Obama and the Nadir of Black America
By Margaret Kimberley
“The Obama delirium effect is alive and well.”
Black America is now at a lower point politically and economically than in any other time in the post-Jim Crow era. Chattel slavery ended in 1865, segregation was destroyed forty years ago at the same time that voting rights became protected by law. Yet the political life of black America was endangered for some time and its death rattle can now be blamed squarely on the ascendance of Barack Obama.
Black America continues to be held in a trance like state because a man who looks like them sits behind the desk in the oval office. A Pew Research Center study, “How the Great Recession has Changed Life in America,” reports that black Americans were more likely to lose jobs, have pay or work hours reduced, and to lose their homes or have them lose value ever since the so-called Great Recession began.
Despite these very real, provable, measurable indices of black suffering, black people are more likely to be upbeat about the economy. The Pew study indicates that 58% of black respondents report optimism on the economy, 81% still believe their nation is the land of prosperity and they are more likely to believe that life improves generation after generation. The Obama delirium effect is alive and well.
For a number of reasons, it is probable that Barack Obama’s term in office will be the worst period for black people since the dreadful days of segregation. The moneyed classes perfected their takeover of black American political life just as Obama rose to power. The congressional black caucus turned into a shell of its former self, with members bought off by corporate interests. These same interests instigated the rise of politicians like Newark mayor Corey Booker and former Congressman Harold Ford.
“Black people are more likely to be upbeat about the economy.”
At the precise moment when these forces destroyed black politics as it was known for decades, finance capital grew more and more brazen in its theft of public resources and purchase of political power. Obama became president when the United States began to reach, hopefully overreach its world wide empire, fighting wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and instigating numerous conflicts around the globe in nations such as Somalia and threatening war against Iran.
It is the bad luck of black America that in this era one of their own emerged atop the corporate casting call that provides presidential nominees every four years. The centuries of oppression and terror endured in this country made millions of people ripe for the joy, the ecstasy which was created by the election of Barack Obama to the presidency.
But they have been hoodwinked and in the cruelest way imaginable. In the absence of a viable and active people’s movement, the victor in the 2008 election would inevitably become one of the worst enemies that black Americans would ever see. Mass incarceration continues unabated, public schools are being systematically and consciously destroyed, the banksters get more of public money, homes are worthless and the nation is preparing to wage war on an even greater scale. Even as the hero president puts Medicare and Social Security “on the table” for destruction, love for the man who would take what little safety net we have only grows.
Not only is black politics dead, but black civil life is dying too. The ability to discern the most simple information has been lost and the willingness to fight back against the onslaught has disappeared. Black Americans were always the group least likely to be fooled by nonsensical notions of an American dream. They were the first to call oppression by its name and were the last to feel an affinity for wars of aggression.
“Black Americans won’t even utter the word ‘ouch’ when the knives go in their collective backs.”
The black freedom movement created a storm of activism which gave birth to the anti-war, feminist, environmental and other movements. Now the people most responsible for the justice we have in this society have made a conscious decision to turn their backs on their birthright. For the first time ever, they will go along with theft on a grand scale and endless warfare.
In return for seeing a black president, black Americans won’t even utter the word “ouch” when the knives go in their collective backs. We are witnessing the worst political deal ever consummated in world history. A people agrees to its own destruction out of misguided love for one man.
No one can say exactly what the outcome will be as the American empire continues its destructive ways. It is clear, however, that the suffering of black Americans will be exponentially worse than for any other group. That has always been the case, but there has never been a time when those voices were muted.
Obama’s term in office has been and will be an awful time for the people who love him the most. It is a great tragedy and one can only hope that the unknown factors that drive history will ameliorate in unexpected ways what now appears to be an ever worsening downward spiral.