On Slowly But Surely Accepting The Fact That President Obama Kinda Sucks When Talking To And About Black People » VSB

Featured, Race & Politics

On Slowly But Surely Accepting The Fact That President Obama Kinda Sucks When Talking To And About Black People

Olivier Douliery/Pool/Getty Images

 

A few months ago, I was asked to contribute to The Meaning of Michelle — a collection of essays about Michelle Obama’s influence and legacy. My chapter (“Crushing on Michelle: Or the Unapologetic Power of Blackness”) makes a reference to the psychic impact the Obama family’s presence has had on Black America, and how our collective cathartic desire for America’s HNIC to be an actual nigga — mined out of the historical context of the Black American in America — pushed him into office and then kept him there.

This psychic impact might seem intangible and arbitrary, and this intangibility and arbitrariness could allow someone to dismiss it as inessential, but that would be a mistake. It is as much a part of President Obama’s legacy as anything he’s actually done while in office. You could even argue that the importance of his mere existence — of him being the President and the Obamas being America’s first family — surpasses the importance of any policy he’s enacted or politics he’s pushed.

If this is still too intangible, let me share something a bit more real. VSB has existed for as long as Barack Obama has been President of the United States. We launched in the spring of 2008; he was elected in the fall. In that time, we’ve grown from a blog featuring two guys sharing their tongue-in-cheek musings about dating, relationships, and sex to a critically lauded and commercially successful platform for witty and irreverent and VantaBlack content. Personally, I’ve journeyed from a college administrator who blogged in my spare time to a full-time writer who’s had people from dream-level publications like GQ, EBONY, The New YorkerThe Guardian, NY Mag, and The Washington Post actually approach my lactose intolerant Black ass about writing/working for them, who’s been honored on lists like this year’s The Root 100, and who was included with a lineup of rock star-ass writers in an anthology about our First Lady.

It’s all still somewhat surreal. But not too surreal for me to be able to step back and acknowledge that it’s unlikely much of this would have happened without President Obama. No, he didn’t create VSB. And he wasn’t with me shooting in the gym during the thousands of hours I’ve spent writing, editing, reading, failing, and re-writing over the past eight years. But I can’t deny that his existence has helped to embolden and elevate me; ultimately expanding the scope of what I believe I’m able to do and possessed to say.

This considered, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that it’s difficult for me to be particularly objective about him. I am not so in the tank that I believe his every act to be perfect and his every day as President to be halcyon. But I do extend him a benefit of the doubt that far surpasses any I’ve ever given — and likely ever will give — anyone I don’t personally know. This is particularly true in regards to his public thoughts and words and actions regarding race — particularly how he speaks to and speaks of Black Americans — where he has been a consistent disappointment. So consistently disappointing that it’s no longer disappointing. Now, it’s just expected. It’s just him.

Of course, I’m aware that President Obama is in an unenviable (and, frankly, impossible) position. His status is such that even relatively milquetoast and benign race-related statements like “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon Martin” immediately become weaponized by virtue of him saying it. As Slate’s Jamelle Bouie articulated a couple weeks ago, The Beer Summit became a perfect synopsis of this absurd dynamic. It was the type of conciliatory, fence-mending gesture Obama has become known for. But many of us (Black people) were annoyed and even angered by it, because by inviting Sgt. James Crowley to the White House, it legitimized him; putting this aggressively mediocre White man on the same level of the fucking President and one of our most distinguished academics and thinkers.

This was also apparently the moment much of White America came to the collective realization that the Black person they elected to be President was actually Black.

From Bouie’s piece:

In 2009, millions of Americans were still caught in the heady daydream of “post-racial America,” sustained by a president who was black, but who wasn’t quite a black president. Fifty-three percent of Americans, according to a Pew survey, said that the country was “making ground” on racial discrimination. Obama’s observation—that black lives still faced unfair treatment—was an abrupt challenge to that idea, and it brought a backlash.

This is the environment President Obama has had to muck his way through during his term. A melange of post-racial fuckshit congealed with a never-ending undertow of unabashed and increasingly shameless bias. Shit, the guy who very well might be the President after him is only in this position because of a political ascension based on President Obama’s suspected illegitimacy.

