10
   

Fear of a Black President

 
 
snood
 
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 05:45 am
White people of A2K: Please read and respond as honestly as you can to this blog by a writer named Seth Grahame-SmithÂ…

UPDATE: It seems like a lot of you are reading this and concluding that I'm either an idiot or a racist. I'll cop to being an idiot -- HuffPo probably isn't the best forum for unflattering self-analysis, especially where race is involved. But let me point out two things: one, I believe Senator Obama will be our next president.
I've donated to his campaign and phone banked on his behalf, and I believe he's a brilliant, once-in-a-lifetime leader -- not because of the color of his skin, but because of the content of his character, and the quality of his mind. I agree with djarvis: "we are electing a person, not a symbol."
Two, what I was trying to do was identify that fear of the unknown (which I believe is the root of all prejudice) and shame it. I failed to make either point. So idiot? Sure. Note to self: less soul-searching, more McCain bashing. Anyway, here's the piece, warts and all. -- SGS

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I like being white.
Generally speaking, it's the easiest color in America to be.
It's so easy being white that when someone discriminates against me because I'm white, it's called "reverse" racism. My racism has its own special name -- that's how cool it is to be white. I can walk into any store without being followed; hail the cab of my choice; and there's not a country club that wouldn't welcome me, so long as I was clad in the requisite slacks and collared shirt.

I'm a liberal, college-educated white guy. I think gays should be allowed to marry, I think women deserve equal pay for equal work, and I firmly believe that the more ethnically diverse America becomes, the more perfect and lasting our Union will be.
But there's something about the idea of a black president that scares the **** out of me.

Until now, the notion of a black chief executive has belonged exclusively to Hollywood. I remember seeing Morgan Freeman in Deep Impact, and thinking what a cool, novel choice it was to cast a black man as the president of the United States. Cool, because it hit my progressive sweet spot. "Yes! That's the way the world should work!" Novel, because the idea seemed impossible. And that was scarcely ten years ago.

But the idea is very real now. A black man may well become the leader of the free world. And even for someone who fancies himself a progressive, that's forced me to take a long, hard look at what that would really mean to my white mind. To identify that tiny, obscure part of me that's suddenly afraid, and find out what its problem is.

Here's what I found.
It's been easy believing in equality, because part of me -- the part that's suddenly afraid -- didn't really think we'd ever achieve it.

For as long as I can remember, I've felt secure as a white person. Secure in the unspoken belief that no matter how much social progress we made in America -- no matter how many blacks and Latinos graduated Magna Cum Laude or how many trophies Tiger won -- that we'd always be the ruling class from sea to shining sea.

That belief was so ingrained in my DNA that nothing could shake it loose. Not the first billionaires of color, not the surging growth of the Latino population, not the Congressional Black Caucus...not even Oprah.
For though my better angels usually won the day, and though I was happy with the strides America was making, I was also -- deep down in that DNA -- gratified by the knowledge that mine was still the easiest color in America to be.

But a black president? That's different.
A black president means anything is possible. It means that that last little parcel of earth -- which for 232 years has been solely inhabited by white men -- is now open to people of all colors. That may seem insignificant. After all, there are black CEOs, black movie stars, black Senators...but the "highest office in the land" is just that.

The problem is, I think there are untold numbers of whites who can't bring themselves to pull the lever for Obama because of that fear -- the fear that a black president somehow takes us white folks down a notch.
I have friends and family members who support Obama as I do, but who are "certain" he won't win in November for this very reason. They just don't think white America is ready to pull that lever. Ready to put their vote where their mouth is.

Some of these hypothetical people are simply racists. People who've let that fear consume them, and who would never vote for a black candidate no matter what. Others are like me -- whites who embrace equality, and who've loved people of all colors with all their hearts, but who (somewhere deep down in that DNA) are afraid of what this brave new world will look like. Of what their place in it will -- or won't -- be.

As for me? I don't think we've arrived in a "post-racial" America just yet, but I have faith that more of us white folks are ready to give it a try than ever before.
I guess we'll see how big those better angels have grown.
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 06:06 am
Hmm.

I think the central premise is that he, as a white man with no particular demographic barriers, felt part of the "ruling class."

I've really never felt that way. Maybe it's the female part, maybe it's the Deaf part, maybe it's how I grew up. But when I read that I didn't identify, I just went "huh?"

Maybe he's right that many others like him feel the same way. I've never doubted throughout these conversations that racism exists. It's just a matter of HOW bad it is, whether it means that Obama can't win. I choose to be encouraged by the fact that this guy, who has these weird ideas about being taken down a notch by a black president (what?), is still voting for Obama.
woiyo
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 06:13 am
I am not black nor white, so to me this is more racist jive.
aidan
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 06:19 am
Maybe it's the female part- because I've never had those thoughts either- that his winning would somehow negatively impact my standing- but my standing as a white person has never been important to me consciously - although I do agree with him that it sure does make things easier.

