An end to black victimhood?

While we wait for the opportunity to talk to the Taleban, this blog got us talking in the office.

“The claim that, to an extent, the current plight of many black Americans is the fault of black culture. And that culture must now change”

And this. What do you make of it? Should there now be an end to black victimhood?


And 5000 jobs have been axed in one day in the UK and about 450,000 americans are losing their jobs every week as a personal cost of the global recession. How to deal with unemployment is one of the biggest challenges facing President-elect Obama. How are coping with the risk of unemployment? Tell us your experiences here.

43 Responses to “An end to black victimhood?”

  1. 1 VictorK
    November 11, 2008 at 15:46


    Obama isn’t really an African-American. He has no direct connection with the history and culture of African-Americans. A cynic might argue that that was what made him an acceptable candidate to some whites, as opposed to an authentic and enraged African-American like Jesse Jackson.

    If you sincerely believed in the decisive influence on the lives of African-Americans of ‘the legacy of slavery’, of Jim-Crow, and of racism before Obama’s victory, why should that victory by itself overturn the heritage of centuries of alleged oppression? An African-American who believed in reparations on November 3rd has no reason to disbelieve in it now.

    Oh, and conservative black scholars like Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell have not only argued but have demonstrated, with a plethora of economic, historical and social facts, that black progress was significant and continuous up to the 1960s, from which time a variety of factors (the Great Society welfare schemes, illegal immigration, minimum wage legislation, etc) have obliterated the black family, reduced economic opportunities for African-Americans, and nurtured a culture of dependency and irresponsibility that hadn’t previously existed. They and others like them have been calling for a radical change in black culture (including the elimination of government-sponsored incentives to dysfunctionality) well before anyone had heard of Obama.

  2. 2 Steve
    November 11, 2008 at 15:55

    If you doubt it’s the culture, I beg you to watch the documentary called “Hard Times at Douglass High”. It was basically supposed to be made to criticize Bush’s “No Child Left Behind Act”, and while the teachers weren’t really perfect, it really was the parents notn doing their jobs. the students would barely attend school, most would drop out. They literally would drive to kids’ homes to tell the parents the kids were skipping school and the parents barely seemed to care…

    you aren’t going to make it very far in life barely knowing how to read let alone having only a bare minimum of an education.

  3. November 11, 2008 at 16:22

    One of the things that I have noticed living in the state of Georgia is the incredible high drop out rate of high school students – 40%. There seems to be a complete disconnect on how education can impact a person’s life on more levels than are imaginable. As an adult I was able to mentor three high school drop outs. All three returned to high school. Two graduated and went on to college. Afterward one went to law school, by now I am sure he is a practicing attorney. The other went on the medical school and could be working her residency by now. The third believed she knew all there was to know and is doing god knows what. The point is everyone carries a message that others may be able to hear. You could have a positive impact on a person’s life where others have failed.

  4. November 11, 2008 at 17:32

    VIctimhood IS NOT a strategy for success.

    When your central operating premise is that of a victim, you cannot establish self/group accountability BECAUSE nothing is your fault. When nothing is your fault you cannot foster a culture self /group discipline, self/group accountability.

    Like many truely oppressed groups around the world and through-out history (Palestinians), African Americans are stuck in a a terrible, self destructive, DEATH LOOP!

    Obama’s ascention will have NO lasting, meaningful impact on the lives of people (black or otherwise), who continue to make poor choices, and do not do the hard, lonely prep work of getting ready to contribute in the 21st century knowledge economy of the United States.

    He is not the liberal many think him to be….AND the U.S. can’t afford another War on Poverty. Which failed anyway.

  5. November 11, 2008 at 17:51

    Let me add please; the premise of the question that begins this discussion is critically incomplete.

    Inspite of my firm belief that the “SELF” is supreme in these matters…It is not intellectually or historically honest to say ONLY that african american culture and african americans themselves are THE reason for our problems.

    My point is: spending time on everything you CANNOT control is tantamount to shaking your fist at the rain.

    It is however, important for everybody to know and remember that WE HAVE BEEN RAINED ON in a mighty way over many centuries.

    Still, you come back to: what now? what to do? No more than you can UN-RING a bell can we go back and make things ALL-BETTER.

