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[Xmca-l] Blackface and Gayface
Like you, I have always been puzzled and even a little troubled that we
think of Obama as a half-black president rather than a half-white one. As I
said, I think he's a conservative politician, well to the right of
Eisenhower and pretty much in the mold of the first George Bush; therefore
I think that the adamantine loathing of Obama by the "Republicans" is
entirely racial. (Let us remember that the Republicans are historically the
party of black liberation and revolutionary reconstruction in the USA, and
let us, that is, you and me, consider the present day Republicans a
complete non sequitur, a zombie usurpation, something like the present
ruling party of Haiti.) But for that very reason, it really will not do to
consider Obama a white politician: first of all, it confuses conservativism
with whiteness, the error of which Condoleeza Rice, Alan Keyes, Herman
Cain, and Ben Carson on the one hand and Marx, Engels, Lenin on the other
have amply demonstrated. Secondly, it doesn't explain the phenomenon that
needs to be explained, namely the bilious hatred of the right for a
politician who is politically so very much one of their own number.
So in what sense is Obama black? I think, actually, he is black in the very
best sense: in an entirely voluntary and chosen one. He did not coyly flirt
with being black, the way that David Bowie and Prince flirted with being bi
for commercial purposes. Bowie then complained that he was a "closet
heterosexual" and that he was forced to have sex with gay men just in order
to inhabit the persona he had created, and Prince joined the Jehovah's
Witnesses and justified the deadly Biblical persecution of gay people as
God's revenge on them for "stickin' it here and there and everywhere". If
these gentlemen find it difficult to have sex with other gentlemen, there
is an extremely simple solution, one that has historically been made
compulsory for men who are actually rather than simply sartorially gay.
They can have sex with women. No one says that the white extras in D.W.
Griffith's films were really trying to stand up for black liberation and
revolutionary reconstruction, and no one confuses minstrelsy and blackface
with black culture: why, then, do we tolerate "gayface" in people like
David Bowie and Prince, people who have no loyalty whatsoever to the gay
community beyond the cash nexus?
Obama doesn't do blackface. He learned black English (which, remember, was
a foreign language to him, growing up in Hawail and Indonesia). He married
black, and self-identified as black when it was not at all a commercial or
an electoral advantage, quite the contrary. He went to a black church and
he didn't leave it even under overwhelming white pressure, but only when it
really did offend his heartfelt (conservative) principles. Obama is black
in the sense that Helena was talking about, in the sense that he has joined
and been accepted by and really belongs to a black community, namely South
Chicago. It is true that he has given some Cosby-esque speeches about and
even to the black lumpenproletariat. But this too is from his community: in
South Shore some of the most bitter opponents of petty crime and
gangbangin' and humbuggin' were precisely the black workers at US Steel
South Works, General Motors EMD, and Ford: they'd worked bloody hard for
that stereo tape deck and those chrome hub caps and if you tried to swipe
them it really didn't matter what color you were, they were going to show
the world the color of your blood.
I also vote in Korean elections, because I too have a community which I
voluntarily adopted and which accepted me and where I am a legal permanent
resident with electoral rights. In the last Korean election, I voted for
the third largest party in parliament, the United Progressive Party.
Immediately after the election, the party was legally dissolved, the
leaders I had voted for were expelled from parliament, arrested and
sentenced to 24 years in prison (later, after the intercession of Pope
Francis, reduced to "only" twelve years). All candidates in the US
elections have insisted on continuing US support for what is essentially an
old fashioned Cold War regime, the "free world" counterpart of the North
Korean nepotism-despotism. Even Donald Trump's main complaint is that Korea
doesn't pay enough money for the privilege of being occupied by US troops.
So from that point of view as well, a vote for Sanders makes no sense.