Congressman Artur Davis, Mrs. Peggy Wallace Kennedy
Artur Davis is a facinating politician in many respects. The power of his intellect and sharp political skills set him apart from most pol’s. The sky should be the limit for Artur. In Alabama, congress is the limit for Artur. If not for the Voting Rights Act, he would not be a member of congress from Alabama.
In America, it should be a no brainer that any child born anywhere should be able to reach for the highest political rung in state government and not be deterred, discouraged or attacked on the basis of race. Unfortunately, that is not the America we live in despite the fantasies of some whites that we live in a post-racial utopia. It does not matter how many blackfolks buy into the white fantasy that Artur can win this year. It isn’t true. This diary seeks to explore the reasons for this bitter reality.
A black man might be president, but he would not be if America was a cultural mirror of the state of Alabama. Only one in ten white voters, according to NBC political director Chuck Todd, voted for Barack Obama. Extreme racial polarization is a fact of life in the Deep South that smart people can’t get around.
The President of the United States is a biracial man of color who is the product of an interracial marriage. He was raised almost exclusively by his white kinfolks. Most rural whites in the Deep South cannot process these facts and are profoundly threatened by his presidency.
They displace their discomfort with his race by questioning his citizenship and asking to see his birth certificate. They are willing to question his professed and demonstrated Christian faith and believe any smear about him being a Muslim terrorist because the father he never knew was a Muslim. They then voted for a Republican Senator universally known to have been born outside the continental United States in the Panama Canal Zone because “at least he is American,” which is nothing more than a euphemism for being White.
The President of the United States is the most nonthreatening black politician in American history. He is decidedly centrist in word and deed to the chagrin of most of us on the progressive left. To most rural whites, though, he is a Socialist, Marxist, Communist Antichrist hell bent on creating a segregated, racist society in which only non-whites rule and whites are subjugated. That is a nifty piece of racist projection most psychologists would love to get their hands on and take apart.
Because of this ridiculous racial paranoia, there will be no ability to see a similar black man any differently.
Congressman Artur Davis and President Barack Obama
Race is still a bar to achievement and advancement in the United States in some fields of endeavor. Our inability to talk about race or be honest about our racial fears is part and parcel of the infrastructure, which reinforces the bar to achievement and advancement.
Alabama is stuck in both a time warp and in a black hole of its own making with regard to race. There can be no change unless people are willing to smash the taboo of cross racial cooperation.
Meaningful cross racial dialogue and genuine fellowship is rare anywhere in the Deep South but more likely to occur in urban areas with a large University presence. On the other hand, if folks live in larger communities, they are still largely segregated. Nobody wants to go to school with us or live in our neighborhoods. If we are fortunate enough to live in communities where both white and black do go to school together, the interaction is largely superficial.
When time comes to choose a college, the choices are still segregated. We live separate lives and pretend that it is normal. It isn’t. We (blackfolks) are usually the ones that have to stick our necks out to make change. It is rarely the other way around.
I think it is wonderful that most of the people on this board look favorably on Artur Davis and the egalitarian ideal his candidacy represents, but the hard work and foundation for an eventual win by a black candidate for Governor has not been done in any state of the Deep South–Georgia included. Anybody who believes he can win in this backwards and hostile cultural environment is deluding themselves.
Nobody in the grip of a rural Tea Bagger’s poisonous racial paranoia is capable of building community with the blackfolks they see everyday that mirror them in every demographic respect.
They might know your people, might have known your extended kinfolk back to the Civil War, but it still don’t mean that they’ll vote for your daddy to become the first black sheriff. I have a hard time understanding why Artur has to come along like a Negro in a buddy movie and be their black friend when most rural whites have only superficial relationships with the blackfolks they see everyday. There is no sense of community where stereotypically everybody knows and is kin to everybody. Ultimately, this is why Artur cannot be elected Governor this year.
Dr. King spoke of a desire to “..foster and create the ‘beloved community’ in America where brotherhood is a reality…Our ultimate goal is genuine intergroup and interpersonal living–integration.” That does not exist in Alabama or anywhere in the Deep South. It doesn’t even exist up north but most of the time northerners are not so blinded by race that they will vote against politicians of color they are philosophically compatible with because they are not white.
We are still living separate lives despite dramatically less racial polarization in the north. The South is less physically segregated than the North but it is more functionally segregated on the ground. This has to change. Only hard work done by committed blacks and whites will change it. Most of the onus is on whites though, and becuase it is I doubt seriously that it will happen anytime before I turn 50 in 2021.