Is Edwards the Great White Hope for Obama?

I was REALLY torn about what angle to take on this piece. It was either the obvious path I’ve decided to go, OR I was going to make a sort of Police reference and use the opening line “Don’t stand so close to me.” And why would Edwards be apprehensive about standing too close to Obama? Well ever since I was a little black kid all the way until I became a doddering old black man (40!) every single black comic I’ve ever heard has had a routine about a black man becoming president and how very SHORT his term would be with the gag line being about how fast he’ll be shot. So now that this premise has become a real “life imitating art” scenario I DO wonder about the prospect of that happening. But since presidential assassination is sort of an American tradition, I decided NOT take that angle on this piece. I’m trying to bring new idea to the table here!

So instead I want you to consider this premise; John Edwards is being presented as the safe white man who’ll “be there” to keep the ship on course. Just like good ole’ dad holding onto the back of jr’s first bicycle ride. Here’s the deal; have you noticed in the last few weeks how Howard Dean has popped up again like a rejuvenated, hibernating bear? Well, he clearly has been very busy behind the scenes, and one of the things I believe he spent May doing was convincing John Edwards to be Obama’s Vice President.

So Edwards, who repeatedly said (like they all do), that he had no interest in being vice president is doing a considerable amount of VP posturing. That endorsement looks VERY running mate/winning ticket photo op. So you know what this about right? I mean we’re all adults here, so let’s be real. This is how it’s GOT to be playing out in Dean’s mind an the DNC think tank. ”OK, let’s let Clinton and Obama fight it out and whoever seems to pull ahead in a definitive way is who we’ll throw Edwards at.” Because again, let’s be real; Clinton and Obama-a woman and black guy, sure that’s OK for democrats around the country but the Red State people? Get real! I mean really! Get real. No matter HOW sick they are of Bush, no matter HOW much money McCain’s wife wont disclose that she has, no matter how bad McCain’s temper is or how old he is-those Red State people will let this country burn to a cinder before they put a woman or a black guy in office-without a some kind of safety net. ESPECIALLY Bill Clinton’s wife. I mean really! Get real. So what do you do? You slap a standard issue, Southern drawl talkin’ white guy on the ticket. Fait accompli. Despite the tiff that supposedly happened between Obama and Edward’s wife-water under the bridge now that they’re looking at the next 4-8 years doing Air Force 1 flights together.

Meanwhile the temerity to suggest that anybody AT ALL was wondering what Al Gore is going to do with his super delegate vote. AS IF. As if this is a question in any way, shape or form. Listen Gore is NOT Bill Richardson. Gore can’t claim he “paid his debt” to the Clintons. Bill Clinton did a lot for Richardson and Gore, but he made Gore VICE PRESIDENT! There have only been 43 in the history of this country. And let’s face it; after Gore lost people were really ANGRY that he didn’t try a little harder only showed his “human” side after the election. So he spent the next several years doing all kinds of “works for the world” to rebuild his personal capital and become beloved. So if he switches over to Obama…that’ll go down the drain. He’ll revert to persona non grata. I don’t care if Hillary was some old broken whore in some old fashioned Western town, Gore would STILL have to sleep with her. He is DUTY BOUND to slap on 10 rubbers and get into bed with her. And so Gore’s vote is not even up for debate.

Black on Black Crime Obama vs. Rev. Wright

If you watched The Daily Show this week, aside from President Jimmy Carter making a visit, maybe you saw the montage of Reverend Jeremiah Wright “clarifying” his various statements. I cringed and cringed and cringed. As a Black man, to see an adult, ex-military, presumably educated black man go into multiple media venues and express himself with seemingly no regard for the impact it would have was mind blowing . And I’m not even running for President! God almighty, what must life be like for Barack Obama these days? Watching Wright do a Stepin Fetchit routine in particular was so upsetting I had to just turn the volume down. I couldn’t take it. Well of course, Obama came right out there and said what he was supposed to say “I denounce his actions…”

