Saturday, July 23, 2011

Race, Privilege and President Obama

I'm going to do something I never thought I would do...ask you to go read a diary at Daily Kos. And if you still have an account there, recommend it. The diary was written by dmitcha and is titled Rise of a New Confederacy: Race Privilege and President Obama.

As just a taste of what this writer is doing, s/he lists President Obama's resume and then says this:

So many say or think that people of color support President Obama simply because he is Black. You misunderstand our history. (How is that possible, to still not know what we have lived through, seen, been held accountable for, been held back by, been informed by, pushed victoriously forward through? Sincerely, how is it possible to be so ignorant yet consider oneself so much more enlightened?) Please extend your sentence from this day forward: Consider that many of us, of all races, respect him because he is Black and has done all of these things.

We know how hard it is to convince your teacher you actually wrote your "excellent" essay. How hard it is to get a resume with a "funny sounding name" on it past a local business owner. We went to college, and we remember the "Pimps and Hos" parties our "liberal" dormmates threw, happily parading their costumes before us for approval, since surely we would know? We work in corporate America, in medicine or in the doesn't matter really. We know the shock when clients see us, the polite request from receptionists that we wait to tidy until everyone leaves, despite being dressed in business clothing. We have been handed keys to fetch cars outside of every gala we've attended, despite wearing tuxedos with shimmery gold cuff links and having wives in organza and linen on our arms. We have been asked more than once by our White boyfriends' neighbors and mothers if we are the maid, and what day we might be free to take on a new apartment. We have been asked to leave hotel bars while waiting for clients because we must be call girls or we would not be dressed in such expensive clothing on their premises, room key be damned. We have been strip-searched at the airport for having too many stamps in our passport, despite the international contracts in our case. We know the work, the strength of character, the moral fortitude, the forgiveness, the brilliance, the relentlessness... WE KNOW WHAT IT TOOK TO DO EVERYTHING ON THAT LIST.

That list, that resume, is nearly statistically impossible for a rich, straight, Christian White man in our country to achieve, where all systems say "Go!" Now re-read those childhood circumstances in the first paragraph, and understand that Barack Hussein Obama achieved it.

And so, please ask yourself this one last question. Take this one last, small sip:

Despite having achieved exactly none of the things President Obama has achieved on that list (statement of probability based on statistics) you believe that HE is the one who is falsely being admired and lifted up? Is it, in fact, HE who has not really done anything to merit the respect and admiration he enjoys? Whereas you...YOU are absolutely worthy of the importance and stature and credibility you have claimed for yourself, yes?

People who support the demonstrated, quantifiable, statistically impossible excellence, achievement and nature of this American hero, you call "Obamabots," don't you? You chuckle at them and sincerely consider them delusional or deluded! (That "hero" term is filling your head with noise again, isn't it? Please read on.) Whereas the people who rec and tip YOU, they clearly are among the prescient, right? They have a REAL understanding of who knows best! They are following the more obvious and enlightened and WORTHY leader, correct?

This is one of the most powerful descriptions of white privilege I have ever read. And its all done by holding up a mirror to how folks react to President Obama. Please go check out the whole thing - and give the author some love!


  1. (scribe here) That is an incredible diary, just excellent. It's the viciousness of the character attacks on Obama that are accepted on that site that is driving away so many of us, not reasoned criticisms of his policies.

  2. You're right scribe.

    As I was reading the comments in that diary I was imagining what it would be like to have a real reasoned conversation there about some of the principles I believe guide what Obama is doing. I'd love to have a back-and-forth discussion with those who see it differently. But we all know it just turns into a shout-fest. And that's what's making the place irrelevant.

  3. Hi SP
    Thanks for posting it here. I forced myself to go over there only because BWD recommended it. I am so glad I did. The power of the truth of it is stunning. I have sent it to my whole group. I am not sure there really is any way to measure the depth of my support for this brilliant man. I thank the Universe for giving him to this country at this time of peril. Can you even think where we would be had McCain become president.

    PBO v GWB represents just how much we are at risk when the wrong person wins that office. It also establishes why we must re-elect him at all costs.

    Thank you for the depth and quality of your posts. I come every day even if I don't comment. I must also thank you again for the Eva Cassidy tip. I have 3 CDs and play them all endlessly.

  4. Wow, so powerful! Thanks for sharing it, Ms. Pants.

  5. You know, one of the comments to that diary said that Obama is insane, because he keeps doing the same things over and over (attempting to negotiate with the Repubs).

    I switched over to a post at Balloon Juice and read a perfect response (comment #2) to that thought:

    I’m going to say 1 thing on this. It’s not “Obama is failing because he’s negotiating with terrorists”. It’s not even the date analogy. This is a many headed hydra where one head is clinically insane and cannot be doing things that harm the body. You can’t get up and walk away, it’s fricking attached. You can leave a date, you can walk away from terrorists, you cannot leave a diseased part of the body. It’s the possessed hand from Evil Dead and it’s in your Congress, holding your wallet. Every time people vote for a teapublican, this is what you will get.

    I think Obama understands, maybe in a similar way to Lincoln, that a house divided can't stand, and failing to negotiate, no matter how odious the Republicans might be, would destroy this nation.

  6. (FYI, that last paragraph was me, not the commenter at Balloon Juice. For some reason, my quote tags didn't work)

  7. Monala

    Thanks for that link to Balloon Juice.

    I think the question about how to handle the Republicans these days is the big challenge. And as that comment points out - no, we can't just walk away. At least not when it comes to the debt ceiling issue. I think the Democrats have had to walk away from a lot of other agenda items that need attention. But you can't do that with this one.

    So many on the left think the answer is shouting them down or bullying them back. I think that assumes they'd be intimidated into compromise. To me, that's delusional. So what do you do?

    That's the challenge that faces Obama.

  8. SP, thanks so much for the shout out and the support of what was a long day (and night's) discussion. It has been a while since I was able to engage like that at DKos, and the community came, in large numbers, with reason, story and insight.

  9. dmitcha

    Thanks so much for stopping by.

    You're my hero now (LOL).

    I had to stop writing/commenting there a while ago because I just can't stand how defensive I get. You were amazing to watch today. I learned a lot from observing. After awhile, I started to catch on to the "noise" factor you kept referring to...amazing!


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