[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Monday, 2012-11-05

Musings on “race”, culture, and the President

Filed under: Civil Rights,History,Politics,Society — bblackmoor @ 18:41

I am, by ancestry, as white as white can be. However, I grew up in a black neighborhood — I was the white boy on the school bus. My family was on food stamps from time to time, and I was on the hot lunch program at school. So it’s always struck me a little surreal when people brag or bitch about our “first Black President” when he had one white American parent and one foreign parent (not an “African-American”, but a plain old African — a senior governmental economist from Kenya), he was raised by his white mother and grandparents, and he lived a life of privilege that I never saw anywhere but on television. In every way that matters, I think Barack Obama (who was called “Barry” most of his life) is just an ordinary, affluent, career politician. I don’t think he has anything in common with any of the people I grew up with.

I am not supposed to say any of this, because, as I mentioned, I am as white as a slice of Wonder Bread. But on the eve of his re-election (he’ll get approximately 64% of the popular vote) (* see below), I was just thinking about all of the important things that I wish people were taking into consideration when they vote (like the erosion of our civil rights, the lack of accountability of corporations, the insane expansion of our military, the fact that we incarcerate more of our population than China does, and so on), and all of the trivial nonsense that they talk about instead. Like who the candidates’ ancestors are.

What is the controversy? It’s not his culture and upbringing. Is it because, like a great many completely ordinary Americans, Obama’s ancestors are from multiple continents? Is it literally the color of his skin that makes a difference? Is the big deal not that he’s our “first black President”, but that he’s our first President who isn’t as light-skinned as I am?

Apparently I am the only one who finds this obsession with Obama’s pedigree peculiar.

I’ll be voting for Gary Johnson, because I think he would do a decent job. I know that he won’t win. I am not betting on who will win: I am voting for who I want to win. But even though I’m not voting for President Obama, I do wish him good luck on his next four years. Who knows? Maybe he will end the expensive and bloody Drug Prohibition, attempt to scale back our military expansion, reduce the amount of spying his administration does on American citizens, and support fair and open trials for everyone detained under the color of law.

Or maybe he won’t. We’ll see.

One thing I don’t expect from President Obama’s second term is a miraculous resurgence of our economy. The President is not the Wizard Of Oz. Despite the sound bites from both Romney and Obama, we have neither recovered from the depression, nor are we still at the bottom of it. Actual unemployment is around 14%-16%, but it’s getting better. The housing market still sucks, but it’s getting better. The price of gasoline is still over $3.00 a gallon, and it’s not going down by much, if at all, ever again. None of this is Obama’s fault. He didn’t break the engine of our economy, and he can’t fix it. He might deserve a little credit if he doesn’t do anything to disrupt the current recovery process. We’ll see.

* 2012-11-07: I was way wrong on the popular vote. I said Obama would get almost 2/3 of the popular vote, and he barely got 50%.