Barack Obama: Would Racism Stop him?
In exactly a week, Americans will go to the polls to elect their 44th President who, without argument, holds the most powerful position on earth.
The USA, effectively, operates a two-party democracy: The Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The country gives a good example of Karl Marx vivid observation that the government is the Executive Board of the ruling elite. The two parties diverge only in presentation and not on substance. There is absolutely no ideological difference as both parties still believe in the American Empire. And both parties still present to the American people the good image of a democracy at work thereby masking the role of the moneyed elite who are the true rulers of America. The rhetorical clashes between the Republicans and the Democrats centers only on how to maintain American hegemonic role in the world.
However, this year’s election offers an intriguingly potent new dimension: the emergence of a black candidate as a serious contender for the Presidency of the United States of America! For those not well educated in the role Race has played and continue to play in ‘God Own country,’ the emergence of Kenyan-fathered Barack Obama is truly revolutionary. Little wonder than many elderly blacks still think that they are in some dream world. They experienced slavery; all the injustices of segregations, Jim crows and all and the very idea that one of their own today aspire to the highest office in the land still seems to them like a fairy tale.
Consider this: When in 1961 Barack Obama cried his way into this world, many states of the American Union were still very rigidly (and legally) segregated – meaning that white do not mixed with blacks. There were separate facilities for both black and white. Like the apartheid that so thoroughly blighted South Africa, white people in the USA were legally protected for discriminating against black people. Black in many Southern states were barred from entering or eating at restaurants; using public libraries, swimming pools and other facilities. Many black performers could play at big hotels but have to eat at the hotel kitchen since they were not allowed to enter the restaurants. And of course, after their performances they have to hustle back to their black ghettoes since they were disbarred from sleeping in the hotels.
The classic case of the greatest athlete of all time, Mohammed Ali, is very illustrating. After winning the Olympic boxing gold medal, the ‘Lip of Louisiana’ went back expecting a hero welcome in his home state. Ali was, however, to be sorely disappointed as a white waiter cheekily told him that: “We don’t serve Niggers.” Never one to be verbally outpunched, Mohammed Ali retorted: “I don’t eat them either.” In disgust, Ali threw his medal into a river. (I highly recommend Richard Wright’s ‘Black Boy,’ to those who want to know more about the traumatic experiences of black people growing up in segregated America).
Race was and is still a very potent force in America, especially in its politics. Although American corporate media only show you black people in relation to crime, the fact is that American blacks have made their mark in every field of human endeavour where they have been allowed to participate fairly and freely. Almost all the cultures America transmits to the world have been created by black artistes. Can you think of an American music gender apart from Country Music that was not created by Black people?
Which makes racism all the more so stupid and so utterly incomprehensible! The White racists* believe that they are inherently superior to other people. They spend so much money, time and energy accumulating and proclaiming ‘evidences’ of their supposed superiority, yet they are unwilling to put it to a test in a free and fair contest. This is the big paradox of racism: unwillingness of its adherents to test its creed. The question is: if white people genuinely believe in their innate superiority, why do they require so much governmental protection? Why do they spend so much money, time and energy proclaiming it? As Professor Wole Soyinka distinctively puts it: “A Tiger does not need to proclaim its Tigritude.” If I believe that I am so hot, the simple and easy way to prove it is to engage in a free and fair contest. Not so with the racists: With an acute inferiority complex, they need to convince themselves that they are the superior beings.
The white racists believe that black people are of inferior nature (as Thomas Jefferson opined), yet they passed legislation barring the supposedly inferior people from receiving any education and from competing for decent jobs. During slavery Black people were barred from reading anything but the Bible. The white racists in both the USA and South Africa spent huge amount of money to give good education to white children while consigning black children to over-crowded and poorly-funded institutes, and they then turn around to wonder why black children are performing very poorly academically. As Herbert Aptheker wondered: “You cut a man’s tongue and you ask why he is dumb.” Many Southern states simply disallowed black students from receiving education higher than High School. In 1963, it required the intervention of Federal troops before the University of Mississippi would allow a black student.
