So one of the great mysteries has been solved, or so it seems. Having a (half) black president and a mostly black first family doesn’t have much of a long term impact on attitudes about race relations. Check out these Gallup poll numbers that just came in at the end of October 2009. (You can click on the graphs to make them larger.)
Be sure to note that these numbers are the same as they were in 1963. Yeah…1963! And in case you want to know what different groups think, here they’ve controlled for ancestry.
The following graph is actually a bit promising. I suppose the numbers have to play out in this way with Obama in the White House. I mean god help us if more, rather than fewer, people think black people have less of a chance to get a job for which they are qualified today than in the past.
These data are interesting because they point to the optimistic accessment of how things are unraveling.
And it appears as though the backlash against the “white man” has come to fruition. Sucks to be white.
Here is how the Gallup folks summarize the results:
Despite the election of the first black president in U.S. history, Americans’ optimism about a solution to the race problem in the U.S. and their views about the prevalence of racism against blacks are not substantially more positive now than they have been in previous years. In fact, optimism about race relations is now almost identical to where it was 46 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question.
Blacks remain significantly more negative than whites about their status in society and about the potential for an eventual solution to the race problem. The data do not suggest that blacks have become disproportionately more positive than whites as a result of Obama’s election as president.
Probably. The 2009 definition of racist seems to be:
a person who carelessly says or does anything race-related within earshot of a race member other than their own that at least one person with an active imagination could take exception to, irregardless of the merits of the statement.
So maybe Glenn Beck is right; maybe Obama IS a racist. But then so is he just by saying it.
And now so am I. See how that works? It’s all a bit ridiculous actually. What is even more ridiculous is Glenn Beck is now popular for his aggressive opinions (while Kanye is crucified – damn, more racism), in the same country that put people in jail for wearing anti-Bush t-shirts just 4 years ago. But…somehow this is cool (damn, more racism).
Isn’t it also a stretch to call Obama “racist” because of his past, and maybe privately maintained, connection with radical Reverend Wright. Well, let’s consider this: George Bush is a white guy from Texas, an Ivy League alum, who likes to hunt and comes from a family with a very high social status because of his grandfather’s dealings and his father’s career. For my money, the odds of him having a “Reverend Wright” in his life, a relationship that he’d feel publicly obliged to denounce if it came into the public arena, is extremely likely. Is that a racist conclusion? But hey…what are you gonna do?
What’s more interesting is WHY Obama is a being called a racist. I had an odd suspicion that Obama could be the beginning of the end of racism. But not like most people think. I saw Obama’s presidential win as an ethnic “win” for white people. As my imagination would have it, white intellectuals have never quite been able to overcome the “black people can’t be racist because they don’t have power and authority to oppress or exclude white people” response in the race dialogue. Enter Obama. Black, check! Power and authority, check! Oppression of republicans in the predominately white Congress and exclusion of tax benefits for the wealthy (whites), double check!! We have a winner.
Add to that that everything is about race with him, even when it’s not, and the conversation is bound to happen. I think that it could be a blessing is disguise however because the day we find white people calling black people racist at the same rate the blacks say it about whites, it is probably losing its impact. There was once power in the exclusive rights to label people racist. But, as sure as white people abandon the suburbs when black people arrive, so too will black people abandon labeling folks racist for ironically the same reason – they both lose their value.
If you didn’t hear about the “beer summit” and the events that led to it, then clearly you were not paying attention to the mainstream media during the latter part of the month of July. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., a very famous and well known professor to any regular viewer of PBS television, was arrested on his front porch by a police officer near (or actually on) the Harvard campus. CLICK FOR: summary of events.
We’re not particularly interested in debating who was “right” and “wrong” in this mess, nor whether the arrest was fueled by racial profiling or racism. What is interesting is the follow-up and it’s impact on race relations. So is this it? We give two aggrieved parties a beer and, as Laurie Mulvey says in the video, they agree to disagree and we call it “dialogue”?
Tell us what you think about what she’s saying. Is the event (and the spillover) indicative of our need for racial dialogue and racial healing…or is it merely another case of a small incident getting blown out of proportion by mass media outlets in search of sales?
In a world full of smart people, it seems we all still struggle with the question of where the line between funny and offensive should be drawn. My personal take has always been that people who get easily offended shouldn’t take themselves so seriously (mostly because, in all likelihood, no one else takes THEM seriously).
In this instance, I’d like hear your thoughts on some of the very predictable jokes that have found their way into our cultural as part of the “first black president inauguration package.” Let me preface these with my own reaction – LMFAO. I imagine some of these are gonna be touchy so if you feel a little uncomfortable, breathe . . . wooo-saaa . . . or picture Dave Chapelle doing it on his show and maybe you can find some humor in them.
And maybe not. Maybe none of them are funny; perhaps they’re all in bad taste.
5. Basketball Obama
Of course all black people play basketball! Even the Ivy League lawyer types who make it to the White House. The only thing more stereotypical to highlight from his personal hobbies would be if he were caught playing spades with some friends on election night.
4. Obama’s Stimulus Bill
. . . maybe not the bill you expected, but with the rising cost of food, jobs being lost and a president who never misses a chance to brand himself we all should have seen this one coming. I wonder if this gives you an extra discount on “black” foods like watermelon and chicken. (O.K., forget I said that.)
3. Obama Fried Chicken
Speaking of chicken (lol), well what do you know – seems like the president in cashing in on the community. Obama Fried Chicken, right in my neighborhood here in New York City. (Really. I couldn’t make this up even if I tried.) True to Obama’s diplomacy, it seems like the store offers Gyros for Greeks, Bagels for Jews, Pizza for Italians, and Halal meats for Middle Easterners.
2. The Gift of Music
I put this one high on my list of favorites because Obama actually brought this on himself. Since it seems to be well established that black people love music, Obama decided to share the love by giving the Queen of England an iPod as a gift. WHAT! LOL! It’s hard to imagine how folks get along in life without some back-in-tha-day tunes but Obama won’t have it. The jury is still out as to whether it was pre-loaded with some old school love jams and Motown favorites. But it did seem to include a few of his best talks. Now that’s one confident man who could do that! And speaking of confidence…
1. Swagger Like Barack
John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama all die and go to heaven. God looks down from his throne and asks McCain, “Do you think you deserve to be in heaven?”
McCain takes a breath and then replies, “Well, I think so because I was a great leader and tried to follow the words in your great book.” God looks down and then says, “You can sit to my left side.”
So, McCain takes his seat and then God asks the same question to Hillary, “Do you think you deserve to be in heaven?” Hillary thinks for a second and then replies, “I think so because I have been fighting for the rights of so many people for so long.” God again looks down and this time says, “You can sit to my right side.”
Finally God turns to Barack Obama and asks, “Do you think you deserve to be in heaven?” Obama smiled and replied, “I think you’re in my seat.”
Alot of people (mostly white) think Obama has a “God complex”. But it’s not a complex at all – it’s swagger! Swagger is a subtle thing that many people who are not black don’t seem to get. (Sorry.) Swagger is about one thing: respect. Rest assured, if President Obama feels disrespected, he will find himself dodging the “angry black man” bullet.