Obama 08: a black bourgeois fantasy



“Despite their solid achievements and the satisfactions which they derived from their way of life, there was always an atmosphere of unreality surrounding the isolated life of the small black middle class.  …urbanization and the increasing occupational differentiation of the Negro population undermined the privileged position of the old middle class.  But more important still, the compensations which ancestry, puritanical morals, and especially education, provided in a hostile white world were inadequate in the life of the new black bourgeoisie.”   

“Having become less isolated and thus more exposed to the contempt and hostility of the white world, but at the same time cherishing the values of the white world, the new black bourgeoisie with more money at their disposal, have sought compensation in the things that money can buy.   Moreover, their larger incomes have enabled them to propagate false notions about their place in American life and to create a world of make-believe.” 

– E. Franklin Frazier, in “Black Bourgeoisie”   

Because of the illusory affluence of conspicuous consumption and the presence of the largest black middle class in history, some of us have bought into the lie of American democracy and have become captivated with the idea that we can somehow elect a black president.  We have bought into the rhetoric of hope and the audacity of bourgeois hubris.  

Sistah Obama was right when she said  “If Barack doesn’t win Iowa, it’s just a dream.”   It is a dream because Political Scientist Michael Parenti describes the Presidency as nothing more than a bait and switch game intended to pull the wool over the eyes of the public while slavishly serving the powerful.  We have studiously avoided seeing that Barack Obama has signaled his intention to serve the powerful in everyway he can.   

He rejects reparations, played footsie with Chicago’s corrupt Daley Machine and ignored its police brutality, caved to the Israel Lobby, voted for Condi Rice, equivocated on war funding (voting for it before he was against it), and his health care plan isn’t universal. The only thing he hasn’t done is walk up and down the streets of America peddling his ass like a prostitute.  

Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is a black middle class fantasy, an idealistic delusion of epic proportions that those outside of the black community have hijacked to achieve their own malevolent ends. Most Americans will never grasp the significance of our nation’s role as an imperial power that enforces a bloody and repressive economic and political hegemony upon the world’s colored peoples.  They have been uniformly brainwashed by patriotic propaganda advanced by a greedy and self-interested corporate media and indoctrinated by historical revisionists that omit America’s history of genocide, slavery and discrimination.  

The President is the guardian of our undemocratic system and the character of the presidency perverts any good intention.  Parenti writes, “If presidents tend to speak one way and act another, it is due less to some inborn flaw shared by the varied personalities who occupy the office than to the nature of the office itself.  Like any officeholder, the president plays a dual role in that he must satisfy the major interests of corporate America and at the same time make a show of serving the people. He differs from other politicians in that the demands and expectations of his office are greater and therefore the contradictions deeper.  …Like other politicians, perhaps more so, the president is caught between the demands of democracy and the powers of plutocracy.” 

No matter what set of progressive policies our president claims fealty to, his responsibility to the capitalist power structure will always be greater and his response to the entreaties of its emissaries shall forever be swifter.  Placing Barack’s narrow behind in the oval office won’t change this dynamic of power.  

The futility of this delusional presidential exercise is borne out by poll numbers, which reveal that the majority of African Americans are still with Hillary.  During the period of sky-high poll numbers and uncritical acclaim, Obama’s poll numbers with the black community were in the toilet.  Now that the newness has worn off the Safe Negro and whitefolks adoration and worship has cooled, blackfolks have started to take a second look.  He ain’t never gonna get off that racial seesaw and it will eventually become his undoing as a candidate.  

We have the means through which to control a great deal that happens to and within our communities but haven’t because of a lack of vision. That will not change because Barack Obama stepped onto the scene.  The relative weakness of our political leadership and the precariousness of our economic strength keep the enormous power of the world’s wealthiest black middle class in check.  

In this respect, little has changed since Dr. Frasier wrote, “Since the black bourgeoisie is composed chiefly of white collar workers and since its small business enterprises are insignificant in the American economy, the black bourgeoisie wields no political power as a class in American society.  Nor does the black bourgeoisie exercise any significant power within the Negro community as an employer of labor.  Its power within the Negro community stems from the fact that middle-class Negroes hold strategic positions in segregated institutions and create and propagate the ideologies current in the Negro community.” 

“In the political life of the American society the Negro political leaders, who have always had a middle-class outlook, follow an opportunistic policy.  They attempt to accommodate the demands of Negroes for better economic and social conditions to their personal interests which are tied up with the political machines, which in turn are geared to the interests of the white propertied classes.” 

Ultimately, it is the white power structure, not us, that will benefit from the next presidency, whichever candidate is selected.  In the unlikely event that I am wrong and an Obama presidency materializes, those whose mission it is to turn back the clock on social progress will have all the ammunition they need to destroy forever the possibility of progressive change.  His election will be hailed from coast to coast as a triumph over racism and our legacy of discrimination when it will be anything but.  

