Yea...xcept that never happened. America would never allow it.
Why are we having this conversation? What makes me say that America has never had a black president, despite all the evidence to the contrary? Am I losing my grip on reality (if there ever was one)? Let me assure you, I'm not, but sometimes, just for a time and a season, I wish I could. It would be a weight off my shoulders, and I'm sure the shoulders of my family and many others.
If you know me, you know I talk about racial issues A LOT; too much even — but it wasn't always this way. It's not like I was born thinking about this stuff, or like I had any interest or knowledge during my formative years. Sure, I was aware of "race" from an early age, and like many young children, I took note of who was treated differently from whom, who could do what, when and where - (and who couldn't) - and who held the sway in social settings and who didn't. I learned early on the importance of wealth and status, and how having of the former granted you more of the latter. Yet, I also recognized, even in a majority black society (Barbados), that even when a "Black" man has wealth and power, he is no match for the "White" man in terms of access and control.
I was young, in many ways naive, probably more clueless than most others about many things (I don't pride myself on my social skills, because they ain't 'many'), but I wasn't clueless about this. If there's one thing I've learned to do in life, it's to observe. I don't always know how to pay attention in class (I'd much rather doddle and draw, honestly), but I know how to pay attention to people and the subtle ways in which we interact. Most especially, I pay attention to the ways in which we try to hide it.
We human beings have a funny way of pretending that if nobody says anything, it also means that nobody notices. In turn, we convince ourselves that if nobody notices, nobody cares. The end of it all is that we genuinely believe if nobody cares, nobody is harmed, no wrong is being done, and there is no need for change or progress.
Just give yourself a moment to think about that, and you'll know how wrong it is.
Sound familiar? It's basically the "convervative" approach to race. Or maybe, I shouldn't say "conversative", because many people who identify as socially and politically "liberal" are guilty of this same thing. Even I was like this for much of my life, and at times, I still can be. "If it isn't happening in my field of vision, it isn't happening. If it is in my field of vision, and I say nothing, then at least I've kept the peace." Be honest, that's all of us right there. Of course, we will say it's not, because it doesn't sound good nor does it feel good to say it, but it's true.
This is us.
So when we look to the world stage, and we see the level of anti-blackness within it, it should come as no surprise that the response of so many of us, and I really shouldn't even be saying us, but I'm being nice and inclusive here, is to turn off our observational and analytical lenses and just go with the flow. White folks hold the majority of the wealth in a nation where they're the minority by percentage of the population? No big deal. After all, they must have worked for it; 'the blacks' need to try harder. Black people are still overwhelmingly impoverished despite generations of Black people having worked their lands and enriched their "masters" for hundreds of years? "Must be something about their culture." "And why do they complain so much anyway? Don't they have so many black celebrities?"
Ah yes. Black celebrities. I thank God every time they pay the bills. So reliable!
On a serious note, imagine if black people pretended to be this idiotic toward everyone else! Has anyone ever noticed, that we're the only group that doesn't go around telling others "Hey, y'all have Martha Stewart! Quit complaining!" or "Donald Trump is president! What more do you want?" And it's not only 'White' people either. In the latest installment of "Stop complaining, because <black figurehead!>", it was a self-professed 'Mexican' woman doing the spewing - "because everybody but us is just calmly getting along with their business, and we're just here complaining for noooo reason." Nevermind that she was reciting this treasured white-supremacist go-to line to fellow (yes I said fellow) 'White' woman, who was painfully making note of the fact that her 'biracial' (Black) children are at risk, living in America, simply because of their skin colour. This was in response to the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a senseles tragedy which has not only gripped America, but many of us who pay attention to Black issues around the world.
Imagine telling a grieving mother, as she contemplates a potential threat to her own children's lives, that "If you REALLY believed, that you wouldn't have had them." and subsequently in the midst of other responses "We're so racist we have a black president."
Pick a card.
You've taken the whole deck!
Somehow, because ONE black person has made it up a mountain of obstables, we're all fully liberated, granted full equality, and have no reason to "complain." Right. That never makes sense, except in the vacant lots that occupy the roving minds of flagrant racists, whenever they need an excuse to cover for the fact that they're knowingly talking a bundle of trash. It's amazing really, the levels of intellectual contortion people will put themselves through to justify their racist idiocy. Or maybe I should call it obtuseness, because they're not hopelessly unaware — quite the opposite in fact. They know exactly what they're doing. Or do they...