I do worry about the same thing he does in the sense that it almost seems to be too good to be true to let myself believe that America has reached the point where we would elect a black man for President. I want to believe it - I just have trouble allowing myself to believe that wholeheartedly. I keep telling myself to be hopefully optimistic but not overly confident because it will suck so bad to be disappointed.

I also do worry about his safety - but I'm doing my best to stay optimistic. I think it would be such a wonderful thing for our country if it were to happen. And it would make me feel so encouraged about the people in the US.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 06:19 am
i don't see colour when i see politicians, i see douchebags, and i tend to vote for the least douchiest of the bags

that being said, i'm not an american so i can't influence this race one way or the other, personally i'd vote obama if i could for the above stated reason
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 06:46 am
hey snood.

white folk are afraid that if a black man is the president then other blacks will gain an attitude towards them.

its that simple. white american people are culturally engrained to be "bosses" towards people of color and it would be disconcerting to deal with those who they feel are their inferior acting as equals.

what is funny is that as a half-white, with a harvard education many blacks are prejudiced against the guy as being "black-bougie," AKA acting white.

obama channeling bill cosby last week for decrying those young ghetto bucks for not supporting their offspring is prima fascia evidence of how wrong most whites (and blacks) are about the man.

btw; last week obama said that he would support NAFTA and the House FISA legislation, and what liberal would support those things?

just wait until you see a you tube video cutting and pasting the scene from "the birth of a nation" where you see black legislators during reconstruction acting all wild in the capitals of the southern states and showing the scene as a post-bama nation. that scene is what the Right will attempt to engrain in the minds of white people.
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 06:54 am
I don't know about anyone else's experience kuvasz, but the blacks I talk to about Obama's candidacy don't see him as bougeois at all. The impression I get is that he is seen as a strong, family-oriented black man, and quite frankly a breath of fresh air.
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  2  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:08 am
as a half black ( mix in some white and cherokee here too folks) woman I know all too well what it is like for people to turn against you for " acting too white" and not being black enough.

People see skin color and automatically expect something along the lines of ghetto talk, embarrassing behavior and less then personalities.

Obama is going against that grain and people dont like it.
I bet if he wore an outfit with a big nike symbol on it people would not be so quick to criticize.. but guess what america.. not all black people are 'ghetto' and not all black people behave like the ones you see in the movies, or on the local news.

Having said that, I am incredibly tired of the racist references and slandering that is happening with only skin color as fuel.

The same people who tout about wanting racism gone are the ones who fuel these kinds of fires. The same people who stand by Obama and say " racism is wrong and shouldn't be part of his campaign ' are the exact ones who will point the finger and yell at ' mr whitie'

Racism needs to stop and it will only stop if we stop. It is that never ending childish name calling circle that happens on a kindergarden play ground. The back and forth endless banter about NOTHING that never ends until a teacher separates the two who are in the middle of the battle.
Even then, they break their necks to keep sticking out their tongues and showing the finger in order to get the last word.

Someones race does NOT equal intelligence, stature, common sense or ability. Americans need to get over this and stop throwing paper in this fire and then complaining that it is too hot to handle and wondering why it wont go out.

yes he is a black man and yes he is going to be in a position that no other black man has been in before.


Whoppee-........fuking.......-do.


That should be a one second shock and thats it. Above being black, he is human ... just like everyone else. But everyone else just wants to look at his skin color as if it is some kind of expensive tattoo.

If John Kerry had been similar in personality and intelligence level that Obama is , he would have gotten my vote and lots of others. Hell if McCain was comparable or better he would get my vote...and many others.. . What color someone is does not matter and it is a silly basis for judging whether or not someone is capable of doing a job.

but Im going to get out of this thread .............

Not all white people hate blacks and not all white people see race.

Not all black people will hate whites because of his victory and not all black people are going to 'riot' against 'whites' because of this victory.

people need to -Stop projecting and stop being part of the problem-.
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:09 am
snood wrote:
I don't know about anyone else's experience kuvasz, but the blacks I talk to about Obama's candidacy don't see him as bougeois at all. The impression I get is that he is seen as a strong, family-oriented black man, and quite frankly a breath of fresh air.


exactly.
Nothing more....nothing less.
0 Replies
 
LionTamerX
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:19 am
I don't give a damn what color he is. Or what religion he is . I'm voting for him because of his heart and mind. This is the first time in my life where I'm actually inspired by a presidential candidate.


Damn...
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:21 am
Obama doesn't seem to mind keeping the black issue at the forefront though... a little polarizing I'd say....


http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/
0 Replies
 
kuvasz
 
  2  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:21 am
snood wrote:
I don't know about anyone else's experience kuvasz, but the blacks I talk to about Obama's candidacy don't see him as bougeois at all. The impression I get is that he is seen as a strong, family-oriented black man, and quite frankly a breath of fresh air.


you're educated, aren't you big guy, and circulate within that realm? try talking to the working class and poor black men and women with whom i come in contact. they don't call obama a Tom, but they suspect that if push comes to shove obama will side with the current economic powers as opposed to them, and not simply because he is a half-white-black man but because he is a part of the economic elite.
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:24 am
Quote:
yes he is a black man and yes he is going to be in a position that no other black man has been in before.


