Thursday, July 23, 2009

Uhhh, Awkward!

I'm not going to spend a lot of time telling you how I felt about the way Henry Louis Gates was treated by the police. (Let's just say that I immediately adjusted my Facebook status to reflect my outrage.) However, I do have to make a confession: I think that may have been an inopportune moment for our first Negro president to invite himself into (White) America's homes and call the police stupid.

I know that we need to stand in solidarity behind our leader, especially in his moment of need, particularly when he is defending another brother. I know. I know. I know.

But allow me to make a confession: right now I could really care less about racial profiling. Or what it "means" to be Black in America, as reported by CNN. Or whether X person was hired/fired because he was Black. Or what Reverend Wright said. Or what Reverend Jackson said. Or what Reverend Sharpton said. Or what any other Reverend said.

Sorry, Reverend, I don't have time to discuss Thelma's biological clock

Or what Chris Brown did. Or what Michael did. Or what Michael didn't do. Or the inordinate sentencing of Black males. Or the merits of reparations for centuries of slavery.

Some of these "Black issues" are worth giving attention to, but the only "Black issue" that's important right now is health care.

If you give me the assurance that all Americans will have access to basic health insurance (and maybe even throw in equal access to education), then you can keep reparations. Even if the government gave us money for slavery, Black people would be spending most of their reparation checks on going to the doctor for diabetes, heart disease, HIV, etc.

If we're going to have a "national conversation" right now, it shouldn't be about whether Black professors should be arrested for loud tawkin' a White man. Of course they shouldn't but I'm sure even Mr. Gates would agree that his case is only really important within the context of a broader conversation about the way Black males are treated in society. The most troubling thought for me is how many brothers have been caught in similar situations and ended up jailed, beaten, and even worse.

Mr. Gates, please step away from the tricycle

But we can't have that conversation right now. This isn't the moment. There's too many things going on for us to start having Obama become Black before White people's eyes. That was one of his main appeals, kind of like Will Smith, he has the power to make White people comfortable, even while he is displaying his strength. But he's got to be careful. I wasn't trying to hate when I said that he is destined to be deeply unpopular at some point during his presidency. It's bound to happen, but what really matters is how he acts when the heat really gets turned up. That will be his crucible.

But I still believe in him like it's nobody's business. I admire his brilliance and his ability to keep an open heart, even if it makes him vulnerable at times. The difference between him and his predecessor is that Dubya was never made to feel ashamed for being a White man. He wore his cowboy boots and his smirk and his flight suit and ran his mouth whenever he saw fit. When he declared his Whiteness to the world, it was called patriotism.

Laura Bush thought bubble: Put that down and act like you got some sense.

Obama's showing us how to do this thing, this thing that has never ever ever ever ever been done, but this was a misstep.

I know we were in dangerous water when he joked about getting shot by White House security. Basically the humor of the joke is based in the idea that the security apparatus that is designed to protect White power is so entrenched that it would sacrifice the life of it's own Black president to preserve its symbols of White power. What kind of thing is that to lay on people? That's too heavy. Although there were a lot of criticism you could make about Dubya, that's one thing he did: keep it short (and stupid.)

Caption unnecessary

I'm not suggesting that Obama dumb down his message, but on Wednesday I got the sense that he was feeling pretty frustrated. Like he was tired of hearing about wise latina judges and overweight Black women Surgeon Generals and White men talking about they were going to "break" him. And he did what a whole lot of brothers would have done a long time ago: let 'em know.

I definitely understand the sentiment, but we can't allow anyone to take their off the ball now. Our people need health care. Now.

*****But, if we're going to have a "national conversation," let's hear what Mr. James has to say:


Anonymous said...

well it seems like obama is definitely in a pickle. i mean if he is silent on the issue we get the uncle tom insults from blacks saying he isnt really black and doesnt have our interests at heart, and if he speaks on the issue whites think he is only concerned with his brown-skin peeps and has forgotten about them. however, those who entertain that ideology are obviously deluded and probably didn't vote for him anyway. it may not be politically correct for him to make the comments he does but i think everyone is thinking it so it doesnt come as much of a surprise. esp since the majority of the reactions are, how did this happen...we have a black president!!! and i think guess what, it's awesome that he got elected, and it'll be in the history books, but it doesn't change the way people think. cuz the educated black male is still a criminal. i honestly was surpised he didn't get more pissed. i mean he was a civil rights lawyer. but yes i hope the health care happens for all since i dont have insurance :( hope i dont get lynched and have to go the hospital, they might not help me lol.

Abdel Shakur said...

Yeah, I hope he doesn't try to keep it real for Black folks because we like our saviors either sanctified or crucified, and it's hard to govern from either position. Plus, the leaders who we now revere the most (Malcolm & Martin) were reviled by many of their own people before their deaths. Black people are just like any other people, we need leaders to do the right thing, not necessarily the thing that is most popular.

As far as White folks go, maybe it was good to shake people out of their malaise about who he is. Sometimes I think he makes it look so cool that people don't realize all the considered effort he constantly puts in.

I'm not worried about this dude though because he's too smart and his support system is too wise. I just hope health care doesn't get dragged out and watered down so much that it's not effective.

Abdel Shakur said...

And I'm feeling you on the health care thing. That's why I'm trying to have every exam I can get while I still got my little bit.

Jackson Brown said...

^ lol ... glad i'm not the only one. :-)

great post, btw.