What does the Obama victory mean for the future of "race" in America?

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At the risk of stating the obvious:

I doubt any reasonably realistic observer would be at all surprised at the racist scum coming out of the woodwork.

And in any material sense its not 'racism getting a shot in the arm'. I wouldn't denounce that, just say its incorrect.

Their coming out a bit more onto the open is a predictable reaction. To be dealt with. And wary of. But not to trump it up either.

The vicious racists are going to react. But they are not the main perpetuators of racism.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Did this victory signal a shift in America's racial tectonic plates?

Memories are so short. In the weeks following his choice of Sarah Palin on August 29, John McCain began closing the gap behind Obama.  The election got closer after Palin electrified the Republican Convention with her line about how “We grow good people in our small towns…”  The message to blacks, Hispanics and Asians in America’s cities was clear: they are not “good people.”

In the absence of the financial meltdown that began in early September, the election could have easily gone the other way. Sarah Palin too may have helped Obama a bit when she began displaying the breathless scope of her ignorance.

Who should we thank for Obama’s victory?

The answer is sobering. We can thank the financial meltdown and, in some measure, the threat of an Armageddon – likely to follow Palin’s succession to a geriatric McCain – for Obama’s victory. There was no shifting of tectonic plates on this continent.

- [url=http://www.counterpunch.org/shahid11192008.html]M. Shahid Alam[/url]

Spectrum Spectrum's picture


I empathize with Retired guy too because of the history that can shape our lives, and what emotively wells up for many, is this deep connection with the "struggle to overcome."

" Man is the most composite of all creatures.... Well, as in the old burning of the Temple at Corinth, by the melting and intermixture of silver and gold and other metals a new compound more precious than any, called Corinthian brass, was formed; so in this continent,--asylum of all nations,--the energy of Irish, Germans, Swedes, Poles, and Cossacks, and all the European tribes,--of the Africans, and of the Polynesians,--will construct a new race, a new religion, a new state, a new literature, which will be as vigorous as the new Europe which came out of the smelting-pot of the Dark Ages, or that which earlier emerged from the Pelasgic and Etruscan barbarism."

-Ralph Waldo Emerson, describing American Culture as a melting pot in a journal entry, 1845

It is important to see "behind the scenes" to what I felt was going on too. It was indeed "this struggle" and when Obama mentioned those "better Angels," it triggered an enquiry in my mind about this meaning. So I went to look for it and a couple of days ago my wife  confirmed what I found by listening to the exchange between Obama with his wife on 60 minutes.


Abraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln-First Inaugural Address-Monday, March 4, 1861

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.


While this was in reference to the south, it was a pivatol in that the real politics of Plato's metal as gold as wisdom, was somehow imbued in all this in terms of those better angels.

This "strong undercurrent" is a healing time for many and for me to see this emotive expression is a wonderful, and does not have to be construed as "the blind being lead by the blind here?" It is not a cult per say, but a time when change is indeed on the horizon in my view.



Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

Obama’s Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy


In the first two weeks since the election, President-elect Barack Obama has broken with a tradition established over the past eight years through his controversial use of complete sentences, political observers say.





Spectrum Spectrum's picture

Boom Boom wrote:
Obama’s Use of Complete Sentences Stirs Controversy


According to presidential historian Davis Logsdon of the University of Minnesota, some Americans might find it "alienating" to have a President who speaks English as if it were his first language

I am not sure how stupid that sounds? Smile I should clarify that I did not see the 60 Minute Program. Of course I am throwing this around in mind.

Sometimes to be explicit one needs to be "clear" about what it is they wish to transfer. Sometimes this information is predicated on the understanding that there is a wider message to be considered. It is the openesss of such a statement that it "rests on the laurels of one's experience,  who is "open to that wider contextual meaning."  That it will appeal to different people in different ways?

If historical in relation,  what data is being supplied that you can indicate that "part of the culture" will only accept it as being "beyond their understanding and elitest?"

Grammar replaces experience? Hmmm....Maybe instead of elitest, one may like to call Obama and wife intelligent? Maybe then to infer elitest may indicate a "less then intelligent response" based on an unacceptance of experience?