Yo, let's look at the facts.
In keeping with the American context (though, longingly, I'm staring at the rest of this anti-black world and ready to give it my 50 cents), let's review some history.
I'm sorry, what?
You mention the ongoing legacy of America's (really, England's, Germany's, France's, Spain's, Portugal's, Belgium's, Italy's, The Netherlands', and the beat goes ON) racism, and people hit you with "And what about it?" like Ariana Grande Funny isn't it? The very architects of this system (no, you weren't there to get it started, but you're definitely keeping it alive) pretending like they don't recognizing the work of their own hands. It's enough to give you a headache if you think about it long enough.
Maybe that's what drives certain people *cough*
Sheetrock and FlannelDiamond And Silk,
aka Pebble and Lint. *wheeze* or Queen Of The DryClean OwensCandace Owens - the supreme ruler of selling out. to give up every trace of dignity to shuck and jive like clowns for the very people who hate them the most. You'd think they'd never heard of the way America (in keeping with the traditions of its parent nation(s)) systematically laboured to build a system in which whiteness is considered the pinnacle of human intelligence, wisdom, goodness and virtue, whereas anything non-white, and tending toward black, is only good for manual labour and pleasuring the whims of the proverbial 'White Man'.
They love to remind us of the fact that this historically and extantly racist nation the designated cauldron of white supremacy, has elected a 'black president' - once in its 240+ years since "independence." Note that: no Black person in this supposedly post-racial nation had ever risen to the highest position of office before 2008, when Barack Obama was sworn in. This is phenomonal, when you consider that neither England nor Canada have ever boasted of a Black prime minister. You can forgive poor Canada, however, because the Black population there is pretty tiny, and after all, we know Canada's definitely NOT a racist nation.
I'm smiling! No really! I am!
What does that sound like to you?
You know, maybe I'm just being too cynical, but I don't believe the hype. If America is really so post-racial as they claim, why are Black people still feeling the effects of racism every day? But wait, maybe it's just feelings, because that's what they say every time Black people complain about being treated differently, or fearing for their lives while doing regular tasks, like:
But it's just feelings. It's just feelings when you consider that the same people who tell Black athletes to "Shut up and dribble!" or "Get off the field!" if they dare to protest injustice, tell other Black people to stop complaining because those same Black athletes "have a lot of money", money which they have to pour back into their communities just so children can go to school, or have food to eat. It's just feelings when they call a dignified Black woman "a ape in heels", demonstrating that they can't even bothered to utilize their own language correctly when they get around to tearing us down.
Speaking of apes, it's just feelings when they compare us to apes, and talk about us "chimping out" whenever another unarmed Black person is shot and killed by police. They even have an entire website dedicated to that concept (chimpmania, no, I won't link to it). It's just feelings when we get mad that a company like CloudFlare (which I also won't link to, and if you use them, consider - or don't call yourself anti-racist) does business with them.
Apes seem to have it pretty good compared to us.
Again, let's speak of apes, shall we? Supposedly, we're closest to them, at least that's what racists believe, even if they won't always say it. Except, it isn't, because last I remember, no one treats apes like anyone treats us. In fact, if you go back even further in history, you'd be hard-pressed to find a moment where apes were given even a pinch of the treatment that our people have seen, not only in America, but around the world. I mean, sure, if you want to nit-pick, you could argue that they've been used in circuses from time immemorial, they've been used as 'lab rats,' they've even been sent into space in place of humans! But... don't forget, apes made it to the inside of a 'White's Only' bathroom long before we did. Where do you think the chimps they put in test rockets urinated? On the floor?
Name for me a single Black person who they would've put in the position to be 'first in space.' I'll wait.
Apes have never had their lands invaded and taken over by dictators, their governments sacked or turned into puppets, and their people enslaved. Yet, they call us apes? Apes should feel insulted that anyone would sink so low as to compare them to 'a black'. No one has ever spent billions (all told, it's probably much, much, more) of dollars on anti-ape propaganda, through films, through print media, through radio, through advertisements in every possible avenue, through recruitment programs, through falsified history, through word of mouth, through 'missionary' work, etc. Tell me when in history have apes been taught self-hatred, colourism, and other toxic mindsets that will take possibly hundreds years to undo. Tell me when have apes been systematically mocked in caricature, for the purpose of reminding themselves and others of their inherent inferiority? Who has ever used apes for gynecological experiments, without anesthetics btw, because they "Don't feel pain?"?
