2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

Obama, Gifted Racial Politician


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Obama delivered his most recent smack down message at the house of worship where Dr. Martin Luther King preached, Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.  In a 2000+ word speech, Obama never uses the word racism, only uses the word race once and never uses the word discrimination. However Obama acknowledges ""the insidious role that race still sometimes plays on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system." That statement appears to be an acknowledgment of racism in American institutions. But he was very indirect with his criticism of white institutions. First,  the words "insidious role that race" and not racism signals to whites that problem is not conscious or overt and he is not accusing them of racism. Second, he limits even that ambiguous statement by qualifying it with the word "sometimes" to be sure that the white community understood that he is not calling them racist.

He was not so circumvent in then spanking the black community over homophobia, anti-Semitism and mistreatment of immigrants. "We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity."

However, he doesn't mention sexism, colorism or anti-black racism.

I am coming to view Obama as a very clever, gifted racial politician. Obama uses racial politics to both endear himself to blacks and to whites. He gives the black community enough hope that they are blindly ignoring that he has used the black community to endear himself to whites and is now overtly endearing himself to gays, jews and immigrants or more specifically Latinos. He endears himself by sending the message that he will use every opportunity to "discipline" this unruly child whose family he is a member of - the Black Community.

Yet, as far as I can tell, he rarely, if ever, uses the opportunity to so directly discipline the other half of his family - the white community - for their racism and sexism.

Why is that?

Obama ended his smack down with a reminder to black people of their true role in this society - to be their for white people.  He spoke of a elderly black male organizer for his campaign who saw himself involved in the campaign, not for his family, not for his community, not for his grandchildren, but for a young white woman organizers who was there because of her mother's problem with health care.

Another "Driving Miss Daisy" moment!  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_Miss_Daisy)


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