Barack Obama’s Fantasy Island

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“The delusion of power also appears to provide an escape for middle-class Negroes from the world of reality which pierces through the world of make-believe of the black bourgeoisie. The positions of power which they occupy in the Negro world often enable them to act autocratically towards other Negroes, especially when they have the support of the white community. In such cases the delusion of power may provide an escape from their frustrations. It is generally, however, when middle-class Negroes hold positions enabling them to participate in the white community that they seek in the delusion of power an escape from their frustrations.

Although their position may be only a “token” of the integration of the Negro into American life, they will speak and act as if they were part of the power structure of American society. Negro advisors who are called into counsel by whites to give advice about Negroes are especially likely to find an escape from their feelings of inferiority in the delusion of power.”

-E. Franklin Frazier, Black Bourgeoisie

I am Skeptical Brotha, your blog host. Welcome to Barack Obama’s Fantasy Island.

The passing of actor Ricardo Montalban last month has reminded me of the power of fantasy and delusion. Portraying the fictional Mr. Roark, the owner of a mystical Fantasy Island where people paid munificent sums to live out their fantasies, Montalban became an icon of the seventies and eighties and for me, the personification of an era fixated on the make-believe of Ronald Reagan’s right-wing conservatism. Tall, elegant and regal, Ricardo Montalban possessed a rich baritone and perfect diction. In the late seventies, the Mexican-born actor was the “happy darkie” white America needed to facilitate their fantasies. Today, we have a tall, elegant and regal African American President with a rich baritone and perfect diction to fulfill that function.

The historic election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States has fueled some troubling delusions about the nature of power in this country and the role of African people in running it. It ain’t what some of y’all think it is.

 

Montalban said of the iconic series Fantasy Island:

 

What is appealing is the idea of attaining the unattainable and learning from it. Once you obtain a fantasy it becomes a reality, and that reality is not as exciting as your fantasy. Through the fantasies you learn to appreciate your own realities.

 

Blackfolks have been stumblin’ around for the last two months as if we landed on Mr. Roark’s Fantasy Island. Metaphorically speaking, we’ve attained the seemingly unattainable fantasy of electing a Black President. Now, we’re about to enter the stage where the reality of Obama’s election won’t be as exciting as our collective fantasies. It is up to us to use this surreal event to appreciate the racist, imperialist reality of the world we still live in.

 

Let me be clear. We ain’t running nothing up in here. We ain’t now and won’t be after the inauguration. Don’t get caught up in the delusion of power that Frazier wrote about or get any wild ideas about the real status of the Negro in American society. The white corporate power structure ain’t relinquished control of a damn thing, shug.

 

The View co-host, Sherri Shepherd, moved me to tears after the election when she retold how she would be able to tell her son that because of Barack Obama, there were no longer any limitations on the aspirations of black men in this country. We could do and be anything we wanted. Sherri tapped into the powerful flood of emotions that flowed as I wept with millions of people watching Barack Obama solemnly claim the Presidency.

 

What Sherri said was raw—her pain jumped out of the screen. What she said felt real, but after the emotions subsided and I allowed myself the space to critically think and evaluate what I’d seen and heard over the course of the campaign, I knew immediately that it wasn’t true no matter how I longed for it to be.  We can be many things, more than ever before, but I am still waiting on whether a Negro can be a progressive president.

 

 

Sherri’s claim is synonymous with the historic battle of African people in this country to be freed from the stigma of slavery and subjugation. It is what we’ve always demanded and what we’ve historically been denied. Barack Obama’s “victory” changed nothing in that respect. The battle for equality and economic justice continues.

 

The Price of Admission

 

Barack Obama writes in Dreams of My Father about the advice given by a black mentor and father figure:

 

“You’re just like the rest of these young cats out here. All you know is that college is the next thing you’re supposed to do. And the people who are old enough to know better, who fought all those years for your right to go to college—they’re just so happy to see you in there that they won’t tell you the truth. The real price of admission.”

“And what’s that?”