I’ll also concede that, if I judged him strictly on his position as President instead of the person manning the position, I probably wouldn’t be as disappointed. But this is where the disappointment exists. Barack Obama is undeniably a Black American man. A 55-year-old, Harvard educated man who is usually the smartest person in every room he’s in. The type of Black man to have the wherewithal to decide that Michelle Robinson was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. A Black man who’s the father of two Black children. And with this context, I anticipated and expected him to be better. Not perfect. But just better. I expected him to be too aware of his words to do things like go to Morehouse and scold the graduates on making excuses. I didn’t expect the strain of respectability that persists in his words to and about Black America to exist.

But even as it did, I excused it as the language of a man walking a tightrope none of us have dared step on, and defended him against those who wanted our first Black president to be less President Obama and more Barack from Chicago. But even now, as he’s in the fuck-deficient last leg of his presidency — a phase we’ve collectively anticipated since he was elected — his language hasn’t changed much. Just last week, after defending Colin Kaepernick’s protest, he asked that Kaepernick consider the pain his protest is causing military families; a false equivalency that 1) puts the hurt feelings of those upset by Kaepernick’s symbolic and peaceful response to a symbol on the same level of the very real pain and fear many Black Americans feel in regards to the police and 2) implies that there’s a connection between Kaepernick’s protest and the United States military. There is none. And the military does not have exclusive ownership of the American flag. We — the American citizens (even those justifiably ambivalent about America) — do.

Of course, there is still the hope that President Obama will be more candid and progressive on race and just better in front of Black people once he leaves the Oval Office. He is, after-all, a relatively young man who will likely be a prominent figure in American politics and punditry for at least the next couple decades. But I’m no longer waiting for and anticipating that shift. If it happens, great! If it doesn’t, well, it’s just Barack being Barack.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • LMNOP

    Well, one things for sure, how the next president talks to and about Black people is going to be a lot worse.

    • Clinton said “system racism” in the last debate. I think she’s the first presidential candidate to say that. That means something.

      https://hhharris.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-profit-motive/

      • Other_guy13

        Means everything for me…she won me over then and there

        • mr. steal your costco samples

          thing is, she can say it by virtue of being Dwight. Barry can’t say nan like that.

          • Kas

            He really can’t.

          • LMNOP

            Exactly.

          • The politics are a’changin’. Janelle Bouie had a great write up about it:

            http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/cover_story/2016/10/hillary_clinton_s_reverse_sister_souljah_moment.html

            Key quote:

            “Bill Clinton distanced himself from anything that smacked of identity politics or traditional liberalism. Hillary Clinton has not. This speaks to a larger reality in American politics. Racism—either virulent or implicit—is the enemy of progressive political coalitions. It’s either an obstacle to building those coalitions in the first place, or it’s a part of the process that unravels them. White departure from the Democratic Party cost it the Oval Office for nearly 20 years, and the effort to win those whites back yielded a disappointing and myopic centrism. But now those whites aren’t as central to Democratic presidential fortunes, and it has given many in the party the space they need to move in a more liberal direction. And looking at the tenor of Democratic policy debates over the past year—debates over how the welfare state should expand, not if it should—they have. Which is to say that the great upside of this shift is for the blacks, Latinos, and young people who form a critical part of the Democratic Party’s national electorate. Their demands for criminal justice reform, immigration reform, and broader economic reform—as channeled through the primary campaign of Bernie Sanders—aren’t a deal-breaker for national Democratic politicians.”

            • King Beauregard

              I take issue with crediting Sanders on racial issues. He’s the one who never returned calls to his black constituents, who had to hire a press secretary to explain to him that racial inequality is not just a subset of economics, who (when asked about what blind spots he’s got) proceeded to explain the black experience as being indistinguishable from an episode of “Good Times”, and who — tellingly — gave the Democratic Party a list of policies to embrace and not one of them was about racial justice.

              Bernie ain’t nothing.

              • DFS1906

                That right there,

              • Wesley Ray Thomas

                Bernie delivered Vermont for Jesse Jackson in 1988 (who was for Slavery reparations) …as well as fighting for Racial equality since his College days in Chicago during the Kennedy administration. You may need another history lesson.

                • King Beauregard

                  If Bernie’s contributions are best described as historical events, then you make my point for me.

                • King Beauregard

                  Bernie on BLM as of April 2015:

                  http://socialistworker.org/2015/05/05/sanders-dodge-on-black-lives-matter

                  “So short term, we’ve got to make sure the police have cameras. We’ve got to make sure that we got real police reform so that suspects are treated with respect. Long term, we got to make sure that our young people are working, they’re in schools and not hanging out on street corners.”

                  You hear that? If only those black kids would be in school and not be hanging out on street corners, they wouldn’t force police to shoot them so much. You tell ’em Bernie!

