The Conundrum of Blackness and Voting When the President is Black
As time winds down on Election 2012 and the race for President of the United States between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, I wanted to take time to post a few thoughts. The first, “Negroes, We are Free to Use our Natural Minds” can be accessed here.
Yet, before folk think I’m being partisan and partial…a typical Black arguing for blind support of Barack Obama, I figured I had better post another article to expound upon the complexities with which I’m struggling during this election.
When you are Black, the assumption is that you are voting Democrat…the further assumption is that you are voting for your “soul brother,” Barack Obama. I mean look: folk damn near lost their minds because Stacey Dash recently endorsed Mitt Romney.
Here’s the problem: if you’re Black and not supporting President Obama, then you’re judged by the Black community. If you’re Black and supporting the President, then you’re only doing so because he’s Black too. Either way, one is quickly dismissed to the detriment of debate on the issues and their pertinence to the Black community.
As Frederick C. Harris states in his excellent NYTimes.com op-ed, “The Price of a Black President,” “Whether it ends in 2013 or 2017, the Obama presidency has already marked the decline, rather than the pinnacle, of a political vision centered on challenging racial inequality. The tragedy is that black elites — from intellectuals and civil rights leaders to politicians and clergy members — have acquiesced to this decline, seeing it as the necessary price for the pride and satisfaction of having a black family in the White House.”
This is the conundrum of Blackness and voting when the President is Black.
It seems we cannot be critical, because to be critical is to be disloyal. Beyond simply being disloyal to an individual, to be critical of President Obama’s failings to address issues of import to Black people (or any issue, for that matter) is to be disloyal to Black people! Note the irony…
The conundrum of Blackness and voting when the President is Black is that we – as Blacks – have relinquished our right to vote, of our own accord. Other voters are courted. There are commercials directed to the Jewish vote, to the Hispanic Vote, to the White woman’s vote, to the Blue Collar White Male vote, etc. The commercials for the Black vote amount to little more than slapping Jay-Z in a commercial.
There’s no talk of issues. The commercial doesn’t address the President’s plans to deal with economic and societal disparities that diverge on the basis of race. The ad doesn’t speak of the any efforts to address to School to Prison Pipeline. No voiceover speaks of President Obama’s efforts to end the War on Drugs that feeds the (for profit) system of Mass Incarceration, that results in more than 60% of American prison population coming from 20% of the total American population. No one says anything about President Obama’s strategy for ending the “New Jim Crow.” Jay-Z doesn’t speak of any plan by the President to bring the rate of Black unemployment (double that of White Americans) on par with the mainstream.
Rather, President Obama (and his advisers) still want Blacks to believe that a “rising tide lifts all boats.” The funny thing is that while Black Americans never accepted President Reagan’s “trickle-down economic theory,” Black people accept the same “trickle-down” ideology when it comes from the mouth of a Black man.
And, this is the conundrum of Blackness and voting when the President is Black.
Because, as we see with Stacey Dash’s endorsement of Mitt Romney, for a Black person to endorse Mitt Romney is for that Black person to draw their very Blackness into question. Not because of any particular issue. But, simply because one decided to go against the grain.
Yet just as Jay-Z’s ad lacked substance, so too did Stacey Dash’s endorsement of Mitt Romney. Nevertheless, she is – indeed – entitled to her opinion…just like the other Black Republicans I know.
I would like to agree with their opinions. I mean, I myself just laid forth a case against President Obama – and that’s simply on his policies (or, lack thereof) as pertains issues of import to Black people. That says nothing of my vast disagreements with him on a host of other issues!
If the Republicans had a sensible nominee, I would be all in as well. But, they sold themselves on a candidate they outright rejected in 2008 simply because polling data showed this candidate could defeat President Obama. The GOP doesn’t believe in Romney…the GOP simply doesn’t want Obama.
Now, yes, there were some who supported Romney four years ago. So, they are standing firm. But, the majority of Republicans rejected the man in whom they so ardently believe, today. Again, note the irony…
Yet, beyond that, I cannot buy into a candidate whose faith devalues my humanity. As I stated in an earlier post, I cannot simply ignore the fact that Mitt Romney subscribes to a faith that considers Blackness to be a mark of iniquity. I mean, the very stereotypes of Black people being “idle, full of mischief and subtlety,” are used to describe those marked by the curse and changed from their “exceedingly fair and delightsome” Whiteness.
So, I’m left to face the conundrum of Blackness and voting when the President is Black. One holds dear a faith that is dismissive of my equal creation in the Image of God. The other believes his Blackness is enough for my allegiance.
I pray…I close my eyes…I pull the lever. God help us all!