by BAR columnist michael hureaux perez
“Six months after his ascent to power, Barack Obama has proven to be exactly the nightmare we at BAR have long predicted he would be.” His recent visit reveals Obama has as much contempt for Black Africans as for African Americans. “Just days ago in Ghana, the First Black President of the Empire of the United States delivered a speech laden with homilies on responsibility and 'democratic values' that could have been written by speech writers for Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush.”
Eshu’s blues: Obama in Africa
by BAR columnist michael hureaux perez
“The First Black President of the Empire of the United States delivered a speech laden with homilies that could have been written by speech writers for Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush.”
“These are the big fish who always try to eat down the small fish,
Just the small fish.
I tell you what: they would do anything
To materialize their every wish, oh yeah.
Say: woe to the downpressors:
They’ll eat the bread of sorrow! Woe to the downpressors!
They’ll eat the bread of sad tomorrow!”—BobMarley, “Guiltiness”
Many of the people who post here at Black Agenda Report are veterans of a generations-long effort to build black critical agency in U.S. politics, and a pan-African consciousness that reaches across borders. We have maintained this perspective as participants who come from many a political perspective, but always as black activists who have made ourselves understand fully the warning made by Brother Malcolm X shortly before his death that “any black political struggle which defines its existence solely by events transpiring within the borders of the United States is doomed to irrelevance.” As anyone who has read articles at this site for awhile knows, we have been attempting to warn about the threat posed to an independent black working class politics by Barack Obama since his emergence on the national political scene at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
Obama was placed in the White House through the electoral machinations and public relations skills of a “soft” branch of the U.S. ruling class earlier this year, confirming a political prognosis made here many times since Obama’s aforementioned keynote appearance in 2004. Some of us maintained that a large section of the ruling elite of the United States would bend over backwards to keep any black candidate for the presidency alive and thriving, so long as that candidate was a loyal servant to the empire. Further, we argued that Barack Obama represented the slickest and best marketed version of the sort of capitulation that the ruling class of the United States has supported in black political leadership since the days of Booker T. Washington. To paraphrase comedian Dave Chapelle, the ruling class of the United States loves Barack Obama because he makes Bryant Gumble look like Malcolm X.
“Barack Obama represented the slickest and best marketed version of the sort of capitulation that the ruling class of the United States has supported in black political leadership since the days of Booker T. Washington.”
It is no exaggeration to say that the eventual election of Obama caught mainstream and orthodox black politics completely by surprise, given the inability of these old schools to grapple with race and class dialectics in this country. The imperial system of the United States, steeped as it is in a pattern of corruption, theft, and mass murder that is committed with impunity - and moreover, criminal in a proportion unparalleled by any other period in its history with the exception of the period of primitive capital accumulation of its formation and consolidation - had nothing to lose in allowing Barack Obama the presidency. It was in the best interest of the empire to give itself a facelift through the symbolic elevation of a black political figure whose charisma continues to fool a lot of people who really ought to know better, and who, in many cases, actually do.
Six months after his ascent to power, Barack Obama has proven to be exactly the nightmare we at BAR have long predicted he would be. He has not upheld the rights of black workers or any other workers in this economy, but rather, he has lent his immense political prestige to a massive ponzi scheme that will save the capitalist system at the expense of every form of public financial expenditure and public resource. He has not stood for any form of single payer or national health plan for the disenfranchised mass, but instead, has deliberately shut down and turned a deaf ear to the constituency for public health, in favor of a plan that will further enrich insurance companies. He has not stood in tandem with the international campaign to end the U.S. imperial crusade in the Middle East, but has chosen to expand a war that has led to massive death and dislocation of populations of the working poor in that region that is no less shameful then the carnage that followed the imperial partition of Pakistan and India in 1949. He has granted credibility to continued toxic intrusions upon the natural order through his support for an energy policy that will feature expansion of reliance on coal, deforestation, and nuclear energy. He has not even stood for so basic a human right as human intimacy, as can be seen in his support of that atrocity called the “Defense of Marriage” act. Barack Obama, in short, has proven to be Reaganism and Bushism in humanitarian pose.
“He has not upheld the rights of black workers or any other workers in this economy.”
This week, Obama has been touring Africa, playing to the controlled crowds that are a perennial feature of imperial politics wherever it tracks its bloody hooves in the world today. Just days ago in Ghana, the First Black President of the Empire of the United States delivered a speech laden with homilies on responsibility and “democratic values” that could have been written by speech writers for Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. This glorified “Son of Africa”, as the boojwah press call him, had the arrogance to stand near the dungeons of Cape Coast Castle, and declare flatly that “the end of slavery had come through winds that always blow in the direction of human progress.”
Never mind Toussaint Ouverture. Never mind David Walker, or Nat Turner. Forget the sacrifices of the Colored Regiments of the Union Army, or their officers like Martin Delaney and Harriett Tubman, who understood better than any white regiment the consequences of failure in the U.S. Civil War.
Forget WEB Dubois, or Marcus Garvey, or George Padmore, or David Sobukwe, or Albert Luthuli, or Bessie Head, or Wole Soyinka, or Birago Diop, or Jean Joseph Rabearivelo, or Fannie Lou Hamer, or Fela Kuti, or Marlon Riggs, or Audre Lorde, or June Jordan, or any of the thousands of black rank and file soldiers of struggle who went out and got themselves bloodied and beaten for black freedom, both in the United States and internationally, while Barack Obama was learning the finer and cheaper tricks of boojwah political rhetoric about freedom and progress that allegedly floats on the wind.
“Barack Obama, in short, has proven to be Reaganism and Bushism in humanitarian pose.”
Oh yes, we all saw the spectacle, the crowds who gazed at Barack adoringly as the prodigal son returned to Africa, and we were impressed, to be sure. The cat’s got a good hustle, of that there is no doubt. But we know that somewhere, in the hearts of those massive crowds, there beats a pulse of resistance that Barack Obama has never had to know anything about, not really, a pulse which still shouts to the world, in the words of that great political poet and prophet Robert Nesta Marley:
We’re the survivors, a black survival
In this age of technological inhumanity
Scientific atrocity, atomic mis-philosophy, nuclear mis-energy
It’s a world that forces lifelong insecurity
We got to survive, we got to survive
But to live as one equal in the eyes of the almighty. --- “Survival”
And we know that, however good a salesman the Oba Man is, whichever dog in the manger hustle he chooses to implement in his defense of an imperial system that has outlived its day, there will always be those in those massive crowds, quiet and patient, biding their time, who simply aren’t buying. That’s what we know. That’s our faith. It is wide. It knows no boundaries. So high you can’t get over it. So low you can’t go under it. We will win. Venceremos.
BAR columnist michael hureaux perez is a writer, musician and teacher who lives in southwest Seattle, Washington. He is a longtime contributor to small and alternative presses around the country and performs his work frequently. Email to: [email protected]