But most (white) Americans are probably scratching their heads and have no idea what happened. Hell, I’m sure even some BLACK people are wondering what the hell would make a man do that. What would make a man, who says he’s the friend of another man, go out in public and cripple him? A Black man. A minister no less. To destroy by association, another Black man-who’s running for President? First time in HISTORY that a Black man might have an actual snowball’s chance in hell of winning . So how could this happen? I’ll tell you. As it happens all three of US are from Chicago. (Barack is an import, but he’s put in 25 years so we’ll call him a Chicagoan). And most people do NOT know what being Black in America is like. And most people REALLY do not know what being Black in Chicago is like. That. Is. A. Unique situation. I kid you not. Keep in mind, I had been out of town for nearly 20 years, and when I got back almost 3 years ago I had to RE-learn what being Black meant around here.

By now I think it’s become part of the lexicon to talk about “Black on Black crime.” It’s one of those platitudes people throw out there whenever yet ANOTHER crime takes place “in the city” and gosh darned, they just wanna make sense of it all! But have you heard about the crabs in a basket analogy ? I’ve heard that when crabs have been captured and they’re all piled in a basket if one tries to claw his way out the other crabs will pull him back down. None of the craps escape. The fishermen don’t even need to put a lid on the basket; the other crabs will do the work for them. Can you see where I’m going with this? And so it is with Black Americans; especially in Chicago. Did you know that the 1st generation children of African immigrants (and even Jamaican immigrants!) tend to do better in education and economic growth then most long standing Black people? Say, isn’t Obama’s dad an African? And aren’t Colin Powell’s folks from Jamaica? Yeah, the Black people in this country have a problem . And that problem is NOT White people; it’s other Black people. Shhhhhhh!! This is kinda secret. I mean it’s the worst kept secret since…well, no this is the worst.

There used to be a rap song in the 80’s where the refrain was “Self destruction, you’re headed for self destruction!” Well that’s us! And Chicago is like a petrie dish for me. It is easily the largest grouping of Black people, unbroken by other races, in America. In other words it’s the biggest Black neighborhood in the world. And because of that, all of our bad habits are MAGNIFIED here. So let’s just say on any given day on this side of town (that’s the South Side y’all) you’re very likely to hear “man them niggers is crazy” at least a dozen times. Oh yeah. It’s a VERY popular expression around here. And the reason for that is…well them niggers IS crazy. What can I say?

Reverend Wright is not only a product of this environment, but he’s a product or our cultural flaw of crab-like behavior. Rather than see another Black man move in an impossibly lofty position he’ll ruin him. He’ll ruin him. NOBODY else has it in them like us; sit down for a moment and reflect on the one step forward, 2 step back hokey-pokey the Black population has been doing for all these years. We are broken on such a deeep level that a guy whould make himslef look like an ASS on the world stage (and it’s going in the history books folks) out of vindictiveness. I’m asking you to consider the SCALE of what he did and then try to imagine some other group of people doing that. Especially given how often we do it. It’s unimaginable for ANY body else except Black people. We knew what it was right away.

Obama The Rock and Tiger. The New Black Man is a Little Less Black

Thank God! You know, we spend a good deal of time walking around on eggshells. “Don’t scare the white people; they’re very skittish.” But with the title of this piece I’m doing a little double meaning thing there, in case you didn’t know. But yes, physically these guys are a little less black . But more importantly their public persona is a little less “black.” And it’s good; in this piece I wrote about how the unexpected benefit of the Sept. 11 attacks was America FINALLY giving black people a break as the BOOGEY MAN. And we HAPPILY handed that title over to virtually any Middle Easterner-no matter which religion or which country they were from. Because we’ve unwillingly played the role longer than we’ve wanted. The media has treated us like a ragdoll or a sock puppet. You can almost feel newscasters reach under their desk and put the doll on and then start in on us like a creepy uncle telling some kid a bedtime horror story. But these 3 black guys represent a new paradigm shift that white people (and thus everybody else) seem ready and willing to gobble up! FINALLY. They’re not “black” but “American.”

