Posted by: iam0nly1 | June 23, 2008

Kobe, R. Kelly…Obama?

Once again, I am in the minority. While I stood and still stand as a member of the 18 million strong majority of Hillary Clinton’s supporters, I represent an infinitesimal minority as a member of the less than 10% of African Americans who did not vote for Senator Obama. In this peculiar, yet familiar position,  I find myself reflecting on the current state of race relations as it applies to the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama.

I have been shocked and saddened by the leeway and passes, concerning transgressions no non-black person would be permitted, that the black community, by and large, has given to Senator Obama, all in the name of “the struggle” (read: getting him elected). He has been allowed to blatantly discriminate against religious and ethnic groups. Had it been McCain or Hillary doing the same to African Americans, there would have been outrage, and justifiably so. However, too many brushed it aside as “something he has to do to get elected.”

Senator Obama was allowed to defame the black church by conflating it with the racist rants of Rev. Wright in order to save his political career, and the majority of the black community acquiesced, some nodding their heads, others looking the other way.

Senator Obama has been allowed to ignore our community on several occasions. A few of us got upset and spoke out, but were quickly silenced with threats and intimidation. I’m sure we all remember how Tavis Smiley spoke his mind:

And then, this happened:

Tavis Smiley, the bestselling author of the “Covenant With Black America,” is in a world turned upside down. He said he’s being “hammered,” “barbecued,” and is “catching hell” from black Americans for suggesting that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) made a major mistake by declining to speak at the State of the Black Union event that Smiley plans to host next week in New Orleans.

“There’s all this talk of hater, sellout and traitor,” Smiley said to me in a telephone interview. Smiley even mentioned getting death threats, but wouldn’t elaborate. He said his office has been flooded with angry e-mails. “I have family in Indianapolis. They are harassing my momma, harassing my brother. It’s getting to be crazy,” Smiley said. 

For Smiley, the tumult is a major turnabout. Until now he was a darling commentator in black America. His passion for the people endeared him to many. People listened to his commentaries on the popular Tom Joyner Morning Show, and snapped up so many copies of the “Covenant” that it made the top ten lists of the both the New York Times and the Washington Post. When Smiley talked, black people listened.

“One of my friends said, ‘you are being barbecued in the blogosphere,'” Smiley said. He told Black America Web writer Michael Cottman’s that “I’m catching hell.” In our interview, Smiley said: “This is the first time in my entire career that I have found myself in this kind of relationship with some folk in black America. I now know what it feels like to have the weight of the Internet world bearing down on you. Man, it’s an eye opener when you get caught in the middle of it.”

In the same breath, Tavis Smiley, a man who has endeared himself to our community and worked and spoken out on our behalf, is called a sell out for not unquestioningly supporting Senator Obama, a man we hardly know, who’s “credentials” with the black community pale in comparison, but Obama is praised and passionately protected for essentially selling us all out to get elected. Something isn’t adding up. 

Currently, I believe too many of us in the black community are painting Senator Obama as someone and something he is not. Senator Obama is not a champion of the black community. I’m hard pressed to find one African American supporter of Senator Obama that can name one thing he has done for the black community, other than give a speech or two (for his own political gain) and run for president. None of which have anything to do with us as a community. 

I’ve heard African Americans say, “Well, he’s trying to achieve Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream.” This, to me, is the ultimate disrespect and perversion of Dr. King’s dream. Dr. King didn’t march, suffer abuse, get arrested and die so that Barack Obama, or any person of color for that matter, could be president. Dr. King was not so shortsighted. He fought for equality, for equal opportunity, so that all would be judged “not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Dr. King fought so that if a woman or man of any color or creed were worthy and deserving of the presidency, then they would not be denied due to ignorance and prejudice. 

Today, too many African Americans are simply judging Barack Obama by the color of his skin, and not by the content of his character, much less the depth of his achievements and length of his resumé.

There is no need to pretend that this is not the case for many (not all), for when we are in “friendly” company, the truth comes out. One woman looked me in the eye and said, point blank, “I’m voting for Obama because he is black. Why shouldn’t I? I’ve been voting for white men all my life.”  A friend of mine apparently had an African American male at a restaurant tell her, “A vote for anyone else is a vote for slavery. Obama ’09 [sic]!” I know black Republicans who vehemently disagree with Obama on all policy issues, but are voting for him and have the audacity to chastise me for not supporting Obama and claim I’m “forgetting the movement.”  That many of us feel this way is sad, yet understandable, but not tolerable. 

If voting for Senator Obama isn’t about race, why have I been called an “Uncle Tom”? Why have I been called a “race traitor”? Why have I been called a “house n*gger”? Why is the harshest treatment of “dissenters” reserved for those of us of similar pigmentation to Senator Obama? It’s best we are honest with ourselves. 

For all of the racism (yes, that is what it is) festering within the black community, the paranoia surrounding non-black racism (termed such because Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, Jews, etc. are being rampantly accused of racism as well. “White racism” does not begin to encompass the range of accusations) has reached fever pitch. Many are and have been arguing that calling Senator Obama inexperienced is racism; recalling the truths that many of us believe that we must and often do have to be twice as qualified, if not more, than white candidates in order to be chosen for the same position. Academic studies bare out the truth of this, and the same truth for women of all colors competing against men. 

