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[Xmca-l] Re: Blackface and Gayface



I do not, and never will, agree with the arguments that reject Obama's
black identity. I find those arguments deeply problematic at minimum, and
usually much worse than problematic. However, I do wish that those who
argue that Obama is not black would not describe him as a white man. By the
terms of this argument, whiteness is no more a "real" category than is
blackness, and referring to Obama as a "white man," even if done to shock
people, serves to feed into the very real, and not at all fictitious,
hegemony of whiteness in America and around the world.



-- 


Jacob McWilliams
Educational Psychology and Learning Sciences Program
University of Colorado Boulder
j.mcwilliams@colorado.edu
http://www.jennamcwilliams.com


On Sun, Apr 24, 2016 at 4:29 PM, David Kellogg <dkellogg60@gmail.com> wrote:

> Paul:
>
> 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.
>
> David Kellogg
> Macquarie University
>
> dk
>