It’s time to wake up from our middle class fantasies and realize the ideological cul-de sac American politics is and do something about the unequal power relationships that disadvantage us socially, economically, and politically.

25 thoughts on “Obama 08: a black bourgeois fantasy

  1. rikyrah,

    Thanks. I’m grateful that you approve. Sometimes I feel that I’m writing for an audience of one and its good to know that you’re open enough to receive my point of view even though, on Obama, we don’t always agree.

    You’ve been a trooper for over a year, and when I get your approval, I can relax and breathe again. As for Medved, I’m assuming you mean Michael Medved. I ain’t heard about anything he’s said. Enlighten me.

  2. Yes! Thank you, SB! The harsh economic REALITIES you often expound on are strictly taboo in the eyes of Big Money Media (and Big Money candidates).

    “the black bourgeoisie wields no political power as a class in American society.”

    It’s bigger than that even. Let’s face it: a VERY small segment of the population wields virtually ALL of the power. The main function of perpetuating racism (or homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism, etc.) is to divide the lower classes, thus diminishing the threat to those at the top of the pyramid. I see only two ways for the apple cart to be upset. Peacefully, through a transition to 100 percent publically funded campaigns. The other way would be not nearly so pretty…

  3. Ernesto,

    I don’t always know if I’ve communicated my opinions clearly and appropriately. Thanks for telling me that you got it. Total public financing of federal campaigns would bring about a revolution. One day, after the Ozone layer is gone, the last brotha is locked up, and Africa is a vacant wasteland, perhaps, we’ll try it.

  4. SB

    Well we know I wave my Obama flag high.

    So to get to the point, I appreciate and look forward to what you have to say, and when time permits to digest it. And I don’t know if its your intent but social critique motivates me.

  5. Wille Lee

    To all the crab in a barrell, blacker-than-thou, Mau-Mau crowd, answer this simple question:

    who do you think, between Hillary and Barak, would be more attuned to what is important to African-Americans ?

    Or do you really think that the white man’s ice is colder, water is wetter and milk is whiter ?

    It seems like the most vocal are always outsiders, jealously looking at people that are more successful and subconciously thinking, “why can’t that be me” ?

    Not a shyster buffoon like Al Sharpton, or a whoremongering alduterer like Jesse Jackson, but someone we can be proud of, like Barak, seems to bring out the crabs.

    That, more than anything the white man can do, is the pity and downfall of our people.

  6. SB: “One day, after the Ozone layer is gone, the last brotha is locked up, and Africa is a vacant wasteland, perhaps, we’ll try it.”

    We seem to be hurtling towards that day at redneck…err I mean breakneck speed.

    Wille Lee: “jealously looking at people that are more successful”

    I guess it’s all in how you measure success. How do you, brother?

  7. Right on, SB. And the question is, “NOW what?!”

    All of us have to be thinking – hard – along those lines. There are so many Willie’s out there, who can’t see outside of the black-white binary. We cannot slow down our analysis, we can’t convine those who are lost. We need to imagine, vision and build alternatives to the madness. This is a start.


  8. Willie Lee,

    Not speaking for anyone else, but I’ve long since gone on record saying that I’m never voting for Hillary. And, there aren’t too many Hillary fans that come here.

    There are no crabs here; only Skeptics.

  9. Andrea

    Skeptical Brotha,

    You are a knight and we don’t have many. But you must know that in being a knight, you serve and the just reward is the opportuntiy to serve and be good at. You render your protection so that we are safer and securer to know that we have the right in the republic to exercise thought freely and out loud. What other knight has the courage to slay the evil dragons of our race and has the will to take down corrupt monarchs and oligarchs disquised as political servants and our friends? What other knight is empowering the people to exercise democracy so that we are not turned into volunteers serfs.

    You treasure your people and you have given at risk whereas a lot of people would not and will never.

    Now we do have a lot of obsolete nobles but we have very, very, very few knights.

    I look for knights in the Black Community. I consider when you take the time to exercise democracy and teach other Blacks how to do it too, you are doing so much in heroism.

  10. Greg

    Bravo, Skep, Bravo…

    I too think that publicly funded campaigns are a good idea, i think. I like that Mr Kucinich, easily the best candidate, won’t take corporate money.

    The Republican/Democratic duopoly, the Electoral College, etc, etc, these structures must come down.

