My Ambivalence about Obama’s Candidacy


I have toyed with the idea of doing a long piece about why Obama's candidacy excites, yet terrifies me, for months. About how much I genuinely love him, yet am suspicious of his extreme popularity with White liberals.  About how he speaks truth, but not about anything central to what has created institutional inequality in the U.S.

This piece has never materialized.  For a number of reasons: Others have done it better, time and time and time and time again.  I am genuinely inspired by him as symbol and as a man.  I genuinely think he'll be a good president.  Etc. Etc.

But his candidacy does give me pause.

A friend of mine asked me a question about why the Ludacris "controversy" didn't outrage me and in the context of answering her I said the following, which succinctly gets at my "Obama ambivalence," and allows me to do the post I've been trying to do for months.

I am struggling with my support of Obama.

I sort of don’t want him to win if we concede to White liberals that race is simple and that Black folks don’t have a right to be angry or frustrated or to want “their” issues to be spoken of specifically, often, and directly. I don’t know that I can support him and not feel like I’m losing something more important, that is, an opportunity to talk seriously and realistically about how race, class and gender deeply impact the lives of millions of Americans.

I don’t think it’s overwrought or hysterical to fear the faction of Obama supporters who truly believe that an Obama win wipes the racial slate clean. I think we don’t talk enough about what that means or could mean.

Essential Reading on Obama's Candidacy:
The Soul of Barack Obama, Part 1
The Soul of Barack Obama, Part 2
For What Shall It Profit Us
Any Fool Can Be A Politician

*Thanks to Carmen for inciting this post, one that I've been trying to write since the Philadelphia speech.*

About tlewisisdope

I write. I live in DC.
This entry was posted in Culture, Current Affairs, Obama, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to My Ambivalence about Obama’s Candidacy

  1. Carmen D. says:

    You are so welcome, my friend. Your ideas always expand my thinking. I have ambivalence about Obama, too. It’s just that if McCain wins, I think it will be catastrophic for America on social, economic and spiritual levels.

  2. I’m with you though – for real, I think his candidacy gives me pause too. But when I look at the competition, my pause turns into play.

  3. Ty, take two minutes to listen to this black radio commentary on this topic. Let me know what you think about it.
    Your blog doesn’t accept direct links, ie html in comments, so I hope this web address shows in full. If not, it’s currently on p. 2, July 30th, and titled Imperialism With A Black Face.

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