That fourth guy by the way is ME . I couldn’t pass up this chance to stand in a…what would I call this? A Reverse Line-up? Since they’re always lining black men up to point a negative finger at us; what would be the opposite of that? I guess it’s Reverse Line-up, since white people love these black guys.

Part of American thinking is the rejection of intense thinking. Were a “broad stroke” kind of nation, we don’t get into minutia or “detail” and “facts.” Ask Bush. In fact, people ELECTED Bush into office in 2004. Despite the details of his past, and his overt theft of the 2000 election . But for most of MY LIFE “Black” has been this large, ominous, threatening, cloud that white people (and hence everybody else) have feared and loathed (forgive me Hunter S Thompson!). People have cherry picked our redeeming qualities (like enjoying us in various sports, various comedies, and ALL music) while generally wishing we would go away, or just not BE in their immediate vicinity. But NOW Black is in Baby! In fact, now that black looks more white it’s ok! Hoorraayyyy! But wait. Let me show you something..

Holy MotherFucker! Look at this guy. Jesus. THIS is what comes to white minds if they’re just thinking about “black guys” and not some specific individual. This…this…Jesus, what do you call it? A Joseph Campbell anti-hero archetype? But look at that body, that jewelry, the pants coming off in preparation to rape all your white women. And that smile-listen I’m not going to say what intellect either is or is not conveyed in that loose grin: you make the call. Don’t get me wrong! White people love this TOO . But they don’t want it up close and personal. They want it on TV. They don’t want to shake hands with it. But they REALLY want to shake The Rock’s hand, Or Tiger’s. And man do they want to get close to Obama!

See, the OLD black was really becoming a burden. When I lived in Japan I learned more about the black male image than I care to go into detail, but suffice it say; they all expected me to either rob them or break into a rap song at any given moment. And the reason they HAVE that image is because our culture PROVIDES that image to the entire world. They had a Sunday morning show that translated to the “Black People Doing Crime in American Fun Time Happy Hour.” Imagine me watching such a show EVERY SINGLE SUNDAY. Just footage after footage of black people caught on tape doing crime. The producers had just taken Cops type shows and extracted all the white people and voila “Black People Doing Crime in American Fun Time Happy Hour. Jesus! But rap and crime are ALSO what white people (and hence everybody else) USED to expect from us.

Lastly we DO need to touch on the physical racial attributes. Now the fact that those 3 guys and myself are physically less “black” is incidental . In fact if you saw Henry Lewis Gates PBS series that aired on PBS in February (of COURSE during black history month), then you know that this is a part of who we-as black people- are. Professor Gates is a perfect example. Most black people have HUGE quantities of non-black blood. He himself is genetically 50 percent non-black despite neither parent actually being a white person. Just like the Rock, or Tiger Woods. Barack is the only “classic” 50-percenter in the whole group. But most of us are not. LOOK AT MY NAME. And LOOK at my picture, you SEE what’s going on. Something. Right? You can tell SOMETHING is going-and yet neither of my parents is “white.” And that’s how most Black people in America are these days. But it’s just incidental It has no meaning in terms of our identity or behavior. It’s like height or weight or birthmarks. And up until Barack had a minor problem with his pastor, he was trying to get that point across to the general public. But because of the minister Obama had to get into the race issue and explain what I’ve had to explain to my white friends for YEARS. Just accept ME for who I am. Just a guy. Yeah, I like a little rap. But do I have a jewel encrusted fucking Goblet to drink my Crystal Champagne from? No. What would even make you think that!? Goddamned MTV! That’s who’s really doing this. Because it’s an image that sells. And things ONLY SELL BECAUSE PEOPLE WANT TO BUY it.