    No one can can help anyone MORE than they can help themselves – AND no one can be meaningfully helped UNTIL they make an internal decision to help thmeselves via better choices, self discipline, and self accountablitily. VICTIMS NEED NOT APPLY.

  6. 6 Buchi
    November 11, 2008 at 18:16

    Yes! The problem of blacks all over the world has and shall always remain our fault. We don’t seem ready to tell ourselves this truth, we are always busy blaming the others for our woes, a typical case of cursing the darkness and making little or no efforts at lighting a candle.

  7. 7 Leonet Reid- Jamaica
    November 11, 2008 at 19:15

    Please permit me to voice my opinion on the ‘Black Victimhood’ from a Black man’s point of view who studies at an HBCU (Historically Black College and Universities). I attend Howard university and I have seen a change in the mentality of students in the past week after Barack Obama won the election. On Tuesday night as the announcement was delivered an eruption could be heard around Howard’s campus and echoed in all corners of America and the world. Within the throng of people celebrating were under served minorities that felt liberated by this historical breakthrough. I believe that Mr. Obama’s victory meant more to them than any other race because it gave them inspiration to aspire for whatever they wanted. Martin Luther King’s dream has been fulfilled. Finally can a Black man think he is equal to his counterparts. Finally can a black man hold his head in pride. I wish not to label other races as oppressors, but i would like to emphasize that Black people have been holding themselves down by thinking that they are inferior to other races. Bob Marley said that we should emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind. There is a definite need for a change in the Black culture. Education should the main priority and also this idea of “The Man” holding them down should be thrown out with many other cultural inhibitors. I loathe some aspects of the African-American culture because Howard students likewise many other blacks have been engaging in Gang wars and other superficial activities. I hope Barack serve as an initiator of the ‘Black Renaissance’

  8. 8 Syed Hasan Turab
    November 11, 2008 at 19:19

    Dosent matter black / white culture, each & every culture born from transformation of society, being an human being we dreem best life for ourself & our loved ones.
    As far as the journey of our civilisation is concerned we are moving forward, though still we may not determin our destination/goals, but we are walking.
    Overall African culture is a very rich culture, strong culture values & socities.
    If we are observing living of African’s in USA & Europe, we will notice ignorance, negativity & crimes in common behaviour. Those who complain & claim we are culture dont realise there mistakes, ignorance, negativity, segregation, hate, double standard, crimes against humanity & hidden emotional desastrious common hipocrate behaviour living in society.
    At least USA need improvements in legal structure so that public trust & satisfaction may be restored as all prevailing system been established with a vision of White supermacy.

  9. 9 Tom (of Melbourne)
    November 12, 2008 at 05:20

    The election of Obama as the next president illustrates that skin color is no longer a factor when a black man embraces a progressive and inclusive attitude, and frees himself from the sense of victimhood. It is a victory of the mind rather than the race.

    Those wishing to see a past-dwelling, insecure, dependent individual, presumably the definitions of “blackness” by those accusing Obama of being not black enough, being elected president will have to wait a lot longer.

  10. 10 roebert
    November 12, 2008 at 06:56

    In a nutshell, from an African point of view, African culture, especially in its historical-developmental aspects (one dreads using the word ‘evolutionary’ here), was critically interrupted by Judaeo-Graeco-Roman intervention. Thrown off course and projected into a futuristic vision for which it had not yet prepared itself, and subjected to various forms of oppression and exploitation, it was bound to take a largely dysfunctional and self-defeating course. How long it will take to regain its own dignity and balance is anybody’s guess.

    The fact is that, in applying pressure to remould the African mindset in its own image, the western conquistadores have only succeeded in doing longterm damage to a culture inherently, and on its own terms, highly dignified, and, in its own traditional home, perfectly adaptive.

    One could argue, against the stream, that the Judaeo-Graeco-Roman mindset, in further acts of blithe intervention, has brought about the same sort of self-defeatism and rage in the Muslim regions, and of dehumanisation, by western political and economic models, of China, too.

    In attempting to homogenise the cultures of earth, the west has crippled them instead.

