The Big “What If?”

So, let’s say our prayers and efforts pay off and Barack Obama is the country’s next president. People have discussed his platform and “change” methodologies in great detail. But how many of us have considered the cultural impact of a Black president?

I think it will be a great boost to our collective self-esteem as Black people and an somewhat redemptive act for the country as a whole. Will it change every Black person’s daily lives and eradicate American racism? Of course not, but it will be a feel good moment that we need so dearly in the era of Imus, Bell and Jena. Something that makes Black children feel they can achieve greatness and helps Black elders to see that the struggles they endured in their youth were not all in vain. It would also be great for the global image of African Americans (which is currently shaped greatly by Rap music and basketball) as well as that of the United States (which is globally acknowledged by many as an evil empire which tries to instill it’s own values on other people, while failing to address it’s own racist legacy).

However, I fear that many of our White counterparts (and even some of our own people) will see or spin the election of a Black president as proof that American racism and discrimination no longer exist. Charges of racism with be answered with “Dude, you can’t play the race card anymore. How can this be a racist country when the PRESIDENT is Black?” A lot of people do believe that one man’s ascent to the Oval Office can erase hundreds of years of slavery and subsequent oppression, which is totally absurd. While those of us who believe in Obama should continue to work to see him elected, I also think we need to brace ourselves for heightened levels of American amnesia regarding this country’s crimes against Blacks.

Am I alone on this? What other sort of cultural impact do you see happening as a result of an Obama presidency, good, bad or otherwise?

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  • Theo H.

    Reply Reply July 17, 2008

    If Obama is not elected I foresee either riot or some type of large scale race war occuring simultaneously in various sects of America, initiated by African Americans and futher antagonized by whites and others. If Obama is elected he will either be assasinated leading to the aforementioned riot/racewar, or he will be judged more harshly than any other president before him and enevitably be placed in the bad president category for the next 40-50 years until history proves just the opposite. Eitherway he’s pretty much damned in my opinion. Which still doesn’t deter my vote. White’s will see this as the solidification of racial harmony in America, which it isn’t. The best thing I think will come out of it from the black perspective is more open discussions on the state of the black community, another black president in another 40-50 years once history proves him to be effective, and ….light skin brothas will be back in again!! LoL, that last one is more of a personal hope 😉

  • asha

    Reply Reply July 17, 2008

    1st let me say that I am 4 Obama however the day a Native American or a born and raised in the hood, never left the US type Brotha having pulled himself n2 legitimate successes by his bootstraps wins the presidential election, that will be a greater accomplishment for this country in my opinion.

    Now Obama’s choice of VP will play a big part in his perception while campaigning and in office in my opinion. For instance he may be considered weak and untrustworthy if he selects Hillary, or a sell-out if he selects a republican VP, or making America an easy target if he selects someone w/o a military background.

    I also think ppl will begin 2 make him bi-polar once he’s in office b/c he isn’t all “Black”. What I mean by that is he will be percieved as 2 different ppl when he makes certain decisions that may appear 2 favor one group over another. Saying things like “that’s the White side of him making that decision” or “that’s the Brotha in him doing that”. Unfortunately there is no pleasing everyone on every issue, but if reparations don’t get resolved while he is Pres I know a lot of ppl personally who will feel like what was the point of him being in office.

    If reparations does get resolved I think that would trigger the Native American population (and many other non-white cultures who were brought here utilized for ill service) 2 pursue similar retribution which could potentially bankrupt this already overdrawn-indebted nation.

    p.s. light skin brothas neva went out, trust! lol

  • Donavon

    Reply Reply July 18, 2008

    I’ve already heard folks saying that Black people can’t “play the race card” anymore ever since Obama was nominated.

    I’ve also considered this:

    The economy seems to be headed into the toilet. The country is potentially about to elect the first Black president, but it seems like he might be taking over at the worst possible time. Bush is bankrupting the governement, but I bet on Obama getting the blame. If Obama happens to be the first “Black president” it will be another 232 years before there is a second.

