Tuesday, October 28, 2008

An Obama Presidency Facing The Fears


I came across this image at the Cagle Post Cartoons & CommentaryThis is not the first such image to prey upon the unspoken fears of black Americans regarding an assassination attempt on Barack Obama. 


According to Feministe this image was sent into PostSecret.  The blocked out section reads "a matter of time".    It is common knowledge that Obama received secret service protection earlier than any other candidate in history.  The public has not been made privy to the kinds of threats that have aimed at the Obama family, but we must acknowledge their existence based on the systemic racism in the United States.

Throughout American history it has been proven repeatedly that black lives are cheap.  Men less famous and "controversial" than Barack have found themselves dancing at the end of a rope for having the temerity to assert their humanity.  Dr. King who preached about equality and judging someone on the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin had his voice silenced by an assassins bullet. 

It would be naiveté to assume that these same forces do not also seek to silence Barack.  If one truly listens to his platform it is clear that Barack isn't particularly left leaning, in fact he is a centrist.  What is problematic about Obama is not his message but the colour of his skin.  The same platform run by an Edwards or Kerry would not have aroused the same kind of national ferment.

What is at stake is the traditional right of whiteness to rule.  Barack represents a threat to social hierarchy and those so- called fringe elements that scream nigger and kill him, are all to aware that if whiteness becomes socially devalued their ability to express power in situations wherein they are in actuality functioning with very little social power will diminish.

Each advancement of POC have been ferociously fought against by the white majority; from manumission, to civil rights, to the election of Barack, whiteness has continually acted in its best interests.   It plays out in the everyday slights faced by POC, whether it be invisibility in representation, or in acts of obvious racism displayed by men like Rush Limbaugh. 

Black blood still runs freely and Obama whether we want to confront it or not is a target.  He will continue to be a target as long as the US continues to be a racially divided society.  The only way to reduce the threat factor is to deal with the social angst that is caused by racism.  As difficult as it may be we must soldier on and continue to fight against those that seek to profit on socially constructed difference.

Though whiteness has been offered as a reward in actuality its overvaluation is what is holding under/working/middle class Americans back from achieving real social and economic growth.  It blinds them from seeing  the ways in which the ruling elite manipulate their hate, and their fear, to ensure that there is a continual class of people to be exploited.  

If we see the person next to us as an an enemy instead of a comrade in the struggle, then we will not be inclined to marshal forces to demand our shared human rights.  Things like health care and education are not  a priority for the ruling bourgeoisie who can afford to pay for elite services, they are the concerns of the proletariat.  The myopia of the racists who allow themselves to be engorged with hate to the point of considering acts of violence is terrifying and reductive.  Not seeing the benefit of racial solidarity means that they will forever live lives that are stunted, while POC continue to hope for the safety of our leaders.




Coolred38 said...

Way back when Obama first started showing signs of running I commented that there were probably some white supremists somewhere polishing their guns up at the mere thought of a n****r daring to run for president of THEIR country...sad to say...but I agree...its only a matter of time.

Considering we are supposedly the last SuperPower left...and our democratic govt is the "envy" of all the world...we are so far behind other countries when it comes to having any other color but white and any other gender but male in our White House...we are such a laughing stock to "Third World" countries everywhere.

btw just wondering but did u mean assignation...or assassination against Obama...Im just wondering if that was a play on words I missed...Im like that.

Renee said...

@coolred no it was not a play on words, its an indicator that I am to damn tired to be blogging. I will go and fix it, thanks for pointing it out.

As your Canadian neighbour I will tell you that we have had a white female for an extremely short period of time but have yet to have a person of color as a prime minister. The US is not alone in its overvaluation of whiteness. It is also not alone is systemic racism and sexism. Many countries like to sit on their high horses in judgment (Canada included) without have a record that is significantly better.

AR said...

In regards to "common interests" I agree with you mostly, but say you are mistaken to not take this reasoning a single step further. The potential comrade next to me is as often wealthy as not, as special interest lobbying knows no limits. In the case of redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor, lobbying as such is not even necessary, so much more powerful are the poor in a system of universal franchise, as is evident by our progressive income tax and 40%+ socialist economy.

If people took a principled stand against the use of violence to appropriate wealth (and all government action is ultimately backed by violence), the interests of the wealthy and poor would be found to coincide, provided that the people in question are not interested in such ill-gotten gains. As is, nearly everyone in the nation is constantly trying to rob everyone else through politics on account of the short-sightedness and ignorance that lets them believe such a system will not ultimately ruin the wealth of everyone if taken to it's logical conclusion, as it indeed has done when people have taken it that far.

boig said...

Obama said the assassination attempt on CNN: if so, I continue to review many things

Feminist Review said...

And almost like clockwork, we get this news story: http://in.news.yahoo.com/139/20081028/364/twl-two-arrested-in-plot-to-kill-obama-o.html

The logic that we shouldn't elect a black president because he is at risk for assassination is really interesting in so many ways. For one, every past president has also been at risk of being assassinated, just for a (sort of) opposite reason: that his institutionalized racial superiority (and paternalistic colonial tendencies) made him a target when he enacted his power and privilege on Other groups. But I guess since this is business as usual, no one's trying to focus on that, right? This kind of racism couched in (again, paternalistic) faux-concern is frightening, but also not new. It's the Great White Savior complex all over again.

mzbitca said...

God, I have been in a state of total fear for the last month to the point that I think I'm getting stress headaches. I worry every day about turning on the news and hearing about Sen. Obama or his family being hurt. I worry every time I see something that says he is slipping in the polls. I cannot imagine how I will feel if McCain wins in a week of if something happens to Sen Obama

Macon D said...

Good post, thank you. I agree, if this is what you're saying, that bringing such racist pathologies to the light, rather than letting them fester and metastasize in the recesses of the collective white psyche, is all for the best. Focusing on whiteness in general, and on the blinders its bearers wear, is also a way to avoid the easy temptation of focusing only on the more extreme white supremacists. McCain and Palin are white supremacists too (though they'd never admit it, and might not even realize it)--they just use coded language and symbols to get that ideology across. And it works for a lot of people because that ideology permeates our society, and therefore seeps into all of us.

Danyell said...

I wish I could be surprised, but I called it from day one. I know there are still serious, dangerous racists in America- a Black president challenges everything they understand about the world. The people who hate him are those that do nothing and thinks the world owes them because they're White and get angry when overachieving POC actually get ahead of them. A Black president inflames their own lack of confidence and pride. It's pathetic and it makes me sick.

But I agree that Obama is painted as some radical and "socialist" (as if that's a dirty word). He is a centrist, which is a good thing, because it allows you to look a bit more objectively than always having to go either left or right. Not everything is clear cut like that. But what, he's a socialist now because he thinks everyone should have health care? I'm more concerned what it says about someone who disagrees.

The US is somehow only concerned with terrorism overseas, when we have plenty right here. No, I don't mean new immigrants who come here just to attack from the inside. I mean American born, Nazi pieces of crap, who want to blow the world back to the stone age with their backwards thinking. The most important thing is that Obama keeps marching forward with all of his plans and let no one intimidate him. I do fear for his safety, though. I hope nothing bad happens to him.

Amelia said...

If the first person I vote for in a presidential election ends up assassinated...I will be devestated....

I've never been one to deny that racist exists. And this frightens me.