  11. 11 justin Mann
    November 12, 2008 at 13:21

    There is no excuse for black victim hood. As some one who is totaly blind, I deal with discrimination, in accessible technology, and various public stereo type, and people who are a different color than i are going to complain about being a victim? African American Culture needs to get over itself, because it is this “victim mentality” that brings them down. I have more of an excuse to claim “victim” than an African American, and I work full time, participate in various activities, and sometimes deal with the litimations that being blind puts up. The problem with African American Culture, is thier leaders jesse jackson, Al Sharpton, and varous members of the naacp preach this failing “give us a handout mentality”. African Americans need to think of themselves as people first, who just happen to be of a different color. I’m Justin Mann first who just hapens to be blind. It’s about like being short.

  12. November 12, 2008 at 13:37

    No. When Obama is elected as first African-Americans president it doesnt means that all black people are equally treated as other colours but my worry is that either Obama might be uses by other colours as a pretext for explioting the Blacks.

  13. November 12, 2008 at 13:49

    It’s the ultimate self-fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it? Any group denied access to mainstream society will form a sub-culture but a sub culture will find it even harder to become part of the mainstream.

    The election of Obama may help the situation slightly but it’s far from an instant solution to entrenched attitudes on both sides.

  14. November 12, 2008 at 13:56

    Re- Loenet Reid. What you thought is/was not true by the way,the reasons why blacks support Obama more than other Americans candidates in elections history in my point of views was because of his colour bad not what he should gives them,please note that blacks wealths and life exists before Obama but one blackman cannot fulfills the needs of the billions of Blacks.

  15. November 12, 2008 at 14:10

    Oh Obama!
    TEHRAN – Muslim, black, non-conformist, Stanford educated, not an economist, no Martin Luther King. That’s a lot of luggage for one man to be carting along for the next four or eight years!
    Asfaw from Ethiopia is the only black I ever knew. We went through high school together. He seemed a little frail to me. His brother was an aspiring student at Rugby but Asfaw was reserved and a little sad for most of the time. When you have been in Britain for some time, you shed skin. He was no more black than I am brown!
    In the late sixties when I was in Frisco my black girlfriend couldn’t walk down Union Street. There were plenty of blacks in Oakland and Berkley though. I was excited by their culture, the voice and the brilliant colours. It was the Janice Joplin era. There were blacks on Van Ness Street in Frisco where my cousin had a pool hall.
    The seventies in the States was another story. Blacks were sophisticated. A whole range of products were destined for blacks, probably manufactured and marketed by blacks. Can President Obama break new ground and pave the way for them to reach the boardroom and corporate America? Can black Americans bail out the black continent and grapple with squalor, disease and slavery? Charles Taylor in Liberia is a bad example, but will Obama change all that?

  16. 16 Leonet Reid- Jamaica
    November 12, 2008 at 14:35

    RE: Dinka
    We cannot rule out the fact that blacks and many other minorities voted for Barack Obama solely for Colour reasons, but you must commend the man for having a stronger platform, or at least more popularity. Obama is not the super hero some media houses portray him as, here in America and across the world, but he is still an hero for each aspiring Black person. As his campaign line read ‘hope’, many minorities became hopeful after his win. We cannot also rule out the contributions made by Whites to his campaign. I would love to say that this election was one without race. Speeches were not made to appeal to one particular race but Mccain and Obama fashioned their speeches to speak to the distressed Americans, and by votes, Obama spoke to them the best. Obama will not radically change the bad traits of the Black culture, but he will serve as that radical that will offset the stability to bring CHANGE to our culture.

  17. November 12, 2008 at 16:40

    Tough, tough, tough road to hoe,

    There was a culture in America that began with an honest offer to help all poor people in America. It was called the war against poverty. That really hurt the blacks in America.

    Some of what happened was that a lot of black, single mothers in America actually got welfare money to help them raise their offspring. So what happened is many black women started having babies. Black men gladly impregnated them then came by and got their cut in the welfare money. The unintended by product of this scenario was a culture of children growing up in America where there was not a real steady head of household father to instill valid concepts of right and wrong and a lead by example set of circumstances where kids grew up with a loving father simply showing their children how to live by a decent code of conduct that would be good for the family, country, individual citizens.

    Drugs, crime and gangs became widespread.