“Leaving your race at the door,” he said. “Leaving your people behind.” “…Understand something, boy. You’re not going to college to get educated. You’re going to get trained.

They’ll train you to want what you don’t need. They’ll train you to manipulate words so they don’t mean anything anymore. They’ll train you to forget what it is that you already know. They’ll train you so good, you’ll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that sh*t. They’ll give you a corner office and invite you to fancy dinners, and tell you you’re a credit to your race. Until you want to actually start running things, and they’ll yank on your chain and let you know that you may be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you’re a nigger just the same.”

 

Barack Obama understood from the beginning what the price of admission was for the U.S. Senate and the Presidency. He paid in full. What was the price? It was the unconditional acceptance of ruling class demands and an uncritical embrace of neoliberalism and globalization. The price of this bourgeoisie fantasy, if we knew what it really was, would be a price that most blackfolks would be unwilling to pay.

Barack Obama cannot embody the aspirations of the African Diaspora because he is the president of the United States. As such, he is a tool of the corporate power structure that controls our country and the top spokesman for the ruthless neo-colonialism that oppresses the majority of African people through despotic institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization.

 

It’s time to grow up and wake up, black people. Deep down, we all know damn good and well what the deal is. It is time to snap out of the fantasy.

 

Africa Action, the oldest black-run lobby in D.C. that’s half-way decent in fighting for the rights of the entire African Diaspora succinctly summarizes the real obstacles to black self-determination:

 

Africa‘s massive external debt burden is the single biggest obstacle to the continent’s development and to the fight against HIV/AIDS. The over $200 billion that African countries owe to foreign creditors represents a crippling load that undermines economic and social progress. The All-Africa Conference of Churches has called this debt “a new form of slavery, as vicious as the slave trade”.

The albatross of illegitimate debt diverts money directly from spending on health care, education and other important needs. While most people in Africa live on less than $2 per day, African countries are forced to spend almost $14 billion each year servicing old, illegitimate debts to rich country governments and their institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Over the past two decades, African countries have paid out more in debt service to foreign creditors than they have received in development assistance or in new loans.

Much of Africa‘s foreign debt is illegitimate in nature, having been incurred by unrepresentative and despotic regimes, mainly during the era of Cold War patronage. Loans were made to corrupt leaders who used the money for their own personal gain, often with the full knowledge and support of lenders. These loans did not benefit Africa‘s people. More generally, many Africans question the notion of an African “debt” to the U.S. and European countries after centuries of exploitation. They ask, “Who really owes whom?”

Yet, despite the social and economic costs of this massive outflow of resources from the world’s poorest region, the wealthy creditors of Africa‘s debts continue to insist these debts be repaid. The U.S. is the single largest shareholder in the World Bank and IMF, the institutions to which most of Africa‘s debts are owed. As such, it holds major influence over the international response to Africa‘s debt crisis.

Barack Obama campaigned on doing nothing meaningful to alleviating Africa’s crushing debt. His official position commits him to the IMF/WORLD BANK shell game of exclusionary rules and mealy-mouthed guarantees that continue to bleed the continent dry, leaving it impoverished, and beset with skyrocketing infant mortality rates, declining life expectancy and writhing under the weight of pandemic levels of AIDS, TB, and Malaria.

 

Moreover, because of African indebtedness, the IMF/World Bank imposes onerous structural adjustment programs on indebted countries that:

 

“…Are designed to reduce consumption in developing countries and to redirect resources to manufacturing exports for the repayment of debt. This has caused overproduction of primary products and a precipitous fall in their prices. It has also led to the devastation of traditional agriculture and to the emergence of hordes of landless farmers in virtually every country in which the World Bank and IMF operate.

Food security has declined dramatically in all Third World regions, but in Africa in particular. Growing dependence on food imports, which is the lot of sub-Saharan Africa, places these countries in an extremely vulnerable position. They simply do not have the foreign exchange to import enough food, given the fall in export prices and the need to repay debt.

