By Paris, Op-Ed for Vapors Magazine
Paris is a successful independent hip-hop artist and founder of Guerrilla Funk Recordings. Visit www.guerrillafunk.com. Peep his latest album, Acid Reflex. His opinions are his, not that we disagree.
Here we are, another election year cycle, on the brink of witnessing history. Or so many of us think. The real question in our communities is not whether or not Barack Obama is 'black enuff'-the real question is whether or not America will be capable of overcoming its own racism when the curtain is pulled in the booth.
I'll be the first to admit it. I am skeptical when it comes to wholeheartedly embracing Barack Obama. Sure, he's likable enough, a handsome, articulate brother who says what many of us want to hear (more often than not). And yes, he has achieved much, has single-handedly made many, many people interested in electoral politics who otherwise wouldn't be. And yes, it's worth noting that he has a beautiful black family and genuinely seems to cherish his wife. But what I can't get past is the fact that so many traditional politicians, Washington insiders and general status-quo folks are co-signing for this cat. How could he really be an agent of the change we so desperately crave (but don't necessarily deserve)? I don't know.
This simple answer is, of course, he can't. No amount of feel good rhetoric will change the everyday circumstance of oppressed people in this country. Some would argue that Obama really can't say what we want him to say anyway, or else he won't get elected. This is most certainly true. I'm still holding out hope though, and am mildly intrigued by the notion that maybe Mr. Obama is a Trojan horse for social justice, and that maybe, just maybe, his backtracking on troop withdrawal, willingness to reach out to the Right, and pandering to Israel are simply methods he needs to employ to get elected. We'll see.
Remember that the black community has been giving a pass to white politicians since we were allowed to partake in the process. Bill Clinton was given almost unconditional love by us before he showed his ass on behalf of his wife, and for ages we have wondered when it would be Our Turn-or the turn of anyone of color in the Oval Office (sorry Bill, you're not the first black Prez). It's for this reason alone that I'm willing to cast aside my progressive hat and put on my black one. We need this. Barack is inspirational for many, if nothing else, and the black community is in desperate need of positive influences and role models.
George Bush's administration has made what was once viewed as being impossible look almost certain- that a black man could be Commander in Chief. That's how bad G-Dub has fucked up. No, the economy is not in its current state because of the Clintons, and no, the so-called 'War on Terror' was not a result of the Clinton years. As an economist I can tell you that many of the financial woes currently being experienced in America were either brought about or accelerated by the Bush administration's out-of-control military spending. And while every administration has been guilty of at least some degree of wrongdoing, not one has even come close to the damage currently being inflicted by this regime. Even GOP suckers have realized that Bushco is not looking out for them. That's what they get for parroting the party line. Now the GOP is damaged beyond repair…or at least it should be. Which brings us back to Barack.
What it's really boiling down to is this: Will America allow its racism to trump the fact that the economy is in shambles, gas prices are to the moon, unemployment and inflation are rising, housing is in crisis, and illegal and immoral wars are frequently fought without a second thought? Will America actually vote for an old, same-as-usual, white, male, pro-war elitist who's damaged goods, and who will further damage the off-kilter balance of the Supreme Court? Maybe, but it would be a shame. This is the ultimate racial litmus test for the good 'ole US of A. Of course, Barack better not fail us, either.