When were apes shipped across the seas by the millions, stacked like sardines, thrown out to safe weight or escape pirates, sold for chump change and worked until they died? What plantations can I go visit to learn more about their trials? Tell me, please, I'd like to know.
All of these things consitute a uniquely Black experience, which is something that we all share, not only in the Americas, but around the world. Anti-blackness is a product finely crafted throughout history, refined in this hemisphere, and exported around the world. It's something we get from everyone. A dish always served cold, or searing hot like the bullets pumped into the skin of every Black son or daughter taken by another racist farmer reaping the crops of their supremacy. It is the fertilizer that enriched the soils of America and most of the world's wealthiest nations, and continues to do so till this day.
"Y'all had a Black president! Quit complaining! We're equal!"
I've been told this, hell, I've even been told "Go back to your own country!" (because we Black people are never "from around here", are we"), "If you don't like it here, leave!", "Go back to your section 8 housing!", yada yada... and I'm not even American. Hello, I don't even LIVE in America. I mean, I could have, but thankfully, life didn't go the way I'd planned, both when I had dreams of becoming an actor/director and a paleotologist (both of which are effectively pipe dreams in my country), and when I considered possibly moving to the US after I thought I'd fallen in love. That's a story - for... never. Not for public consumption. Plus, minor "Get Out" vibes showed up in retrospect. Why does life have to suck?
Sorry, that gave me a sad.
By the way, I've never watched "Get Out" in full, only a few
clips on YouTube. I really HATE horror movies of any kind,
(though I LOVE Sci-fi of any kind - I can't make that make sense,
sorry). However, that's not my main reason why I can't watch it.
I could almost put up with the gore, the violence, all the other
stuff. That's par the course for most movies for people older than
12. But you know what really makes it tough to watch? It's too
familiar. Remember that love story I referenced?
That's all you get. You don't know me like that!
You might be thinking "Why did he focus so much on that minor detail? Who cares what movies you've never watched?" Well, it's because it's not a minor detail. There are doors that can't open for me because I'm black. Even certain doors to love and the future. Like it or not, my choices are shaped and steered by my Blackness. I can try to Christianese it away as much as I want, but the world will not. Even if I had the money, there are certain things I know I could never do, or wouldn't dare to risk, because the cost could be too high, for myself or for my family. I can't fall in love with the 'wrong' person. That could get me in trouble. I can't travel to the 'wrong' part of the world, that could get me killed. I wouldn't dare travel to America at this time in my life, and not because of COVID-19, I'm not even afraid of that. I'm a tall, heavyset, Black man with dreadlocks. You do the math.
Now you know what I look like. I'm curious, when you look at me, what do you see? You can be 100% honest.my DMs are open.
Seeing even bits and pieces of "Get Out" reminded me of the stark reality of being a Black man in this world. Outside our own spaces, we're not really welcome. It may feel like it, people may make the best appearances of it, but is it really true? When people say "Black Live Matter", is it because that's what they really feel, or is it because it's the currently "cool" thing to do?
Remember my little rant about apes earlier? I wasn't quite finished.
Think about this, most of us love to watch the cute and fascinating
things chimps and other apes do. Their vocalizations can be
hilarious. Their antics make us laugh. The way they can
effortlessly make their way through the trees is amazing...
...but we don't steal their 'culture', what makes them uniquely 'them' from them, then mock them for it, now do we? We don't make merchandise off ape music, yet denigrate apes for enjoying it. We don't create movie franchises where the apes are disguised as Black people, who gain intelligence and take the world from the 'White Man.' We don't do this because in many respects, apes are granted more genuine dignity and respect than Black people in this world, if we're honest.
We don't otherize them. We don't use them in 'animal liberation' memes, showing their lynched bodies with assinine texts about freeing pigs and chickens. We don't even need to have a debate about it. It doesn't need to be said because it doesn't happen. How is it, that we have to debate the humanity, the mere dignity of Black people, but there's no need for debate over the dignity of animals that swing from trees?
Still with me? I'm about to tie it off right here.
Black president. Black. President.
