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Never a Slave: President Obama’s Racial Trial by Fire Gives Him Closer View of Racism

President ObamaThe recent snafu of leaked email exchanges between Sony executives Amy Pascal and Scott Rudin was a global teaching moment because it was a prime example of racial profiling. What can we learn?

First of all, the comments reveal a real ignorance about the president’s biographical history because anyone who knows even a little about President Barack Obama knows that he had no African slave ancestors. As far as we know, no one in his family was ever a slave for 12 years or even 12 minutes. Obama’s father was, in fact, a Black African international student at Harvard who later went on to become an African public minister.

If President Obama looks back at his family tree on his African side, he will not find a legacy of slavery, but he will instead take comfort in the fact that he comes from a place where Black people are not categorized as quadroons, maroon and mulattos. His father came from an African country where Black people are simply Black. A place where ELA and the standardized math test scores are not combed annually for statistics that support the racial inferiority of Blacks and Latinos and the racial superiority of whites and Asians. His father came from a country with a Black majority and so Black surgeons, doctors, psychiatrists, engineers, computer programmers, professors and, yes, even presidents were the norm. If I were President Obama, especially now, I would certainly take comfort in that background.

On the other hand, the president’s grandparents were middle-class white Americans. His grandfather was a World War II veteran and no doubt taught him what it means to be a very good American. Why do so many resist the notion that President Obama identifies strongly with his white American family tree as well and doesn’t want to trade one side for the sake of the other? After all, President Obama didn’t even have a relationship with his biological father whose most memorable meeting with him occurred when Obama was 10 years of age and never afterwards. Are we superimposing our versions of the historical Black male leader onto President Obama? Perhaps if we stop looking at President Obama through a typical politically correct Black American historical narrative, we will no longer be surprised by his reactions to current events as they unfold. As long as we do, we will always be surprised when he doesn’t respond in the way we expect. President Obama doesn’t have a post-slavery, post-Jim Crow perspective and never will. He is not Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B Du Bois or Martin Luther King. He is not the “hope of the slave” in the sense in which the great Dr. Maya Angelou wrote about African-American slave descendants in the poem “And Still I Rise.” In terms of American history, he is probably closer to President Abraham Lincoln, well loved by many for showing courage and taking correct actions with regard to the Emancipation Proclamation in the face of tumultuous opposition, but basically with political and not moral motivations.

One probable truth about the president is that he is just now, in a trial by fire, beginning in these last two years of his presidency along with many others to understand the intense racial attitudes and divide that still exist in some pockets of America with protections that most do not have and cannot afford.

The president’s youth was spent with his mother in Hawaii and Indonesia, where people did not fixate negatively on his race, and then with white grandparents who probably just loved him simply for who he was: their grandson. His mother and grandparents no doubt sheltered him from many aspects of racial prejudice in the United States. Although President Barack Obama’s mother tried to teach him about many African-American historical figures, learning about these cultural icons second-hand can never take the place of the generational teaching experienced through contact with the Black church, the Black community and the persistent influence of Blackness and society’s reaction to it in daily life.

Perhaps one of the main reasons that many white Americans feel comfortable with the idea of Barack Obama as their first Black president is that he does not come with the accompanying white guilt of slavery. President Barack Obama himself is effectively at Black American ground zero because like “The Brother from Another Planet” or “Kunta Kinte” from “Roots” he is the first in his family line from Africa to experience the unique language of oppression used against him in America.

When it comes to historical references, what Barack Obama does have that most Black Americans don’t but wish they did is a direct recent cultural identity attached to Africa in less than one generation back. What he can offer Black Americans and non-Black Americans alike is an understanding that it takes several generations, and not just a few years for a group of people to develop PTSD as a result of laws that persistently treat them as less than human. What we can learn from Barack Obama is that it takes more than a few years for a person to develop a mentality enslaved by past injustices, where daily life becomes filtered through a racial lens. Perhaps what President Obama demonstrates in his bearing and stride is what a Black man looks like when we subtract years of slavery, Jim Crow, cruelty and fear. He presents an uncompromising picture of individuality triumphing beyond racial expectations when a man is “Nothing but a Man.” What President Obama will gain from his White House experience and can then pass down to his children for generations to come will be a richer, wiser, humbler, more authentic experience as a Black man than he ever had before taking office and maybe just maybe he will use his experience in the private sector as have former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

Leonore Tucker is a Poet/Writer. She studied literature and writing at New School University. She lives in New York but has deep Southern roots.

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7 thoughts on “Never a Slave: President Obama’s Racial Trial by Fire Gives Him Closer View of Racism

  1. Victoria Woodhull says:

    This article is incorrect about the genealogy. Obama is believed to be the 11th great grandson of slave John Punch. The descent is through his mother. Ralph Bunche is also believed to be descended from Punch.

  2. after being in HI for a few yrs in the Military I believe Pres Obama doesn't have a clue about being black in Amer. because he probably was thought of as a local boy.

  3. even though HI has a very diverse pop it has a lot of racism especially in the Military in which is still a very racist organization USN.

  4. Search and know our history is a legacy.

  5. Bwire Vincent says:

    This is a load of crap; but I am not surprised; it is typical Black American xenophobic mentality.

    In her ignorance, the author forgets that, like Obama, she herself was never a slave. For her to even become a 'Writer', or 'Poet', as she seems to describe herself' she must have been a beneficiary of the same kind of social and educational opportunities that Obama and other Americans enjoyed, growing up.

    The American Black is his own worst enemy: Light skinned Blacks are desperate to identify with whites, even though they are not welcome in the race. They tend to feel like they are better than dark skinned ones, who in turn, are mad at the whole world, but seem to accept the fact that light skinned Blacks are better than them. Both groups have one thing in common, though; they think that they are better than the African, as exhibited in this article. On limited knowledge based on white media's misrepresentation of Africa, they laugh the loudest, at Africans, and shun the continent like some kind of an incurable, communicable disease yet, they want to be called, 'African Americans'. What a joke!