                  • Diego Duarte

                    Sanders on the first democratic debate:

                    “Black lives matter.”

                    Hillary on that same debate:

                    “Gee I don’t fcking know.”

                    Hillary on her treatment of BLM activists:

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LqLfvQfuvsA

                    • King Beauregard

                      Hillary refused to suffer a couple people lying about her record and then being unwilling to get their facts straight. Claiming membership to BLM is not a free pass to lie.

                      Hillary also understood BLM back in 2014, back when Bernie was still in his “blacks shouldn’t get themselves shot so much” phase:

                      http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2014/12/17/hillary-clinton-black-lives-matter/

                      There’s a reason the mothers of black victims side with Hillary: she made the time for them while Sanders has looked on blacks only in terms of political utility — and blew them off when he decided he wasn’t going to win with them:

                      http://fusion.net/story/323539/how-bernie-sanders-lost-black-voters/

                    • Diego Duarte

                      Are you seriously using breitbart as a news source? Also, lying about her record? No, her voting record is quite clear. She campaigned for Goldwater, she voted in favor of the Iraq War, she has also repeatedly backed Israel despite their war crimes against Palestine, she took money from the private prison industry and even dismissed African Americans as “superpredators” and this relationship went on until 2015 until she was called out on it; she participated in the Board of Directors of Walmart, rated the worst employer globally, and was an advocated for Monsanto.

                      Her and her husband also supporter Alberto Fujimori, a right wing dictator in my country, as he seeked a third illegal reelection in the year 2000. This was even after he was found out to have forced sterilized 300,000 indigenous women so that they “wouldn’t have so many dmn kids”. The man is now in prison after having tortured, killed, bribed, and actually burnt dissidents in a fcking oven. I remember being 14 and watching both of those corporate tools endorsing the fck out of that monster as my mom marched against the police, with many other Peruvian democrats out there, trying to reclaim our democracy.

                      Same history repeated itself in Honduras back in 2009, after Hillary provided logistic support to Porfirio Lobo, when they overthrew socialist president Manuel Zelaya. Honduran activists are still getting killed over that load of BS but I see no outrage from Clinton fans.

                      Clinton is exponentially better than Trump, but do not try to argue Clinton’s record with a Hispanic. Take this L and move on.

                    • King Beauregard

                      “Are you seriously using breitbart as a news source?”

                      I am — and in this case, I see no reason to doubt them. Breitbart is reporting that Hillary was saying “Black Lives Matter” relatively early, and the reason they reported it is because they felt it was grounds for alarm.

                      “Also, lying about her record?”

                      Hillary never said all blacks are super-predators — she was very clear that she was talking about some gang members, and not even all gang members,– so yes, lying about her record.

                    • Diego Duarte

                      So in essence, you are taking a statement made from Sanders and twisting it to fit your logic, and downplaying a statement from Clinton, followed up by one of the most racist piece of legislations ever enacted, and which put hundreds of thousands of Blacks and Hispanics in jail?

                      Despite his faults Sanders wasn’t the one in bed with the private prison industry, or the big banks going after working class Hispanics and Blacks with their predatory lending. Nor does he have actual blood in his hands from all the dmn intervention the US has had in the Middle East and Latin America.

                      I can admit to Sanders’ being lacking and clueless, but Clinton is in the same fcking ballpark, and she has actually done more damage than good in the past, regardless of what her stances are now. She is in no way better than him when it comes to racial injustice. As a foreign-born citizen, who has actually lived in a country affected by your “foreign policy” (read here as coup d’état) I will label such assertion as downright false, and diametrically opposed to the truth.

                      Also, Breitbart is far from being a creditable news source and is nothing but propaganda and sensationalism. Case in point: there’s still flat out denying the sexual harassment in Fox News, despite the overwhelming evidence against Ailes.

                    • King Beauregard

                      I am twisting nothing. And Sanders called gang members “deeply sick and sociopathic”, so he’s no better than Clinton as far as that goes. Actually Sanders didn’t even go as far as to specify “some gang members” as Hillary did, but because I am not trying to twist his words, based on the context I think he means the same people Hillary did.

                    • Diego Duarte

                      In regards to their awareness of racial injustice both of them have been just as bad. Both of them have tried to come to terms with it and become educated in the matter.

                      Where I consider there’s a huge line and difference is that Hillary has actually lobbied and profited from systemic racial injustice, she’s been taking money from the private prison industry (until she was called out on it last year). And despite having evolved on this matter, she was by no means the better candidate. She has the blood of my people on her hands, as well as that of yours.