And shall we mention lynching, albeit briefly? The word was derived from a Virginian Justice of Peace who believed in extrajudicial punishment, Charles Lynch. In many states in the south white mobs simply organized vigilante groups to hunt down and kill black people for any number of reasons or offenses without any process of law. Looking at a white woman (even a white prostitute) is a death sentence for a black male. The vigilantes kill their victims with the knowledge that they will get away with it always; the police simply look the other way. The Ku Klux Klan extensively used lynching to intimidate freed blacks who were voting and assuming political power in many parts of the South. The favorite method of killing was hanging. Tying their victims to the back of a truck and driving him on rough roads is another favorite method to dispatch black male. And please do not think that lynching was a thing of the past: a young black man was recently killed by a gang of white youth who tied to the back of their truck and dragged him until he died.
What is baffling is that the white racists do not deny their unprovoked and undeserved violence against black people, but they ask why black people should continue to pine about it? As any human being who experienced violence suffers a trauma, we have to ask if the racists think that we are outside of human psychology.
This was the environment from which Barack Obama grew and it was from this experience that he grew to triumph over all obstacles and prejudices in order to arrive at a summit in which no black person has ever climbed. This is a no mean achievement. Many blacks were not able to rise above their traumas; they succumb to exist as good-for-nothing drunk - living proof of the racists’ arguments that the victims of their crimes are inferior. Barack Obama did not succumb, thank goodness. He refused to let the appalling conditions of his environment get him down. He went to one of America’s best universities where he was so well regarded that he became the editor of his school law review. Today, just as we offer Nelson Mandela to the world as a MORAL GIANT, we offer Barack Obama as a POLITICAL GIANT. In a world populated by political and intellectual Lilliputians, Obama stands as an eloquent testimony that the human being offers infinite possibilities.
In Europe I tried to tell the racists that Black people do not ask for the moon: we do not even ask for anything extra at all. All we want is a level playing field where each and every human person would compete to the best of his or her knowledge and abilities. We do not believe that we are superior but we do not accept that we are inferior. Why this is difficult for the supposedly superior people to accept is difficult to understand.
Any dispassionate observer who watched the debates between Barack Obama and John Mccain cannot but see that the difference is crystal clear – he was simply too vastly superior to his rival. Urbane, sophisticated, educated, articulate and with a film star good looks, Obama represents the best face any nation can present to the world. He very confidently trounced his rival without humiliating him. He was so good that only the colour on his skin can stop him from becoming the 44th President of the US of A!
In every department Obama is the better candidate: He is young and fit; his rival is a ponderous old man. He is untainted by a scandal; McCain was sanctioned for accepting a bribe. His morality remains unquestioned; his rival has the integrity of a hyena. Obama boasts a solid filial fidelity; let’s not talk about McCain’s filial monkeyshines. His rival’s party records in office stinks – unending wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Syria. His rival’s party bad mismanagement of the economy has resulted in a crashed stock market and a collapsed mortgage sector.
Were he white Obama’s electoral victory would have be a foregone conclusion, but this is the United States of America where the colour black is still considered a stigma. Many who could not fathom a black President keep touting McCain supposed experience – they always fail to mention that McCain’s running (heartbeat away from the presidency) is a dumb blonde. Governor Palin’s dumbness makes my child looks like an Astrophysicist. Talking about experience, Mevrouw Palin believe that her state’s sharing a border with Russia is enough foreign policy experience!
As Time Magazine recently wrote of him: “Barack Obama has prospered in this presidential campaign because of the steadiness of his temperament and the judicious quality of his decision-making. They are his best-known qualities. The most important decision he has made — the selection of a running mate — was done carefully, with an exhaustive attention to detail and contemplation of all the possible angles. Two months later, as John McCain's peremptory selection of Governor Sarah Palin has come to seem a liability, it could be argued that Obama's quiet selection of Joe Biden defined the public's choice in the general-election campaign.”
Brother Barack Obama, I salute the audacity of your courage. Whatever happens in this year’s election, your place in history is assured.
*Racism is all about power and domination. There are many Africans and Asians who are racially prejudiced, but no Asian or African has the power to racially oppress another group at the global level. Nowhere on earth do Asians and Africans go around killing people because they are WHITE. For a better treatment of this important subject, I recommend ‘Black Power,’ by Stokely Carmichael, aka Kwame Ture.