What is black? Who is black? Is Obama black?

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Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.

 

“Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality. But this is a distinction so extremely hard to make that the West has not been able to make it yet. And at the center of this dreadful storm, this vast confusion, stand the black people of this nation, who must now share the fate of a nation that has never accepted them, to which they were brought in chains. Well, if this is so, one has no choice but to do all in one’s power to change that fate, and at no matter what risk-eviction, imprisonment, torture, death. For the sake of one’s children, in order to minimize the bill that they must pay, one must be careful not to take refuge in any delusion-and the value placed on the color of the skin is always and everywhere and forever a delusion.” –James Baldwin

The political organization around racial identity is a political reality in America whose necessity has not abated. It is the reason for, and the continuance of, the Congressional Black Caucus. To make it as plain as I can, we are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, pluralistic society that is economically, politically, and socially stratified by race and class. We understand the negative role race and class play in the lives of racial minorities. To pretend to believe otherwise is a simple denial of reality that is not borne out by any facts now in existence.

All of the men pictured above served as members of congress and all are black. We come in many shapes and sizes and in all colors. Barack Obama, despite the naysayers in our community is, and always shall be, a black man. The arguments about who raised him and whether or not he is a descendent of slaves are irrelevant and silly. The brotha may be running for President but stick him on a D.C. street corner late at night wearing a hoodie and some jeans and see how many cabs pass him by. He is black. Period. He understands what that means and because he does, he fuels my anger when he steps away from that reality to placate a power structure that devalues our lives and demeans our dignity.

He understands that torture is not acceptable but endorses a Mayor that allowed 192 black men to be tortured in direct contravention to the Geneva Conventions. He understands how race can be used to distort justice because he has passed a law, which mandated that murder confessions be videotaped in Illinois and passed a law requiring statistics to be complied on traffic stops to combat racial profiling. One cannot advocate legislative remedies like this without recognizing the unequal treatment and disparate sentencing inherent in our criminal injustice system.

He is running for President and anybody who does so is on a tremendously galactic ego trip. He deserves to be scrutinized and his motivations examined like any other contender. He will receive no leniency from me. The Presidency’s power to destroy is legendary. The current occupant is a great example of an unprepared, unfocused, and dangerous ideologue. I have an obligation to my readers to hold that uppermost in my thoughts as I contemplate the political landscape.

Moreover, I have no interest in using the platform of this blog to deny America’s unapologetic racism nor those who ignore and perpetuate it. Barack Obama has made several conscious decisions to step away from this reality in an effort to market himself and to “cross over.” I don’t feel any need to be quiet about it and have no obligation to muffle my disquiet to make anyone else feel comfortable.

I am sorry that my musings are unsettling to some, but I lack the capacity to whitewash torture and police brutality. I am not about to take up the delusions of my white brothas and sistahs regarding race this campaign season because I have far too many delusions of my own to contend with.

Al Franken for U.S. Senate

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For those of you who have been pondering my twisted sense of humor, the culprit is Saturday Night Live and by extension-Al Franken.  Being closer to forty than thirty, I was heavily influenced by the humor perfected on Saturday Night Live.  It’s groundbreaking sketch comedy pushed boundaries like nobody else before.  Dan Akroyd, John Belushi, Al Franken, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Eddie Murphy, and Garrett Morris are among my favorite people.   Before ten years old, I understood their humor.  From the political satire to the sexual innuendo, I soaked it all in.   It, along with SCTV, Fridays, MadTV, and In Living Color form the basis of my humor.  

Today comes news of Al Franken, commedian, writer, and Air America radio personality jumping into the race for Paul Wellstone’s Senate seat currently being held by corporate whore Norm Coleman.    Coleman, the former Mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota is a New York bred,craven opportunist whose politics steadily moved from establishment Democrat to establishment Republican.   Recruited to run for the Senate by Dick Cheney, he was on a trajectory to lose that race before Paul Wellstone’s fatal plane crash in October 2002 that changed the face of Minnesota politics. 

I remember the shock and anguish I personally felt when the words ran across the monitor that announced the Senator’s death along with his wife, daughter, and campaign staff.  His death marked a turning point for progressive politics in Minnesota and the depth of feeling expressed by mourners at his memorial service was seized upon by the right-wing in a propaganda campaign of distortion to energize the right. 

Al Franken’s candidacy is a breath of fresh air and break from the politics of cookie cutter DLC automatons breathlessly mouthing the curative powers of the free market and incremental policy wonkism.  Al believes in something and its progressive.  The bottom-line for me though is his relentless lampooning of Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly.  He reveals O’Reilly as the pompous liar that he is and that is more than enough for a Skeptical Brotha endorsement. 

Two Black S.C. legislators back Hillary

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By JIM DAVENPORT

The Associated Press
Tuesday, February 13, 2007; 4:23 PM

(AP) Two key black political leaders in South Carolina who backed John Edwards in 2004 said Tuesday they are supporting Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

State Sens. Robert Ford and Darrell Jackson told The Associated Press they believe Clinton is the only Democrat who can win the presidency. Both said they had been courted by Illinois Sen. Barack Obama; Ford said Obama winning the primary would drag down the rest of the party.

“It’s a slim possibility for him to get the nomination, but then everybody else is doomed,” Ford said. “Every Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose — because he’s black and he’s top of the ticket. We’d lose the House and the Senate and the governors and everything.”

“I’m a gambling man. I love Obama,” Ford said. “But I’m not going to kill myself.”

Ford said he was swayed by calls from former President Clinton and Hillary Clinton. The Charleston lawmaker said she has solid support in his district, one of the key regions in the state with a major black Democratic voting population.

Clinton’s campaign said it welcomed the lawmakers’ support, but disagreed with Ford’s contention that Obama could harm a Democratic ticket. “I think it’s just flat-out wrong,” said spokesman Mo Elleithee.

One Obama ally rejected Ford’s assessment.

“I think that Senator Ford’s comments were reprehensible,” said Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. “I believe Democratic prospects would soar, not slump.”

Later in the day, Ford said he had been besieged by criticism and apologized for his characterization of Obama’s chances. If Clinton doesn’t win the nomination, any of the other candidates are well suited to take the White House, Ford said.

“If I caused anybody — including myself — any pain about the comments I made earlier, then I want to apologize to myself and to Senator Obama and any of his supporters,” Ford said.

Darrell Jackson, who also is the minister of a large church in the state’s capital city, said Edwards — a South Carolina native who won the state’s Democratic primary three years ago — had his chance.

“I feel as if he’s had his opportunity,” he said.

Darrell Jackson said Edwards was a wonderful individual and he considers Obama a friend, but Clinton “is our best shot.”

John Moylan, campaign director for Edwards in South Carolina, shrugged off the defections and predicted Edwards would win the state.

The endorsements come just days before Obama and Clinton campaign in the state for the first time in the 2008 race.