Monday, February 05, 2007

Obama and Powell

Here are some comments I recently left on E.R. Shipp's blog. The post was called "Obama's Blackness" and talked about how he's apparently not "Black" (or Black enough) for some Black people.

Quoting the article (emphasis-mine):
"And at the Shepherd Park Barber Shop here, where the hair clippers hummed and the television blared, Calvin Lanier summed up the simmering ambivalence. Mr. Lanier pointed to Mr. Obama’s heritage — he is the American-born son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas — and the fact that he did not embody the experiences of most African-Americans whose ancestors endured slavery, segregation and the bitter struggle for civil rights."
"West said...


I had no idea there were people who were (more or less) questioning Obama's Blackness.

February 3, 2007 11:43 AM"

After checking out the New York Times article as E.R. suggested, I stumbled upon some statements Colin Powell made about himself (and Blacks as a whole) years, ago:
"Discussing his appeal to white voters at the time, Mr. Powell, the light-skinned son of Jamaican parents, noted that he spoke English well and was not confrontational. He concluded by saying, “I ain’t that black."

"West said...

I had to step away from this, for a while, after I read that article and saw the quote from Powell that ended with "I ain't Black."

I didn't remember the statement or any controversy surrounding them, so it was something of a shock - delayed or not.

Maybe it shouldn't have, but that quote and the one that preceded it really overshadowed the rest of the article, for me - at least until I could step away from it and process the information a bit more.
February 5, 2007 10:05 AM

I'm still kinda blown away by all of this and can hardly get my thoughts together to comment further.

I can't believe Obama's "Blackness" is in-question and I can't believe I don't remember those strange statements from Colin Powell (whose statements and actions have bothered me for some time) about his own Blackness.

I don't really know what else to say. Maybe I'll be able to put something coherent together later.


B. Good said...

How can anyone's "blackness" be in question? Because of how they act? Thats SO ridiculous. "Acting" a certain way, will not cause you to gain or lose your blackness. You are born with it. Either you is, or you ain't (lol).

chele said...

When white people say ignorant things like, "He's not like a regular Black guy." That really bugs me, but for a Black person to say, "I ain't that Black." What the heck does that mean?

I agree with b. good -- either you are or you aren't.

Raiden said...

Was he saying he "ain't that black" implying that Barrack was more black than him or was he saying it in a way that denied his blackness? You kind of wrote it both ways.

West said...

There's a link to the NYT article in the post, in case the context isn't clear in what I wrote.
I'll make some edits.

Obama's upbringing and heritage are the apparent deal-breakers for some.

The Powell comment was not about Obama, but I found it noteworthy. Actually "shocking" is more accurate.

Miz JJ said...

Colin Powell is an idiot. I can not believe he said that. There are plenty of black people who speak proper English they are not of interest to the media. Foolio.

Barack Obama is black. We need to change what being black means. It does not just mean wearing a do-rag, drinking a forty and being ignorant. Being black is many, many different things. It is being an inventor, a writer, a singer, a policeperson etc. Why is only view of who we are allowed at a time?

Luke Cage said...

Good ol' Colin Powell. He's not new to making statements that are out there at times, so I'm not surprised. And yes, the backlash has already begun on mr. Obama, but I'm not surprised. The crabs in the barrell mentality can be a mother to witness firsthand. Such is the way with some of us man...

West said...

Man, I guess I've been livin' under a rock or something.

Oh well. It's probably for the best. Like I said, I've got little-to-no love for Mr. Powell.

I kinda respect the fact that he's spoken up since he left The Administration, but I'm tempted to call it "too little, too late."

Honestly, despite all that, I was kinda hoping this was another case of shoddy journalism by way of out-of-context quotes. *sigh*

So...Wise...Sista said...

This NYT article sucks. It is so fragmented and does little more than simplify an issue that is SO complex.

The article could have easily been written from the "Obama is Black but not all Blacks think/live the same way." Instead it was written from the "some say he's not black" angle.

2nd...I remember clearly the context of Colin Powell's comments. And it's grossly misrepresented here. He is often sarcastic about the way his race is perceived, and his race politics are pretty on point in my estimation. His book is really isightful about race in the military.

But this is what we have to look fwd to btwn now and the 08 election. *sigh*

West said...

re: "I remember clearly the context of Colin Powell's comments. And it's grossly misrepresented here. He is often sarcastic about the way his race is perceived, and his race politics are pretty on point in my estimation. His book is really isightful about race in the military."

And there's the context issue I wondered about.

Thanks, SWS. Maybe there's another article around somewhere that puts the statement in the proper context.