An African American reader

An African American reader November 9, 2012

writes, concerning this post:

Thanks Mark. I really do get discouraged with white Catholics when I hear them deny the racist code words that have been used during this election.  It destroys trust because it seems dishonest.  On the other hand, hearing a fellow Catholic challenge such statements (as you have) goes a long way to restore trust.  Trust, is in fact, a HUGE barrier to getting African Americans to vote for “conservative” candidates–which is ironic because I think most people would be surprised to find out how truly conservative most African Americans are.  This notion that African Americans want the government to take care of them is true, but not in the sense than so many “conservatives” invoke.  As a little girl, I remember watching historical footage of the federal government enforcing federal laws, in the form of national guardsmen desegregating schools (countered by state governments turning hoses and dogs on little girls in Sunday school attire).  So to a certain extent, I probably think of the federal government as a safety net in terms of my citizenship–states rights and all that “nullify” stuff is alienating to me and will not win me over.  I do not, however, expect the government to take care of me financially.  I am not on welfare, nor have I or anyone in my family (or any African American folks I know for that matter) ever been on welfare.  The fact that I feel the need to say this feels oddly embarrassing. (which is ironic sense most welfare recipients are whites who reside in “red” states!)  However, I never feel suspect in conversations among liberals.  So those conversations feel safer and less assaulting to my dignity.  However, I continue to seek common ground among conservatives, because I hold conservative values that I don’t share with liberals.  Since Jesus and His Holy Church are at the center of my life, I continue to make efforts among “conservatives.”  However, I sometimes have to come up for air, because some of their comments and assumptions can be so frustrating.  Unraveling their twisted logic can be exhausting and usually ends in an impasse.  I don’t mean to insinuate that this is a constant onslaught–that would actually be much easier.  I could successfully navigate a Klan rally, because I’d know exactly where I stand (or hang) with everyone there.  But when you’re talking with people with whom you share a profession of faith and the sacraments, and bust out with some nasty racial assumption–it cuts like a knife!  It’s absolutely jolting!  I want to run away–and who do you think I run to?   In these conversations I’m sometimes asked to account for (or made to identify with) the behaviors/practices/beliefs of 12% of the “so called American” population.  How can folks lump you in with a group using sweeping statements about your motives and values, and then get indignant by the fact that you identify and act in adherence with that group?  A group is formed out of the historical experience of being treated as a monolith, and then said group is accused of reverse racism for behaving like a group that shares a common goal.  That isn’t racism–that’ s survival! While I share most of your concerns regarding president Obama, I’d also like folks to know that his presidency has been utterly transformative for many African Americans.  I just moved back to the States two months ago, after working in Saudi Arabia for the last five years, so the differences are in stark relief for me. The community I left isn’t the one I returned to.  I guess all of this is to say that there are many parts to the Body.  Though we are one, we were all formed in different circumstances.  So let’s literally not cut off our nose to spite our face!  Or it is the entire body that will suffer.

I agree that the Muslim, Commie and maybe even socialist “thing” detracts from the real issues.  It also makes folks like me want to defend the man, because the charges are as you said blatantly “stupid.”  I also agree that there is nothing racist about probing into Obama’s past.  He should be held to the same analysis as anyone else who is asking for your vote.  Perhaps he shares much in common with the movements and figures you’ve referenced–and I also can’t see how making these comparisons could be seen as racial in any way.  While interesting fodder for reflection, I do think it might be a bit too complicated and other worldy, however.  I think Obama is EXACTLY as Mark described him, “a garden variety secularized liberal Protestant from a politicized Black urban church tradition that sees the gospel almost exclusively in terms of “community organizing”.”  No more, no less.  So when I hear folks (certainly not you, but others) treating him like evil personified–it gets my back up.  Here you have a man with ideas that are not good for America.  Period!  If the Republicans would have denigrated his ideas and not the man himself–they would have won!  That’s what folks were responding to.  And worse, they didn’t just say he was evil and un-American, but everyone who was voting for him as well.  Well good luck winning them over now!  They can’t even hear you now!  African Americans weren’t in the bag for Barack Obama!!  They could have been won over fairly easily.  If you remember, African Americans didn’t even support Obama until he won the Iowa caucus.  They support Hillary Clinton!  Why?  –because of the Clinton trust.  Bill was (is) genuinely comfortable around black people.  He didn’t just show up at black churches–HE BROKE BREAD!!!!! When the Clinton’s started engaging in some of the most shameless race baiting I’ve seen in modern political history, black folks dropped them like a bad habit. They would have done it again, if they’d been given a reason to do so.   Obama hasn’t improved the lives of black folks.  We aren’t stupid!  But when the right demonized him rather than his platform they made him a living martyr who had to be defended at all personal cost!  Because what stood to be lost by delegitimizing “black” leadership was a higher price to pay than the unemployment rate!

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