Cueball Cueball's picture

One of the things I like about Obama is that he is one of the few Presidents in recent memory who can speak English well.

remind remind's picture

Does anyone else think that the arrest of Illinois govenor, is going to blow back on Obama, and force his resignation? Thus rendering it at least another 20 years before another person of colour has the ability to run for President? 

"watching the tide roll away"


No way. The gov was widely reputed to be corrupt, though I'd guess no one expected THIS corrupt.

George Victor

Star Spangled C posed the question initiating this thread back in November.

Have ensuing news events, including economic collapse, satisfied his mind on this question at all?

I rather think the question of "race" has gone underground, like "environment."

But what IS the word from Virginia? Some sort of opinion is surely taking shape there, up in the hills?

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

[url=From">http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2009/01/obama-king-and-kennedy-empire-and-... an interview with Juan Santos[/url], a member of the Aztlan Mexica Nation Harmony Keepers/American Indian Movement, and author of the essays "[url=Barack">http://www.dissidentvoice.org/2008/02/barack-obama-and-the-%E2%80%9Cend%... Obama and the ‘End' of Racism[/url]" and "[url=Obama">http://www.blackcommentator.com/270/270_barack_end_racism_part_2_santos_...'s Denial: The Fear of a Black Messiah[/url]."

Andrea Luchetta: I‘ve interviewed Ms. Makeeba Lloyd, of the "Harlem4Obama Committee." According to her, racism is nowadays a minor problem. The main conflict, for her, is of a class nature, rather than racial in nature. The social dividing line, she says, is now between the rich and the poor, not between the white and the black. What do you think of this position?

Juan Santos: This is nonsense, Lloyd's claim is in line with Barack Obama's utterly false claim that peoples of color are "90% of the way to equality" with whites in the US.

Ms. Lloyd is wrong. The poverty line is a race line. Race determines who is poor and who is not. Roughly a quarter of black and brown people in the US live in poverty, while less than 1/10th of Euro-Americans live in poverty. A black person in the US is 3 times more likely to be poor than a white person.

That's 90% of the way to "equality"?

No. The very best thing I can say about the idea that peoples of color are approaching equality with whites in the US is that it is an example of extremely bad math, or of people promoting an illusion in hopes that it will come true.

[url=Black">http://blackpoliticsontheweb.com/2008/11/08/black-unemployment-nearly-do... unemployment[/url] in the US is currently at 11.1% - almost double the average for white people, whose rate of unemployment is 5.9%. Among the general population, - by which I mean those outside of the reservation system that imprisons Native Americans on the remnants of their lands - Blacks have the highest rate of unemployment in the US, followed by Latinos, at 8.8%. Among Black youth unemployment reaches a stunning 32.3 %. From 1976 through today, a [url=new">http://reyeslaw.com/documents/JBVELA-2008-ERTW.pdf][u]new study[/url] shows, Latino unemployment rates typically exceeded that of the white population by some 65%. The absolute rate of unemployment for Native Americans on the reservations is, however, roughly SEVENTY PER CENT.

50% of Native American reservation homes have no phones and 1/5 of the homes lack complete kitchen facilities.

It might be interesting to show these figures to Ms. Lloyd to see if, reading them, she is still willing to claim a distinction between a race divide and a class divide in the US.

But economics is by no means the only measure of equality.

Race also determines who is imprisoned and who is not.

Black people in the US are 8.5 times more likely than whites to be imprisoned.

On any given day 1 in 9 young Black men are in prison.

Latinos are 4 times more likely to go to prison than white people.

68% of all U.S. prisoners are people of color, although Black, Latinos and officially recognized Native Americans together make up slightly less than 25% of the overall population of the U.S.

The US has the highest rate of imprisonment in the world. It is a system of mass imprisonment aimed at the control of people of color, who, the elites fear, have the potential to violently and politically rebel again as they did in the 1960s. People in other parts of the world simply cannot begin to imagine the conditions that exist here; the US holds 25% of the world's prisoners - a Gulag comprised mostly of prisoners from the minority populations of African and Native American descent - Blacks and Latinos.

