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When Skin Color Matters

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Ever since Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech and forged a new era of freedom for African-Americans, children have been brought up to believe that skin color does not matter. Ideally speaking, it doesn’t or shouldn’t. African-Americans, however, have been forced to come together under organizations that support black people just so they can be heard because when one black man speaks out nobody listens, which has proven that skin color does still matter. Lately, however, one man has been getting the attention black people deserve. His name is Barack Obama.

Recently, famed civil rights advocate Jesse Jackson spoke out against Obama because he did not attend last week’s march through Jena, the site of the Jena 6 dispute. Jesse Jackson has been quoted saying “if I were a candidate, I’d be all over Jena.” A local pastor named B. L. Moran, who is helping the black youths, also complained last week saying, “look at all these people who have come from all over the United States. We have not seen anyone of his stature.” The situation worsened when a report was released this Saturday that said the "FBI is reviewing a white supremacist Web site that purports to list the addresses of five of the six black teenagers accused of beating a white student in Jena and "essentially called for their lynching.'" His lack of commitment to a “touchstone civil rights issue” has led many to believe he is “acting like he’s white.” Yet, history shows that Barack Obama has never been obligated to do anything because of his skin color, which means nobody should expect Obama to care about these acts of so-called “hidden racism” in America.

Barack Obama is an exception to the rule for oppressed and suppressed African-Americans. That is, he “represents a modern and positive image of blackness. He is a worldly, well-educated man married to a well-educated professional black woman.” Obama is also wealthy, something not many African-Americans have the privilege of being. As of November 21, 2006, “Between one-fourth and one-third of black African American families with children (28 percent) experienced at least one of three hardships — overcrowded housing, hunger or the risk of hunger (termed “food insecurity” by the government), or lack of needed medical care — in the 12 months before the survey was conducted in summer 2003. This was double the comparable rate for non-Latino white families with children (14 percent).” No doubt those percentages have gotten worse.

Barack Obama is expected to have an edge because he will “play well in black communities: universal healthcare, technological improvements for poor and rural communities, reform for the political system, energy independence and ending the war in Iraq. The fact that racial minorities make up a disproportionate percentage of the dead in Iraq and Afghanistan is not lost on people of color in this country.” That would be all well and good except Barack Obama supports the war and has done nothing to defund it and bring the troops home now. He does not support not-for-profit single-payer health care and could not even be bothered to participate in the AARP forum on health care last week. And in fact, he is very reluctant to call for any changes to the political system so that African-Americans can quit being disenfranchised.

Let’s go back to that horrific time in history when African-Americans realized that once again the Democrats had lost because black people were turned away at the voting booth or were “blacked out”. This time in our nation’s history saw an objection to the official electoral ballot count come before Congress thanks to Cynthia McKinney, Maxine Waters, John Conyers, John Lewis, Barbara Lee, and Barbara Boxer, the only member of the Senate who stood up so the objection could be voted on in the Senate

The day was January 6th, 2005. The hope was to pass an objection to the electoral ballot count in the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. The results of the vote were sad for all African-Americans who had been “blacked out”. Only one person stood up in the Senate and voted for the resolution. Her name was Barbara Boxer. In the House, thirty-one people voted for the objection. The objection failed to pass. Barack Obama voted “nay”.

Barack Obama could not be bothered or moved to care. Even after knowing full well that after the 2000 election, the NAACP had pressured ChoicePoint/DBT to admit that it had improperly admitted over 90,000 felons revealing a disenfranchisement of black voters, Barack Obama did not stand up for black people when he had the opportunity. So, why should he expect African-Americans to vote for him in this election?

If he really supported black people, Barack Obama would have assisted and supported Cynthia McKinney, a congresswoman of Georgia, who in the past decade has used her power to stand up for black people more often than any African-American politician in America. He would have been at McKinney’s side calling for the troops to come home in 2003. That same year, he would have been at her side helping her question the official account of 9/11 since the majority of African-Americans do not believe the account the government claims is the truth. Two years later, in response to the terrible catastrophe that befell millions of African-Americans in New Orleans, he would have joined McKinney in refusing to listen to Nancy Pelosi who sought to “muzzle House Democrats, including the Congressional Black Caucus, barring them from participating in Republican-led hearings on Katrina and its aftermath” and participated in the hearings. And he would be ruthlessly calling for impeachment of Bush and Cheney because his black voting base demands it.

Barack Obama’s failure to unite with McKinney is a sign of the disconnect he has with black people. African-Americans can already deduce from his rating in the 109th Congress of 70%, which was 1% shy of being a failing grade, that he will not unite with the most outspoken members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Those outspoken members who garnered a 100% rating in the 109th Congress were: Barbara Lee (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Robert Scott (D-VA), John Lewis (D-GA), and Charles Rangel. Barack Obama’s underachievement or to put it more accurately, failure, was disheartening in lieu of the fact that he was the lone black member of the Senate.

The Black Agenda Report put it exquisitely well when characterizing the state of African-Americans right now in an article titled, “Katrina, War, Impeachment and the Black Gulag”:

By now one of the few pistons running the engine of the U.S. economy, while also guaranteeing its eventual collapse - is the enemy of every agenda item of the Historical Black Consensus. George Bush's policy of endless warfare condemns Black America to permanent deferral of urban transformation, in all its aspects. There can be no revitalization of the cities - except under corporate terms under which Black removal is a prerequisite - while the public treasury is poured into the black hole of the War Industry.

In the aftermath of 9/11, decades of struggle against racial profiling were erased in an instant; now, every non-Aryan-looking person is fair game for profiling, and Black complaints are deemed petty, as if removed from history. Vast income and wealth disparities must take a back seat - all the way to the back - to the spending imperatives of war, most of which ultimately winds up in the hands of what I dubbed the "Pirate Class," epitomized by Halliburton, Bechtel and other pillars of the ruling order - which also happen to be the behemoth "reconstructors" of the Katrina-ravaged Gulf region. Wars have always accelerated the rate of structural change in societies. Corporate wars - the only kind the U.S. wages, these days - direct all restructuring to the most non-productive corporate coffers.

Barack Obama has done little to stop the war or the reconstruction of Katrina-ravaged areas by “non-productive corporate coffers”. The Black Agenda Report again highlights Obama best in an article titled, “Obama, the Phony Anti-War Candidate: Kucinich is the Real Deal”:

The U.S. maintains 730 military installations in 50 countries around the globe!. But that's not enough for Barack Obama, who calls for an enhanced "ability to put boots on the ground." He told the Chicago foreign policy crowd he strongly supports the expansion of American ground forces by adding 65,000 new soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines. In other words, while Obama gives lip service to disentangling most - although by no means all - U.S. troops from Iraq, as president he would send them elsewhere and add nearly one hundred thousand more to the mix.

This is not a man of peace: this is an imperialist bent on further U.S. expansionism. Obama pratters on about the need to avoid "bullying" other countries - but bullying is precisely what armies, navies and air forces are all about. Obama talks sweetly but wants to carry an even bigger stick than George Bush. All he promises is that he will be more judicious and thoughtful in using that bigger stick. History shows such promises are never sincerely made, and are never, ever kept.

As the article states at the end, all Barack Obama promises African-Americans is that he will be “a better, smarter imperialist - one with a much bigger military, if anybody decides to disagree.” Being “a better, smarter imperialist” may be all he can be bothered to promise African-Americans. After all, he can’t even promise change for an African-American populace which faces mass incarceration like that of gypsies in Eastern Europe in the 19th century. According to the Black Agenda Report, “mass Black incarceration is not a priority among Black elite formations” and black leaders are “’more embarrassed than outraged’ at the volcanic emergence of a million-man-and-woman Black Prison Nation.”

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Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure." He was an editor for OpEdNews.com
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