t get me wrong, I completely agree that the presidency is MUCH stronger than the president. But that doesn’t mean he can’t change the presidency.

    For example, what if Obama completely fucks up? I mean, royally screws the pooch. Becomes just a total abject failure on every level. In short, is a president in the same way George W. Bush was president.

    Do you know how far back a bad Obama would set Black politics? Do you have any idea how completely WHITEWASHED the presidency (and the legislature, and the judiciary) would become if Obama was HALF as bad as George W. Bush was? You think it was bad before?!? Mitt Romney will be the closest thing to a Black president you’d see for the next 1000 years, and he’s MORMON.

    So yeah, Obama can change the presidency. He can change it for the worse. If he is “perfect,” he’ll be a placeholder. He’ll be a mouthpiece for the democratic party, and the democratic party (like all political parties) protects the status quo of power distribution amongst its constituents, and that favors white folk. He is a Harvard lawyer, and he’ll be a good president if he acts like a Harvard lawyer (i.e. a privileged member of white society). If he does anything else, he’ll be regarded as a failure and prevent Black people from becoming president again for decades.

    Phhh… you thought he couldn’t change the presidency. Don’t be so pessimistic.

  5. Damn! I never actually considered what would happen if he truly muffed this one. I have to agree 100%! I thought the movie “Soul Plane” set us back, but if Obama messed up, we might not ever recover. I know more Blacks who want that man to fail than Whites. I know more Black people who believe that anything run by Black people is destined to fail because “Niggas won’t do right,” as my grandmother (rest her soul) used to always tell me. Anyhow, that would be change indeed! I think we would literally (and I mean literally) receive a shit storm if Obama puts up a brick.

    (on another note)
    I once had a renowned professor tell me that the sociology of Black plight just doesn’t allow for us to make it to significantly improve things. Do you think that is true?

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