                      Is she more qualified than Trump? Infinitely. Is she now addressing these matters explicitly? More so than before, and that’s an improvement. Is she better than that anti-science fool Jill Stein? Yes, she is. Am I supporting her? Yes, I am. However, let’s not try and pretend she doesn’t have a past, plagued by war profiteering and exploitation of black and brown people.

                    • Clockwork

                      And Trump was only saying that the illegal Mexicans who are murderers and rapists are those, but you still say that he hates all Mexicans.

                    • King Beauregard

                      To qualify as a super-predator under Hillary’s definition, you had to be a gang member who demonstrated a lack of conscience or empathy. Entirely defined by behavior. That doesn’t even line up with illegal Mexicans being violent criminals in Trump’s eyes, because being in this country illegally is a different matter than rape / murder.

                    • Clockwork

                      To qualify as an illegal immigrant who is a murderer or rapist in Trump’s eyes, you have to be an illegal immigrant who is a murderer or a rapist. That is entirely defined by behavior. The racism angle really is not one that you want to play.

        • thenameischoco

          Let’s be clear guys. Hillary was forced into addressing systemic racism because BLM (the organization) successfully challenged Bernie Sanders on the issue. Say what you want about BLM and how much they were on him but they noticed that this was someone who would take their issues to heart, and they were right. Bernie released his new platform shortly after and began to chip away at the hold that Hillary had on black voters, especially among young black activists. Being the textbook politician that Hillary is, this is when she finally changed her tone.

          She really isn’t someone that’s passionate about the Black community, but she’s better than the alternative. I wouldn’t take her mention of systemic racism as a sign of better times to come. Once she’s in the White House, forget it.

      • LMNOP

        True. Honestly she might get less blowback for calling racism by its name because of white privilege and all, but still, I consider Obama ahead here.

      • [Insert Creative Name Here]

        Well, orange face dude kept saying “cyber” and “nuclear” like they were nouns. So she gets a pass from me on that one (though, in all honesty I didn’t hear it).

      • meh— not when she helped further entrench that system…and to my knowledge (I am open to being corrected) hasn’t provided actionable plans on how to undo it. Don’t get me wrong..she’s better than Trump.. but… yeah.. I don’t expect anything to get better if Hillary is elected..folk talk but rarely do

        • Hillary saying it is a step. She is a presidential candidate whose mere words can raise and lower stocks, and signal to countries that’s either willing to negotiate or that they had better go to the corner with that petty mess.

          And when you say “entrench that system,” you need to provide receipts on how she did it. I’m not saying she didn’t, but you making a statement like that means the burden of evidence is on you.

          • I hear you, but I have two sons, four brothers and very little patience for steps. They are shooting 2-3 black folk a week with impunity. We been stepping for too long. In looking for a recent article about how Hillary isn’t a friend to black folk, I noticed that she is trying to cut ties with the private prison industry. I’ll believe it when I see it. Anyway, here is a great synopsis of why I stand where I do
            https://www.thenation.com/article/hillary-clinton-does-not-deserve-black-peoples-votes/

          • Naw.. she has a great speech writer who wrote buzzwords.

        • Exactly. Fukk her.. it’s evident that she will sell her mama to win.

  • darkskinforeskin

    Yo, what kinda filter they got on Obama? My g look like a founding member of the dark skin clan.

    • TJ

      It’s either summertime when that photo was taken…or actual manipulation in an effort to give “warmth” to his face. Lol.

  • Kas

    @Val, stop smirking. :)

  • Mary Burrell

    Yes, that disappoints me that he just doesn’t get to the nitty gritty of discussing the issue of race.

  • cheddachasa

    I have friends who argue that Obama is only black racially but not culturally due to his upbringing.

    • OSHH

      This!!!! said this on many occasions.

    • Other_guy13

      Although I can see why…that’s an unfair assessment. The same can be said about me and most of my friends for that matter. The Black experience is too broad for it to only apply on such a small scale. Every experience of blackness is different…but the color of his skin remains to be the first thing seen for ALL of us. Just saying…

      • L8Comer

        Yeah I agree… the black experience is pretty broad.

        And regardless, the world still sees us as black and treats us accordingly.

        Also he was black, at Harvard, in the 70s, shytting on his white peers. That’s gotta count for something

        • cakes_and_pies

          I guess we all have to be disenfranchised, poor, and uneducated to be Black. This sounds like Trump’s definition of being Black.

