A Conservative New York Times Gets It Wrong: There is No End to Black Politics

At the “black and progressives website for Obama,” Amiri Baraka provides a good critique both of the whitewashed New York Times cover story, “Is Obama The End of Black Politics?” and also of the “people with the signs in St. Petersburg” who said to Obama “You’re undermining the (Black) Revolution.”

In his analysis Baraka points out that

Black politics will only disappear when the Black majority disappears. And even the wish fulfillment of New York Times “liberals” can never achieve this, nor the creepy self hatred of those incognegroes the Times wants to anoint as post black negroes. Still the question of Obama’s candidacy is a quite different consideration. As I have said , in print and in the flesh at many forums, no matter what is said by whoever thinks to deny this, or even what Obama says himself, the foundation of Obama’s successful candidacy is the 90% support by the Afro-American people. A fact that I’m sure he understands. Obama also understands that it is the rest of the American people he must reach out to, no matter how attempts he makes to do this are questioned, even by Black people.

This is a point the mainstream media constantly miss. If it were not for the long African American struggle for liberation from racism, indeed every phase of that nearly four centuries struggle, this country would not be nearly the democracy that it so far is. African Americans are the major carries of the deep liberty and justice frame and tradition, which has been mostly rhetoric for the white majority historically. He then critiques the “militants” who recently protested Obama. Black or white, he says, the do not

understand that the logic and strength of Obama’s candidacy is the 21st century manifestation of the Civil Rights and Black Liberation Movements, impossible without it. Jesse Jackson’s two impressive candidacy’s were also part of that motion, not to accept both these phenomena as positive aspects and results of our collective struggle is to lack “True Self Consciousness”.

Then he asks the million dollar question about what the next major step in this long history of progressive struggle should be and lists an excellent set of planks for a “more progressive Obama campaign.” And at the same website, Maulana Karenga adds some important points about the white racism in the New York Times shoddy analysis:

But in spite of the catchy title and the lineup of rising Black political stars, the end point is always the same—definition of a deficient, divided and self-destructive community. It is an old racialist ploy of singling out and praising the few in order to better condemn the many. And the praise is never for self-determination, but rather for self-denial and self-concealment of one’s Blackness.

He adds this sharp piece about the Times arguing that the Obama campaign means we are in a post racial era where the older black politicians are increasingly irrelevant:

This racialized and irrational “reasoning” is directed towards several ends. First, it is to indict and dismiss the older generation of leaders and at the same time the legitimacy and relevance of their social justice claims, their rootedness in community, and their recognition of the centrality of multiform struggle around issues of wealth, power and status. In this regard, they are criticized both for their being /too race conscious for their people /and /not race conscious enough for a selected person/. Needless to say, no such discussion is carried on about being post-White, post-Jewish, post-Gentile or even about other ethnics of color.

Secondly, the article seeks to redefine normal generational differences into divisive ones, to provide a language of antagonism and rupture instead of one of necessary continuity and regular generational change as in every group.

In other words, the Obama campaign, win or lose, stands, not against those who led and engaged in previous black political and civil rights efforts, but on their shoulders. Obama stands on the shoulders of the many black men and women (and some white allies) who sacrificed to get all of us this far toward democracy. This is still the early stages of racial politics, indeed. No “post racial era” is anywhere in sight.