• DOUBLETAKE 08: “Taking a second look at race and racism in the 2008 presidential elections”

  • Campaign Events

    Sat, October 25th, 3-6:30pm
    The Ballot Box and Beyond
    UCLA Labor Center
    675 S Park View St [map it]
    Los Angeles, CA 90057

White Democrats and “Obama’s Race Problem”

Let’s tease out some of the information offered to us in the recent interactive AP/Yahoo Survey on race and the elections.

What’s helpful about this poll, from a white anti-racist perspective, is that it focuses on various attitude of white Democrats in particular, how they view the experience of African Americans and how that impacts their vote. As someone who cares about building a culture free of racism among white people, it’s helpful to know how many liberal to centrist Democrats view race.

The survey provides statements about “the Black experience” and tests how much white democrats agree:

“Irish, Italians, Jews and other minorities worked their way up; blacks should do the same without any special favors.”

42 % white Democrats AGREED with this statement;

61% of those are voting for Obama.

“Over the past few years, blacks have gotten LESS than they deserved.”

20% white Democrats agree;

90% of them are voting for Obama.

“Generations of slavery have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way our of the lower class.”

27% of white Democrats agreed with that statement;
93% of those are voting for Obama.

These numbers communicate that most white Dems see racism as a Black person’s problem, and only a minority of white Dems view racism as a systemic issues. The title of the survey itself reflects this “race-as-a-personal-issue”: it’s called “Barack Obama’s race problem.”

I think “the race problem” actually belongs to white people. Such variant responses and perspectives among white Democrats, and also the general denial about the realities facing Black communities across the nation, speaks to the way institutional and cultural white privilege distorts many white people’s understanding of race relations in the U.S.
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The Ballot Box and Beyond: Community Event in Los Angeles on Race in the Elections

We are one day away from this important community event! If you are in Los Angeles, please join us!!

Come one, Come All! Join AWARE-LA, the labor Community Strategy Center, Community Coalition, Youth Justice Coalition and more TO MAKE RACIAL JUSTICE HISTORY!

This election season has brought us a historic opportunity to take the conversation about racial justice to the next level. No matter who wins on November 4th, the real work for change is in organizing our communities!

Join AWARE-LA for workshops and a community panel in how race and racism is REALLY playing out in our communities and on the ballot…. and how we sustain the excitement to “make a change” beyond election day.

See you on October 25th!!

Questioning a Post Racial Society

Does Obama’s candidacy demonstrate that the U.S. has entered a post-racist era? Last summer as Obama’s primary victory began to look certain, commentators as diverse as CNN’s John Blake and liberal New York Times columnist Paul Krugman asserted that the U.S. was no longer bothered by racism.

The Democratic National Convention was blanketed with lapel pins suggesting Obama had fulfilled Martin Luther King’s dream of a society of racial equality, “Making the Dream a Reality” and “Legacy of Hope” they boasted with images of the two men side by side.

The claims in the current presidential electoral contest that the U.S. is now a “post-racial” society are not new claims. Ever since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 some in the U.S. have claimed that racism was now an artifact of the past, presuming that public declarations and legal prohibitions can abolish widespread social practices.

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One Campaign for Whites, One for Blacks

This article by Andrew Hacker for the New York Times explores the systemic ways that folks of color, particularly African Americans, are disenfranchised in this country and the connection this will inevitably have on Obama’s chances of winning the election.

An excerpt:

“Just what is there about being white that might incline someone toward one candidate instead of another?


The concluding suggestion that Obama embark on two-track campaigns with one specifically catering to white votes and “featuring white faces” is insufficient in my opinion because it fails to address systemic racism. I understand that from a strategy of ‘do what is needed to win’ you could conclude that, but I still believe it reinforces white supremacy by acceding that for a black man to succeed in this election he needs a two-track campaign with one featuring white faces and white endorsements.

How will Black people feel if Obama loses?

Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy: “Never before has a candidate so fully challenged the many inhibitions that have precluded people of all races, including African Americans, from seriously envisioning presidential power in the hands of someone other than a white American. With intelligence, verve and elegance, Obama has opened the public mind to the idea of a black president and made that idea broadly attractive. … Yet the possibility is very real: Barack Obama could lose. If that happens, then what? How will I feel? How will other black Americans feel?”

Kennedy, author of “Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal,” was online live this week to discuss the feelings sparked in the African American community by Obama’s rise, and how the African American community might react if Obama isn’t elected president in November.

“Clean, Articulate, and White Approved!”

“…he’s the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and
bright and clean and a nice-looking guy…” (Joe Biden)

Commentary by Organizer KD

In Joe Biden’s political career he’s become known for being “loquacious”; feisty, gritty; speaking with candor. He’s a straight talker, a man who speaks his mind. Now, saying what you think is one thing; but when saying what you think invokes historical prejudices and stereotypes, you’ve moved beyond inappropriateness to racism; whether it’s intentional or not.

Biden’s most recent “gaffe” when talking about Obama during the Democratic primaries is inexcusable. He insists that his comments are being misunderstood and he regrets that “some have taken totally out of context my use of the word ‘clean.’” He goes on to explain, “My mother has an expression ‘clean as a whistle, sharp as a tack.” On an appearance on Good Morning America he explains. “Look, this guy’s incredible, He (Obama) is really bright. He’s fresh. He’s new. He has great ideas.”

So why not just say that Joe? Instead he chose to use clean and articulate to describe Obama; words historically (and currently) used by white folks have to divisively distinguish between the “good” and ‘bad” black folks. The “good” ones of course being ‘clean’ or ‘articulate;’ and the “bad” ones? Perhaps, as Wahajat Ali sarcastically quipped in CounterPunch they’re; “…disheveled, mumbling, Colt 45 drinking, dread locked, gangsta rapping, sexually threatening and incapable of intelligent speech.”

Actually, using ‘clean’ and ‘articulate are code words to let white folks know the black person in question is “white approved.” In fact, I can see the next Obama ad campaign. Obama steps fresh out of the shower with a sparkling clean white towel wrapped around his waist with a great big, warm smile. They freeze the frame, and from the bottom corner of the screen pops a little Joe Biden with two thumbs up saying: “Joe Biden here! Remember folks, Obama’s clean, articulate, and white approved. Vote Obama-Biden in ’08!”

Well maybe not, but if Joe Biden really is a straight talker then perhaps it should be.

In another “whoops” moment, the senator lets his stereotypes show here:

DoubleSpeak Dictionary Entry #3

“community organizer:” too black…??

Dictionary Entry by Organizer CF

According to New York Governor David Patterson, VP candidate Sarah Palin’s mocking reference to Barack Obama’s experience as a community organizer carry racial undertones. Palin’s quote: “I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.” Patterson (and I)  feel that use of the term “community organizer” in this mocking tone is code for anti-black racism- along the lines of “Oh, you know.. he’s a ‘community organizer.’ He’s from those… kind of communities.'”

“The Republican Party is too smart to call Barack Obama ‘black,'” said Paterson, the state’s first black governor.

Patterson: “But you can take something about his life, which I noticed they did at the Republican convention. A ‘community organizer.’ They kept saying it, they kept laughing, like what does this mean?”