    In an unperfect world there have been classic examples where single black mothers were able to raise virtually alone wonderful black kids who have gone on to become stellar success stories for themselves and our country.

    We see many of these stories in black actors, business leaders, musicians, and of course some of our belove baseball, football and basketball heros.

    Now with Barak Obama we see a wonderful story and classic example. He married a strikingly smart and beautiful Black Woman, grew an obvious wonderful relationship, marriage and children that all the world can see is not only beautiful, but a fine example that we can all be most proud of, learn from and hope to also mimic in our own way.

    The thing that makes it really strong is that this handsome man is the product of a white single mom and a distant black father. Really it is a melting pot story of what we are.

    America is actually a place where all the races are melting together and we keep trying to get it right.

    We had a horrible start, and even at our founding we had a big problem ironing out the slavery issue. It has taken us over 200 years of setbacks, pain and failures to work its way out. Racizum is a two way street and its enemy has always been injustices on both sides, and many pot shots from the side lines, that made it a costly, difficult and dangerous race against tribalizum.

    Along comes an exceptional person born into a body of mixed blood, at precisely the right time. Plus he is a leader, incredibly smart, and a great father, dad, husband, and all around good guy.

    We’ll do just fine in our continual struggle. With great pride in him, and with great pride in all of our different people. I am married to a person of another race and you ought to see our little boy!!!


  18. 18 Jennifer
    November 12, 2008 at 17:25

    Many of the problems that face black people are a result of them not integrating into society of their own accord. Not sitting skin color aside and seeking to achieve their goals is what hinders them and keeps them below the poverty level in many cases. To say that that is anyone’s fault other than their own is ridiculous.

    I believe at the end of his term, Obama will have lost alot of the appeal he had with the black population. They saw someone who spoke to them and said that he was going to change ™ our world. Obama won’t change the culture of poverty that exists for some in a few measly years without people realizing THEY have to change things for themselves. When they realize that; I don’t think they will be very happy with Obama.

  19. 19 Luci Smith
    November 12, 2008 at 17:34

    Am I the only one old enough to remember the phrase “Blaming the Victim” and remind you all of the concept of Institutional Racism?

    People were speaking of Institutional Racism in connection with the theme of whether the UK could produce an Obama.

    And Blaming the Victim was a textbook subject in Sociology back in the 1970’s. I’ll try to find the author.

    In America, there is a tradition of tokenism. Look at Michael Jackson and O.J. Simpson. They have been built up first and later torn apart by the Media.

  20. 20 Luci Smith
    November 12, 2008 at 17:49

    That is William Ryan author, “Blaming the Victim” is the title and it is from the 1970’s.

    All of you WHYS listeners and bloggers, it’s good to be optimistic, but a great part of the American population still has the attitudes they had before the election and one’s situation does not change from day to day.

    It takes legislation and money to create educational oppportunities and programs, jobs and change. I saw the “War on Poverty” money disappear into the Vietnam War. And the Bush Administration spends on War. That is why Obama is going to be in a tight spot financially to pass legislation that will give equal opportunity to everyone. And then there are all of the people who will fight that by challenging the new laws.

    The soldiers who are getting killed in Iraq and Afghanistan ought to have been offered a job in Civil Defence or an Education instead of a job in the Armed Forces, says this pacifist.

  21. 21 Steve
    November 12, 2008 at 17:58

    @ Luci

    Perhaps OJ shouldn’t have killed his ex wife, then the media couldn’t have torn him apart.

  22. 22 VictorK
    November 12, 2008 at 18:04

    @Luci Smith: would you accept that affirmative action programmes are institutionally racist (and sexist) against white males?

    Do you accept that black cultures across the world exhibit genuine traits of dysfunction, to different degrees and in various spheres? How many African universities teach in indigenous languages (as far as I know, not a single one)? What kind of people would elect (let alone re-elect) a man like Marion Barry to high office? Why does Jamaica have one of the world’s highest murder rates? Five million Africans have died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (not that the world cares very much) because of the profound political incompetence of Africans and their proclivity for ethnic racism and ethnic violence. To plead ‘blaming the victim’ really won’t do.

    Jackson and Simpson both excelled at what they did. There was no tokenism in either case. Before one went completely mad and the other became a killer they were both pretty good role models for young blacks. Why such contempt for genuine black achievements, probably in the face of racist obstacles?