  • ADosty

    Reply Reply July 18, 2008

    Although Obama if elected will be taking over at the worst time, I believe he’ll make some improvements if he builds the right cabinet and advisory team around him; but he’s not going to clean up everything.

    Where the added pressure can’t come from is us. As Black people we cannot expect him to come in, focus on us and have all the answers to our self created woes. He has a country to run and cannot simply focus on the plight of black people. Remember he is bi-racial, so if he focuses on the Black side he’ll catch flack from the white people and if he focuses too much on white people he’ll catch hell from us; look at the stunt Jesse Jackson recently pulled.

    Obama’s going to have naysayers and haters on every corner, let’s give the man a chance and see what kind of rabbit he pulls out of his hat.

  • Terence

    Reply Reply July 18, 2008

    Barack will not, and does not want to be a “black” president. He is black and his politics are middle class WHITE and CORPORATE. Obama has more allegiance to the Democratic Party than to Black people.
    Our children don’t need a black skin president that runs from “us” (Farrakhan, Wright, New BPP) just to make whites feel more safe. That is not a victory. That is a straight house slave strategy. Only the seemingly safest negroes were allowed that close to the big house. When we can be “unapologetically Black” and still get elected to office because we are best for the job, then our children should admire that. Teach your children about their African heritage if you want to inspire them. Stop beginning our story at slavery. Stop limiting our story to North America. Tell the greater story and Barack will just be a blip on the map worthy of discussion, but mildy inspirational.
    As a father, I make sure to point out to my son that if Obama and any other Black person has to “play” us, “deny” us, or “talk down” to us to win, then we don’t need them. If he is conning the white majority like some “trojan horse” or like an enslaved African trying to live in the big house so that he grind glass into massa’s food, then he’s doing a great job selling the con because he has already lost my “just because he is Black” vote. Allowing whites to avoid “guilt” for their sins is only making things worse for all of us because too many whites believe this is all the reparations we are ever going to get without taking it out of their hands ourselves. In their eyes, this is Dr. King’s Dream and now when can wake up and shut up.
    If you inspire your children with Black leaders who were courageous enough to speak truth to power then your children really won’t be impressed nor inspired by this kowtowing and bootlicking.

  • Cal

    Reply Reply July 19, 2008

    I don’t know how old (I’m 38) the previous five posters are… But for someone who, as a child couldn’t fathom a Black President, and then as an adult saw that the talent pool of so-called leaders was so weak the possibility of a Black President seemed even more remote. Remember Shorty with the Afro at the Million-Man march… ooooh. But at the end of the day all he was doing was talking. Just like King and X and Jesse… talking. Now before the 1970’s that was important. But talking doesn’t put food on the table. And talking doesn’t generate any money (see Fat Al Sharpton- Go Brooklyn!). On the other hand, you have to beg, borrow and steal… so who among us knows the source of funds behind the Civil Rights movement? Was it all church goers? Or was it the (New York) Jewish community who recognized the benefits in “equal rights”, benefits that allowed them to live in communities and attend schools that they were excluded from (along with Catholics and Hispanics)? Funny (and fair) how this largess went away once the subject turned to Black Power; and so the divide began and has culminated in Obama’s quest for the Presidency (Hillary aka The First Jewish President). And still Black people are hating, just like the Negroes on the plantation when Catcher Freeman wanted to break free. He’s a sellout! He’s only there because white folks are “allowing” him to be there! He’s not really Black! He’s going to fail and there won’t be another Black President for 232 years! Ya’ll got to be kidding me!!!! He has his own money- so who owns him? Don’t you get it? That’s why the Black Caucus, the Jews, and the Democrats are mad because he doesn’t need them! My money and your money has funded this dude and therefore he has a real chance to do what he wants. Of course there will be cats working against him (i.e. the establishment), much like they worked against Carter (give away Panama Canal? Less Oil?), but that’s the way it is. But his success or failure rises and falls not with the will of the people, but as God Wills! For a minute recall Jack Johnson, Jackie Robinson, Ali, Jim Brown, Spike Lee, X, Garvey, King, Reginald Lewis and many others on whom history is silent, at the end of the day somebody had to be first! And aren’t we better for it! Stop frontin!!!

