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Obama's Potential Residence: A White House or Darker Domicile

All of the changes in policy aside, is America ready for the varying differences that will also be visited upon the White House by its possible black residents? If Barack Obama ascends to the presidency and the accompanying benefit of residency in the presidential mansion, the White House, what will be the impact on one of America's most sacred symbols?

How many more ridiculous stereotypes will a so-called Black president have to endure/avoid than other previous presidents? The White House has not been known to have little black children running down its hallways, or never had a preponderance of black folk deep within its inner sanctum! How will the nation respond to the likes of Coltrane, Hyman, Vandross, and Sade possibly resonating throughout the halls of its most hallowed domicile? What will be the reaction if residents and overnight guests are often witnessed fluffing out their Afros in the hallways or having their hair braided on the white house lawn? Am I exaggerating when I say that America’s way of seeing its president and the presidency itself will greatly change if Obama ascends to the position as it would have if Hilary had taken office? McCain in the White House might be different in how he handles his business, but in terms of the social dimensions of this White House under McCain’s administration the house would be no less white! Is that a problem? Why or why not?

Am I making a mountain out of a mole hill, Soul Train out of American Band Stand, the Cosby’s out of Father’s Knows Best when I say the White House is headed for darker days? Does that have to be a bad thing? Seriously, how devastating will it be for the presidential photo gallery to have some racial diversity? Won’t it benefit America to have a leader who looks more like the majority of people in the world at least every now and then? Questions about his ability are moot! Even a fool knows that America would not elect a black presidential candidate if he were incompetent, though as comedian Chris Rock once said, America not long ago did elect a C student. But this disconnect between what America wouldn’t do with a black presidential candidate and what it recently did with our currently sitting president isn’t really symbolic of more profound, if not troubling statements about American hypocrisy, is it? Well, is it?

If the Obamas celebrate Juneteenth will that finally elevate this black celebration to at least a symbolic holiday status? No other president that I know of truly celebrated this holiday. Will it at least provide an additional symbol of the different America underrepresented people often live in, even to the point of significant holidays that some groups share that many others don’t have a clue about (Juneteenth being the celebration of the date that slaves in the deep, Deep South [Galveston, Texas] finally received word [over two years late] that they had been emancipated).

Will Air Force One pick up the nickname Soul Plane? If the Obamas hire an all white staff will this surreal inversion be anymore replete with irony? After all, since presidents have a tendency to appoint political colleagues to pivotal positions, will people recognize the unwarranted scrutiny and hypocrisy leveled against the so-called Black president if the majority of Obama's appointments are as Black as other president's appointments were White!

In the grand scheme of things should any of that even matter? Not really! Unfortunately for many it will! That is why we need this political Jackie Robinson to not only enter the majors, but be successful at that level as Jackie was! Only then will the floodgates be thrown wide open for the other underrepresented individuals that will have to endure the insensitive stereotypes before them until this new reality becomes the rule instead of the exception. Since many black men somehow inspire a certain level of comfort in unfamiliar people assuming familiarity (did someone say privilege), will it be just a matter of time before Obama isn’t seen as Mr. President, but instead as Brother Barack? Maybe that will instill an additional change in the way the presidency is viewed as well as the ensuring actions emanating from within the Oval office. Maybe this president/brother will be our keeper, or a keeper himself!

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Comments

" McCain in the White House might be different in how he handles his business, but in terms of the social dimensions of this White House under McCain’s administration the house would be no less white! Is that a problem? Why or why not?"

It is not a problem--not that I support McCain, not by a long-shot, but the race of the president should not be an issue, just as the sexual history of the president should not be an issue--but our lovely and perverse media play up all the wrong issues, since the vast majority of their watchers don't care about the real issues.

Who wants to hear about serious political decisions with serious impacts? No, they would rather get some sound byte from Bill O'Reily or Sean Hannity.