  23. 23 Tom D Ford
    November 12, 2008 at 18:14

    “Should there now be an end to black victimhood?”

    Sure, one half-black guy gets a good job and of course that means that now every other black person in the world no longer has any right to complain about historical or present discrimination, it’s all fixed now!


    All this does is give Obama an opportunity to demonstrate to the world by example that all of the historical racist arguments about black people being only three fifths human, or incapable of learning, or bad fathers, or any other lie, slander, and libel against black people are and were wrong and should be rejected and discarded.

  24. November 12, 2008 at 18:14

    I heard someone complaining about “victimhood” in the context of the election, race, and life in general … in The United States on the 6th. My approach was simple, “If you say, they complain about working for the man, the man is keeping us down, etc … You should be happy that Obama will be the president. I mean, who’s the man now? He’s the man, you’re not anymore.”

    I said this to a group of older whites, and I think it could be reworded slightly and applied from a black stand point for the same underline purpose. “Who’s the man now, we through he … are the man.” I would like to think in either case, if it’s going to be boiled down to “victimhood”, for people who argue based in that realm, can see that day has come and gone.

    We need to move on and address the larger issues now, like racism/bigotry, freedom (real freedom/s), religion, and science. Because we all contribute to the source of our troubles in same way or another. Some with the ability to have an effect on a greater scale. And the source of these things are philosophical, our philosophies.

    What we have seen for very long time now, not just the last 8 years, is the majority of our philosophies driven by fear and lack of understanding. In coming to a greater understanding of our world around us, we now see things that were seen before, just in a different light.

    Maybe we might get to see what sort of things the driving force of hope produces.

  25. 25 Ogola Benbela
    November 12, 2008 at 18:34

    Maybe Obama previously got some unfriendly Job? Are employers scared?

  26. November 12, 2008 at 18:37


    Don’t play one note or chord expecting someone to hear the song. Play the entire piece.

    Yes, there are, has, and always be victims as long we remain human. But as in war,
    the idea is to strike at the opposition and minimize the civil-ian casualties.

  27. November 12, 2008 at 19:10

    “The claim that, to an extent, the current plight of many black Americans is the fault of black culture. And that culture must now change”

    Please… The fault of [black] Popular Rap Culture is the white man’s fault… Preaching (or rapping rather) of Womanizing, Mass Consumerism, Drug and Gang Culture, Glamorization of Violence, Emphasis on money money money and possessions, its all white peoples fault… Didn’t you get that memo?
    *roll eyes*

    Now I realize that popular rap culture is not indicitive of the entire ‘black’ race, but in America, Popular Rap Culture is the chosen culture amongst MANY black (and white) youth.
    And yes, that culture must change, so must the victimization.
    “Oh but rap culture is an artistic reflection of what these kids went through and are going through!” Then break the downward spiral, change the culture using positives.

    It’s amazing that drugged out, deadbeat fathers, mothers who don’t care about their children except for a welfare check, school systems which are underfunded, and social systems which are lacking somehow all reflect on the white man at some point. When will parents take responsibility? When will the community take responsibility? When will individuals take responsibility?
    It’s always easier to blame someone else.

    Alot of points and ‘issues’ here, but I’m a bit sick (especially after what was it, Monday’s or Friday’s program) of ‘white’ people getting blamed and crutched for current and future ills and failures in society.

  28. 28 roebert
    November 12, 2008 at 19:41

    Remember that the victim mentality is a response largely elicited by constant pandering to it. Journalists are particularly good at this, perhaps because it makes for a good story. Outsiders generally tend, through naive good intentions, to draw out the victim response.

    It’s always instructive to mark the difference obtaining in interactions between local South African Whites and Blacks, and the Blacks’ interaction with foreign visitors who WANT to hear the victim theory confirmed.

    By pandering to it and deliberately eliciting it you are robbing the dignity of the other. Much better to say, “Bunkum to all that, now let’s get on with it.”

    I have personally empowered a few Black South Africans by refusing ot listen to, or even to take into account, their victimhood, but stressing the need to get to grips with life instead, and showing how it’s done, starting with basic principles (in a realtime working environment) of skills acquisition, understanding of business principles, and…yes…morality.

