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July 22, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( When a wide receiver in football is called to go over the middle to catch a pass and the pass is one that would force the player to extend their arms to complete the reception three things happen. The thought that the player clearly has is that they will have to take a hard hit to catch the ball. A safety running up is a given but the possibility of a linebacker flinging their body into the receiver is a distinct possibility. The ones that last in the NFL are the ones that disregard the hit and reach all the way out to pull the ball in. They take the hit, wipe the blood of their noses, and go back to the huddle trying to show no pain. The ones that don’t make it keep their arms close to their bodies so their arms can protect their bodies. They hear footsteps coming. They get short arms. Also know as alligator arms. They’re not very respected by even their own fans no matter their talent level. On global issues of racial justice African people need someone who can go over the middle. Martin Luther King Jr. went over the middle no sacrifice to great. Fannie Lou Hamer went over the middle, took a beating in jail that would break most people and kept on struggling. She put her everything on the line for her people. President Obama has alligator arms about racial justice. He’s afraid of the contact that being truthful would bring.

When the President travels with Vice President Biden to Scranton PA or Youngstown OH he talks about the ways that structural decisions have created the “Rust Belt’ and how these structural decisions (NAFTA, GATT, deindustrialization, etc) have transformed what was formerly known as the Iron Belt into a dying, haunted ground that crushes aspirations, devastates communities, and is unworthy of the USA or humanity. Never once has the President gone into working class white communities and talked about the Meth labs that dot those communities, or how they should stop eating pork filled breakfasts. How the white working class should forget about how they were betrayed by the companies that they had given their life’s work to and how they should get over it. We have yet to hear how the white working class should stop blaming affirmative action for their quasi-developmentally disabled children not getting into an Ivy League school.

When the President speaks about the USA, his inaugural address being a prime example, he waxes poetically about the ideals, activates, and legacy of America’s “founding fathers”. The structures that these men created are praised and raised as monuments of human possibility and ingenuity. And he would rather be dipped in boiling oil than to tell the American people to get over this entire veneration of the dead founders of the country, stop this celebration of the 4th of July, and stop raising the US constitution to a hallowed place. That it was a document that justified genocide and enslavement.

Yet when President Obama speaks to African people his sense of historical memory suddenly fades. It doesn’t simply fade the President advocates a “get over it” advocacy that borders on a call to mental illness. Amnesia is indeed a mental sickness. Two recent incidents highlight this fact. On his trip to Africa President Obama quickly advocated Africans get over the Trans-Atlantic Slave and colonialism. How Africans are primarily responsible for the horrid conditions on the continent and that any wealth robbery or structural impediments are unrelated to current conditions. How the past activities of African leaders (many supported by the US and Western Europe) had devastated the continent, and how Africa needed to “pull itself up by its own bootstraps”, and not look to the West for support, nor redress.

When the President went to the 100th NAACP convention he took a similar tack in dealing with the African-American people. Perhaps the President forgot that the same right wing attack that left the American working class in such disarray was originated and justified by attacking the Black working class in an orgy of revenge against the Black freedom struggle called the White backlash. The public policy aspects of Obama’s agenda quickly jumps in the back seat and he becomes a moral teacher whose words have no collective activity at the end of the rainbow other than not eating fried chicken for breakfast and reading to one’s children. Not one word taking up the most urgent of task of dismantling the racialized wealth and power systems that still rule the world as they have for the last half a millennium.

Now it could be that he doesn’t know about American involvement in the destabilization of African nations. Maybe the files haven’t made it to his desk yet. Maybe he never read how the West, with the USA in the lead tried for decades to protect white controlled South Africa, helping the apartheid state till the last possible minute. And maybe he doesn’t know that the exploiting of African labor and land stand at the center of the world political and economic system. That the rich nations of the west have been birthed from the blood, sweat and tears of Black folk globally. Or maybe he hears footsteps. Maybe he does know and doesn’t have it in him to reach out for that pass. It’s much easier to talk about not eating chicken for breakfast than fighting racialized power and wealth distribution. But then president Obama never promised to change anything regarding racial justice in this country or globally. Never would’ve gotten elected if he did. Obama’s answer is no to reparations for enslavement and domination, no to reparations for the robbing of the riches continent on earth leaving its people as the poorest. There is no Black America or white America just the United States of America He was to be a kinder, gentler version of the system.. And tepid, lukewarm system affirming remedies are all that he has to offer. No matter how fancy the container holding the remedy is.

For African-Americans President Obama will do better than a President McCain would have. Better than whomever the Republicans put up in 2012. As long as people are clear that to catch the racial justice ball the receiver must be willing to go over the middle and take the hit. To transform the system African people as a people are going to once again have to go over the middle. No excuses. Alligator arm having folks need not apply.

Written By Henry Rose

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