This is no "minor problem," contrary to what Ms. Lloyd suggests. It is a form of mass social control of potentially dissident and rebellious populations based on race and class status. Ms. Lloyd has missed the point entirely.

It's not a matter of race versus class - race and class are in many ways one thing here in the US.

Usually that kind of system is called a caste system. Despite a few exceptions, like Obama himself, that's exactly what exists in the US: a caste system.

What the white ruling class did here was this: following the mass rebellions and the burning of major US cities in the 1960s, the white ruling class decided on a strategy of divide and conquer. They created a Black middle class almost overnight, largely using government employment to do so, while at the same time they found another way to deal with the millions of people of color who could not fit into the system; mass imprisonment. These developments are 2 sides of the same coin. Ms. Lloyd's failure to see this is why she can make the kind of mistakes of analysis she's making.

George Victor

Exactly what was needed  MS. 


However, there's also a need for jobs for the unemployed in the "Heartland", the Palin people. From my posting on Nov. 16:

"The future is not in the alignment of the planets, however, but in how effective Obama is going to be in restoring homes and jobs to the little guy in 'Merica.

If he brings it off, with the help of a revitalized Democratic Party,  the sick, redneck element, the lumpen people that in the past have been dressed up in brown or black shirts and marched around, will not come to be.

It's still all about economy and jobs."


Some things should be as "self evident" as old Thomas Jefferson deemed them, eh?

(But I'd still like to hear some thoughts on this from Virginia)Smile

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

So what does Barack Obama's career mean for ordinary African Americans? Since the mid-century Freedom Movement and the Voting Rights Act thousands of African Americans have been elected to county boards and city councils, to school boards and state legislatures, to congress and statewide offices. The black elite now includes thousands of black millionaires and corporate figures as well as elected officials and traditional figures like preachers. But the percentage of black children in poverty is roughly what it was forty years ago when Dr. King died. The proportion of black and Latino children in underfunded and segregated schools is as high as it was in the late 1950s and the dropout rate may be higher, and the percentage of African Americans in prisons and jails dwarfs anything we could have imagined in 1969. Black incomes did not rise as much as those of whites in good economic times, and have been falling faster in bad times.

Barack Obama, just like the waves of black elected officials before him, carries on his back the dreams and aspirations of the descendants of enslaved and exploited people. Although his career is built upon their hopes, his record does not indicate a willingness to take political risks for the locked out, the locked up, the left behind. Hope is better than nothing, but it's not a plan.

Obama's supporters among ordinary people invested their energy, their enthusiasm, their volunteer time in his campaign without having extracted any specific promises from the new president. They supplied the hope. Obama's plans, it seems, will be supplied by his campaign contributors on Wall Street and elsewhere who gave us the current wars and overlapping crises in the environment, energy, education, and more. It's going to be a long four years.

[url=Bruce">http://www.blackagendareport.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&... Dixon[/url]


Unending cynicism is not only unhealthy but leads nowhere

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Tarkovsky wrote:

Unending cynicism is not only unhealthy but leads nowhere


Link please?  Didn't think so, anecdotally, cynicism is just fine.  Your approach leads nowhere but the status quo.  Obama as a future for race relations is a joke.  A step in the right direction but more hype than hope.

Maysie Maysie's picture

A wonderful statement from The Audre Lorde Project in NYC, written the day before the inauguration.


A Different Kind of Morning in America
A Statement from the Audre Lorde Project

"Revolution is not a one-time event. It is becoming always vigilant for the smallest opportunity to make genuine change...it is learning to address each other's difference with respect." - Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider, 1984