          • Other_guy13

            I was gone go there but I decided not too…but you my friend…well done…SN…anyone come to the other side of the couch yet lol

          • L8Comer

            I think his friend was speaking to black american-ness, which disqualifies so many of us haha.

            But I’ll say this, all my familial, passed down, type culture comes from my mom’s black immigrant side – food, music, proverbs, ways of doing things, dialect, etc. but I was born here, raised here, went to schools here, … so I don’t think my black American-ness can ever be questioned. I had to navigate being black and racism in America which is miles apart from the racial constructs my cousins and aunts had to navigate.

            I get my background was very different than obamas, but he still was a black man in America for most of his life so I disagree

          • grownandsexy2

            You’d be surprised at how many of us think that way or maybe not. My niece and I were just talking about this the other day. She grew up pretty privileged. My sister and brother-in-law worked to make it so. When she went to join some club her girlfriend was a part of , they were having some function where they wanted all the members to wear old ripped jeans. This was before ripped jeans were a thing. When she said she didn’t have any ripped jeans, she was side-eyed and accused of thinking she was “better.” Long story short, she wasn’t allowed in the club.

            • Kas

              She probably dodged a bullet by not being allowed.

              • kingpinenut

                many bullets

              • grownandsexy2

                Yep, she said they were ready to throw hands.

                • Kas

                  It’s all fun and games until you find out Richy Rich (no shade to your niece) is good with dem hands.

                  • grownandsexy2

                    Yep, she can rumble with the best of them. I remember awhile back she got in a rumble with her husband’s ex because she called her mom (my sister) out of her name. Took 5 cops to pull her off. One cop told her if he ever got in a scrap, he was gonna look her up. LOL

                  • Nik White

                    I know someone who is fond of saying, “Don’t let the make-up and degrees fool ya”.

                    • Blueberry01

                      ….cuz I will definitely school ya…

            • Sigma_Since 93

              Why this sound like the scene in School Daze where the Gamma Rays were planning the party and told ol girl not to have the DJ play any rap music?

              • grownandsexy2

                School was another place she had to throw hands because of the clothes she wore. She said that’s where she learned to fight.

        • Sigma_Since 93

          Let’s be real; we really don’t celebrate our diversity. When the Cosby show came out, how many Black critics were there saying this is make believe or I don’t know anyone that lives like this?

          • L8Comer

            I have no idea. I was too young to pay attention to the critics.

            I personally haven’t really seen a time when black doctors and lawyers in my immediate community where seen as “out there” or unrelatable. By the time I was old enough to pay attention to critics Cosby type families didn’t seem rare at all. But, I grew up in one of the most upwardly mobile areas for black folks in the country – on the border of Montgomery and PG county Maryland. So our experiences may be different

            • Sigma_Since 93

              You bring up a very interesting point about the cognitive dissonance that exists. You live in PG county which folks know have a ton of middle and upper middle class folks. We know back in the red lining days your family doctor lived next door in Harlem in his brownstone. We know of old Black money.

              We show a glimpse on tv and a great many of us acte(d) like it was a figment of our imaginations.

              • Epsilonicus

                “We show a glimpse on tv and a great many of us acte(d) like it was a figment of our imaginations.”

                Because that is true that it felt like a figment of imagination. I am of the crack generation (born in ’86). All the middle class folks were about gone out the hood in childhood.

              • grownandsexy2

                It was pretty common actually. I remember my neighborhood. Doctors, lawyers, most of my teachers lived in the neighborhood.

            • Blueberry01

              #MoCoIfYouAintKnowSo

          • grownandsexy2

            A woman I worked with said these same words. That it was make believe

          • Kas

            I can honestly say growing up, I knew no family like that.

            • I knew more families like the Winslow’s, Evans, and the Connor’s from Roseanne.

              • Kas

                Yup

              • Tambra

                Isn’t that most families are like, no matter how hard some pretend?

          • I got into a few arguments in college when I said the Cosby wasn’t “real” to me and people I know. Great show but they were pushing a narrative.

            • It was interesting because I knew people like the Huxtables growing up AND I knew a lot of people in the projects. I was exposed to a wide range of classes from a very young age.

            • Blueberry01

              Wu, could it have been that you hadn’t been exposed to people like the Cosbys growing up?

          • cheddachasa

            Just goes to show that what isn’t real to you can be very real to others. I grew up lower middle class but I went to school with the kids like the Huxtables.

