Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Taking Down to Black People

When I first heard Jesse Jackson’s rebuke of Barack Obama for “talking down to black people,” I conceded that old dude is jealous and in need of medication for an obvious mental illness. It must be tough to witness the rise of a young, vibrant, intelligent, articulate, spokesperson able to accomplish what he couldn’t.
With that being said, I’m not sure this is all about an old man refusing to take his seat in the rocking chair as the next generation takes control.

I listened in disgust as Jackson whispered his desire to cut Obama’s family jewels, and thought homeboy has taken this thing too far. He needs to check himself, take a nap, and rethink all that hostility. This is a new day, and it’s time out for playa hating on Obama. Those old crabs in the barrow were tugging at the best chance black folks have at the White House, and I fumed at each assertion Jackson made.

For a brief moment, I celebrated Obama for telling the truth. Black people are slack. We don’t take care of our children. We cry the victim game whenever things don’t go our way. Our boys are enamored with the thug culture, and our young girls are mimicking the image of the video vixens on BET. I listened to Obama challenge black people to rise above the lure of the streets. I watched as those gathered at the NAACP annual convention rose to their feet in a resounding Amen.

I wanted to join them. I wanted to participate in this great moment, but something was wrong with the rhetoric of his message. An opportunity was missed. Obama made the same mistake as Bill Cosby. He overstepped in his claim, and, in doing so, participated in the further dissemination of negative information regarding the state of Black America.

There is another side to this story, a piece that we all should cheer. Not all black people are poor, drug addicted and pregnant before the age of 20. Not all black men are absent from the lives of their children, hooked on stupid, treat their women like garden tools or measure their manhood by the bulge in their pants. There is more to black America, much more, and I wanted to hear Obama communicate the good rather than fuel the stereotypes that hinder our ability to see past our assumptions.

By casting that large umbrella over black America, Obama has further victimized black people by reminding us of how the problems of a few can be used to categorize what it means to be a part of the whole. Isn’t it time to rethink what it means to be black in America? Isn’t it time to shed light on the good examples instead of casting a bright light on the few among us used to classify what it means to be black?

My mother and father have been married for over 50 years. My father is my role model. My uncles are like my father-black men who took care of their children. My cousins take care of their children. My father and uncles passed on meaningful lessons that have helped nurture me into the man I am today. This is not an anomaly. It’s what happens with black families across the country.

Instead of feeding the flame of negative sentiments regarding the black man, woman and family, let’s tell the truth. What you see on BET doesn’t define black life. I’m fed up with that assumption, and Barack Obama needs to help others understand the truth.

Yes, there are some knuckleheads out there. Some of them are black. Some are white. Some are Hispanic. Some are bi and tri racial. The bad in America can’t be reduced to the state of black America, and I would love it if our leaders would stop and celebrate the good that is Black America.

Maybe that’s what Jackson meant when he said Obama talks down to black people. I understand the need to challenge us to do better, but it sure would help if he could help America see there is more to black life than all those stereotypes pasted in the minds of most Americans.


  1. Your comments are right on the mark. Clearly, Obama and his success represent a change in America. However, I am troubled by his failure to challenge white America to shed its' racist past in the same way he challenges the black community to shed irresponsible behavior.

  2. Good Lord, Carl! Were we posting from the same psychic zone at nearly the same time today, or what? This is the exact theme expressed in my blog today but of a different content. See http://blueberriesinhercoffee.blogspot.com

    Yes, yes, Barack Obama seemingly has fallen prey to the forces of media and class stereotypes rather than taking an honest look at himself in the mirror. He's black. He's a male. Hmmm . . .


  3. Three charged in Durham homicide

    Durham, N.C. — Two people have been arrested, and police were searching Tuesday for a 17-year-old in connection with a weekend shooting death.

    Nicholas Javon James, 30, of Charles Street, was fatally shot early Sunday. Officers found his body in a vehicle at 3020 Weaver St., off East Cornwallis Drive, police said.

    Michael Crump, 23, of Charles Street, and an unidentified 15-year-old were charged with murder and robbery in the case.

    Police were searching for Dennis Maurice Quick, of South Roxboro Street. Warrants have been issued charging him with murder and robbery in the case.

    Anyone with information on Quick’s whereabouts is asked to call Durham Police Department Investigator C.A. Robinson at 919-560-4440, extension 264; Sgt. Jack Cates at 919-560-4440, extension 262; or CrimeStoppers at 919-683-1200.

  4. Good call, Carl! The squeaky wheels of the disconnected youth do attract attention and the stereotyped image of a bifurcated Black America -- heroes and thugs -- is reinforced. Your reminders about the large, healthy and I'd guess rather frustrated Black middle class were right on.


  5. WE know that not all Black people fit into the mold he described in his speech, but is White American aware of this. Many of the comments he made are not the majority of Blacks but may appear to be the majority in how it is seen on the news and portrayed in movies and through other forms of entertainment. I thought he was telling this to the NAACP to challenge the educated, those who are affluent to help those who are in such unfavorable situations. I personally felt inspired. As an educated person, his speech made me feel like it is part of my responsibility to myself to help those who for what ever reason have not gotten to the point where I have. This is hard for some Black people to do, I have personally seen educated/affluent Black people turn their backs to those Mr. Obama highligted in his speech. I don't know...I sometimes feel like we want him to be more than he is and can be.

  6. We all see the successes every day, but they also highlight the failures. If society as a whole is keeping down the black man, why do I work with such talented, well educated African-Americans from working class backgrounds? Right or wrong, it makes it seem that a solid family life and a little ambition are enough to overcome most obstacles...

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