The last few months were a historic period for members of the Audre Lorde Project (ALP) community. Some of us participated in electoral organizing for the first time and some of us with more energy than ever before - door knocking, phone banking, fundraising, and organizing. When Barack Obama won the presidency, we saw a victory made possible through the efforts of millions of people, which was powered by hope on a scale many of us have not experienced before. The energy that people, and especially young people, brought was a testament to how much folks want to be active and engaged in the workings of the United States, and the United States in relation to the rest of the world. We noticed all around us, people breathing sighs of relief that there is a chance the U.S. will have a presidential administration which does not have contempt for people and dissidents; or an attitude that people are expendable, and accountability is a joke. We noticed that we were juggling multiple emotions - amazement, fear, skepticism, visions of a different future, and anxiety. We know that President Obama will inherit impossible expectations, the worst conditions that the U.S. has dealt with since the Great Depression, and the current versions of white supremacy which have never gone away. We also know that Obama ran as a centrist, and as someone who believes in neoliberal economic strategies.
As a result, we write this statement as a commitment to not be paralyzed by disappointment and disillusionment, but to organize more strongly, deeply, and strategically from this day on. We acknowledge that this statement strays from the traditional policy agenda of the LGBT movement in the U.S., and that is because Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color are everywhere - in refugee settlements and prisons, in factories and board rooms, in the service sector and the unemployment line, the picket line and protests in the streets. We are putting this out as in invitation to move forward on the lessons of the election, to continue to build local community spaces and transnational movements powered by the energy of many more people than we have seen before.

On the 23rd annual Martin Luther King Day, the Eve of the Inauguration

Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love. -Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the weeks leading up to the election, we held discussions with community members about the financial crisis and people's hopes and fears for the election. What people talked about is very much a map of the current conditions that are front and center in our communities' realities. We talked about the stagnation of real wages, an understanding that the ratio of people's income to expenses has gone down for the last thirty years, meaning that even when people earn more over time, our money pays for less. We talked about an unprecedented level of imaginary profit made by a very small number of people, and the cost of deregulation on homeowners, poor and working class people; and the deepening gap between the rich and the poor in the global south due to free trade agreements, structural adjustment policies, and currency speculation http://economicmeltdownfunnies.org/ .
We identified the impacts of these issues on our communities locally: people feeling trapped in jobs that they are afraid to leave; the rise in homelessness; the decrease in small businesses; gentrification (the process by which higher income households displace lower income residents of a neighborhood, changing the essential character and displacing original residents of the neighborhood) and the decrease in affordable housing; less resources for education and an increase in military recruitment; rising scapegoating, racism, transphobia, depression, hopelessness, and crime. We talked about the budget cuts which are affecting all of our organizations, and how in many ways homeless LGBTSTGNC people, especially younger people, elders and people with disabilities, are feeling these cuts to services most immediately.
As we hold these hard realities among others, as LGBTSTGNC People of Color based in New York City we identified some of the policy and movement commitments we will make during the next period:

Economic Crisis: We will fight for increased access to livable wage jobs for all people, including Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) people, immigrants, and young people. TransJustice, a project of ALP, is currently leading an Economic Justice campaign based on the fact that even before the recession, the unemployment rate for TGNC People of Color in NYC was estimated at around 70%. We understand that the current financial crisis has been forming over a long period, and to some extent was inevitable. It is much broader than the housing crisis, credit bust, and the nationalization of banks and large blocks of debt. We understand it includes our ability to buy food, afford housing and medical treatment, and access education and welfare. We are wary of the billions of dollars going to corporations for the bailout, while people face a crisis of survival. http://www.alternet.org/story/107000/wall_street%27s_bailout_is_a_trilli...

Violence: We anticipate that an economic crisis combined with global unrest, disasters connected to climate change, and the continued growth of the police state in New York City leave many of us vulnerable. We recognize the negative effects that the economic crisis and the resulting budgetary crisis will have upon our lives and neighborhoods in terms of the potential of increased violence and survival crimes. We are concerned about the expansion of broken windows policing, where police use brute force and mass arrests to target quality of life crimes (fare evasion, graffiti, broken windows, etc) that are usually the result of poverty. These policies quickly turn under-resourced neighborhoods into police states creating an environment of distrust, fear, and alienation. This fearful environment impedes our ability to create safety for ourselves making us more dependent upon the police. Similarly, we don't want to see tactics like the ones we have seen post-Katrina in the Gulf Coast, where moments of crisis are used for heightened militarization and privatization. We know that in times of economic hardship, people who are already vulnerable become more so, and we are concerned about a rise in hate violence against LGBTSTGNC communities of color. However, we remain opposed to hate crime legislation due to the lack of evidence that increased penalties actually prevent violence; the understanding that these policies strengthen the prison industrial complex by disproportionately incarcerating people of color; and because these policies divert necessary resources from education, mediation, and transformative anti-violence policies that target the root causes of violence. We seek to advance strategies which focus on community accountability and transformative justice such as the Safe Neighborhood Campaign by ALP's Safe Outside the System Collective.