          • grownandsexy2

            We don’t. Some of us are limited to the neighborhoods/blocks, we live on and in and think all our experiences are the same. You gotta be low key about certain things tho. My daughter went to a blackety black private school where some of the kids were dropped off in Rolls Royce’s, Benz’s and BMWs. Some were chauffeured by their drivers, so you never know. We don’t all have the same experience.

            • Sigma_Since 93

              I agree. However there’s a difference between what’s real in your hood vs real period. The Cosby’s weren’t real in my hood but I knew the deacon in my church that was a high ranking state official was living that life.

          • Nik White

            I igrew up “pink collar” (lower middle class) but interacted with folks like the Cosby’s when I went to high school. I didn’t know that was my/our socioeconomic class until I went to college (mama working overtime, shopping off season and Driving to vacations blurred the lines for me). I thought that we were solidly middle class until then.

            • Kas

              By the time I went off to college, my family was solid middle class. College was still an eye opening experience when it came to income/wealth levels.

        • Kas

          80’s, he ain’t that dayum old

          • L8Comer

            My bad lol. I always picture him with that fro, so I just assumed. My dad had a baby fro in the 80s too haha

      • grownandsexy2

        I wish some black folks knew this. They seem to think that all our experiences are one and the same.

        • Other_guy13

          No better than Trump yet out here getting mad when he say things they believe themselves…smh

      • Blueberry01

        Exactly!…according to Trump we ALL live on the same block in Chicago…?

    • Sigma_Since 93

      It’s true. This reminds me of the Matt Barnes interview with the Bleecher Report where he says I know I’m part Italian but I identify with Black because that’s what Dwights yelled at me when they called me a ninja or continued to question what I was mixed with.

      On the surface, folks should view Honolulu Slim no different than a military brat with a global upbringing. We never question brothas that grew up in Germany and then moved back to the US blackness.

      • mr. steal your costco samples

        I think that’s right. Military brat is the closest and best analogy

      • QueenRaven23

        I’m a military brat, but did not have the opportunity to live overseas. Mom had a specific reason why, but I did grow up on different military bases. I’ve been questioned because of my upbringing, and my current life. I just don’t get that we have definitions based on our own experiences…or lack thereof. (Just rambling)

        • Sigma_Since 93

          Did you notice that interactions with Blacks on base were different than interactions with Blacks off base?

          • QueenRaven23

            Sort of. My childhood was different, because my brother was also battling childhood Leukemia and we spent a lot of time traveling, in the hospital, etc. I wouldn’t say that I was sheltered because I came from a military life as a kid, but I didn’t experience certain things that others already experienced. I didn’t get things right away. Even after my mother got out of the military, we still moved around a lot and so I just noticed a lot, albeit late, depending on if I was living in Savannah or DMV or VA, etc. I guess it’s just certain things that binds military families together. Everyone was family, and race wasn’t really a topic except for when it came to bone marrow drives. :/ It took me forever and a day to understand why my friends wearing confederate shirts wasn’t okay.

            • Blueberry01

              Someone else that I know who grew up on the military echoed your same thoughts.

              • QueenRaven23

                The wake up calls about race coming late?

                • Blueberry01

                  Yeah, she was an Air Force Brat, lived all over, and happens to be tri-racial (Black, White, and Phillipino). But, since she has some melanin, was referred to as black when interacting with other civilians.

                  She never understood why Americans (outside of the military) were so hung up on race because that is not a main focus in the military.

    • QueenRaven23

      What’s the argument/reason behind this? Are black people and definition defined by certain things?

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Jesse and the old guard Democrats tried this too since he didn’t “come though” the way they did.

      • cheddachasa

        My friend’s reasoning behind this is that Obama’s father was African, his mother was white and he was raised in Hawaii so where did he get his cultural blackness?

        • Other_guy13

          He is a US citizen…he has an African Father…lived in Chicago…went to a black church which was hella black…went to an Ivy league school and had to thrive there and married one of the ONLY black women there…are you kidding me…he prob had it worse because his dad was African…we as African Americans historically are less likely to accept them for either jealousy or just thinking we better than them…I just don’t understand but okay.

          • MALynn

            I was about to say… This man lived in Chicago while being married to a blacker than black woman. His black experience is just fine. He might have been raised by a white mama and grandma, but he would’ve had a wake up call when he got to Harvard as a black man with a black name. He knows…

          • grownandsexy2

            I don’t get it either. Ask the tenants in the Altgeld Gardens Homes, a housing project on the south side of Chicago about his black card credentials. I met a man from Chicago at the CBC a few years back who said he knew the President was the real deal when he went waded in the waters of that often violent project because he said he was definitely playing to a rough crowd.