You might not have yet seen where I've been going with all this, this ranting, this rambling, but see, I've been thoroughly building a case. The way I've come to see it, and I couldn't see it before, is like this: America has never had a Black president, not in truth, just in fact.
Sure, you can say, "A Black man has held the office of the presidency." You ain't lyin'. He did. He did hold the office of the presidency, and like Black people everywhere, despite his flaws like any other human being, and in spite of the things he did in keeping with America's legacy of wrongs, I'm somewhat proud of him. If I ever met Barack Obama, I would let him know that. I'd probably even be openly emotional, a rarity for me, as we would share a knowledge of what it means to be Black in a world where you just aren't welcome.
But I will say this: I think if I shared my position with him, he would agree. Barack Obama was never "the Black president." He said it himself. He was the president of all the people. He had no choice. There are people who literally voted for him twice, then turned around and voted for Donald Trump. Some still support Donald Trump to this day. Many will tell you that there reasons were purely economic, but I beg to differ. After a while, you learn how to play this game.
In no way to cast insult against the man himself, but rather to highlight deep racism at the heart of America (but also the world), I'd like to point out the fact that Obama was in many respects, *the* "token" president. You may not like my characterization, but as is my fashion, I'm only telling it like it really is. I don't know how long your memory is, but I remember paying close attention to the 2008 and 2012 American presidential races, largely because of their historic nature, and one thing was overwhelmingly clear to me: this was 'White' America's way of hopefully shutting down the racial conversation forever. This wasn't about all the positive side-effects: universal healthcare, a stronger economy, reduced tensions with Iran, or any of the other miscellaneous items that happened to occur as a result. No, 'White' America was tired of being called out on its racism, and this was the prime opportunity to achieve that goal.
Then it failed.
You see, the purpose of a "token" isn't so much to bring justice to the group from which that "token" is drawn, but rather, to give eternal cover and total right of freedom to the predominant group, for which the "token" is supposed to "work." There's no intention of ever granting a power to your token. Not true power anyway. Remember, when Obama became president, immediately the rules by which the game of American politics have been played for centuries were called into question. Suddenly, there was a declaration of absolute refusal to work with him, and it wasn't because "Well he's a Democrat!" Do you know how many times I've heard and read that nonsense? More times than I care to estimate. Forgive my indignation, but how foolish can you get? It's obvious, that's not what it was about! It was solely, not primarily about the fact that one of the 'beasts of burden' that they'd been given a 'right' to rule over, supposedly by the same God who chose to make East Africa the stage for much of the world's most critical historical events - had escaped 'its' boundaries and made it all the way to their seat of power.
In the eyes of a racist system,
having black president is like having the dog on the couch.
There's no way in hell that they were going to let Barack Obama, a dignified, well educated, happily married, stable, intelligent, well spoken, experienced, physically robust, and authoratitive enough to command respect... Black man, run the country that White Supremacy founded. On top of that, there was no way that they were going to tolerate not only him, but Black people in general, coninuing to have a conversation about race. Know your place and straighten your face! That's the only purpose of the black race! That's basically how it all shakes out in a racist, anti-black society. That didn't change because a Black man assumed office, and we were reminded of that every time he opened his mouth to form the word "Black."
You see, when 'White' society designates your position, you don't get to own it. You don't get to take charge. You're not allowed to say who or what you are, or what you stand for. You're there to take their orders, and to do their bidding, and that's exactly how Barack Obama was treated — not like a president, but like a tool. But they forgot they weren't dealing with 'beast of burden.' He fought them where he could and otherwise tried to work with them in spite of their opposition, and for that, we in the global Black community are indeed proud.
Yet, we must never forget: 1 out of 45? Those aren't good odds. 1 in 240+ years? Don't be fooled. That's not progress.
Look at the rest of the world - tell me where in any body that carries weight, from the UN, to the IMF, can Black leadership tackle Black issues and expect to be taken seriously. When don't yet hold sway. We have seen the mountaintop, yet, but we haven't set foot on the summit. Don't settle for "Y'all had a Black president!" until you've had both the Black and the president - without question or complaint. When a Black man or woman can hold that office, and it not be an "event", then, maybe then, we can stop complaining.
If you've made it this far, I hope you can see - this isn't even really
about the title.
It's about something much deeper. Anti-blackness. But... I'm not starting another article right now.
I just want you to consider: Why do they hate us?
And if you're not "us", do you?