But frankly, this racial tension needs to end in America. It is time to see past race, to see past gender, to see past sexual orientation, to see past religion--we need to start electing people based upon what they will do. I am not going to ask what I can do for my country, but I am going to ask what my president can do for my country.

Bottom line: I support Obama as a symbolic shift, and, since McCain (the only other realistic candidate at this junction) would only continue the problematic policies of our current president, he is the lesser of two evils.

Oh I can see it now…chicken and waffles, collard greens, and grits will be a staple at every meal. Barry White, Coltrane, and maybe even a little Dr. Dre and Jay-Z will be “bumpin’” through the halls, with the base felt all the way to the Supreme Court. “Nappy-headed” kids will sure be running amuck throughout the halls making all sorts of noise, as well as, rolling around on the lawn getting grass stains on their jeans. Dashikis will replace traditional three-piece suits. Snoop will quit “the rap game” and opt to pilot Air Force One as “sassy sistas” act as flight attendants. Heck, Barack will probably go as far as re-painting the White House black.

While I’m obviously being facetious with all these stereotypical comments, I’m sure there are plenty of folks out there who whole-heartedly believe that such things will happy once “Brother Barack” takes office. It’s funny that I haven’t heard much in mainstream media about the social affect that having a black man in office will have or people’s concerns and opinions on it. Normally I’d say it’s a good thing in a political race to focus more on the “issues” than on aspects of race, gender, or even age. However, as you’ve always been quick to point out JW, race is a very important and prominent issue throughout society, and especially in this election. As one of your previous blogs mentioned, we shouldn’t vote for a candidate based on race alone. However, this is an issue that could fill hours of discussion and speculation. Nonetheless, I can’t help but agree with you and say that it sure would be nice to have some “soul” infiltrate the most oppressive and dominating symbol in American society.

But I can't help but think that it won't only be white folks that will have to adjust to having a black man as President. After years of oppression and with only a few prominant African-American people in positions on power in this country, how will black society handle it when "the man" becomes a black man?

Barack Obama has a father who is black and a mother who was white. I don't see him as entirely one or the other, but bi-racial.

I understand the importance of his father being black, as he may become the first President of the United States of black African descent. It could be a monumental historical event for many reasons, and a turning point in our country's progression toward a way of thinking that reflects unity and equality between all races.

Still, I am focused on the fact that Obama is bi-racial and this, to me, is symbolic of the concept of peace and a cohesive existence between people, regardless of who they are or where they come from. I see him as something more than possibly the first black president. I see him as a multi-cultural icon of our time that will, because of his diverse background, have a wider vision and a greater influence across the populace.

The following is a quote from Barack Obama during an interview with Oprah:

Senator Obama also makes time for his diverse, extended family. "Michelle will tell you that when we get together for Christmas or Thanksgiving, it's like a little mini-United Nations," he says. For example, his half-Indonesian half-sister is married to a Chinese-Canadian. "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher," he says "We've got it all."

I am envisioning the White House as diverse and interesting!

I specifically waited until today to respond to this blog, because today is Barack Obamas forty-seventh birthday. Happy Birthday, Barack! Hopefully, next year at this time you will be rapping to the tune of Happy Birthday and blowing out all forty-eight of your birthday candles as you and your family are enjoying your new residence in the White House!

Race, gender, or sexual orientation should not be a deciding factor when choosing a leader for our country. Lets hope we are all smart enough to elect a President based on their ability to run this country and not on the color of their skin, or their anatomical composition, or their preference of sexual characteristics. Its time to put aside any stereotypical assumptions and work together to create a country that we can all be proud of.

Regardless of what our new Presidents choice of music, food, or traditions are, our nation should be able to adapt to these changes willingly, along with anyone who would work or do business for the President. Change is always good. As Marion Wright Edelman once said, If you dont like the way the world is, you change it. You just do it one step at a time. If Barack Obama is elected as our next President, it would be the first step towards changing our nation to respect diversity. Our differences are not something to be tolerated, rather they should be celebrated.