        • bear_in_nola

          He had to develop it on his own. I feel like that’s what I had to do as an African in the US. I’ll have all sorts of people “other” me which is exhausting and unnecessary.

        • TheOtherJerome

          His black american-ness? From being reared in Hawaii i suppose. There ARE black people there. I know a few. They seem pretty Black to me

          • grownandsexy2

            A former co-worker looks at Hawaii like it’s not part of the US, refers to it as “exotic.” It was difficult for her to believe BP do indeed reside there. But then, she didn’t get out much.

            • Blueberry01

              I used to think this way about Alaska….and Iowa.

        • L8Comer

          Living most of his life here

        • TheOtherJerome

          In fact, tell your friend to send us the approved list of what and who Blackness is and isn’t. Just so we can clear up any confusion.

          • grownandsexy2

            Some BW got dragged because she didn’t know what an access card or a track (think weaves) was. Woman wanted to fight her. She didn’t grow up poor and had hair down to her azz so maybe she didn’t know what a track was.

            • Blueberry01

              What’s an access card? EBT?

              • grownandsexy2

                The access card is a card the provides access to cash, SNAP (supplemental nutrition assistance program) and medical benefits through the delivery system which is referred to as EBT (Electronic Benefits Transfer)

                • Blueberry01

                  Oh okay. Thanks.

                  • grownandsexy2

                    My niece, who works for welfare, shared this story with me. She has a boatload of them. These were her co-workers.

        • Karine1976

          This is one thing that annoys me to no end. We chafe at the restrictions put on our identities yet at the same time, sideeye those who don’t fit strict définitions of blackness.

          • grownandsexy2

            Say it!

        • Nik White

          Working in the south side of Chicago would be my guess.

    • Buster Cannon

      I don’t think someone’s blackness should be defined by their experiences. It’s just one of those things that ends up separating black people even more.

      • Other_guy13

        Preach!!!!

      • Being black means growing up in the shadow of white supremacy; this looks different to all black peoples, though there are historical trends.

        https://hhharris.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-profit-motive/

      • Janelle S

        Sure, but at the same time, when you have #thanksgivingwithblackfamilies and #askrachel that trend on Twitter, it’s banking on a collection of shared experiences that would define blackness.

    • What is culturally black?

      I’m not being glib. But that statement is worthy of interrogation.

      https://hhharris.wordpress.com/2016/10/01/the-profit-motive/

      • Other_guy13

        QTNA

      • Yeah, I mean are we arbitrating Negroness now?

        • Kas

          VSB comment section has been known to argue some interesting things. I wouldn’t put it past us.

          • Yeah, I could see that happening but my whole thing with checking folk’s blackness is the same as my problem with the actions of hoteps and others – Our blackness boxes are just as f’d as the boxes that white folks try to place us in.

            I also have the personal rule that if you any one tries to check your blackness you can destroy them. So there’s that.

    • Damon Young

      I’ve heard this before as well. But it’s more harmful than helpful, because it implies a limitation or a constraint on what it means to be culturally Black

    • Mary Burrell

      That’s how I feel when I try to understand why he doesn’t discuss the race issue in this country.

    • Duff Soviet Union

      This is dumb. People complain about “ghetto” stereotypes but as soon as anyone is different, (s)he’s not “really black”. Look at his skin. He’s black. End of story.

  • kb

    The president has really had to straddle fence. It’s been very precarious position had he come out the way the author might have liked he might not have had a second term. I’m sure Dr. King, wanted to say a lot more things than he did, but that’s difference between being the president and writer, he isn’t as free as Damon is to express himself.

  • kingpinenut

    the President can’t be the black president he wants to be…. usa is still 50% vanilla

    • Vanity in Peril

      He could have been any and every thing he wanted. They hated him anyway.

      • kingpinenut

        You right about that Ms VIP

  • King Beauregard

    There is a zero f-giving phase to his presidency … ? Dude’s still in the game, doing the best he can with his remaining months. Best president I’ve ever seen or am likely to see, he doesn’t slack off just because he could get away with it.

  • LadyJay?

    He is a POLITICIAN what were you guys expecting?

    • Negro Libre

      Abi?

