Are Responses to Obama Reflective of a Hidden Agenda, Paranoia, People's Inability to See Themselves, or Privilege?
What is really happening with our nation’s response to the Obama presidency? Since my professional reality centers upon challenging others/myself to recognize the biases we have that may be counterproductive to our being the best we can be, I need assistance unpacking some observations surrounding “our” first African American president that just don’t make much sense.
Public reaction to the collapse of our economy, our ongoing military presence in Iraq, and reaction to the Health Care plan are all complex. It is par for the course that these concerns are all very serious socio-political realities that leaders of powerful countries must engage. But a president’s legitimacy to serve her/his country is an unbelievable question to still be asking. Does anyone actually think a person named Barack Obama could have ever ascended to the presidency if he didn’t have the proper pedigree? Concerns over his birth/legitimacy even question the adequacy of our vetting process for the most prestigious position in our government. So, what could be the reason why President Obama is receiving treatment far different from other presidents?
The fact that America is no longer a racist society—now that we have elected a Black man to the presidency—allows us to put away the race card, right? Obama’s ascendancy to the presidency suggests that the reasons could no longer be racially motivated because all of us are so much more sophisticated about race relations, right?
Could the motivation be solely political? Does Obama’s presidency somehow threaten the sanctity of our political system, symbolizing the advent of different representation of traditionally disenfranchised voices? Are there concerns that a successful Obama presidency could cause a shift in who will lead us into new eras of our socio-political future? Granted, Obama’s election could be a paradigm shift of a magnitude too large for his opposition to fathom/manage. Is it acceptable that some might be attempting to manage the change through duplicity, questioning his worthiness to have access to our children, and accusing Obama of being a prevaricator? Is this just political posturing at the highest level or politicians who truly believe there are no subconscious motivations at work, or at least none they are capable of seeing.
A president’s privilege to communicate to her/his constituency should be a no-brainer. So, why isn’t it? Suggestions or belief that our elected leader would say something to harm our children are so ridiculous I can’t believe I had to use the keystrokes I just used to address it. That people would believe it suggests that some people’s ways of seeing Obama are heavily mired in not being able to overcome an insidious xenophobic indoctrination. What would have been the outcry if socio-economically deprived parents had denied Bush, Clinton, or Reagan access to their children because of those presidents’ excessive capitalists’ perspectives? Capitalist agendas don’t necessarily suggest immediate change/benefits for people who are often born into a proletariat that enables a bourgeois society to thrive. Why was there no outcry?
People can cloak their Obama dislike, disdain, or dismissals any way they feel necessary. But really listen and then unpack the utterly preposterous answers people give you about why they don’t want our elected “President” speaking to their children.
I was appalled at MSNBC’s Morning Joe’s Joe Scarborough’s response to ex-President Jimmy Carter's assertion that many American’s reactions to the Obama presidency could be racist. Scarborough’s reaction was to dismiss the possibility of racism with sweeping generalizations atypical of someone wanting to avoid accusations of racism. It was rejuvenating to watch his colleague Mike Barnicle attempt to mentor him to be professionally responsible and not dismiss the possibility that "some" people "may be" responding to Obama because of their racism. Consider Congressman Joe Wilson’s outcry. Was it racist? We don’t have access to his motives, so asserting it was is problematic. On the other hand, it is possible that he is as racist as all of us are homophobic and sexist in a society that hasn’t figured out how important these types of conversations are to us overcoming our xenophobia.
I recall an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine had a new boyfriend whose racial identity Jerry, George, and Elaine couldn’t quite determine. They all wanted to talk/speculate about his race, but ultimately really didn’t know how to discuss it since they had never had to discuss it before. Eventually they discussed it ineptly by awkwardly attempting to not embarrass themselves by discussing it. Perhaps it is time that we found a way to really discuss our fears.