Freedom Rider: The Obama “Dog Whistle”

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

The Obamas put a double-whammy on Black people, low-rating The Race at two institutions of higher learning, for the benefit of white people. In Maryland, Michelle lambasted those “mythical” creatures that think learning is “white,” while her husband did variations on the same theme in Atlanta. Black audiences applauded, wildly. “Most of us still worship a man who has nothing but contempt for us.”


Freedom Rider: The Obama “Dog Whistle”

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

It’s obvious by now that Barack Obama is treating black Americans like one treats a demented uncle, brought out from his room to be ridiculed and scolded before company from time to time…” – Ishmael Reed in 2008

The black people in the audience were part of the stage setting for the real audience, which was totally white.”

Every successful politician panders to some degree. It is part and parcel of the theater of running for office in America. Candidates may say that they are adamantly in favor of abortion rights or adamantly against them while we can never be sure that they really care one way or another. If the political wind shifts enough the peace lover can cry out for war or the war hawk may turn into a dove.

An interesting way of deterring how much politicians pander is to observe their behavior as lame ducks. George W. Bush went from quoting scripture on a regular basis to being decidedly less religious during his second term in office. As a soon to be former politician he no longer needed his red state evangelical base.

Barack Obama is no exception to the pander principle. As a black man needing to get votes from white people he had to pander to their racism in order to guarantee victory. During the 2008 election he proved his willingness to do so numerous times. On Father’s Day that year his screeds against black men culminated in a vicious verbal beating, and at a church no less. He singled out black men for bad behavior, telling them they acted like boys who didn’t care about their children or working or doing anything valuable.

One black man would be seen, but no other would be heard.”

While the audience in his presence was black, the real audience was white. The political slang is “dog whistling.” Just as there are sounds which can be heard only by the canine ear, there are messages tailor made for specific constituencies, though they appear to be made for others.

The Father’s Day speech was the coup de grace, delivering a message to white Americans that they had nothing to fear from Barack Obama. There would be a black face on high but no politics representing the masses of black people. One black man would be seen, but no other would be heard.

The open and none too subtle attacks on black people had subsided somewhat of late. We got the occasional rising tide lifting all boats which meant that we should shut up about our unemployment already or be told that he wasn’t the president just for black people and yes, we should still shut up. Benign neglect was the order of the day after his election. But in one fell swoop, not just POTUS, but FLOTUS delivered a one-two punch to black America.

Both the president and first lady gave back to back commencement addresses to historically black colleges. At Bowie State University in Maryland Michelle Obama told the proud graduates that they in fact had little reason for celebration. Obviously they got the memo about the importance of education, hence the caps and gowns. Mrs. Obama didn’t care because she warned them about the mythical black people who deride the educated as “acting white.” Having resurrected those phantom creations she turned her attention to those misled black children who want to be “ballers” and “rappers.” Assuming that her audience had such dubious career plans, they clearly decided to get college degrees as a hedge against failed sports and entertainment careers.

He wants white people to be assured that he is still their guy.”

The next day her husband did her one better at Morehouse College in Atlanta. The poor graduates were not only forced to sit in a driving rain but were also insulted by a rank and ambitious politician. Just as his wife refused to congratulate the young people for their success, the president felt compelled to point out that there are black people who make excuses, and don’t take care of their kids, and make bad choices and blah, blah and oh yes, blah. As in 2008, the black people in the audience were part of the stage setting for the real audience, which was totally white.

In case anyone had hopes that the lame duck would feel free to do what his most loyal supporters wanted, he made it clear that no such thing was ever going to happen. Unlike George W. Bush, he isn’t changing his tune because he can’t run for office again. If the point of his second term policies was lost on anyone (cutting Social Security, claiming the right to kill American citizens, subverting sovereign nations, bringing harsh austerity measures which guarantee recession and unemployment) he made his intentions crystal clear.

There won’t be any namby pamby liberalism coming from the Barack Obama White House. He is making every right wing dream that he loves come true and he wants it so badly he will not equivocate one inch in his lame duck term. He isn’t backing away from the damage he has already done. He is going to double down and he wants white people to be assured that he is still their guy.

There appears to be no depth too low for black America to fall in the age of Obama. Most of us still worship a man who has nothing but contempt for us, our history and our aspirations. We can be used as pawns in a dirty game and be deliriously happy with the man doing the using. We haven’t seen anything yet. The second term will be even uglier than the first.

Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)


"Michelle Obama told the

Very well said Beverly.  Despite the disingenuous way that the first couple addressed the graduating classes of both Bowie State University and Morehouse College, Michelle in her own unique way was closer to the truth by telling the Maryland graduates what they can expect once they leave the hallowed halls of their soon to be alma mater.  Unfortunately, she has failed miserably in effectively using her influence to temper the disastrous domestic and foreign policy directives of her spouse.  In the end, I wish that the respective administrators of both  historical institutions would have found someone more appropriate to address the students than these two ingrates!  In addition, I'd like to thank Ms. Margaret Kimberley for once again presenting us another thought-provoking article. 

