``Good or ill, effective or not, race has been a defensive strategy, a strategy of resistance, for people who have a particular history that goes back to slavery, etc. How race allowed these people makes sense of things and cling to their humanity under very adverse circumstances is CLR James 101. Julio Huato
I am sorry Julio, this doesn't fly.
Here is the way I finally resolved my ambiguity over Obama. I studied him, his actions, and words for about half of his first term in absurdities of the healthcare debate. Of course I got more and more angry. The clincher was Eric Holder's so-called review of CIA and DOD policies on admission of evidence in potential human rights violations by US government agencies. What Obama and Holder were actually doing was studying the political damage it might cost to expose the nation to its crimes. They decided to cover them up and move on.
The answer was to follow Bush 2, and put out an executive order aganist continued use of `torture'. Waterboarding, electricity, heavy beatings were out. But that was all. They kept all the passive methods.
Just about every black and latino/a I ever got to know, had pretty distinct thoughts on these matters. They were clearly the overt tools of police state oppression and that was central to understand.
So how could I account for Obama? I decided he was never raised in a neighborhood where (except for water torture) the rest were common police and criminal practices. Obama was essentially never acculturated within those kinds of neighborhoods. So effectively he had to learn to pretend it. Except for some brief period in Jakarta, he went to private schools all through school. What I am saying is that Obama does not share the history that CR James (I haven't read him) must write about.
Obama is not an African American. His father was African and most first generation Africans do not acculurate to an African American community. The same kind of expected acculuration that doesn't match US ethnicities, occurrs with various South American nationals like Chili, Argentina, and probably Equador, Nicaraqua, Costra Rica. In many cases, if people come to the US they get labeled Mexican because they live in Mexican American communities if they come short on money.
I watched one kid who came here at fourteen from Nicaraqua (because he was shot during the war) and lived in the Mission. He slowly became Mexican American over many years. His son is fully acculturated Mexican American. If his father had moved to Berkeley and not the quasi-barrio Mission, things would have come out different. Ah, well fuck they're doing good, so what?
The urban geography of ethnicity in the US is an interesting subject to me, because as a kid living Guadalajara, I was being acculturated Mexican. I had my Mexican coins, my Mexican stamps, my microscope for looking at giant insects...these are all very nationalistic hobbies. My visits to the Orozco murals and other art places, my street friends on our block. The food, the arts and crafts, the jewelry... The people. The animals. Back then burrios were still used in the city to draw carts (early 50s).
Mexicans blond, yes there are such. Rubio was the expression. It means red, but it means just about anybody with no Spanish or Native blood. My name was Carlitos for the adults, Carlos for my friends. Nobody could pronounce my last name, Grimes because of the Grim combo. It should start Gra or about any vowel but (i) because it is hard pronounce even in Spanish. Of course I had the impossible task of pronouncing Natal words. Go ahead, try to phonetically spell Oaxaca. I could never figure out the rules for j's. Evidently a lot of Mexicans can't either, since J's is an expression for queer, which means strange in Guadalajara slang from long ago. Yeah about the only thing I kept were the swear words and beautiful they were.
We completely forget that Mexico had its own waves of European migrations. My daughter in law's relatives from long ago came from Austria (during Maxmillian I guess), so my grand kids look like little Austrians, curly blond hair. Yet her brother, whose genes must have segregated differently, or whatever looks classic Mexican and his daughter even more so. Cute Mayan nose, great black straight hair, dark eyes with long lashes, and beautiful little girl brown ears with the first gold earings... . Diego Rivera knew how to paint this.
Very near my first love, Dolores, had a younger sister Maya, named because of her looks which rythms with Mayo. They had a great way with names. Jesus on the other hand her younger brother had curly brown hair following his father, Jorge. Jorge was a giant slab of a man who worked as a manager in a sugar cane refinery in the distant suburbs. After we left they moved to Durango where the national company had built a new plant. Once a upon a time Mexico was pretty cool... Dolores at eighteen was already married and had two kids. When I learned this at seventeen I had very mixed reactions. You were so advanced beyond me as a boy, but you accepted the trap for your duty as a woman? Ah, Dolores, I hope you had a good life, my love. Mine wasn't so great. She would have lectured me to death.
You know, just as an aside, it never gets better than falling in love at nine (ten, eleven, twelve). You don't know what it is, and it's a universe of feelings...you will struggle with for the rest of your life. They, the girls become icons of women and men who seem to reincarnate their master narratives... Human mysteries.
I recalled the Rev. Wright affair during the election. The theory was to keep the liberal white vote. But look at the other side. If you go to a black church, seek out a church for the minister, and stay in the church, get married in the church... Obama dissociated himself from Wright? That's betrayal. You just tossed your minister and all of his congregation under the train? You are one cold hearted son of bitch.
I listened to whatever sections of the sermon I could find. It was standard fare, done well. What the hell kind of man do we have here in Obama? Ever since, I keep asking myself that question, and keep coming up with worse and worse answers. Then there was Haiti. Send in the Marines? Appoint Bush and Clinton as fund raisers for disaster relief, via NGOs? Of course nobody's seen any money yet. Christ Almighty. Total bullshit.
All through the healthcare debate I watched him steer the black and progressive caucus away from their own positions, while eating up months of first year goodwill and benefit of the doubt period. In every case Obama made the wrong move which was also pissing off the white liberal vote.
That's about the time I realized in fact Obama was an ice cold asshole banker's president. It wasn't deduction based on Sumners and Geithner. It was direct empirical evidence. I know I was a slow learner. His second year is turning out worse and worse to the point were establishment liberals are going sour on him in print. He doesn't care about his so-called base. The debt quote crisis unquote was just as much a farce as the healthcare nonsense. And it was played with the same actors.
He is going to receive enough money for 2012 election he can afford to drag his base further and further to the right. The Republicans are looney tunes.
So, I've given up trying to make this country a better place. What I can do politically is change one tiny part of healthcare (DME) system into a much better system in Berkeley. That's what I can do. A lot of people are going to be better off. And, I am almost hopefull this will seed another rebellion as it did once upon a time long ago.
I was in a great meeting at noon of about ten people who were all community activists most of their adult life or worked in healthcare service delivery. We're developing a mobility services and allied services component like transportation for free or very low fees, along with a city contribution. The project also has development money from the Obama's stimulus package. But that money is only for two years and is a one time thing. I am doing my best to turn it into FDR's WPA stuff in the disability community. I wish it was for all, but ... it ain't.
Everybody knows that we'll never get that out Obama and Democrats again. My boss was the former union president of the Contra Costa electrical trades something union. God damned is this sweet. Most of my old radical friends or their descendents and relatives were there. It was fucking beautiful... New York, Brooklyn, Philly, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, Blouder, Settle, LA it's happening everywhere if you know how to look. I don't care what you cynical bastards say about the absence of the Left. We are out there and doing great.
Anyway, so ... As for pressure on Obama's left. He has had plenty. And he has perfected the art of neutralizing it. You can watch it virtually everyday on Democracy Now or read it in Counterpunch. Or for the really hard core stuff visit Black Agenda Report.
Harry Belafonte and Cornel West both met with Obama and were pressing for more liberal stands, particularly jobs in minority communities. Belafonte reported that Obama said, `Why don't you guys cut me some slack?' Belafonte answered, `What makes you think we haven't?' Who knew Belafonte, a love of my seventh grade dance class was so cool?
So you understand I was a scene painter for this stupid junior high production of Calypso in 1955. I of course never knew who the `real' Calypso was to Odeysseus...