At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture


Blackism: Barack Obama’s Ideology of Choice

posted by Jack Kerwick

As multiple scandals besiege his administration, President Obama made time to address the students of Morehouse College, a “historically black” institution of higher learning.   According to Front Page Magazine’s Daniel Greenfield, Obama is simply resorting to the race card, the Rosetta stone for escaping political travails of leftists everywhere.

Greenfield is correct as far as he goes.  The problem is that he doesn’t go nearly far enough.

Obama’s entire career is a race card.

To put it another way, while many of the labels that his opponents have ascribed to him fit to some extent or other, none of them fit like the proverbial glove.  The reason for this is that “socialist,” “Alinskyite,” “radical leftist,” “anti-colonialist” and the rest fail to capture the essence of that which fundamentally drives Obama: race.  

More specifically, none of these characterizations does justice to the fact that it is his lifelong quest to secure for himself “authentic” blackness that animates Obama.

To put it simply, while he most certainly does subscribe to leftism and all that this entails, Obama’s ideology of choice is “blackism.”  By affirming this ideology, authentic blackness is achieved.

Like all ideologies, blackism is a creed or doctrine. It consists of the following tenets.

First, history is to be understood as an epic interracial melodrama.  Historical actors, though, are not flesh and blood individuals but abstract categories, namely the categories of “white oppression” and “non-white suffering.”

Second, white racism is alone the thread that unites the past with the present.  White racism remains endemic—even if it is not as “overt” as it once was.

It is this belief that accounts for why, despite having been elected twice to the American presidency, Obama and his surrogates can still talk about America’s “racism” and that of his rivals.

Third, “social justice” is society’s cardinal virtue.

The federal government must become an instrument for compensating blacks for historical injustices.  Only a powerful, activist government can rectify racial inequalities, inequities that are the legacy of centuries of white racism.

Finally, “racial authenticity” is both possible and desirable.  And racial authenticity can be achieved by simply affirming blackism!

The words of Professor Cornel West are instructive here.  According to West, since “’black enough’ always means ‘bold enough,’” Clarence Thomas, a “phenotypically, beautifully black” person is nevertheless not black enough.  Thomas is “a right-wing conservative who sides with the strong against the weak” and, thus, is “not bold enough.”  On the other hand, Thurgood Marshall, “a beautifully high-yellow black,” most definitely was “black enough because he was bold enough.  He didn’t side with the strong, he sided with the weak.”

A blackist must be black by birth, it is true, but his biology alone is not sufficient. And it is neither necessary nor sufficient that the blackist be fluent in black culture.

An ideology comprises the cliff notes, the Reader’s Digest version, so to speak, of an older, vastly more complex cultural tradition.

In religion, ideology assumes the form of theology.  For example, the Christian religion had already been a way of life for hundreds of years before the Nicene Creed—a quintessential expression of its theology—was formulated.  The latter is an abridgment of the former, a relatively few simple propositions that, in theory, can be affirmed by anyone and at any time.

There is a complex of cultural traditions that is peculiar to many, but not all, black Americans.  Blackism is a distillation of these traditions, “the black experience” in America boiled down to a handful of propositions easily affirmed by all biologically black persons—whether they are personally familiar with these traditions or not.

In other words, blackism is the ideology for the Barack Obamas of the world.

Obama’s first memoir, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, is nothing more or less than one man’s odyssey in search, not so much of a father, but of racial identity.  Separated by eons from “the black experience,” Obama has spent the better part of his natural existence, and all of his adult life, aching to be seen, and to see himself, as “authentically” black.

It is this aching that accounts for Dreams. It is this aching that explains Obama’s pursuit of Jeremiah Wright and his insistence upon sitting for some 20 years in Wright’s church, a church saturated in Black Liberation Theology.  It is Obama’s desire to secure racial authenticity that motivated him to become a “community activist,” attend Louis Farrakhan’s “Million Man March,” and once claim that he opposed the idea of reparations because he didn’t think that it went far enough. 

But the cultural traditions of black Americans have always been as alien to Obama as they are alien to any of the thousands of privileged whites with whom he attended The University of Chicago and Harvard.   The ideology of blackism, however, permits him to surmount this. Simply affirm its tenets and presto!—instant racial authenticity!

Make no mistakes about it, whatever else may be said of Obama’s allegiances, he is first and always a true believer in the ideology of blackism.

 

 

 

 



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