Hmph!Seems to me that


Seems to me that Morehouse, an elitist institution, is the perfect platform for the elitist Obamas to blow their dog whistle signals to their white masters. 

The lecture wasn't being directed at those present, it was nothing more than an exercise in political disassociation, a self distancing declaration by the collective "black elite" to say - we're not down with the black masses. 

Furthermore, I personally couldn't care less whether Morehouse graduates have passed the bootlick test and proven that they value the white man's indoctrination. 

Fuck em!

A handful of the bootlickers will go on to be the black faces in high white places of the future. The only "talent" the remainder of the clowns will display throughout their lives is the ability to cite and boast their Morehouse credentials, while being chronic underachievers when it comes to demonstrating the purpose of education. 


Couldn't have said it any better.   Elitists cheering the Head Elitist in Charge.

The Negroes in the audience feel the same way as Obama.

Your last paragraph is a grand slam indictment of the Negroes Miseducation. 

"Pandering Principle"

    Your article was so on point.  The “pandering principle” to an “absent audience” was pure genius.  You exposed those “mythical creatures” for what they really are, racists stereotypes. Being educated in America and being an educator myself, I have never encountered a minority student who refused to pick up a book because it was a “white thing.”  However, I have met teachers who believe many of these racial stereotypes about all minority students.  Unfortunately, they don’t engage their minority students in motivational, relevant to their lives, content.  Since they believe that IQ or intelligence is genetic and that minorities are intrinsically inferior intellectually, they do not model enthusiasm in their instructional delivery.  Teacher beliefs can adversely affect the student’s belief in self-efficacy and expectation of what he/she can do.  Since beliefs are cognitive constructs, they also lower self-esteem.


    I say CONGRATULATIONS to all those students who were successful having been challenged by the misconceptions of their culture, language, and identity to achieve their degrees in an educational system wrought with inequities, uncritical pedagogical practices, and unscrutinized educational power structures which could have rendered them in the zone of the deluded, dominated, and disabled.


    Why didn’t Michele talk about Obama’s “Race to the Top” educational policy?  Educate them on how it will affect them and their children.  You know, give them the real deal.  I guess bringing up those negative stereotypes which, in a sense, discredits the minority students’ achievements, can be seen as her eagerness to please her other audience, the white supremacist power structure, including those who subvert public schools in the interest of moneyed seeking, charter school privatization predators.

Obama Dog Whistle


The Obam couple in their commencement addresses are true to Obam's form.  For 10years prior to his election Obam has singled out Black people to talk down to.   It is clear that he has no knowledge of the African American community in the U.S.  He does not know that Morehouse is the Black Harverd or MIT if you will; Howard in DC is a close runner up, give Hampton honorable mention.  Obam does not know this nor does he want to know.

Unlike Obam these graduates wrote their own papers and passed their test on their own merits. I condend that anyone who has completed Business Law 101 can defeat Obam in any legal debate he wants to have.  Obam sees Black America and he sees dysfunction.  The Obam couple  don't know that the graduates from Morehouse and Bowie State are the children of doctors,  lawyers, business people and big preachers.  This does not fit into thier view of us.

If we were the principled people we once were we would have rejected Obam long ago.  Its time to wake up Black America.



The Obamas' commencement speeches

The problem with those speeches by the Obamas is they were not balanced. Much should have said about the black men AND women that do prize learning and personal growth. The media likes to talk about the negative issues of various black communities because it sells. And quite a few blacks feel that to make money in America you to have to trash your own race. The realistic thing to do is  to talk about the good AND bad in our communities. I applaud the point made by a poster on this site noting how many black, bright successful graduates were present at the Morehouse commencement.

Senator Obama's speech on Father's Day in 2008


excerpt from:  Remarks at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago

The American Presidency Project website, 15 June 2008

[emphasis added]


"[I]f we are honest with ourselves, we'll admit that what too many fathers also are is missing – missing from too many lives and too many homes. They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.

You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled – doubled – since we were children. We know the statistics – that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison. They are more likely to have behavioral problems, or run away from home, or become teenage parents themselves. And the foundations of our community are weaker because of it.

How many times in the last year has this city lost a child at the hands of another child? How many times have our hearts stopped in the middle of the night with the sound of a gunshot or a siren? How many teenagers have we seen hanging around on street corners when they should be sitting in a classroom? How many are sitting in prison when they should be working, or at least looking for a job? How many in this generation are we willing to lose to poverty or violence or addiction? How many?"

Yes, we need more cops on the street. Yes, we need fewer guns in the hands of people who shouldn't have them. Yes, we need more money for our schools, and more outstanding teachers in the classroom, and more afterschool programs for our children. Yes, we need more jobs and more job training and more opportunity in our communities.

But we also need families to raise our children. We need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception. We need them to realize that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child – it's the courage to raise one.