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Earnest Harris

Earnest Harris

Posted: July 28, 2008 05:01 PM

Obama Is Just Not A Good Negro


I'm about at the end of my rope as it relates to giving certain people the benefit of the doubt when it comes to how they respond to and treat Barack Obama and his family.

By "certain people" I am referring to the mainstream media (MSM) and to be frank, conservatives, most of whom are white, but by no means is this category limited only to whites. And by the way, I include some Hillary supporters and other Democrats in this category as well, because I don't for a minute believe just being in the Democratic Party makes one truly liberal or progressive.

But I have tried for quite some time in this campaign, and even before, as it relates to other situations in my lifetime, to give people the benefit of the doubt, to offer potential excuses for behavior that is so undeniably indicative of at minimum a double standard for how minorities are treated as compared to whites, and at worst, outright racism, and I do hesitate most of the time to use that word.

What has become very clear to me in the aftermath of Obama's historic trip to the Middle East and Europe is that the root of the opposition to, and extremely palpable dislike for Obama (and Michelle), is that he is just not behaving like the good negro that is expected of him. He has stepped out of his "place," beyond his station, into a position that was not agreed to and chosen for him by others. In short, he is being "uppity," that ultimate charge leveled at blacks for generations when they dared try to equate themselves with those who they should know are better than them.

Just look at some of the things that have been said, loudly and quietly, about Obama since this trip, which clearly pushed some of these people over the edge. In report after report, comment after comment, you could hear the grumblings. Obama was acting like a rock star; Obama was already acting like he was President; Obama was presumptuous; the trip and his talking in front of large crowds are symptomatic of Obama's hubris, his arrogance.

It was truly strange. Here you had an American man who was welcomed with open arms, indeed with great excitement about a new era that he just might represent, and many on the right (and some in his own party) were acting like he did something wrong. The double standard that couldn't be missed was that John McCain had essentially taken the same trip, and more, since he also went to Mexico and Colombia. And not once do I recall the MSM, or even the Democrats, questioning his right to go and the value of such a trip. Not once. But Obama goes and is greeted with much more excitement (an understatement) and he has to defend the trip. Outrageous. It is like Obama said himself at the Unity Conference this weekend in Chicago, it's like he is being punished for doing the trip better than McCain could. And for being more popular.

But you see, I don't ultimately think it is about whether or not Obama did it better or not. It is increasingly clear that this is about the fact that seeing a Black man (at least one who identifies as such in his case) in front of that crowd in Germany, seeing him with those heads of state, in a role as possible leader of the free world, was just too much. True colors are just starting to bleed through. We could see it coming with some people even before this trip. There were comments that Barack and Michelle were trying to act like the Black Kennedy's and there was, and still is of course, the much talked about charge that they are elitists. This charge has always been the most curious. It has come mostly, though not entirely, from Republicans who elected a current President who comes from generations of money and truly elite circles. How much more elite can a person be when their father was a President? Even McCain and his wife fit the definition of elite better, his father a Navy Admiral and his wife from one of the wealthiest families in the country. The Obama's, by all accounts, are from working class homes with no one in their families in a position to have "given" them anything they got. And yet it is the Obama's who are called elite.

No, they are not elitist. They are just minorities who are above and beyond what certain people are used to seeing, are better than what certain people are comfortable accepting since they do force the undeniable realization that they are indeed anybody's equal. And that just seems to be too much for some people to handle.

And now, according to Politco.com, McCain's new strategy is to go even further and try to make stick the notion that Obama is simply "not American enough." Which, no matter how you slice that, ultimately is code for he doesn't look like what an "American" should look like. It'll be interesting to see how far he gets with this one. But I have no doubt that there are many out there who deep down believe dark skin is not representative of 'America," at least not for our highest leader. It is clear, that no matter what Obama did, said, or does, he will never be acceptable, not because of his liberal positions, because we have had liberals run for office before, and because we saw and still see with some Hillary supporters, even being liberal is not enough. No, he will never be acceptable to this segment of our society simply because of his skin color. Political disagreements are not uncommon and are expected. But what we are seeing cannot be explained simply as partisan discourse.

There really is no other way to explain this double standard in treatment and response, this constant cry that Obama is presumptuous, arrogant, elitist and any number of other nicer ways to say he is not behaving as a good minority should, which is done by accepting only what is given, and by not daring to overshadow or overstep the white man, or woman as he did in Hillary's case.

He is just not supposed to be where he is and doing what he is doing. Ultimately that is one change too far and too fast for those in our society who cling to the old ways and outdated concepts of societal and world order.

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