Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Grandmother cringe factor

David Seaton's News Links
Barack Obama describes his grandmother as:
"a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."
I don't know for sure if I'm the only one who found this all a tad supercilious, but I suspect I'm not.

It turns out that I too come from serially broken homes like Obama and, hey, I too had a white grandmother, who like Obama's, was
"a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who love(d) me as much as she love(d) anything in this world"
And hey, huge coincidence.... she too was frightened of black men just like Obama's. Wow.... and that made Obama cringe?


Good thing he never listened to Chris Rock on the subject:
"The media has distorted our image to make us look bad, why must you come down on us like that, brother? It ain't us, it's the media." Please, cut the fucking shit, okay. Okay? Okay? When I go to the money machine tonight, alright, I ain't looking over my back for the media: I'm looking for niggas!'
Now that makes me cringe, and I don't cringe very easily. You don't have to be Bill Cosby to know that there is huge problem in the United States of America with black men.
"The United States has the highest reported incarceration rate in the world. While the United States currently incarcerates 750 inmates per 100,000 persons, the world average rate is 166 per 100,000 persons.(...) African Americans, who are 12.4 percent of the population, are more than half of all prison inmates, compared to one-third twenty years ago. Although African-Americans constitute 14 percent of regular drug users, they are 37 percent of those arrested for drug offenses, and 56 percent of persons in state prisons for drug crimes." “Mass Incarceration in the United States: At What Cost? US Senate Report
And many of the causes of this problem were well described by Obama's "old uncle" Reverend Wright, (I bet the 'old uncle' bit made Wright cringe). Here is how he preached it.
"The government gives them the drugs [referring to the Iran-Contra Affair], builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people...God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme"
Now brother Noam Chomsky couldn't have said that any better. If we were going for truth and not truthiness, Obama would have defended both his white granny's and Jeremiah Wright's views, because both of them are making intelligent and realistic comments about a problem that affects both their lives, as it does any American of any color that lives anywhere but places like Iowa and Minnesota.

So, in fact, where others see a history making, earth shaking, speech steeped in authenticity, I only see Tony Blair with a fabulous tan. DS


Anonymous said...

I generally find your commentary insightful, but I don't follow the logic here. The statistics you quote pointing out the "problem with black men" have to do with incarceration for drug offenses. The incarceration problem is driven primarily by drug sales and use, not violence.

Yet the fears that Obama's grandmother and Chris Rock express are of violence perpetrated by black men. While we know that black on black violent crime is a real problem (meaning Rock's concerns may well have validity, depending on where that ATM is located), black on white crime is far, far less likely.

So Obama's grandmother's fears are in fact (unless she lives in a high-poverty, inner city area which I find unlikely) misplaced. And you don't have to live in Iowa or Minnesota to be isolated from this kind of crime -- most whites live in places with microscopically low black-on-white crime rates. In fact, most whites live in places with microscopically low black populations in general, even in big cities like NYC where the degree of racial residential segregation is still remarkable. So in fact, the fear of black male crime far outstrips its realistic likelihood for most white Americans.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I think it usual that people successfully avoid what they are really afraid of. White Americans live at great distance from cities, commute long hours because of that fear.