Media, President Obama, and questions from Logan Calder
This is a response I made to a comment recieved from Logan Calder on my post America is still America. I felt this deserved to be heard on it own as well.
I love involved comments that reflect when someone has read what I have written. Thank you. I will try to respond as clearly as I can.
The question of why so many, including myself, have said “I never thought I would see a black president” is pretty easy. It comes from the fact that for some 400 years African Americans have been in fact or in effect second class citizens. For those that are old enough, basically my mothers generation or older, to have lived in segregation the thought of a Black President is hard to conceive of when you can recall water fountains being segregated. For those in my generation, roughly 45 – 30, the memory of blatant discrimination provides the same disconnect. Perhaps the only generation that is oblivious to blatant daily discrimination would be those 20 and under now, though it does happen via television and movies everyday as I have often mentioned.
“Does this suggest that the country is not as racist as they believe??, or do you think that it is simply dramatic behavior?? or something else??.”
No the country is definitely as racist as it has always been in my life. The means by which that racism is enacted or portrayed has changed though.
The 200 incidents of nooses reported in 2007, an act that was unreported prior or since the Jena 6 issue hit the major news media – after 6 months of having been on-going, is one example. The singular consistency of police across the nation to overkill unarmed African American men, ONLY, and the fact that national news media avoids reporting this while relatively trivial news (Anna Nicole Smith's death, the Casey Anthony case, ect.) is followed every day for a year is another example.
But it must be said that President Obama was elected by a majority of all Americans. So there is a change in acceptance. I know of many people that voted for Obama because of retribution against President Bush (which is stupid since he wasn’t running). Others voted against the Republican ticket and the ridiculous adage that Democrats used to great effect – “a third term of President Bush”. And more than a few people were swept away with the thoughts of “change” (which is unspecific and dumb), an end to the Iraq and possibly Afghanistan wars, and/or receiving another stimulus check (which will not happen according to comments on the next stimulus package which I believe will fail miserably).
But for all the reasons Obama was elected there was a clear and steady voice of about 10% of the nation that vocally stated they would not vote for a Black President. If that is an extreme, which I think it is, then on the sliding scale to those that would vote for a Black President we must cross a percentage of Americans that might vote for a Black President under certain circumstances only, and those that would vote for a Black man because they felt peer and/or media pressure to do so, as well as those that did not vote for President Obama but were unwilling to be vocal about it. Put together that is a scary but illustrative number of Americans.
Still there is no question that the media made this election incredibly dramatic. The news media swooned over President Obama back in October of 2007 and never stopped to this point. It was so bad that the media had no choice but to admit their partisan manipulation of information about the election – though they waited until after the election to admit it.
So there are a number of factors that came together to get President Obama elected. Blind Democratic voting blocks, historical passion, a mood of change in the public attitude on key issues, an unpopular war, economic disappointments, a less eloquent and less attractive opponent, the age and health factors, news media bias, and the introduction of the internet as a new medium of great power. All of this combined led to President Obama’s win.
“1. Most white people that I talk to voted for Obama and felt, purely from a political standpoint that he was the best candidate.”
Most people in America right now expect another stimulus check from the Government, though it has been directly and repeatedly stated that it won’t happen. Most people hear and believe what they want to based on 30 second soundbites they watch on television. They infer policy from polispeak, and invariably get it wrong.
There are dozens of reasons to question President Obama’s politics and economic views. One of the most unrecognized is the fact that every economic policy President Obama advocates has been proven to not work in the past. These are not new economic plans, and they have never worked in the past – why do so many believe it will work in the future?
One great indicator of what business believes is the stock market. It is a forward indicator of the economy. While moved dramatically by emotion it is always based in the expectations of success or failure of economic plans.
Thus a positive expectation will cause a factual 10 point move to be a 100 point move, and conversely for negative indicators. The market has lost some 12% as President Obama has been revealing more of his economic intentions. That does not indicate the best political standpoint to me.
