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!