  29. 29 bjay
    November 12, 2008 at 20:32

    An end to black victimhood?
    NO !!!
    However, I hope the END THE AFFIRMITIVE ACTION !!!!!!!
    If I am a stupid white, why should be better a stupid black or Spanish-for that matter?

    bjay connotation has rendered.

  30. 30 roebert
    November 12, 2008 at 20:46

    Bjay, I fully agree…I think.

  31. November 12, 2008 at 22:03

    Hi WHYSers!

    Bigotry is as entrenched today as it ever was/ is! Questions in relation to an ‘authentic’ and, therefore, essentialised African-American identity that President-Elect Barrack Obama is eiter said to ‘truly’ embody, or reflect are exactly that! The naturalised assumptions about what constitutes ‘blackness’, such as it is, embodied in the personage of Jesse Jackson (Senior) completely limits the discussion and, thereby, the possibilities in such a way that their only intent is to advertise ignorance.

    The assumptions of ‘victimhood’ encoded in the similarly implied monolithic construction of ‘blackness’, as posed in the question above, requires consideration, albeit carefully, before any response could be given. On the one hand, the implication of a ‘black victimhood’ is that, it suggests that this is a uniquely objective (?) experience which is common to the condition of all black people (whoever these are!) everywhere.

    On top of which, it further implies that there is a direct correlation betweeen the sense of moral, social and poltiical injustices which people, including those of African ancestry experience, are somehow inherrently intertwined and, therefore, connected to their racial identity. What is race, anyway? And, who is to suggest that there is no merit in the Obama experience for some people, if even at the level of a symbolic adjustment of what we understand hope to be?

    I, for one, wish to carefully resist these essentialised categories of identity which equate race with identity and emotional states of being as the purview of racial blocks.

    The underlying presumption in the angry black man thesis posted in at least one comment above, denies, in a very superficial way, the legitimacy of the experiences of people like Jesse Jackson and in the same breath dismisses anyone else who shares a similar complexion as he does for similar reasons. No questions asked!

    Further, it purports that there is no credence to the validity (?) of emotions like anger, by seeming to imply that any position outside of that with which ‘whites’, like VictorK, are comfortable is illegitimate and, therefore, inauthentic insofar as qualification in the human family. How sad!

  32. November 12, 2008 at 22:52

    @ Brett

    “It’s amazing that drugged out, deadbeat fathers, mothers who don’t care about their children except for a welfare check, school systems which are underfunded, and social systems which are lacking somehow all reflect on the white man at some point. When will parents take responsibility? When will the community take responsibility? When will individuals take responsibility?
    It’s always easier to blame someone else.”

    I think you fail to realize, is lot of the problems that exist for blacks today, stem from years of not being equally human as whites, not by opinion or culture but by LAW. That was a fact of life for many of those same people who are still alive today, that because you’re black, you’re no good.

    Now if you want to pretend that has absolutely no weight on current situations, you go right ahead, but know you’re in the same dreamworld you’re accusing someone else of being in, just the dream is different.

  33. 33 Bryan
    November 13, 2008 at 00:16

    I sympathise with the Obama supporters who emerged from their victory celebrations with the mother of all hangovers and then, while gazing through an alcoholic fog at the TV, were dumbfounded by the sight of their hero advising Iranians in no uncertain terms that their nuclear programme was unacceptable and that they should stop supporting terror. Then the guy goes and appoints a Jewish American with an Israeli father as Chief of Staff!

    They must have figured they were still sleeping off the liquor and it was a nightmare.

    I’m encouraged by these first moves on the part of Obama. This could be a very interesting presidency. Gotta watch them black dudes. They really can kick butt in a fight. And that’s precisely the kind of person America needs at the helm right now.

    Then I woke up to the realisation that Obama wants to talk to the Taleban. And now I’m confused. Is he going to be tough, or isn’t he?

  34. 34 jamily5
    November 13, 2008 at 00:31

    I know many whites who claim that they are victims and there were many more white people in big business, corporate and even politics.
    While bush was president, white people still said that they were victims.
    The presidency does not matter.
    “victimhood,” if one wants to call it that is in the inner most psyche of a man.
    hey are not likely to change. They always seem to find a way to claim their status.
    But, I don’t believe that black people, as a whole has unduely claimed this status.

