Monday, August 4, 2008

In His Defense

SM, I like your analogy of Obama and dating. I think that helps us to keep in perspective that Obama is just a man. And as I've said several times during this campaign season, in the end, he is a politician, with all that implies. So, even though we have made him into a symbol ( a la Joe Louis), ultimately he is a man and he is a politician. He can't be everything we need or want him to be.

I am not so bothered by Obama's stance on reparations because (1) I already said I understand that he can't talk about specific black issues and (2) I don't think reparations will ever or should ever come in the form of a check. I do agree that America owes us equality and creating programs that should have been in place in the beginning is in no way a reparation. But Obama seems to be on to something. If we get a check, not only will many, if not most, of us be breaking our necks to give the money right back to "The Man" (I'm reminded of Dave Chappelle's sketch "Reparations 2003"), but also America will be running straight to the sink to wash her hands of any further obligations to us. Reparations will mean closure to many people, yet we will still be left with a disproportionate prison population, higher incidents of poor health and infant mortality rates, a dysfunctional and distrusting relationship with the police as well as an unbalanced portrayal in the media. Yes, we'll have our money and we'll have our land, but it won't make up for the discrimination that has negatively affected the life chances of many Black folks or the privilege that has served as a boon for many Whites. America must have a reparations mindset; it must function with the understanding that it was built on racism, with inequality coloring most of its fabric. Until there are real systemic changes, America will never be able to achieve closure in regards to African Americans. Obama can't say this, but I think his speech was inching close to it.

Consider the situation with the Native Americans. We gave them reparations and now, you don't even hear of the injustices they suffer. But they do suffer them. America's general attitude is that we've paid our debt to them and now we can go on about our lives. Obama's suggestion of an apology to Native Americans is great, but overall, we should overhaul the system so that we are a true meritocracy for everyone. And by the by, the House of Representatives has issued an apology for slavery. I think it's a good gesture although it remains to be seen if action will accompany it.

I have read some say this apology is too little too late; that present-day Americans have nothing to apologize for; and that this is a set up, a play of the race card to get Obama in office. Obviously, I disagree with all of these. What do you think about it?

No comments: