Posts tagged obama

obama era post-racism

conclusions being drawn from the latest NY Times/CBS poll about americans’ perspectives on race relations in the U.S. show that since obama was elected, there has been a significant increase in people – of all races – feeling like race relations are better now.



now, i remember november 4th, 2008 – i was at home, without a tv – when around 8pm (pst) there was a sudden roar outside on the street.  crowds who were watching the election results at the parkway speakeasy theatre (RIP) right behind my apartment, had poured out onto the streets, hooting and hollering, dancing and playing instruments, all celebrating obama’s victory.  awhile later, jess and i walked outside to see what all was happening, and as we walked around our neighborhood, there was a marked difference: everyone – no matter who – was smiling and making eye contact and talking to everyone else – no matter who.  it was a nice change.  but it was a moment – a very specific moment in history.

are people still drunk on the obama kool-aid?  thinking that all is well between the races now that a black (mixed) man is in the white house?  overwhelmingly, i think it is so true that americans (people?) trust a “general feeling” so much more than actual facts.  we rarely reconcile the two, even when the facts are right in front of our faces.  and with most facts being very intentionally buried under the corporate media machine, it’s even harder to reconcile feeling from fact.

*PAUSE:  i am in no way trying to invalidate or deem irrational, knowledge based on intuition and emotion, or holding science-based “rational” decisions over the emotional, felt-sense.*

however, i do think that we are deliberately bombarded with so much propaganda and “manufactured consent”, that our “felt-sense” is highly manipulatable (did i make that word up?).  and the vast majority of those in power would love for the masses to have this feel-good view of race relations now, and declare racism over.

jon stewart hosted presidential historian doris kearns-goodwin on the daily show last week to talk about obama’s first 100 days, and she talked about how a sign of “good” leadership (i would say “powerful”) is when people have this feel-good feeling, like things are going in a good direction.  it certainly appears to me that obama has achieved this – most americans have that feeling – about politics, and about race relations.  people are patting themselves on the back for a job well-done, getting obama elected, and getting over a massive racist hurdle.

so what do i think is so wrong with this? if most people – of all races – are feeling better about relations between races – isn’t that a good thing?

as much as i acknowledge that you have to believe in something to help (not make) it come true, i do not believe that people just thinking racism is dead is going to “manifest” the same.

i think the danger lies in the difference between reality and perception.  the fact that people think race relations have improved, actually brings us a step (or several) backwards in the struggle for racial equality and liberation.  it makes us even more blind to the hard truths about racial disparities, and less motivated to address these issues.

all in all, this “improved race relations” perception is another symptom of the disease that spreads across the left when democrats gain control of our government – complacency and armchair activism increase.  people have a “feeling” that things are decidedly “better” than when republicans are in control – and proceed to sit back and trust our government officials to do the right thing – instead of getting out and demanding (and creating) solutions.

one thing may be true – that there is more opportunity for improvement at this moment – in race relations, politics in general – but the danger lies in people believing it will come from those in office.  it has only ever, and will only ever – come from us.

Racewire ran a great article about the ny times poll:  “Doublespeak on ‘race relations'”


Comments (1) »

no, i’m not voting for obama

ok, i said it. i have to admit it’s taken me much longer to come out and say it this time around than in past elections. it’s not that i’ve lied, i just simply haven’t been nearly as outspoken about my refusal to vote democrat this election season as i was in 2000 or 2004. but it’s time. i mean, i have a freakin’ blog now, so i’ve got to come out with it: no, i am not voting for obama!

i’ve been wondering why i’ve felt so hesitant to speak up about it this time. i suppose because basically the entire left has obama fever. i have seen next to NOTHING critiquing obama from the left. this great article by joshua frank is one of the only things i’ve read on the topic of NOT supporting obama. admittedly, i’ve kind of had my head a bit in the sand for awhile now, and even (*sheepish*) escaping into tv land a bit watching back-to-back episodes of “lost” online until 3am some nights. so i’m sure it’s out there. i hope it is. (please share with me, if you find some!) but at any rate, i don’t think anyone will disagree that the “hope” in obama by far outshadows any dissidence.

in the 2004 election i definitely felt the wrath of kerry-supporters when i advocated for nader. some of my relationships even suffered because of our disagreements on the subject. some people i love invested a lot (time, faith, money) in trying to elect kerry, and were definitely disappointed even to the point of depression when he lost. and my outspoken analysis that “it didn’t matter” didn’t really make any of the kerry-supporters in my life feel so hot, i’m sure. this election feels even more closed off to any challenge to the democrats. i suppose the longer the white house is occupied by the republicans pulling their nasty stunts, the more antsy the left gets, and the deeper they fall down the “anybody but bush” hole. the problem is that the “anybody but a republican” argument really boils down to “nobody but a democrat”. they’re not willing to vote for a third party candidate – they don’t want “anybody but a republican”, they want ONLY a democrat.

and of course this election is “historic”: with hillary’s race to be the first woman to be a major presidential candidate, obama as the first person of color, and now mccain’s oh-so-transparent VP pick of sarah palin – it’s like i’m extra nasty for not voting for the first man of color to win the white house! but no matter who the democratic candidate is – even if they’re the first black lesbian immigrant – i will not vote for him/her!

so let’s get down to it: why won’t i vote for obama or any democrat?
i’m not exactly a revolution-or-nothing person: i do believe in some reforms, incremental changes that can help people survive along the way. but i believe that real change comes from the ground up, by the masses taking power into their own hands. i believe in people creating their own solutions and living out their expectations while at the same time
demanding change from the oppressors.  i believe that capitalism and white supremacy and patriarchy and the domination of the earth and all its inhabitants (animals, plants, and humans) are the root problems in our society, and no democrat in the oval office is going to make a change the size of my pinky nail in terms of reversing any of those problems.

and it’s precisely the epic-ness of obama’s candidacy – being the first man of color, and coming from a supposedly “progressive” platform – that makes me worry even more than the kerry campaign. there are people out there who will insist that electing the first black president is the sure sign that racism is dead in this country. imagine that! poof! racism gone after all these centuries, just because a man of color got hold of the white house. the level of faith people put in democratic candidates astonishes me. no one is demanding anything from obama. the only thing voters on the left are requiring of him is to simply not be bush or mccain. well, he’s already accomplished that: there, he has satisfied all his obligations to the voters, even before day one! he will not have a mandate to do anything we want him to do if he gets into office. and the influence voters’ hard-earned campaign contributions will have on his decisionmaking pales in comparison to the stranglehold that the corporations’ money has him in. who is he going to listen to? who do they ALWAYS listen to?

the complacency that results from people’s investment in democratic candidates makes me worry for our ability to ever create changes for ourselves. why, as a movement, do we spend so much time and resources on trying to elect democrats who don’t do a damn thing for us? i am simply exhausted from wondering why so many “otherwise-enlightened” activists doing great work abandon everything and waste all their resources on elections. part of it is because the money many of us depend on to do our work, in large majority, comes from foundations and major donors – and in election season, they only fund electoral work! everywhere you turn people are spending their time and money on a system we know will fail us.

one of my old coworkers used to always remind us every time we hit our heads on the same wall, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. has the left gone insane?

if you haven’t seen it, you should watch “an unreasonable man” about ralph nader.

also, this animated short about obama being the “democratic messiah” is pretty damn funny.

Comments (5) »