Tag Archives: barack obama

Using your Voice Makes You a Target

By Guest Contributor M.Dot, cross-posted from New Model Minority

Returning a book back to the library Monday, I decided to look at the magazine section. I came across the most recent issue of The Nation and decided to pick it up. I know that Professor Harris Perry had discourse with Cornel West and Chris Hedges in May around President Obama’s positions and policies around race, racial alliances, identity and class. So I decided to read this article because it seemed to be a follow up to the conversation. It also helped that the title was “Breaking News: Not All Black Intellectuals Think Alike.” #Heheheh.

A particular part of the article spoke to me, the section where she connects voice to citizenship. She writes:

Citizenship in a democratic system rests on the ability to freely and openly choose, criticize and depose one’s leaders. This must obtain whether those leaders are elected or self-appointed. It cannot be contingent on whether the critiques are accurate or false, empirical or ideological, well or poorly made. Citizenship is voice. West exercised his voice, and I mine. But the history and persistence of racial inequality and white privilege in America means that the exercise of voice for black citizens is fraught with the dangers of surveillance. It’s yet another challenge of being black and exercising citizenship in the United States. Even as we articulate our grievances, black citizens are haunted by that “peculiar sensation” that W.E.B. Du Bois described as “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.”

I thought of voice and the fact that two White men have been impersonating queer women of color on the internet.

I thought of how my colleagues, other Black women who are teachers and graduate students from across the country who write anonymously on the internet for fear of retribution from their departments and future potential employers. Whereas on the other hand, here are these two heterosexual White men assuming the identity of women of color, to further their own career ends.

I thought of how I routinely have to tell Negro men to sit down when they try and debate me about gender theory, racial theory or political economy on the internet. It’s not that I don’t mind being challenged, that is a part of the game. The issue is their willingness to challenge me while being woefully under read. When I am dialoging with people who know more than me in an academic setting or on the street, I shut the hell up and listen and learn. These men, and some women on the internet learn real quickly that they can learn from me  or ask me questions, but unless they know my arguments, and the arguments of the people I have read, I will sit them down with the quickness. My work will be respected. This ain’t JV, this is elite. I have the bills and bifocals to prove it.

As a Black woman that writes about race, gender, pop culture and sexuality on the internet, I was excited when I saw Harris Perry write,

I vigorously object to the oft-repeated sentiment that African-Americans should avoid public disagreements and settle matters internally to present a united front. It’s clear from the history of black organizing that this strategy is particularly disempowering for black women, black youth, black gay men and lesbians, and others who have fewer internal community resources to ensure that their concerns are represented in a broader racial agenda. Failing to air the dirty laundry has historically meant that these groups are left washing it with their own hands.

To say it another way, failing to air our dirty laundry leaves the deviants, the single mothers, the queers, the lesbians, the gays, the felons, the hustlers, the sex workers-basically anyone who is lewd and lascivious shit out of luck.

Using your voice makes you a target, but as Audre Lorde has famously said, your silence won’t protect you.

You use your voice lately?

How did that turn out?

You choose NOT to speak up lately?

How did that turn out?

With Populists Like These …: Salon Swiftboats Melissa Harris-Perry

By Arturo R. García

No, seriously, does Salon have beef with Melissa Harris-Perry?

Twice this week, the online magazine – freshly rebranded as “aggressively populist” – has taken shots at the Tulane University professor, MSNBC contributor and columnist for The Nation in the midst of two positive columns regarding President Barack Obama.

(Full disclosure: Racialicious’ Editor, Latoya Peterson, has contributed articles to Salon in the past.)
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Quotable: President Obama at the Congressional Black Caucus

Throughout our history, change has often come slowly. Progress often takes time. We take a step forward, sometimes we take two steps back. Sometimes we get two steps forward and one step back. But it’s never a straight line.  It’s never easy. And I never promised easy.  Easy has never been promised to us. But we’ve had faith. We have had faith. We’ve had that good kind of crazy that says, you can’t stop marching. 

Even when folks are hitting you over the head, you can’t stop marching. Even when they’re turning the hoses on you, you can’t stop. Even when somebody fires you for speaking out, you can’t stop. Even when it looks like there’s no way, you find a way — you can’t stop. Through the mud and the muck and the driving rain, we don’t stop. Because we know the rightness of our cause — widening the circle of opportunity, standing up for everybody’s opportunities, increasing each other’s prosperity. We know our cause is just. It’s a righteous cause.