    • Freebird

      Hoped that change had actually come and he could speak up as a man. Not save the race mind you…..just speak up.

      • LadyJay?

        Lol. You funny.

        • Freebird

          I know right….expecting him to speak up….or at least save the wagging finger. What was I thinking!?!

          • LadyJay?

            Yap.

    • As disappointing as some of the things he says are he’s always been a centrist. We let Fox make us think he was an ultra liberal.

      • LadyJay?

        Politics is a game, a strategic one at that. They fight in public, behind closed doors they play golf together.

      • NonyaB

        When in reality, the entirety of US politics is to the right when compared in global context – Dems = centre-right, Reps = full right.

        • When you have tons of arable land to give to poor Whites, it’s hard to start the revolution. All Canada got from its Aboriginal people was a bunch of furs. Which one works to shut people up better? I’m not saying it’s right, but all that land stolen from our Natives was valuable as f*ck.

          • NonyaB

            Don’t know about a revolution but you need to read up on Canada. It’s a leading exporter in agricultural products, mineral resources, forestry, petroleum industries (3rd largest global oil reserves), etc.

  • Other_guy13

    I honestly can’t judge anything he says until after he is officially out of office…people tend to tell you their true feelings after retirement. I’m patiently waiting for President Obama to go Full Super Saiyan F it mode…but then again….he got two daughters and a wife to look after…the fact that he has to do the corporate two step until he know’s the are good…that’s the black experience for any college educated black man who is just tryna maintain and keep the fam from harm. Just my thoughts.

    • Adrienne_in_MTown

      Agreed. I’m among the college educated, employed in an office army and I do the literal and figurative two-step Monday – Friday. Can’t blame this man for doing his job.

      • Other_guy13

        Staying employed is a real thing

    • L8Comer

      Don’t hold your breath OG!! We will see, but I’m not expecting anything.

      • Other_guy13

        I’m waiting til he hits 60…something about age 60 when folks loose every Chuck in the world…it’s a beautiful thing I tell ya

        • L8Comer

          In my experience, men hit that mark a little later.. like 68ish haha. I swear I read an NPR article about it a few years back.

          • Other_guy13

            I agree….Hank Aaron is a prime example…dude did’t reach the mark until a few years ago…all he want through and he JUST reached it…y’all betta chill on OB and let this thang marinate…it’s gone be good when he serve it up…trust me.

            • L8Comer

              No one will care when he’s 68 tho lol. Except u. I kid, I kid, lol. But seriously it would have had more of an impact if he says and does some things before he leaves office

              • Other_guy13

                At least Lebron trying

                • L8Comer

                  Lolol

              • L8Comer

                Everyone’s focusing on the election anyway, so this may be a good time if it’s not too late. But I don’t think it’s in him

    • fedup

      Don’t believe the hype.

      He and his family are good regardless of how he chooses to act at this point. As the article points out, he will be loved and admired by the masses of Black people from in perpetuity, and that ALONE will keep his family secure (in speaking fees from HBCU’s, fraternity/sorority annual meetings, State of Black America conventions, never ending cover-pages and feature articles, endorsements, etc). So, the notion that he has to keep “towin the line” until he is out of office is false.

      We need to accept that person we extol as “Our President” probably didn’t grow up with the experiences that define the traditional Black experience in this country, so he has no foundation from (except as an onlooker) from which to draw the level of anger and appropriate response that he should be displaying, especially at this point in his journey.

      • Kas

        I think you are overlooking an important part of this. Just because his days in office are almost over, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t care what happens down ticket on election day.

        • fedup

          So, when exactly is the RIGHT time to be pro-Black? When is the right time to tell the truth about things? He’s been in office for 8 years, and has been sittin on the fence almost the the entire time, in terms of how he chooses to address the systemic racism, pervasive bigotry displayed by news media, rhetoric of the alt right, etc. The one thing he has had no problem doing, though, is finger waggin at Black folk.

          In the case of standing up for Black people, and standing against all the forms of racism that present in this country, I feel there is never a wrong time to be on the right side of history.

          • Kas

            Shrug, he’s a politician first

      • Other_guy13

        I say at least wait until after the election…when he truly has nothing on the line in terms of party responsibility.

    • wypipo

      Barack will not have to do the corporate two step… because Hillary is going to put him in that vacant Supreme Court seat. And then Mitch McConnell can suck it.

      • Other_guy13

        Wishful thinking lol

        • Kas

          Very

      • Cheech

        I would love it. But he is not about that cloistered life.

More Like This