Privatization: We realize that due to a commitment to neoliberal economic strategies and the growing economic crisis, there are many sectors of the public infrastructure that are vulnerable to being taken out of public control and sold to the highest bidder in the corporate sector. This has already happened largely with health care, prisons, and military troops; and could very well become the education reform strategy. We oppose privatization because it makes public institutions function on the basis of profit instead of service to the people, and is often harmful to current struggles for indigenous sovereignty and autonomy. We recognize that anti-privatization struggles in the global South are connected to our struggles locally, as well as the fact that it is largely U.S. corporations that profit from them and use the same practices domestically and abroad. We urge the Obama administration to use the economic stimulus packages to increase the infrastructure and capacity of public institutions such as schools and inclusive and accessible healthcare and hospitals, and not use the anti-recession tactics as a tool for privatization of new sectors and jobs.

War and Militarization: We continue to oppose all the public and hidden wars of the U.S., the continued occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the expansion of U.S. militarization through the building of military bases and the War on Drugs. We are witnessing the escalation of tactics combining militarization, the manipulation of global economic objectives and the criminalization of migrants through both Plan Merida and Plan Colombia http://www.art-us.org/node/392. As we recognize the mass deaths in Congo, Nigeria, and Mumbai, we acknowledge the impact of the War on Terrorism globally, and we continue our commitment to being part of efforts seeking to end the War on Terrorism. We are appalled by the ongoing attacks on the people of Palestine through the denial of equal rights inside Israel, division through the wall, the latest assault on Gaza, economic isolation, blockades of supplies and imports, escalating militarization throughout the occupied territories, and the continued refusal of Palestinian refugees' right of return. http://electronicintifada.net/ We support organizations intensifying efforts through boycott, divestment, and sanction strategies http://www.bdsmovement.net/. We oppose escalating military activities everywhere, including Palestine, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran. We urge the Obama administration to cut the $6-8 million plus that is given to the Israeli government every day to further the oppression and dispossession of the Palestinian people. http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/usaid.html

Immigration: In the last year, violence towards immigrants has increased at the borders, through workplace and house raids, in schools, and detention centers. We continue to oppose all forms of enforcement, which target people who are trying to survive a deepening global economic crisis, and stand in solidarity with migrant rights organizations around the world. We will oppose any immigration reform proposal that includes a registration process, more militarization at the border and further criminalization of undocumented people. We will continue to build spaces for us to come together to collectively increase our options for survival and self-determination as immigrants, as well as continue our participation in the broader movement for legalization of all people. Towards that end we are a member of the National Network of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, as part of our commitment to build mass movements, which can meet our goals for global justice http://www.nnirr.org

Losses and Opportunities: Much has been said about the significance of the passage of Prop. 8 in California. We were saddened and alarmed at the passage of the homophobic ballot measures, as well as the rollbacks on affirmative action, the rights of immigrants, reproductive rights, and the rights of workers. We were angered and pushed to engagement by the conversations which marginalized LGBTSTGNC people of color and used racism to justify the failure of organizing strategies around the country. We remain committed to building spaces for dialogue, struggle across communities, and working within communities of color around the city to address transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia, and all other forms of oppression, which divide us and weaken our movements.

Full article here: http://www.alp.org/node/311



Rexdale_Punjabi Rexdale_Punjabi's picture

It means race gettin  put in the baccburner and a lot of white people saying no racism because there a blacc guy in office. It means false hope in some ppl of color but that time already passed cuz they would get it dashed in a couple days by a racist cop or something lol. It also means anything like the new bills taking more freedom away not blamed on the system behind Obama but no a blacc guy and blacc ppl