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Mary Belle Snow

"Obama: Who Is This Man?" by MB Snow

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Posted on September 10 2009 12:00 pm
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September 9, 2009

Today I received an email from a friend quoting passages from Obama’s two books, “Dreams from My Father,”

dreams_from_my_father

and “The Audacity of Hope.”

audacity-of-hope

When you finish reading these quotes you may ask yourself as I did…

Obama: Who Is This Man? Is he the “post-racial” president depicted by the likes of leftist supporters such as MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann, who can detect not a shred of race-consciousness in Obama, but somehow manages to find mountains of that trait in anyone brazen enough or, as Olbermann puts it, “stupid” enough to disagree with the president’s policies?

For that matter, is Obama the “post-racial” president whose oratory has famously moved Olbermann’s colleague Chris Matthews to tears, to say nothing of those occasions when the words of the “cool,” “great-looking,” president send “a thrill” up Matthews’ leg in what the broadcaster describes as nothing less than a “spiritual experience”?

Or – more likely – is Obama the deeply race-obsessed man which the quotes below suggest that he is, a man who has formed close personal and political alliances with such high-profile racists (black and white alike) as Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton, Frank Marshall Davis, William Ayers, Michael Pfleger, Joseph Lowery, and Cornel West?

 

  • I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of 12 or 13, when I began to suspect that by doing so I was ingratiating myself to whites.
  • What strikes me most when I think about the story of my family is a running strain of innocence, an innocence that seems unimaginable, even by the measures of childhood. My wife’s cousin, only six years old, has already lost such innocence. A few weeks ago he reported to his parents that some of his first grade classmates had refused to play with him because of his dark, unblemished skin. Obviously his parents, born and raised in Chicago and Gary, lost their own innocence long ago, and although they aren’t bitter — the two of them being as strong and proud and resourceful as any parents I know — one hears the pain in their voices as they begin to have second thoughts about having moved out of the city into a mostly white suburb, a move they made to protect their son from the possibility of being caught in a gang shooting and the certainty of attending an underfunded school.

    They know too much, we have all seen too much, to take my parents’ brief union — a black man and a white woman, an African and an American — at face value. When people who don’t know me well, black or white, discover my background (and it is usually a discovery, for I ceased to advertise my mother’s race at the age of twelve or thirteen, when I began to suspect I was ingratiating myself to whites, I see the split-second adjustments they have to make, the searching of my eyes for some telltale sign. They no longer know who I am.

  • Still there was something about him that made me wary, a little too sure of himself, maybe. And white – he’d said himself that that was a problem.
  • I had all but given up on organizing when I received a call from Marty Kaufman. He explained that he’d started an organizing drive in Chicago and was looking to hire a trainee. He’d be in New York the following week and suggested that we meet at a coffee shop on Lexington.

    His appearance didn’t inspire much confidence. He was a white man of medium height wearing a rumpled suit over a pudgy frame. His face was heavy with two-day-old whiskers; behind a pair of thick, wire-rimmed glasses, his eyes seemed set in a perpetual squint. As he rose from the booth to shake my hand, he spilled some tea on his shirt …

    He ordered more hot water and told me about himself. He was Jewish, in his late thirties, had been reared in New York. He had started organizing in the sixties with the student protests, and ended up staying with it for fifteen years. Farmers in Nebraska. Blacks in Philadelphia. Mexicans in Chicago. Now he was trying to pull urban blacks and suburban whites together around a plan to save manufacturing jobs in metropolitan Chicago. He needed somebody to work with him, he said. Somebody black.

    He offered to start me off at ten thousand dollars the first year, with a two-thousand-dollar travel allowance to buy a car; the salary would go up if things worked out. After he was gone, I took the long way home, along the East River promenade, and tried to figure out what to make of the man. He was smart, I decided. He seemed committed to his work. Still, there was something about him that made me wary. A little too sure of himself, maybe. And white — he’d said himself that that was a problem.

    No, it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.

    She was a good-looking woman, Joyce was with her green eyes and honey skin and pouty lips. We lived in the same dorm my freshman year, and all the brothers were after her. One day I asked her if she was going to the Black Students’ Association meeting. She looked at me funny, then started shaking her head like a baby who doesn’t want what it sees on the spoon.

    “I’m not black,” Joyce said. “I’m multiracial.” Then she started telling me about her father, who happened to be Italian and was the sweetest man in the world; and her mother, who happened to be part African and part French and part Native American and part something else. “Why should I have to choose between them?” she asked me. Her voice cracked, and I thought she was going to cry. “It’s not white people who are making me choose. Maybe it used to be that way, but now they’re willing to treat me like a person. No — it’s black people who always have to make everything racial. They’re the ones making me choose. They’re the ones who are telling me that I can’t be who I am …”

    They, they, they. That was the problem with people like Joyce. They talked about the richness of their multicultural heritage and it sounded real good, until you noticed that they avoided black people …

    To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling conventions. We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.

    But this strategy alone couldn’t provide the distance I wanted, from Joyce or my past. After all, there were thousands of so-called campus radicals, most of them white and tenured and happily tolerant. No, it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.

  • they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.
  • In the wake of 9/11, my meetings with Arab and Pakistani Americans, for example, have a more urgent quality, for the stories of detentions and FBI questioning and hard stares from neighbors have shaken their sense of security and belonging. They have been reminded that the history of immigration in this country has a dark underbelly; they need specific reassurances that their citizenship really means something, that America has learned the right lessons from the Japanese internments during World War II, and that I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.
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