Sunday, August 12, 2007
Everywhere you read, you see the same question, “Is Obama Black Enough?” I thought if I ignored the implied suggestion, that it would go away, but like a bad penny, it just keeps coming back. It seems to be some coded inquiry whose answer will determine if black voters will be able to flip the switch for him in 2008. Unfortunately, the answer also threatens to sink the necessary white support he needs.
In the old days all a Black person required to pass the test of blackness was 1) look black, 2) marry black, 3) aspire to individual and group advancement. But somewhere along the line, the wires were crossed. You can look Black, which Obama does. You can marry Black, which he has. But being a highly-educated, self-responsible, over-achieving leader frankly scares the hell out of a lot of Black folks.
The pathologies of inferiority and under achievement have become so ingrained in Black minds that members are immediately suspect in the event that they break, or aspire to break the pattern, even as a Democrat. The tools of compliance begin with how we look and speak, and end with where we are going, or would profess to lead others. This is Barack’s true political nemesis.
Obama wants black people to feel empowered, not by the guilt their words induce in the behaviors of whites, but rather by the development and exercise of skills and abilities that contribute to our entire betterment. Black vs. white achievement is not a zero-sum game, regardless to what racism has tried to teach us.
The question of Obama’s blackness allows too many people to hide the real questions about themselves which they are afraid to ask, or have answered. Once those questions are addressed, the only thing we will care about, in the voting booth, is if the candidate, man or woman, black or white, can lead us where we truly need to go.
James C. Collier
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