After winning in Iowa, Barack Obama was quoted as saying "If there's any African-American voter out there who still thinks Whites won't vote for me, they just need to read the papers this morning and that should put that to rest."
Earlier his wife, Michelle Obama, in speaking about skeptical Blacks, was quoted as saying that she "understood that veil of impossibility that keeps us down and keeps our children down — keeps us waiting and hoping for a turn that may never come. It's the bitter legacy of racism and discrimination and oppression in this country, a legacy that hurts us all."
The sentiments expressed by the Obamas may accurately reflect the position of some Black folks, but a significant number of us refuse to get excited about a political candidate who can speak about every issue under the sun, except White supremacy, the issue which basically defines this country. We find it difficult to swoon over a candidate whom many White liberals and White conservatives are gushing over because he has "transcended race." The Obama campaign takes me back to 1987 when L. Douglas Wilder was elected governor of Virginia and David Dinkins was elected mayor of New York City.
My position at that time was that those elections would be a major blow to the development of a serious Black political movement (not campaign) in this country since they would give an illusion of our having made significant political gains.
That is exactly what happened. A few friends of the two men may have benefited from their elections. But we as a group of people gained absolutely nothing. Good old-fashioned common sense tells us that it is impossible to transcend race in a country in which White supremacy has been a prevailing ideology for its entire existence. Those same White liberals and White conservatives, backed by their Negro allies, use words such as "transcending race" the same way they use the words "political correctness"—- that is as a weapon with which to attack those who refuse to downplay the role of White supremacy as an integral part of this country's very core.
To recognize this is not to succumb to despair, as implied by Michelle Obama. Rather it is to avoid the temptation of becoming the type of Black person who is ready to exault — over any indication, no matter how small — that White supremacy is no longer a political, economic and cultural reality.
Our position is not one of wallowing in despair but to urge our people, especially the younger ones, to remember that while White supremacy is alive and well, there is no justification for succumbing to it. Instead we must create and execute effective measures to out-think, out-plan and out-maneuver, those who practice it. White supremacists are not supermen and superwomen. Anyone seriously committed to organizing our people should read Chapter 15, "The Shape of Things to Come: A Master Plan," in Chancellor Williams' book, titled "The Destruction of Black Civilization: Great Issues of the Race 2500 BC to 2000 AD."
The plan that he provides in his book for organizing our people will do more to promote and protect our economic, political and cultural interests than the election of anyone to any national political office that requires one to "transcend race" in a White supremacy-oriented society.
A. Peter Bailey is the former editor of Blacklash, the publication for Malcolm X's Organization for Afro-American Unity. He can be reached at [email protected].