Too many claim, loudly and directly, that any person, who is not African American who chooses not to support Senator Obama does so primarily due to racism. Yes, there are individuals who will not vote for Senator Obama because he is half African, but there are also people who refused to vote for Senator Clinton because she was female, and there are still some who will refuse to vote for Senator McCain because of his age (African Americans are not the sole targets of oppression). But these people do not make up the majority of voters.  The majority of voted for Senator Clinton, not against Senator Obama and vice versa. Most importantly, for the overwhelming majority of those who did not vote for Senator Obama in the primary, and for those who will not do so in November, racism was not and will not be a factor. 

I have written all of this because I believe we are at an important impasse. The way our community, and the American citizenry at large proceeds from now on will determine the trajectory of race, gender and generational relations for decades to come. I have thought for a long time about how to express an empathy but also a gutteral disagreement with the aforementioned sentiments as they apply to Senator Obama. 

During my thoughts, my mind stumbled upon a memory of an episode of one of my favorite political satires, The Boondocks. The particular episode deals chiefly with R. Kelly, the allegations against him, and the reaction of the black community. As R. Kelly has recently been acquitted on all counts of child pornography, this episode holds even more relevance for the current time. Moreover, I find humor is often the best way to deliver the toughest message. 

[Disclaimer: The Boondocks is a show aimed at political commentary and social satire of race relations, specifically as they apply to the black community, seen through the eyes of some in the black community. As such, while the following clip contains some offensive language, it should be viewed through the lens of satire and critique. Also, at roughly 2:00 in the video, it seems the original uploader has inserted music that is not original to the episode. Please disregard it. Lastly, I will not respond to claims of “racism,” concerning the video clip, in the comments (as a black woman, frankly, I am tired of them, and am fully capable of recognizing and critiquing racism when I see, exhibit or experience it). If you can’t handle political satire, perhaps you should not be on the internet.] 

For me, Huey’s speech (the young man with afro), beginning at 2:21, is the part I find most relevant and most in sync with my current viewpoints regarding Senator Obama and how many in the black community view him. Huey’s speech is as follows:

“What the hell is wrong with you people?!? Every famous n*gga that gets arrested is not Nelson Mandela. Yes, the government conspires to put a lot of innocent black men in jail on fallacious charges, but R. Kelly is not one of those men. We all know the n*gga can sing. But what happened to standards? What happened to bare minimums? You a fan of R. Kelly? You wanna help R. Kelly? Then get some counseling for R. Kelly! Introduce him to some older women. Hide his camcorder. But don’t pretend like the man is a hero…and stop the damn dancing! Act like you got some G*d damn sense, people! Damn! I’m through playing around here!”  

Huey, as our protagonist, speaks truth to power. I believe his general sentiment can be translated to the current situation within the black community regarding Senator Obama and his candidacy.

Every black man that runs for office is not a saint, nor a victim. It is not our responsibility as African Americans to vote for him, protect him from legitimate criticism, or turn a blind eye to his glaring short comings because of a coincidence of pigmentation. Yes, there is racism in our society. Yes, many African Americans and other ethnic minorities, as well as women, have been qualified for positions, only to be told to work harder as they were passed over for a white, or younger, or male (or all three) lesser experienced individual. Yes, the United States Federal Government, state governments, and local governments, have propagated injustices, and continue to propagate injustices against African Americans. Yes, many, including Republicans and Democrats have used dirty tricks, back room deals, and racism as a weapon against a plethora of candidates, black, white, female and male, robbing them of their ability to achieve and to serve. But, Senator Barack Obama is not one of those candidates. We all know the man is decent public speaker. We all know he is the first candidate of color to come this close to attaining the presidency. “But what happened to standards? What happened to bare minimums?” If you are a supporter of Senator Obama, and want to help him, then instruct him to go back to the Senate for a few years, at least serve his first term, and gain some experience. Introduce him to some non-radical non-domestic terrorist, non-racist and non-anti-semitic preachers, and non-convicted on 16 of 24 counts of corruption friends! Help him form a platform and a record, and teach him not to change his position on an issue every time he goes to a new state or switches from primary to general election mode. But do not pretend like he is above reproach, a saint, or a messiah. And stop covering up for him or threatening and intimidating those who disagree with you. He is a politician!

And please, stop the chanting and fainting. It’s creepy. 




  1. Dear IAmOnly1,

    I am a Black man and I am on board with you. I disagree with the blind-sightedness of the Black community. No man is larger than the cause of his people whether Black, White, yellow, or brown. It’s a man’s actions, his deeds, is what we salute as leaders.

    Ed Mann

  2. if all of us surport him is some how, what will you say about Bill Gate and USA, if i have access to people like you i will fuck you up. Any way if you are a white man and obama now consentrate on blacks alone how will you feel? You can say what you wanna say but remenber we can vote him out if he is not compitent we are not in militry stuff and those people that are ezyly convince who knows may be you write all those stuff your self or you are been paid for it chao…………………………..

  3. I like your stuff every succesful man need a critizm, if all of us surport him is some how, what will you say about Bill Gate and USA, if i have access to people like you i will fuck you up. Any way if you are a white man and obama now consentrate on blacks alone how will you feel? You can say what you wanna say but remenber we can vote him out if he is not compitent we are not in militry stuff and those people that are ezyly convince who knows may be you write all those stuff your self or you are been paid for it chao…………………………..

  4. I like your stuff every succesful man need a critizm

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