Basic conditionalities of the IMF-World Bank include drastic cuts in social expenditures, especially in health and education. According to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, expenditures on health in IMF-World Bank programmed countries declined by 50 percent during the 1980s, and spending on education declined by 25 percent. Similar trends are evident in all other Southern regions.

IMF-World Bank programs come with other requirements. Governments are generally forced to remove subsidies to the poor on basic foodstuffs and services such as rice and maize, water and electricity. Tax systems are made more repressive, and real wage rates are allowed to fall sharply.

..But the greatest failure of these programs is to be seen in their impact on the people. Using figures provided by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, it has been estimated that at least six million children under five years of age have died each year since 1982 in Africa, Asia and Latin America because of the anti-people, even genocidal, focus of IMF World Bank SAPs.

 

The fanatical insistence on a “post-racial” reality is fuc*ing ludicrous. It represents a willful ignorance that cannot be defended when any cursory examination of empirical data on globalization and income inequality is undertaken. The election of Barack Obama changes nothing for the black victims of globalization and neoliberalism. Moreover, it is a disingenuous act of token integration by the power structure. The browning of America inevitably means that some coloredfolks need to front for the power structure to camouflage the predatory nature of American imperialism and give the illusion of inclusion.

 

You could see the change his assumption of power wrought after he solemnly addressed the nation on Election night. His establishment cabinet, the continued no strings attached Wall Street Bailout and his unconscionable, silent complicity in the face of Israeli aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza. The first Negro has completely nailed his part as America’s stern father figure dispensing status quo medicine. No matter what he does and no matter how many times he betrays the African Diaspora, blackfolks will make excuses for his departures from progressive principle and will highlight the admirable aspects of his character as a devoted husband and father that a desperate black community seems to need to repair the brokenness endured in a country weaned on white supremacy and the deliberate destruction of the black family.

 

Mary Mitchell, a black columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times, is a prime example. In her first appearance on the establishment’s top televised salon, Meet the Press, she said:

You have someone who did what he was supposed to do.  He got a good education, he married his sweetheart, he’s a father for his children.  That’s the kind of image the African-American community needs right now.

 

I hate to think that we’re so desperate for the validation of whitefolks and for appropriate black role models that we’d accept anything an establishment Negro President does at the behest of his corporate puppet masters.

 

DON’T HATE THE PLAYA; HATE THE GAME

 

It is difficult to muster the energy to demonize or dislike Barack Obama after being inundated by endless streams of positive, empty propaganda spoon fed by a compliant corporate press. However, as blackfolks, we need to stand ready to rebuke the President we claim to love so much when he inevitably falls off the wagon of progressive principle. Our shared African heritage and the uniqueness of this moment in time do not constitute valid reasons to give Obama a pass. Despite the laughable and despicable efforts of the right-wing to portray our President as a “terrorist” and “secret Muslim,” Barack Obama is an establishment politician that sold out a long time ago and that makes him a “safe Negro” in the minds of the imperial power structure.

 

What I am saying is not meant to turn you against the President, dislike him in any way or fail to honor and celebrate this remarkable achievement. Hate is so counterproductive. What I’m saying today is meant to get you to think critically, evaluate what his Administration does objectively, and demand that Barack actually becomes the progressive president he fooled you into believing he would be. In short, don’t hate the playa; hate the game.

 

From the Urban Dictionary:

 

Do not fault the successful participant in a flawed system; try instead to discern and rebuke that aspect of its organization, which allows or encourages the behavior that has provoked your displeasure.

One day in the distant future, the first African American President will pass away after living a long life, just as Ricardo Montalban did, and hopefully, the President be remembered for the progressive, concrete achievements of his era and not for some ridiculous bourgeois fantasy concocted by a crooked corporate power structure to disguise it’s racist imperialism.

Demonizing Barack: The enduring racist double standard

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(Obama sets the record straight on Race, Religion, and his Pastor)

Having absorbed all of the calumny, reprobation, and histrionics I can stand regarding Barack Obama, Trinity United Church of Christ and its former Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, I can be silent no more.

Having failed to make the manufactured Farrakhan smear stick, Obama’s tormentors have succeeded in distorting Jeremiah Wright into his horrifyingly racist doppelganger.

