The Nation has a new article entitled, “Inside the Black Primary.”
I think you should read the article not because I agree with it, but because it chronicles some of the “thinking” we need to confront and counter. In particular, we need to dispel three myths:
MYTH #1: WHITE FOLKS WON’T ELECT BARACK
MYTH #2: BARACK IS A TOOL FOR ‘THE MAN’
MYTH #3: BARACK WILL BE ASSASSINATED
All three myths appear in the Nation article—straight from the mouths of black folks in South Carolina (although some of our folks in Iowa probably think this). It is tempting for those of us who support Barack to overlook this chatter and hope that it fades away, either because we’re reluctant to criticize other Black folks or because we’re afraid that acknowledging the talk only fuels it. But we shouldn’t ignore it. We should confront it head on. In this first in a series of posts, I’ll respond to Myth #1.
MYTH #1: WHITE FOLKS WON’T ELECT BARACK: From The Nation article: “”I’ve heard a lot of black people saying they don’t want to vote for Barack,” Barton’s daughter Michelle told me, “because they don’t believe it would make a difference. They feel that even if a lot of white people voted for him, somebody in a higher-up position would still find a way for him not to win.” Her sister and a friend, both fellow Obama volunteers, nodded their heads, “Yeah. Yeah.” . . . Even less comfortable was State Representative Harold Mitchell, an early Obama supporter who’d defected to Clinton . . . . “She is the candidate we know we can win the general election with.” Because a black man can’t win? “I–what?” Mitchell stammered. “Let’s not even talk about the fact that he’s an articulate, sharp African-American. Hey, one day. But right now, we don’t have time for experimentation.”. . . . [P]rominent State Senator Robert Ford explained why he’d opted for Clinton over Obama. “Every Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose because he’s black and he’s on top of the ticket,” Ford told the AP. “We’d lose the House and the Senate and the governors and everything.””
a) Americans of all races will vote for Barack—he’s much less polarizing than HRC. He’s ahead in the polls in Iowa. He’s raised slightly more money ($78 million+) for the primaries than she has, and most of it has come from people other than African Americans. In the 2004 U.S. Senate race, Barack won 70% of the vote (a landslide) in a state that is 79% white.
b) Black folks, all we’re asking is that you have enough faith to get Barack through the early states and give him a good start. After that, he’ll have the momentum to win the Democratic nomination on Feb. 5, and the majority of electoral votes across the country in the general election.
Chris Rock commented on the embarrassment of Black folks who refuse to support the best qualified candidate simply because he's Black. I’m including the video (the first 45 seconds of the clip).
TRANSLATION: “I can’t call him now, I had that white lady. What was I thinking?” seems coarse to some ears--some will interpret it just as Chris Rock focused on race. But here's what it means in context, and the reason it was funny to folks in the audience. It means “I’m embarrassed. I supported her simply because she was White, and I abandoned the guy who eventually won because he was Black. I didn't have faith that a Black guy could win.” In other words, if Barack does not win, Black folks who supported him will have no regrets. He was the best candidate and we tried. If Barack wins, however, Black folks who abandoned Barack simply because they didn't have confidence that a Black candidate could win will (or should) feel seedy, timid, and embarrassed.
I look forward to your additional thoughts, and stay tuned for the next installment. . . .