Monday, September 09, 2013

people whose full-time professional focus is on race, politics, and history - consider Double-0 racist...,

the root | Last week, in his remarks commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama did what many would argue has become a signature move in his speeches to black audiences: In the midst of a professorial history recap featuring paragraphs of his characteristic soaring rhetoric, he slipped in several hundred words about cultural pathology.

Specifically, he primarily blamed African Americans for the way "progress stalled" after the civil rights activism that was being celebrated. "The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots. Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse-making for criminal behavior," he said. He chastised those who he said acted "as if we had no agency in our own liberation, as if poverty was an excuse for not raising your child, and the bigotry of others was reason to give up on yourself."

Some called it "tough love." Not surprisingly, people like conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly ate it up.

But from the point of view of plenty of black observers -- people whose full-time professional focus is on race, politics and history -- the commentary amounted to unhelpful and ahistorical victim blaming: inappropriate at best and a cynical version of Bill Cosby-level armchair sociology at worst. And they weren't alone. Mother Jones' Lauren Williams reported on the immediate post-speech reactions of listeners on Twitter, who were, to put it mildly, ticked off.

It's worth noting that we've been here before. The response to this chunk of the president's speech was not unlike the reception to his commencement address at Morehouse College, in which he made the perplexing choice to lecture men graduating from a top HBCU about making excuses. (Is it that any remarks to African Americans, no matter how successful they may be, demand a personal-responsibility theme?) Even the first lady has followed this pattern, conjuring an unfounded myth at Bowie State's graduation when she referred to "the slander that says a black child with a book is trying to act white," and lamenting that "too many of our young people" aim to be "a baller or a rapper."

But guess what? As the dust settles around the latest iteration of this now pretty predictable commentary, I'm almost looking forward to when the president does it again.

To be clear, it's not because I agree with him. Not at all. In fact, as I listened last week from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, I was full of dread at the idea of hearing a distorted and painfully oversimplified message.


makheru bradley said...

These are some of my comments on the speech.

"In the face of violence, they stood up and sat in with the moral force of nonviolence.” -- Obama

Of course Obama does not believe in the moral force of nonviolence, but his purpose here is to establish the difference between what he and the power structure he represents consider to be responsible behavior and irresponsible behavior (self-defense). -- Makheru

“And then, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that during the course of 50 years, there were times when some of us, claiming to push for change, lost our way.” -- Obama

That really could be a metaphor for his presidency--claiming to push for change and losing his way, except I don’t believe he ever had a way to lose. -- Makheru

“The anguish of assassinations set off self-defeating riots.” -- Obama

Our Esteemed Ancestor, Martin King dealt with this issue.

“The riots are caused by nice, gentle, timid white moderates who are more concerned about order than justice. The policy-makers of the white society have caused the darkness: they created discrimination; they created slums; they perpetuate unemployment, ignorance, and poverty. It is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes, but they are derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of white society.” -- MLK

“Neither Rap Brown nor Stokely Carmichael created slavery, they did not create slums, they did not create unemployment or underemployment, they did not create segregated schools and they didn’t start a war in Vietnam.” -- MLK

“Legitimate grievances against police brutality tipped into excuse- making for criminal behavior.” -- Obama

As president he does not need legitimate grievances to engage in criminal behavior [Libya], but defending yourself, and rebelling against brutality is criminal behavior only in the eyes of a brute, or a smooth hegemonist.-- Makheru

"Racial politics could cut both ways as the transformative message of unity and brotherhood was drowned out by the language of recrimination." --Obama

“Recrimination” is a poor choice of words. We were not countering accusations. We were countering brutal oppression and assassinations. He’s lecturing us for defending ourselves, when as POTUS he often resolves his global conflicts via initiatory and retaliatory violence.-- Makheru

" if we had no agency in our own liberation." -- Obama

Of course Obama has never heard of COINTELPRO. Actually we had “agency in our own liberation,” but the FBI declared war on us and we lost that battle. -- Makheru

CNu said...

The foundations which decided that de jure apartheid was a global embarrassment declared war and won, in so many ways and on so many levels - that folks forty years later are still running around struggling with the trunk, the leg, and the tail, and not recognizing the elephant in the darkened room.

It is a supremely cruel irony that the model for the now completed urban wars of attrition against ungrateful and insurrectionist negroes is being replicated on a much larger scale with Double-0 as a perfect gestalt for the first black mayor of one of these cratered fin d'siecle urban wastelands...,

CNu said...

Oh yeah, lest I forget - the american establishment's war on black men was won long before the first shot was fired, truncheon fell, block was staked out, or phone was tapped.

Why? Because the establishment had long previously won the hearts and minds of black women. Everything else is merely disgruntled conversation....,

Nakajima Kikka said...

Now this is an interesting line of inquiry...

CNu said...

lol, conspicuously obvious to the casual observer...,

Dale Asberry said...

These aren't the 'droids you're looking for...

Tom said...

I always forget that so many Black people are way more negative about themselves than us'ns are about them. Of course people save their kids' damn hair, even a witch like Heidi Klum isn't crazy enough to save fake hair. Jesus, no wonder Black people get high blood pressure, I'd be dead by now.

CNu said...

And then there are those most absurdly useless, full-time "professional" students of race, politics, and history who police every utterance for shades of microaggressive racial nuance and whose actual function is akin to a runny boil...,

Tom said...

OK, no need to rub it in. "Antiracism" sounds like such a good idea ....