First, let me say that Barack Obama’s “denunciation” of some of Dr. Wright’s justifiable indignation about America’s hypocrisy regarding race, war, and Hillary Clinton, left a bad taste in my mouth, a very bad taste indeed.

Obama, the Junior Senator from Illinois, has labored mightily to run a campaign which focuses on that which unites rather than that which divides because it is a reflection of the way he has lived his life and made his career as an organizer, lawyer, state legislator, senator, and presidential candidate. He hasn’t always met that goal. His unequivocal support of Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of innocent Lebanese civilians in 2006 and his failure to adequately address the Clinton campaign’s deliberate and repeated attempts to racially polarize Democrats reflect his craven accommodations to America’s racial hypocrisy.

A sistah named Cassandra from Michigan emailed me saying, “For the first time I don’t care whether or not he wins if he must shed his spirituality and dilute his soul to neutralize the stench and sting of truth that so many White Americans refuse to acknowledge…The hypocrisy and denial of how racism is destroying the integrity of working class and poor American blacks, whites, Latinos, Arabs and Asians is the seam that is dividing and will eventually shred the Democratic Party.”

Americans talk a good game, but in the end, as Jesse Jackson before him, he is being held to a racist double standard that previous white Presidents and Presidential Candidates were not held too.

Barack Obama’s religious affiliation with Trinity United Church of Christ is an affirmation of his own bi-racial heritage as the son of a Kenyan and white Kansan. To say that his membership in the United Church of Christ, a predominantly white denomination created in 1957 from the Congregational Christian Church and the Evangelical Reform Church is somehow suspect or racist is both ludicrous and false.

Trinity United Church of Christ is both integrated and welcoming of all people-including gays and lesbians. When Hillary Clinton’s denomination, the United Methodist Church, sent conflicting signals over the issue of homosexuality and restricting the role of gay clergy and the ability of gay congregants to have their unions blessed in the Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ went in the opposite direction in affirming its covenant with gay clergy and parishioners. Years before then, Wright established an AIDS ministry and a singles ministry for gay and lesbian congregants.

Lisa Miller, writing in Newsweek said, “As a leader, Wright defied convention at every turn. In an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year, he recalled a time during the 1970s when the UCC decided to ordain gay and lesbian clergy. At its annual meeting, sensitive to the historic discomfort some blacks have with homosexuality, gay leaders reached out to black pastors.”

“At that session, Wright heard the testimony of a gay Christian and, he said, he had a conversion experience on gay rights. He started one of the first AIDS ministries on the South Side and a singles group for Trinity gays and lesbians—a subject that still rankles some of the more conservative Trinity members, says Dwight Hopkins, a theology professor at the University of Chicago and a church member.”

Given the hatred and venom spewed forth in too many black pulpits toward black gays and lesbians, Dr. Wright stands out as enlightened, inclusive, and welcoming. But he would have to be in order to grow the church from 80 to 8000 members in three decades. Dr. Wright is the opposite from the bitter, angry, and bigoted portrait the corporate media has fashioned.

Come on, people. Do you really believe that a “black racist” would choose a 90% white denomination in which to plant his flag or are you just some kind of a damn moron engaged in a typical form of racist projection. I defy anyone to name one integrated, gay-friendly, mainline, protestant, predominately African American congregation you’ve ever stepped foot in where you’ve experienced hatred. I know damn well that nobody can because there is no such thing. Are you seriously scared of a moderate, bi-racial politician who bends over backwards to be inclusive, mainstream and non-threatening? Please.

Don’t fall for the right-wing attack campaign launched by Fox News and its corporate mimics.

Obama’s rise to prominence has been swift but it is not unlike that of another little known state politician who rose to prominence over thirty years ago, Jimmy Carter. Carter, you’ll recall was a born-again Baptist layman who also made common cause with all people regardless of race, religion, or background in order to heal the nation after Watergate. During the first months of his presidency in 1977, his home congregation, the Plains Baptist Church, of Plains, GA, forced out Pastor Bruce Edwards, because he sought, with the support of the President, to integrate the church.

