by Solomon Comissiong
More than 100 days into Barack Obama's presidency, the "lives of the majority of African-Americans who voted for him are unchanged." Yet, his supporters continue to cling to a thin band of hope. Had John McCain become president and proceeded to vastly expand the "Af-Pak" theater of war, or boycotted a United Nations conference on racism, today's Obama supporters would be outraged. "But the first Black president's legions are caught up in religion: Obamanity."
Obamanity: The Religion of Complicity
by Solomon Comissiong
“The lives of the majority of African-Americans who voted for him are unchanged.”
Change you can believe in or beliefs you can change? With each day that passes the second part of that question seems to grow stronger and stronger. I have never seen anything quite like the continued cultish fanfare surrounding the 44th President of the United States of America. It is almost surreal to witness the willingness of Barack Obama supporters to allow their president to do everything from carrying on various Bush policies to flip flopping on campaign promises. It is almost as though I have taken the “blue pill” as a means to prevent myself from being sucked into zombie-fication that seems to be running rampant. Whatever happened to holding your elected officials accountable? Whatever happened to holding their feet to the fire? I guess with the election of President Obama all of the customary rules are non-applicable.
Don’t get me wrong, I can completely comprehend the initial euphoria at the election of a man of African descent to the highest office in one of the most historically racist countries known to man. I can almost see how so many African-Americans were swept into the whole “yes we can” mainstream media blitz. It was a campaign that was thick on glamour and thin on substance. Obama’s corporate money went a long way towards buying the requisite media to send legions of voters to the booths chanting, “Yes we can”. Public relations legend Edward Bernays would be proud. However, Despite this fact, many African-Americans still hold onto the thin strand of “hope” that Obama’s campaign cast throughout America, much like a fisherman does in an artificially stocked pond.
“Whatever happened to holding your elected officials accountable?”
With Obama’s allegiance to Wall Street bankers, by way of gigantic bailouts, black unemployment rates can expect to remain markedly higher than for whites. With Obama’s appointing of cabinet members like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, we can expect schools in predominately black and brown areas to remain disadvantaged and increasingly privatized. With Obama’s non-existent approach to systemic, structural and institutional racism, we can expect America’s centuries-old legacy of racism and white supremacy to linger on. For many black Obama supporters his presidency continues to appear as a mirage in a “desert” of oppression.
However, some so-called white liberals voted for him because it made them feel as though they shed a little bit of that “white man’s burden.” They retain the built in white privilege that comes with their skin color. Voting for Obama was almost cathartic for white liberals, allowing them to feel they had done something to close the race gap in America – without really doing much of anything at all. They can now return to their racially segregated lives, unburdened by worries about structural and institutional racism. Police brutality, disproportionate black and brown unemployment, racial profiling, a racist criminal “justice” system, and apartheid styled school systems are alive and well. America’s war mongering foreign policy sure hasn’t changed an iota since the inception of America’s first black presidency. As if any change could have been reasonably expected within the constraints of the two corporate beholden mainstream parties.
“America’s war mongering foreign policy sure hasn’t changed an iota.”
Unfortunately most Obama supporters seem to have not taken notice of the lack of “change” that was promised to them during his Wall Street-orchestrated campaign. They apparently overlooked the fact that he was once opposed to things such as military tribunals and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act – and now, presto, he is for them. He was billed as the anti-war candidate, but has spent more money on military than the intellectually challenged George W. Bush ever did. Through it all, Obama supporters remain faithful to their leader. I am quite sure that, had John McCain become president and proceeded to vastly expand the “Af-Pak” theater of war, today’s Obama supporters would be outraged. A President McCain would have faced universal Black condemnation for boycotting a United Nations conference on racism. But the first Black president’s legions are caught up in religion: Obamanity. And as long as they are irrationally hooked on this particular opiate, no substantive change is possible.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, and public speaker and hip hop cognoscente. He may be reached at: [email protected] and at www.solomoncomissiong.com