2008’s black political discussion around presidential politics was all about silencing black noise over housing, jobs, unemployment, education, justice and peace. Be quiet we told each other. White folks will hear you and not vote for Obama. By 2012 we shut each other up to keep from embarrassing or the First Black President. Radical activists are now pushing for a wider black conversation about our people’s needs that includes socialism.
Remember the black presidential discussion in 2007 and 2008?
Barack Obama was the Democrat candidate, and practically all you could hear was:
- How black is this Obama dude anyway? Ain’t his mama white, his daddy African? What does that make him? Later on it became “How black are YOU if you don’t support Obama?”
- Got demands or just thoughts on issues like housing, foreclosures, low wages, no wages, black unemployment, mass incarceration or whatever? Swallow them. Siddown and shuddup before you scare white people out of voting for Obama. Keep quiet so he can get elected first.
- Got a hunger and thirst for peace and justice? Grow up and lower those expectations. And remember he’s running for president of everybody, not just black people so keep that peace and justice stuff in your back pocket till after the elections, or after he gets settled in or maybe for his second term if he gets one.
- He’s black so he obviously wants what you do, he just can’t say so out loud or he’ll scare the white folks. He’s can’t do nothin’ anyway if he don’t get elected.
There were also surrogates, who frequently lied outright to credulous black audiences, making explicit claims the candidate never wouled about rolling back mass incarceration, address black unemployment and a host of other issues if only we would keep the faith by shutting up and getting him elected first.
Some tech savvy young professionals I knew even organized a network that scooped up any short racist statement or outrage they could find online to make them viral, emailed, sent, forwarded and resent multiple times to every black person with an email address. The emails all had big headlines instructing recipients to send resend and forward the hot racist mess to every black colleague churchgoer, neighbor friend family member and friend they knew. Often these were accompanied with admonitions to register and vote. My email boxes and those of everybody I know were clogged for months with the stuff.