Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Watch your junk, Senator
Barack Obama, the anointed one, has at times decided to engage in a candid conversation with Black America. In doing so, he has decided to address Black issues in venues that arguably serve as the lifeline for America's Black community: The Black Church. Look beyond the Wrights and the Pflegers for a moment and remember that Obama is a man of strong religious convictions. Yet, above and beyond that, he is a man that understands the notion of community and the role that the church plays in bolstering or influencing the tenor of a community's development.
Entering this conversation with a full comprehension of the historical and social underpinnings of the Black church, Senator Obama took liberty to levy what some have deemed to be "harsh" criticisms of Black culture and Black behavior. Staying true to his internal streak of "audacity," the Senator was daring enough to air some of Black America's dirty laundry. He spoke of an overabundance of fatherless Black homes, he spoke of shortcomings in Black parenting and he alluded to the frequent shirking of responsibility in the Black community.
In return for his direct and undeniably accurate observations, Senator Obama finds himself painted as a culprit for behaving like an "elitist" and "talking down to the Black community." And to add even more icing to this cake, Jesse Jackson allowed himself to get caught by a hot microphone while suggesting that he was like to cut off the Senator's nuts. Yes, Mr. Jackson, a self-proclaimed staunch supporter of Mr. Obama's campaign and the dream the he represents for Black America. A man viewed by many as a "leader" in the Black community.
Earlier in the campaign season, media outlets flooded the airwaves with segments questioning the Senator's authenticity as a Black man. Yet, Black voting behavior has shown a clear commitment to the Senator's presidential bid. With his authenticity validated, Mr. Obama became clearly entitled to speak on the state of Black America. This is all considering the alternative of having a White American levy similar criticisms and subsequently being overwhelmed with a public outcry labeling him/her as a downright racist.
I want to be careful not to head down a slippery slope that suggests that Mr. Jackson serves as a mouthpiece for Black Americans. Yet, if one of our so-called leaders harbors such resentments and vocalizes them so articulately, it is not without merit for media outlets and casual conversationalists to brew over the matter.
In 1903, W.E.B Du Bois introduced his concept of the Talented Tenth. In a nutshell, he painted the Talented Tenth as the best and the brightest of the Black community that would be called upon to excel and forge a path for the rest of Black America. This notion was one based on the premise of this subsection of the Black population serving as saviors for those African Americans weakly wading in the wake of their triumphs. Although the direct expectation of this model to prove true in Black society has fallen from favor in some respects, it is still drawn upon by Black thought leaders to varying extents. If Black America continues to look at Mr. Obama as a beacon of hope, it must be prepared for him to say that he is not there to serve as a savior. Instead, through his leadership individuals can be placed in a position to save themselves. Mr. Obama can pinpoint the road to one of many renditions of "salvation." Yet, Mr. Obama can not force Black America down that road.
Cosby came under intense fire for criticizing Black culture a few years back.
Those critical of Mr. Obama's words are likely those same persons that cringed when they heard Bill Cosby's take on impediments preventing the transformation for Black people in America. Very much in the vein of what Mr. Cosby said I, for one, believe that it is time for Black Americans to stop being painted as victims. Instead, they must repaint themselves as victors. So instead of critiquing Mr. Obama and his TALKING DOWN to Black America, Black Americans should do their best to LISTEN UP and truly take the Senator's words to heart.
I beg of your Mr. Jackson, steer clear of Mr. Obama's nuts. It takes a great degree of testicular fortitude to compete to be President of the United States of America.
And by the way, did I mention your past indiscrepancies?