  • Cal

    Reply Reply July 19, 2008

    By the way who said Farrakhan, Wright, New BPP were us? No job having Negroes,why do you think drug dealers owned the Black community for so long- it’s the economy- – – I do not need a Black Leader! I can speak for myself all I need is Barack to do the best job he can!

  • heaven

    Reply Reply July 19, 2008

    If Barack is elected, if he does a four year term or gets elected does two terms, the pendulum invariably will swing back conservative, just as it did after the 8 years in office Clinton had. AND WHEN IT DOES, it is not going to be pretty at all for black people. As many have stated, whites view this as Martin’s Dream, or redemption for 400 years of oppression, erased just because a bi-racial black man got elected when the president actually has very little power since so many past executive orders bind most presidents and the fact that Congress has to pass the legislation.

    The thing is, we may have 4 to 8 years as a race to get our shit together, because once the “Obama” term is over, we will be in a worse position than we are today. Mexicans and other groups will continue to solidify their economics and their political agenda as a mostly unified and well funded people. Rich whites will still be on top and own 90% of the nations wealth and worlds wealth and resources, and we as a people will think some how we have over come, we will tell that falacy to our children and they will more ardently believe that you can be anything you want in this country with hard work and that white institutional racism is in no way a hinderance, in fact, it does not exist.

    The smartest thing the “devil” ever did was to convince mankind that he didn’t exist, and the smartest thing whites will ever do is convince us, especially our children, that their agenda for world domination at the detriment of black life, culture, mind, body and soul has somehow ceased, or never existed in the first place.

    We better be very very careful how we spend the next 4 to 8 years, because the noose is tightening, the question is how many of us see it.

  • Jay

    Reply Reply July 21, 2008

    You know, it is all really interesting listening to the various views about this. I appreciate the dialogue and all, but folks, are we really listening to ourselves? It is the first time in history that a Black man (I don’t care if he is bi-racial or not. If you saw him on the street and didn’t know who he was, he would be black) has a serious chance at becoming President and we are complaining that he is not black enough, didn’t pull himself up by his bootstraps, he will be assassinated, the country will turn even more against us after his term, house slave mentality…It just reminds me, what a good job slavery did on our minds. I am not trying to insult anyone, because as a A.A. in America we all have symptoms of the slavery mentality that, if we are not ever conscious, will slip out. The slave mentality is one that is self-destructive. Self can mean an individual, or in this case, a race; that crab mentality. But are we (whom Dubois termed the talented tenth) really so far gone that we can’t embrace this man and support him? The only person that has been even close to knowing what is like to be from a disenfranched people? Anybody who goes into politics has to play the game. That is reality. He also has to appeal to whites to get elected. Again, a reality. Remember folks, we are only about 12% of the population and we are not even all voting for him, if we all vote. So he has to be realistic. If you can’t support him because of this, then go ahead and don’t vote for him. I am sure that another white, conservative, rich man will do a better job for us than Barack!!

  • Tiiz

    Reply Reply July 26, 2008

    I am a Barack supporter from the rootie to the tootie!! He IS NOT BLACK! He is Biracial with a multi-relational appeal. He will make improvements–he is smart enough to KNOW that he is the next step in the puzzle and will not jeopardize that. Yes, there will be those who think this is the end of racism–have they done much more to change racism without a Barack in the white house? He can not get elected without white people…no President can. His Presidency at its least will allow our children to dream big too. If you can’t dream it…. When we can be unapologetically black and so can our President…then our work is done. That is not our next President. Obama is. We still have a ways to go..forward is always a good direction.

    http://www.tellitlikeitiz.wordpress.com

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