In yet another dispatch from our post racial world, someone decided that it was okay to hang a doll with Obama’s name on it.
The world is so over race that Obama has received more death threats than any other president. His administration has not been perfect but he certainly did not lie the country into a war, while building up a crippling debt. This hanging was not a political protest, it was an act of racist hatred.
Of course there are those that still refuse to acknowledge this:
I don’t think the President should be hung in effigy no matter who he is, I don’t think the President should be besmirched or ridiculed in a public way at all. Criticize his policies? Sure, but ridicule the man himself, no.
It seems that only applies to this president though. Unlike many instances of Bush bashing and public ridicule that went down in the annals of free speech or art or something like that. Double standard? Of course.
There is a world of difference between people throwing shoes at an effigy of Bush and hanging a doll labelled Obama. We do not live outside of history, we are a direct result of it. Hanging a doll that represents a Black man is problematic because for generations Black men and women were lynched. The white sheets blew in the breeze, as White families planned picnics and revelry around murdered POC in cold blood. Lynching has always been a threat to any POC who dared to step outside the confines of the menial roles that Whiteness has assigned us. Whiteness is well aware of this fact and this is why the noose has continually been used as a threat against POC.
Even if there were dolls hung of former White presidents, the threat would mean drastically different things because lynching has never been used as a mechanism of terror within White communities. An effigy of Obama treated in this manner does not just harm the president, it harms every single Black person who is a member of the African Diaspora. It reminds us that despite our achievements, that our bodies are still devalued. It sends the message that we are to remain docile, even as it enforces the hegemony of Whiteness.
So many continue to believe that they do not benefit from racism. They are proud to tell Blacks that they never owned slaves or that their White sheets only go on beds but in truth, each time an act of racial terror is committed, every single White person benefits because it serves to ensconce Whiteness as the ultimate form of power. It is the legitimization of Whiteness that gives people the ability to act with impunity. Even the lowest amongst us benefits from Whiteness. All these years later, Emmitt Till still haunts our social imagination and therefore; despite the social lie of the Black threat, Whiteness can point to no such occurrence to validate their fear.
We are not and never have been post racial. No matter how many Obama’s or Oprah’s that White society points to validate this lie, a real and present threat is still in existence. The Oscar Grants still call to us, reminding us of just how tenuous our existence is. Until the day when our sons and daughters have an equal opportunity to succeed and our lives are not daily threatened, we cannot claim to live in a time when race is no longer a social construct. Whiteness claims persecution to validate its power and we cannot afford to see this as laughable because their fear means our death.