So says Darcus Howe in this week’s New Statesman magazine. Erm, except that none of the polling shows that. If anything, he angered Jesse Jackson and that probably helped Obama with blacks and whites. Darcus Howe refers to Obama’s recent speech:
Obama missed a step, and let fly in a rhetorical flourish his hostility to absent black fathers as the major source of the pain and suffering of the black communities in the US. Hardly any attention directed, so far, to the racism heaped upon American blacks from slavery to this day, and which accounts for the ceaseless revolt of black people internationally. I suppose he is being cautious not to alienate the white vote.
This is nothing new in the national politics of America. Every modern president has played it this way. This tendency received intellectual legitimacy as far back as 1965 in the Daniel Moynihan report, which charged black men with the failure to create a black family. There was much condemnation of this report in the black community. Martin Luther King gave his partial support, saying: â€œNothing is so much needed as a secure family life for a people to pull themselves out of poverty and backwardness.â€ But he offered criticism, too: “The fact is that problems will be attributed to innate Negro weaknesses and used to neglect and rationalise oppression.”
ML King had it right – that a secure family is important for the development of young kids. But opression in America against blacks has changed since his time, and Darcus Howe can’t keep talking about that era as if it still exists.
This is what frustrates me about old school writers on race – they play into the right-wing stereotype that minority groups (and lefties in general) play the victim card too much. This is exactly what Darcus Howe is doing and frankly there’s no reason to buy it.
The message espoused by Barack Obama – and others such as Bill Cosby, also heavily criticized for his views on the matter – is that no matter the external circumstances facing African-Americans, they always have the choice to do the right thing.
Advocates of black self-empowerment point out that during slavery and the civil rights era, when America was a patently racist society, black people still made great advancements. In Cosby’s book Come On People, he writes: “When restaurants, laundries, hotels, theatres, groceries, and clothing stores were segregated, black people opened and ran their ownâ€¦.” The message is that if African Americans could succeed then, they cannot now use racism as an excuse for not succeeding.
For African Americans much more so that ethnic minorities in the UK, racism does exist and there is way more segregation there. But that alone does not explain why there is such a high percentage of single parent black families. Admittedly, it does annoy me when people like Cameron desperately jump on the bandwagon to say they same when frankly they have no right to. Lester Holloway did a good takedown of Cameron then.
There are two other themes to this. The ‘uncle tom’ theme, that Darcus Howe is implying at both Obama and Shaun Bailey, and the ‘OMG he’s a just a right-wing neocon pretending to be a leftwinger!!‘ accusation that lefties have become far too fond of throwing at people. The Judean People’s Front thing.
There’s no need for it. Both Darcus Howe and his opponents like Anthony Browne, who feed off each other, annoy me. Does this mean I still refuse to tolerate any criticism of Obama? Possibly. I just haven’t seen any good criticism of him yet. Oh there’s this good article on Why Obama has better a better foreign policy than McCain.
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Filed in: British Identity,Media,Race politics