It is interesting that after many centuries of philosophical discourse about the nature of reality and the ways in which we perceive the world, we still have not transcended the fact that we experience the world mostly by sense perception. I say this because on a previous blog post somebody said, “But frankly, this racial tension needs to end in America. It is time to see past race, to see past gender, to see past sexual orientation, to see past religion--we need to start electing people based upon what they will do.” But is it possible to see past race, gender, class, religion and sexual orientation when as individuals we see and experience the world through these same prisms which we often try to rebel against or reinforce. I guess the “chickens are coming home to roost.” Our own social fabrications and constructs are what now blind or deter us from seeing issues in the presidential elections clearly.

I personally look forward to a Black House or a White House infused with some flavor. But this opinion is deeply connected to my experience as an under-represented male who identifies with Obama. Also, it will definitely be interesting to see how White folk adapt to this, especially those against a Barack presidency. Nevertheless, even though many Americans who do not share an African ancestry might not relate to Obama on a racial level, on an ideological level, he represents what the “American Dream” is partially about.


Enigma AA

Will we ever truly break out of “ Pleasantville” and be able to embrace the other?
After the frustrating twists and turns the presidential campaign took this past week, I’m more uncertain of and less confident in the American voter.
Possibly, had 911 never happened Obama would be better situated to win this election? Unfortunately, people’s xenophobias either resurfaced or were newly created. Obama’s response to the McCain Camp’s attacks was true but troubling: “They are trying to make you scared of me, because I don’t look like any of the other presidents on the dollar bills”: not on the dollar bills nor the paintings hanging on the walls of the White house. I have an acquaintance whose husband is biracial. She shared with me recently that Obama’s name was problematic for her. She said, “I don’t know, it makes me feel like he’s a terrorist”. I work for a very politically progressive agency, as you know. Recently, at an all staff development day, which 75 people attended, we were asked to divide ourselves into support groups for either McCain, Obama, Clinton, or Undecided. There was no one in the McCain group (yeah), only 5 people in the Clinton group, and I’d say approximately 50 people in the Obama group leaving, a disconcerting, 20 people in the Undecided group. That’s almost 30%. Is that number representative of the majority of American’s. I wouldn’t think so. What’s an even scarier thought is that percentage is probably higher for the total voting population.

JW you ask: “won’t it benefit people to have a leader that looks like the majority of the people in the world?” For that majority yes, but I don’t believe that’s the reality in America. I’d wager that what the majority of “voting” Americans want in their leader is a person who is more reflective of them. Obama bears little context for the majority of those Americans. It doesn’t matter how incredibly capable he his. It doesn’t matter that when you weigh the important issues of this campaign that he comes out so far ahead of McCain it’s almost a no-brainer. I know that I’m sounding frustrated and pessimistic. But it’s difficult to stay optimistic in light of the recent campaign shenanigans. Look, Americans re-elected Bush. I agree with what LMM stated in her/his post: race, gender, sexual orientation should not be a factor in choosing a president. The decision should be based on who’s most capable. Maybe in order to move through this muck we need to apply the process of Affirmative Action to the position of President. I’m being somewhat facetious and partly serious, here. What I do know is that Obama is the President we need now. And for those who are of like mind; there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to assure an Obama presidency. abv


I think Brennan is on to something with what he said, but I think it goes deeper than just looking beyond all these social constructions in that cloud our thoughts on issues. I think we are at a time as a nation when things have degraded to the point where we need someone who is radically different, someone who will throw off the shackles of a broken and corrupt system.

And in terms of is the country and the White House ready for a colored presence in a traditionally vanilla position, the fact is it has to be. The last 50 years of politics have been building to this moment. It is almost like this whole situation was meant to happen. Could Barack have ran such a successful campaign had the Bush Administration not failed? I tend to think not. But the fact is, we are at a point of destiny in our time, where a series of bad decisions, steps backward if you will, are seemingly going to lead into a great leap forward. Let's all be thankful that we have the opportunity to witness real, tangible progress in our time.

