Barack Obama, Not ‘Black Enough’?
By: Warner Todd Huston
(As heard on the Rush Limbaugh Show, Feb 20th, 2007)
A very interesting piece by Louis Chude-Sokei is featured in the L.A.Times today, titled Redefining ‘Black’ and centered upon the question of Barack Obama’s relative “blackness”.
Some of you may have noticed that Barack is not getting the automatic support from African American leaders that many assumed he would get since throwing his hat into the ring for the Democratic nomination for the presidency and Mr. Chude-Sokei makes an effort to inform us as to why this might be true. Unfortunately, while it has a few good points, it misses the mark in too many ways.
The main point, according to Chude-Sokei, is that Obama isn’t “black enough” to get the support of the standing Black American leadership because of his White/Hawaiian/African (meaning NOT African American, but real African) heritage.
This feeling of Obama not being “black enough” for Black American leaders to warm up to is, according to this piece, because of the growing community of immigrant blacks in the US who are not really African Americans in the way that black leaders prefer. Meaning that they aren’t Americans but immigrants and they are immigrants that do not kow-tow to black American prejudices and racial political demagoguery causing Black leaders to distrust them.
And also because the immigrants are often better educated, or interested in being so, than their native born American fellows.
Naturally, Chude-Sokei completely avoids the fact that natural born African Americans are less educated and less interested in education but the inference is clearly there if the reader is paying attention.
A good proportion of immigrants tend to be better educated than African Americans, don’t have the “chip” of racial resentment on their shoulder and exhibit the classic immigrant optimism about assimilation into the mainstream culture.
Now, Chude-Sokei is a professor at UC Santa Cruz, so his perspective is a bit different than the average person’s and his claim that whites “exploit these differences” is absurd in the general population, even as it might be true in the University setting.
Many whites, however, exploit these differences to magnify the problems of African Americans while avoiding charges of racism. And because these differences often result in greater employment and more educational opportunities for immigrants and their descendants, they also feed tensions between native and immigrant blacks.
Like I said, this may be true in the University but it isn’t that much of a factor in the rest of society.
Chude-Sokei also cites the threat to the absurd field of “Black Studies” that immigrant blacks from other nations present when they attend American Universities. It seems that immigrant blacks are little interested in this foolish field of study and for good reason. Black Studies don’t further anyone’s education or their viability for a career and immigrants little understand the focus placed on such nonsense. Apparently, the growing number of black immigrants attending Universities threatens the standing of these Black studies departments.
Still, this is a University localized point and has little effect on why Blacks arenâ€™t warming to Obama too quickly. Ridiculously, Chude-Sokei seems to think the University is America itself.
Chude-Sokei also makes another key mistake common to the University set. He assumes that black pathology is still all the fault of White people. He says of immigrant blacks, “They also are less responsive to American racial traumas”, as if these “traumas” are ongoing and still integral to how Blacks can fit into white society. If this were true then immigrants would find themselves in agreement with the so-called Black leadership in America who continually fan the flames of race hatred to justify their places of power.
But since black immigrants seemingly do not share that point of view, it is obvious that it is a chimerical claim that Black leaders use merely as a ruse to keep the cash flowing into their pockets.
In any case, all this goes to explain why Black leaders don’t seem to be warming to Obama as far as this University professor is concerned. Obama, with this line of thinking, could possibly threaten their lock on their position as the advocates of all things black in the US.
But so what if Black leaders are not interested as much in Obama as one might think, how does that necessarily affect what the general Black American population thinks of him?
Here Chude-Sokei makes another mistake by staying so focused on the University experience and the stance of Black American leadership. As Shelby Steele, John McWhorter, and even Bill Cosby have so eloquently discussed recently, Blacks in America have developed an aberrant culture in America today. So, it really isn’t the immigrant community that Black Americans find to be causing distrust — or at least fostering an indifference to — Obama, but the low trending culture developed by the native born.
Obama isn’t “black enough” not because he might have an immigrant background but because he is educated, eloquent, smooth, and associates with whites. He eschews the thug, rapper lifestyle, the discounting of education and the general downgrading of achievement that is currently accepted by popular black culture in America today.
So, Blacks do not distrust Obama because he is an immigrant and therefore not “black enough”. They distrust him because he is able and successful, smart and educated so that is what makes him not “black enough”.
But, it doesn’t surprise me that the L.A. Times and a University Professor completely misses the point.