During the waning days of the Presidential campaign, a black minister and “publicity seeker,” Rev. Clennon King, challenged the official policy of the church forbidding “Negroes and other civil rights agitators,” from membership. I find no record of the firestorm of criticism we see regarding Barack Obama and Jeremiah Wright. Nobody called on him to resign his membership or denounce the racially prejudiced people with whom he had lived his entire life.

Plotting a middle ground, the church, following Carter’s lead, denied Rev. King membership. The final straw, however, came after Pastor Edwards and his wife adopted a half-Hawaiian child. According to the President’s brother Billy, it was bad enough that the pastor was a liberal integrationist, but adopting the “tan-skinned” child was “99 per cent of the preacher’s problem,” wrote Margaret Montagno in Newsweek.

The Plains Baptist Church subsequently changed its policy in word, but not in deed. Nicholas King, writing in the New Republic said, “The ‘opening’ of the Plains Baptist Church was achieved last fall under the leadership of the Carter family…But there was opposition to the opening from the church’s old guard, and the only black face in the congregation the Sunday Jimmy Carter first returned to Plains as President belonged to a Secret Service man.” After he left the presidency, Jimmy Carter left the church and joined with former Plains Baptist Church members at Maranatha Baptist Church. The small congregation of 135 opens its doors to 12,000 visitors a year to hear the President teach Sunday School. A few years ago, Carter also left the hopelessly right-wing Southern Baptist Convention.

According to the Los Angeles Times, during the 1980 presidential campaign, in the midst of a conservative tide taking over the Southern Baptist Convention, the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, Bailey Smith, proclaimed, “God almighty does not hear the prayer of a Jew.” Again, nothing was heard from the media calling on President Carter to renounce the convention of which he was a member or for then Governor Ronald Reagan, who had addressed the same gathering of evangelicals in Dallas that same day to renounce the divisive and anti-Semitic statement of a right-wing supporter. The Washington Post covered the story on page F10 on September 26, 1980. The New York Times covered the story on three occasions and A 18 was the closet it came.

Lastly, can anybody recount for me the media firestorm over Pat Robertson’s endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. Refresh my memory about how many times the clip of the Religious Broadcaster and Baptist Minister advocating the assassination of the president of Venezuela, a supplier of oil to the United States, was run on Fox News and the rest of the corporate media in denunciation of Giuliani. How many times did they run the clip of Robertson agreeing with Jerry Falwell about the proper blame for 9/11 on abortions and gays and lesbians in a manner meant to accuse Giuliani of intolerance?

Today, nothing is materially different for the Hawaiian bred Barack Obama than it was for the half-Hawaiian son of Jimmy Carter’s Pastor. America, like Plains Baptist Church, has the same problem and like Jeremiah Wright has pointed out eloquently for thirty-six years as Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, race is 99 per cent of it.

Hillary’s people distribute Obama photo

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Hat Tip: Drudge Report

CLINTON STAFFERS CIRCULATE 'DRESSED' OBAMA
Mon Feb 25 2008 06:51:00 ET

With a week to go until the Texas and Ohio primaries, stressed Clinton staffers circulated a photo over the weekend of a "dressed" Barack Obama.

The photo, taken in 2006, shows the Democrat frontrunner fitted as a Somali Elder, during his visit to Wajir, a rural area in northeastern Kenya.

The senator was on a five-country tour of Africa.

"Wouldn't we be seeing this on the cover of every magazine if it were HRC?" questioned one campaign staffer, in an email obtained by the DRUDGE REPORT.

In December, the campaign asked one of its volunteer county coordinators in Iowa to step down after the person forwarded an e-mail falsely stating that Barack Obama is a Muslim.

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe quickly accused the Clinton campaign Monday of 'shameful offensive fear-mongering' for circulating the snap.

Clinton campaign manager Maggie Williams responds: "If Barack Obama's campaign wants to suggest that a photo of him wearing traditional Somali clothing is divisive, they should be ashamed."