    The fight against racism and discrimination fails all the time, because, only 50% are engaged in it. The other 50% see things from the racist's point of view.

    Question is, why are most Africans smarter than American Blacks, yet they don't have access to facilities that the poorest American school has? There must be something that American Blacks are not doing right.

    How far did the author's 'right' kind of Black man, who attempted to run for president, ever get? Not far at all. Obama is the closest, you people will ever get to smell the presidency; better learn to deal with it.

    Or you can try your Dr. Ben Carson, who thinks you are all pathetic.

    This kind of garbage, compromises the professional integrity of any media that chooses to print it.

  6. Don Pryor says:

    Her perspective is obviously her own.. I respect her opinion. I believe that what President Obama has learned from his tenure thus far.. is far more disappointing in my perspective. He learned that an American public.. including those that voted for him twice are shallow and easily swayed but ignorance and bias. That a do nothing Republican Congress could be rewarded so boldly during the 2014 elections. Where was the Black Caucus when his Policies were coming under criticism and the multitudes of fowl verb and written attacks he and his family have endured. Why didn't the Democrats use him more during the 2014 elections and remind the American people that they are the party that improved the economy….added millions of Un Insured to the health rolls. Stop a War and moved the Stock Market to greater height than ever.. isn't that where most of our savings… pensions.. 401 ks..dwell.. lol

  7. KOTCE PRODUCTIONS Presents ©.

    Another profound analogy of research from the memoirs of TABBIS KOTCE.

    Following in bold print are excerpts taken off the internet, A:/Jewish Watch-Jewish Genocidal Murders of Others-Black Holocaust.htm.

    In an effort to preserve the historic alliance between the Negro and the (so-called) Jews Dr. Harold Brackman, in 1977, wrote an unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, entitled The Ebb and Flow Conflict that goes far beyond The Secret Relationship in its claims of Jewish conspiracy of Biblical origin of White supremacy.

    Jewish Talmudic scholars invented the Hamitic Myth, which, through the story of Noah, everlastingly assigned to the Black African the role of slave and divinely cursed servant to White people. According to Dr. Tony Martin’s book, The Jewish Onslaught, the Jewish invention of the Hamitic Myth “provided the moral pretext upon which the entire Black slave trade grew and flourished.”.

    “There is no denying,” said Dr. Harold Brackman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center about the story of Noah, that the story of the Babylonian Talmud was the first source to read a Negrophobic content into the episode…“Brackman pointed out further that two third century Jewish “Sages” (-wise, spiritual storytellers of a culture) provided homosexual embellishments for the Biblical stories as well.”.

    This “curse” was the absolute basis for the Europeans’ choice of dark-skinned Africans for chattel slavery. Many denominations of Christianity, Islam and Judaism believe it and teach it to this very moment! American, Southern plantation owners attacked the Abolitionists with it; its teaching was the foundation of the slaves’ permitted religion; Black inferiority is based on it; the Ku Klux Klan relies on it; even the Mormons officially taught it until 1978. When the (so-called) Jews invented it and promoted it to the world, they sentenced the Black Race to a holocaust the likes of which no people have ever suffered. “Hate teaching” will forever be defined by this wicked belief system brought to us in the Jewish Holy Talmud via Harold Brackman.

    The fable about Hamm is a farce. This farce was implemented by racist rulers and religions hundreds of years ago to cause dark skinned people to become targets of hate and bare the brunt (-main force of violence) of the guilt for hate and wrongdoing, niggardly behavior. Not all “niggers” are Black. Hate and niggardly behavior can be the habits and practice of other than Black people (such as “white supremacists” and others). The majority of “niggardly Blacks” are created through being abused (-hanged or beaten into submission for being uppity), raised in low- life/dysfunctional homes, excessive felonious activity, the choosing of wrong individuals for friends and spouses, too much thuggish illicit drug activity/alcoholism and all around bad behavior. In some cultures, it is bred/encoded (through consanguinity; blood kin) in their DNA to hate and kill (anyone, blood kin included, animal like), again through by creation or for survival reasons, thus the ‘gang.’.

    The ‘gang’ in many cases, the controlling, oppressive population, is of beige skin tone, so called “whites,” (albinos,-without pigmentation, lepers-infectious, diseased condition) and have no true moral, SPIRITUAL base, like carpetbaggers, (like Scott Walker, current governor of Wisconsin) gypsies, nomads or roamers; cretins (-deformed idiots; Christian; came to mean colonized poor fellow… derived from Swiss dialect).

    Blacks are not “gorillas in the mist,” nor natural demons. Black people are, for the most part, very SPIRITUAL and FAITH based, by nature. As mentioned above, abuse and other forms of mistreatment create “niggers.” … Furthermore, what person do you know who was able to decide what color their “skin tone” was going to be at birth? What person do you know who chose the family they were born to? Whom do you know that decided their natural gender preference at birth, hair type, and hair color? Then how can we, mere mortal men, discriminate so vehemently adamant against another because he/she is different? What kind of madness is this? Yes, we have all been victimized by a person of another race, but to use eugenics to create a permanent sub-culture; design a slave from a whole culture of people because of their skin color is asinine. To be of this type of thinking is anti-Christ and demonic; inhumane.

    Abusive people with sick minds create niggers and racists.

    GOD gave each one of us these natural features, including “skin tone.” We are created in HIS image with HIS likeness, in variations of “skin tone,” eye color, hair type and color, basic DNA make up and different heights and body types, from short and stocky to tall and slender.

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