Whoppee-........fuking.......-do.



...dunno - just seemed quotable...

captures your essence...
0 Replies
 
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:26 am
Well, I am mostly "white." Except for a smattering of Choctaw, Cherokee and Tejas. But, I have enough of a non white look, or did when I was younger, that I was sometimes mistaken for Mexican and Puerto Rican. In New York, people on the sidewalk would call me "Tony," other times, "Louigi." A few insinuated I was Jewish. Rather than feel insulted, I took it all in good humor. As a child of deep poverty, and often considered lesser of a white than others, I found it easy to sympathize with people of color. My family is Dutch, English, with a tad of Irish, and the native American Indian I mentioned.

I faced the prospect of electing a black president some years back, when I voted for Jesse Jackson. It was not the novelty of color which drew me to him, nor the fact I went with him in 1968, to DC, but solidarity of issues. I have never regretted my vote. I started out supporting Clinton, this year, but now support Obama. Why? Because my primary objective is to get the worst set of people ever to disgrace the nation out of Washington. I have no illusions that Obama will be a savior, but he is the only viable option. I have virtually no faith in either major party, and expect to revert to voting for Green and other alternative candidates in 2012.
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:27 am
Cool

yes snood.......... it does..

ha!
0 Replies
 
snood
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:27 am
kuvasz wrote:
snood wrote:
I don't know about anyone else's experience kuvasz, but the blacks I talk to about Obama's candidacy don't see him as bougeois at all. The impression I get is that he is seen as a strong, family-oriented black man, and quite frankly a breath of fresh air.


you're educated, aren't you big guy, and circulate within that realm? try talking to the working class and poor black men and women with whom i come in contact. they don't call obama a Tom, but they suspect that if push comes to shove obama will side with the current economic powers as opposed to them, and not simply because he is a half-white-black man but because he is a part of the economic elite.


I'm in the Army, and the blacks I see on a regular are not all what one would tend to refer to as educated... I talk to all kinds of folks - the housekeeping crew, and the black LTC (lieutenant colonel) who is temporarily serving as chief of his section - all kinds. My perception is that Obama is overall well thought of...
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  2  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:32 am
Re: Fear of a Black President
snood wrote:

But there's something about the idea of a black president that scares the **** out of me...

But the idea is very real now. A black man may well become the leader of the free world. And even for someone who fancies himself a progressive, that's forced me to take a long, hard look at what that would really mean to my white mind. To identify that tiny, obscure part of me that's suddenly afraid, and find out what its problem is.

Here's what I found.

It's been easy believing in equality, because part of me -- the part that's suddenly afraid -- didn't really think we'd ever achieve it.

For as long as I can remember, I've felt secure as a white person. Secure in the unspoken belief that no matter how much social progress we made in America -- no matter how many blacks and Latinos graduated Magna Cum Laude or how many trophies Tiger won -- that we'd always be the ruling class from sea to shining sea.

But a black president? That's different.
A black president means anything is possible. It means that that last little parcel of earth -- which for 232 years has been solely inhabited by white men -- is now open to people of all colors.

The problem is, I think there are untold numbers of whites who can't bring themselves to pull the lever for Obama because of that fear -- the fear that a black president somehow takes us white folks down a notch.


I think this guy has hit the nail on the head for many people. Some people don't want the status quo to change.

And I do believe white people, just by virtue of having been in the position for so long, do, deep down, have a feeling of superiority which they may have buried and no longer recognize. And I don't mean that in a negative sense... just that they were born in a society where they were the top dog and naturally they grew up and lived that way and passed that same sense on to future generations.

It was insightful of him to go that deep to figure it out and brave of him to admit it. I can understand what he's getting at, for sure.
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:35 am
Really?

I didnt agree with him.. but maybe I have blinders on ..and I am hoping that everyone is just sort of following what is expected and they dont REALLY feel this way.


Eh. Aint the first time I am ever wrong.. but you better mark it on your calender.


(I did say I was leaving didnt i.. )
0 Replies
 
Bi-Polar Bear
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:41 am
the annoying thing is that you can't just not like obama as a candidate. It automatically means your a racist and don't know it... or worse, do know it... or you're in denial about your true inner feelings... or you're actually a conservative.... or you're not a progressive thinker.... something is wrong with you if you don't like this guy as a candidate. And I'm not talking about myself, I'm talking about everyone who does not support him. I call bullshit.
0 Replies
 
Mame
 
  1  
Reply Sat 21 Jun, 2008 07:45 am
Shewolf, being white, I can theoretically understand, but can't really know what non-whites go through, but it's absolutely true that racism (and other forms of prejudice) is alive and well all around us. At the bottom of racism is fear. I believe most of the people on this planet are afraid of one thing or another, so yes, what he said resonates with me. I don't think we, as a people, have progressed very far along the human path. And this prejudice is not just about black and white; it's between all colours and the same colour.
0 Replies
 
 

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