2008 Presidential also-ran Ralph Nader cut a promo on Obama in the Rocky Mountain News. Just when one wonders why Obama hasn’t acted to engage him, he upbraids the guy for not being sensitive enough to the issues affecting black communities in this country. The critique itself is very much debatable, but it’s not really one that a non-black can make with any credibility–it comes off as the sort of passive reverse-racism that crops up among white liberals, often a case of overreaching to show empathy.
The plague of gangsterism forced onto black youth by corporate media (specifically, Interscope, Viacom, Clear Channel and Time-Warner) results largely from the efforts of misguided whites to embrace and, indeed, sponsor a narrow slice of the African diaspora as a uniform standard. Just as whites are constantly pressured to conform to stylistic norms through the idealized projections of mass media, black have been pressured to be a certain way over the last 20 years–the men, especially. Among black men, the rate of attrition has been unprecedented for populations not under direct assault–but, of course, they are, and that’s one of those things that cannot be said in print.
Obama spent many years doing good work in, around and for the streets of Chicago, and so it is inevitable that he may know as many casualties of those years as most black men his age do. Anyone who thinks he does not, or will not take those memories and lessons with him into the future is a mark. For Nader to play that card makes him look ever more that way. For his sake, one hopes that he is saying such things to help Obama by torpedoing an argument someone else might have made with more finesse later.
I’ve always felt the Wright “scandal”, for example, was a net positive for Obama because it fleshed out his backstory, floating a bunch of memes that he may or may not agree with, baiting his opponents into overstretching and squandering resources on the chasing of false leads, wasting tons of TV time and reminding minoriy voters how gullible some of the media elite think they are. The scandal revealed two things: 1) Chicago is shady; 2) the media just realized that.