This is all assuming Senator Obama gets elected. I personally took a proactive role and became deeply involved with the campaign. I hope those of you who believe as I do will contribute to this race of the century. No pun intended.

Let me start by first saying hello J. W. I have met you numerous times and although we may be on opposite ends of the political spectrum, I believe you to be a person who is genuine, and I respect that in anyone. The way I look at inclusion is simple. Accept people on a person-by-person basis regardless of race, color, beliefs, or physical abilities. To get to the base of the matter, do not be a racist or bigot. As I sit here and read the posts by the many supporters of diversity and inclusion who, more than likely, identify themselves with the Democratic Party, it makes me wonder. How many of them would bite their lip rather than speak a harsh word about Barrack's policy and beliefs only because of his skin color? Why are so many people in the democratic party ready to spew hate language about the leader of their own country, even in a public forum, but afraid to tell a black man they do NOT like what he believes for sake of offending him and looking like a racist. It is more than obvious these people are acting in a racist manner for not treating Mr. Obama like a white man.

I am a man of great faith and a member of a local Pentecostal church for the last dozen years I have lived in Plattsburgh. Not once has my pastor taught us anything but love for our fellow man and strictly the Word of God. Yes! I said taught. Just as Jesus taught in the temple, all pastor's teach the flock they are entrusted to. A man who speaks, and teaches hate taught barrack for twenty years. It is plain to see the change that lies below the surface will more than likely NOT be for the better. And all persons with any common sense can reason this, but many disingenuous delegates in Washington are afraid to speak it for the sake of offending the black population. Plainly, they are acting as racists, and I can prove it with a simple scenario.

"A white Republican senator from a larger populated state within our country decides to run for office. During the race it comes out that he has been attending a church with a population that is mostly white. The senator in the scenario speaks of his faith and how his pastor is his "mentor and friend", whom he looks up to. Later in the race, it comes out that the pastor blames the black community for all the woes in America. He states, "Black men make up approximately 7 to 8 percent of our community, but commit 50+% of the crime. The cost of their being here in America is too great a burden on our economy and lives. I say G-- will da-- America if we do not do something"

Along with this prior statement, it also comes out that the assistant pastor has compared the pastor to the Lord and Savior of all Christians, Jesus. (And in true Christian's eyes, the Savior of all) Who in their right mind would trust a man who was taught for twenty years by a pastor who would think like this? Not even the Republican party would trust him. He definitely would not get the nomination. Here comes Obama though. Nominated by the Democratic party because so many democratic politicians don't want to alienate the black community by saying the truth. Obama was taught by and looked up to a racist for over twenty years and cannot be trusted. Who is the racist? Is it the hippo-democrats who nominated a man because of his color so they can attain black votes, or me who treats all men equal and scrutinizes all men the same regardless of their race, color, or beliefs?

*** Anonymous, I appreciate the gracious statements you made about me in spite of our different world views!

I answer your question by saying that we are all racist. If you are raised or reared in a sexist society where men are favored over women we are all sexist, including women who are caught in the vise of self-hatred taught to them by a society that both consciously and subconsciously devalues women. The same thing could be said about all people reared in a country that has poorly addressed its racial woes. Your rationale that Obama can't escape the teachings of his pastor must be applicable to all Americans who can't escape the inadequate education they received that didn't implicitly include lessons on respecting women, gays/lesbians, people that are differently abled, varying religions, and the wide range of class stratification. Before you respond to the fact that these lessons are embedded in the Christian ethic, I'll acknowledge that fact. However, when you live in a society that exudes hypocrisy in the very teachings of its democracy, then no one is exempt.

I make the argument that if you or I can occasionally rise above or endeavor to not succumb to our dysfunctional social lessons, then why can't Obama also have ascended to the same intellectual, spiritual space? *** -- J.W.

great post...

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