“2. I heard several times that “they would never let him win”…”they” obviously refers to white people. And since he won, and received massive support by whites, does this play into the original thought of racial paranoia??.”
Yes the “they” refers to Whites. And yes that is based on the legal, social, and media disparities that exist in America at this moment as well as the last several hundred years.
But again I refer back to what I have said before. The win by President Obama is a culmination of multiple factors. While race was one of those factors, the economy, the wars, and other immediate policies were of far more concern than race. Which is a positive in some respects, and very sad in others. Still there is a bit of paranoia in that as well, just as the scale reflects the racism of some in this nation.
“3. Is there a silent feeling of “wow, I didnt expect that…now what do we do” among blacks that are most likely to use race as an excuse for failure?”
Failure for a President has nothing to do with race. Which is an unfair statement because we have never before had the option to prove that point. But I believe that if President Obama is successful his race has nothing to do with that. Yet considering the nature of the media to emphasize negative racial stereotypes (when the media bothers to cover non-Whites at all) a failure of President Obama will likely be framed in Black and White. That is just an honest observation.
But I believe the nation as a whole is just now starting to ask the question that Democrats avoided throughout the Presidential campaign, ‘what does change mean?’
From a Black perspective, speaking for myself based on my views and those I have heard, there is no expectation of failure for President Obama in the Black community. And were he to fail, that is not about his race but his politics. Yet I again state, the media is more likely to create an issue of race motivating blame than any American. And once the media does so, the nation will likely be engulfed by the issue. Which ultimately helps the media make more money.
“4. Last, do you think that a large portion of blacks are silent about, but resent, the fact that Obama is half white. And could be just as easily (and fairly) called white…if the thought of calling him white is offensive, then you would be a racist, in my opinion.”
I personally could care less. There are millions of African Americans that are mixed with some other race or nationality. In fact most Americans whose family goes back to 1865 or earlier (as mine does) have a mixture of White and Black blood. It may not be spoken about, since much of that mixture from that time was the direct result of White slave owners committing rape – but not always as seems the case with Thomas Jeffesron, a rarity indeed. So President Obama’s heritage is about as important as that of President Bill Clinton, President Bush, President Roosevelt, President Lincoln, President Washington, and so on.
At the same time I must correct a thought you have. Race has always been a factor of what people see in this country. If you have dark skin you are presumed to be Black. You could be Hispanic, African, Arabic, Indian, and so on but you will be seen as Black at least initially. Just as every person from any Southeast Asian nation is considered generally from the same nation. It is an attitude that America has maintained since the days of slavery.
Any non-White is generally regarded as a lump of people of the same color. And because there is a visible difference there is a discrimination placed upon them, historically. Thus President Obama would and will never be called White, though he is a 50/50 mix. Because when those that care about such things look at him they see a Black man.
But I doubt many in the Black community care about his mixture. Because most African Americans can trace a fair amount of White ancestors to their family. There are always extreme views of course, but that is the exception and not the rule. But again the key here is the media.
The media has the unique ability to focus on the issues they wish, in a manner that emphasizes what they wish to convey. Right now the Casey Anthony case in Florida has been on national news programs for about a year. To my knowledge only Bill O’Reilly (for 4 minutes) and ABC News (for 30 seconds) have covered the Oscar Grant case. Exponentially less time has been focused on the 2 other Black men killed by police on New Year’s Day, while unarmed, one also on the ground and the other shot in the back 12 times.
Of just these 4 items of news, which do you believe has a greater impact on the society, and make a more clear statement about law enforcement? What is more worthy of coverage; the abuse of power by police on a seemingly national level or the question of what one deranged mother might have done to her own child that has no effect on anyone else in the nation?
Thus I expect that if the question of how African Americans feel about President Obama’s lineage comes up, it will be due to the media. The answer will reflect what they wish to promote. It will likely have nothing to do with what the majority of African Americans believe. Though it will be promoted as if the Black community was speaking in a consensus. Something that I have not seen since the Civil Rights Movement, other than the election of President Obama.
I hope I have covered all your questions. If not please do let me know.