So in the face of troopers and teargas, folks stood unafraid. Led somebody like John Lewis to wake up after getting beaten within an inch of his life on Sunday — he wakes up on Monday: We’re going to go march. 

Dr. King once said: “Before we reach the majestic shores of the Promised Land, there is a frustrating and bewildering wilderness ahead. We must still face prodigious hilltops of opposition and gigantic mountains of resistance.  But with patient and firm determination we will press on.” 

So I don’t know about you, CBC, but the future rewards those who press on. With patient and firm determination, I am going to press on for jobs.  (Applause.)  I’m going to press on for equality. I’m going to press on for the sake of our children.  (Applause.)  I’m going to press on for the sake of all those families who are struggling right now. I don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have time to complain. I am going to press on.  (Applause.)

I expect all of you to march with me and press on.  (Applause.)  Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.
- Image and transcript courtesy of BET

Cornel West and Tavis Smiley Embark on the Poverty Tour

Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman recently conducted an interview with Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, who have embarked upon a fifteen city tour to promote what they call “A Return to Conscience:”

The full transcript is here, but below are the segments I found most interesting.


TAVIS SMILEY:
The bottom line is that our body politic—I want to be clear about this—both Republicans and Democrats, both Congress and the White House, and for that matter, all of the American people, have got to take the issue of the poor more seriously. Why? Because the new poor, the new poor, are the former middle class. Obviously, the polls tell these elected officials, these politicians, that you ought to talk about the middle class, that resonates. Well, if the new poor are the former middle class, then this conversation has got to be expanded. We’ve got to have a broader conversation about what’s happening to the poor. And the bottom line for me is this, Amy, with regard to this legislation and all others that are now demonizing, casting aspersion on the poor. There’s always been a connection between the poor and crime, but now—between poverty and crime, but now it’s become a crime, it would seem, to be poor in this country. And I believe this country, one day, is going to get crushed under the weight of its own poverty, if we think we can continue to live in a country where one percent of the people own and control more wealth than 90 percent. That math, long term, Amy, is unsustainable. We’ve got to talk about poverty.[...] Continue reading

Open Thread: Drew Westin’s NYT Op-Ed on “What Happened to Obama?”

BHO

Over the weekend, Drew Westin took to the NYT to discuss Obama’s “lack of passion”:

Those were the shoes — that was the historic role — that Americans elected Barack Obama to fill. The president is fond of referring to “the arc of history,” paraphrasing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous statement that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But with his deep-seated aversion to conflict and his profound failure to understand bully dynamics — in which conciliation is always the wrong course of action, because bullies perceive it as weakness and just punch harder the next time — he has broken that arc and has likely bent it backward for at least a generation.

When Dr. King spoke of the great arc bending toward justice, he did not mean that we should wait for it to bend. He exhorted others to put their full weight behind it, and he gave his life speaking with a voice that cut through the blistering force of water cannons and the gnashing teeth of police dogs. He preached the gospel of nonviolence, but he knew that whether a bully hid behind a club or a poll tax, the only effective response was to face the bully down, and to make the bully show his true and repugnant face in public.

IN contrast, when faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze.

Westin argues that Obama hasn’t proactively shaped the narrative. Thoughts?

And Now, The Comedic Stylings Of Reggie Brown

By Arturo R. García

Didja hear the one about the guy who impersonated President Obama in front of a room full of Republicans? Turns out he was allowed to make fun of a black man, but not a Bachmann.

Thank you, I’m here all week.

But seriously, folks, if you watch the video above, you see that Obama impersonator Reggie Brown got off to a good start with his set at the Republican Leadership Conference. A transcript, and other “highlights,” are under the cut.
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No, Joan Walsh, racial criticism does not equal ‘identity politics’

By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said

Hmmm … I’m just digesting Joan Walsh’s analysis of the Cornel West v. President Obama controversy. Now, I think West’s attack on Obama was petty, personal and, perhaps worst of all, an example of destructive policing of blackness from within. So, I was with Walsh until she went here:

But there’s a way in which this whole controversy looks like progressives devouring their own tail. From the left, West attacks Obama for not being black enough; I’ve written about being attacked as a clueless, entitled white progressive for criticizing Obama; in a pro-West backlash, black Obama supporters are being dismissed as “elitist” fronts for white liberals and that half-white guy in the White House. It’s crazy. Read more…

Whoa … whoa … whoa there, Joan! In her article, Walsh goes from pointing out the silliness of “not black enough” charges to using West’s foolishness to imply that analysis of political opinion through the lens of race and other identities is without merit–particularly when leveled at, well, Joan Walsh.
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