  11. john in california

    I read your blog regularly and can say that you come to your conclusions after giving Obama every chance to move out of the shadow of the DLC. I think in the last month or two, Obama has decided for option 2, the vp spot, and so will not try to contrast policy much from hrc. He is in a great bargaining position, as he can deliver a lot of A-A voters who usually do not vote. He can demand high responsibility, and (unlike Gore) high visibility jobs. If they don’t win (an impossibility) then he is the presumptive candidate in ‘12. So he is cruising. He is a little like Jesse J. in ‘88 when he saw before the Cal primary that he couldn’t get over 35 %, so he settled for the big speech at the convention. Both he and Dukakis were foolish for not rolling the dice on a vp spot for JJ. He had energized the populist base and labor, white and black, and he was a hell of a lot better orator than the droning Dukakis (only marginally less boring than papa B).
    Also, do you really think Obama identifies w/ the black bourgeoisie ? Or the black anything? His wife might fit that label, but he doesn’t strike me as a guy who feels his color much. In fact, I think he has gone out of his way to work in black communities because he wants to feel more connected. (I have only read only a little of his last book, so I could be off base with that.) Anyway, sometime in the next 8 years, odds are he will be pres. So, go Kucinich, and keep up the good work, Mr. brotha.

  12. Cliff

    The measure of his courage may have been tested, and he has not portrayed himself as a lover of black or oppressed people in general. What makes him a sellout? His words may prove him to be so, but regarding his political actions what is the stardard that measures his mentality for having strategic political actions which cater to the white liberal votes?

  13. When we got Black Mayors in the late 60s and early 70s our cities were abandoned and became like middle east war zones; only now some 30 years later have the white economic power structure returned to claim the ruins. Once rundown projects of urban decay now have sports stadiums and million dollar homes that sit on what once was a hoe stroll or crack corner. Barack Obama is the type of brother who transcends color… He is seen by white america just as a Tiger Woods Condi Rice or Michael Jordan…. a palletable nigger who they will tolerate because they are not radical or militant. He has the smile; he shuffles when he isn’t moving; laughs with nothing is funny and scratches when he doesn’t itch. Strange as those traits sound he is still better than any candidate in either party because they represent more of the same business as usual politics that are bleeding us to death now. The Black Bourgeoisie is the close the door behind you pick up the ladder after you get to the top mentality that has 90% of black americas broke and hopeless. These uppity high tone niggers and hand picked and token blacks are the crabs at the top of the bucket… the type that hate it when another black moves on their block because they want to be the only ones there. Most of those blacks want Hillary when Barrack is the best for the job. When the country is in turmoil (Like Cities were in the 60s and 70s) why not turn it over to a brother to take the blame ?

  14. Marc

    You’ve made an excellent point about Obama.

    Obama will be just another politician.

    His platform about the war will change:
    Presidents make war decisions based on their Generals.

    Health Care and Housing cannot be tackled in the middle of a recession.

    Race has never been a factor in politics.
    Race is a factor in commerce!
    That is where we yield the most power over corporations who in turn control the politicians.
    A black president is a figurehead!

  15. Bibi

    Re: Howell in Seattle

    On Election day, we vote just as Skeptical Brotha proposes: Vote for the White Girl. I suspect that’s whom he’s been supporting all along. For the record, the Black Bourgeoisie is not some half Kenyan/half white brotha from Hawaii.

  16. SteveC

    Obama does not support reparations because he’s smart….Obama espouses (to an extent) an idea that most Black Americans hate….that they should probably be responsible for themselves, and not expect the government or White America to take care of them.

  17. As an African American male from an upper middle class black family. I really take offense to this article. While it is beautifully written. It stakes it claim on the prevailing idea that every black person must walk around acting anti-white and constantly allowing racism to plague their minds.

    I was not raised this way and my parents suffered some of the harshest racism to have happened in the USA. Yes, they let me know that it existed. But they also taught me that I was not to allow it to stop me from moving forward to achieve my goals and dreams.

    The funny thing is that this is more of age and class issue then it is specifically of a race issue. You don’t see many youth objecting to Obama or disparaging his accomplishment in the way you see older AA. Just take J. Jackson and Rev. Wright. Even Al Sharpton had stated things have moved into more age and class divide and less of racial divide. A man of his sorts says that it is something the black community refuses to acknowledge. Yet, it is the painful truth in today’s world. No one in any way negates that racism do not exist. But to the level that it exist and plays a role in our daily lives is debatable and changes from state to state and county to county. During the Civil Rights era the African American Community was this monolithic group because the situation at the time deemed that we needed to get to where we are today. Those were different times and a different day. But as Al Sharpton say and don’t quote this for bedim, but “No one ever thought that we would come this far. So that when the fruits of labor started to grow. People became skeptical of the real outcome.” He goes on to state that things are not the same and the younger generation must take over these issues and deal with them in their way and how it is addresses their generation. He also states that one of the major problems is that the older generation of Civil Rights leaders feel lost in a time where their hold on the community is diminishing. The new voices are coming from unlikely sources and the old guard seems too unwilling to hand over the reins unless the keep the same slogan and mantra going in the same way it has always been.
    I think this scene from Lean On Me clearly in some ways if you take a look at it clearly defines my frustration: Mr. Clark (the skeptics) ms. Livas (the black middle class)

    check it out! Peace

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