  35. 35 Jennifer
    November 13, 2008 at 00:36

    @ Paul

    Re: “I think you fail to realize, is lot of the problems that exist for blacks today, stem from years of not being equally human as whites, not by opinion or culture but by LAW.”

    The last time I checked, I was considered equally human as people of a different race especially by law?

    Everyone voted for and elected Obama, right? That says (with the exception of black people who voted for him maybe because he was the same race) that we as a country looked past his color. Even I did because I didn’t just not vote for him because of his color.

    As a society, we have people from all walks of life and races here. There are people, black, white, purple, neon green, that live in poverty. People will get nowhere by playing the victim and having chips on their shoulder. If you have some free time you should check out self-determination. I think education is the primary means of ending the cycle of poverty. Aside from chaining people to desks and making someone learn; I don’t know how to impress upon a person the importance of education unless they choose to see its importance.

  36. 36 VictorK
    November 13, 2008 at 08:56

    @Rawpolitics – you wrote, ‘Further, it purports that there is no credence to the validity (?) of emotions like anger, by seeming to imply that any position outside of that with which ‘whites’, like VictorK, are comfortable is illegitimate’

    Hmmm. Consider the reaction of whites in the American South to Reconstruction (the post-Civil War period which saw many Southern legislatures fall, with Northern support, under black control). Southern whites usually portray Reconstruction as a period in which horrifically incompetent and corrupt black polticians were given a free hand, aided by Northern carpet baggers, backed by Federal troops, and supported by a newly emancipated and newly enfranchised black electorate. The relation between black and white in the South was shaped not by mindless racism, but by the determination of whites, once they recaptured control of the state governments of the South, to prevent those governments ever again falling under what they saw as black misrule.

    White anger over Reconstruction led to a systematic effort across the South to control the black population and prevent their ever attaining power again. This included public lynchings, jim crow laws, and segregation,.

    Now, do you think that white anger and rage deserve serious and sympathetic consideration as explanations of the racial problems of the South, or is that kind of indulgence something that you only extend to ‘black rage’?. Are you prepared to give the Klan as sympathetic a hearing as the Panthers?

  37. November 13, 2008 at 17:25

    @ VictorK,

    While, I am certainly not denying the importance of your interventions, with regards to the question of the history of ‘the South’, my post above speak less about anger, as a specific issue, and more about your spurious remarks regarding ‘authenticity’. And, what you claim is ‘true blackness’- whatever that means!, as a way of distinguishing between the, presumably, polar opposites of Barrack Obama and Jesse Jackson (Sr.). Not only are the distinctions fallacious, at best, notwithstanding the remarks above in relation to ‘the South’, it refuses to acknowledge its own shortcomings, glaring as they are, to erect another dimension to that same argument without any real consideration of its offensiveness.

    Race, such as it is, is not (only?) biological, nor is identity fixed and, therefore, immovable across the length and breadth of the (so-called) ‘African Diaspora’. I say ‘so-called’, not because I do not think there is not (an African) Diaspora, a term innitially used by the Jews to characterise their fragmentation after the Holocaust. Rather, by questioning the very category of ‘African’, implicit with all the essentialism, as per your first post, I am calling those very things into doubt.

    Identity is far too complex a process to be limited to questions of one’s body and imagined bodied, as is often the case. Your arguments above suggest that you somehow are capable of identifying a/ the ‘true black man’ and are, therefore, able to say with complete confidence whether Barrack Obama fits those racist ideas, or whether Jesse Jackson’s ‘anger’, as you have defined it, disqualifies him as a human being.

    In either instances, there is no effort to know, simply to project bias and ill-conceived logic in a public forum. We can only assume by this, that the strategy is both deliberate and ill-intentioned; that is, insofar as it seeks to presume a sort of ‘objective’, albeit questionable, knowledge about ‘black people’, everywhere.

  38. November 13, 2008 at 20:18

    @ Ros, this post is sort of longish…Hopefully, it gets on the board. (Apologies in advance!)

    I am not even sure of the implications of Toure’s blog go beyond a further problematisation of the questions of race and how we have essentialised those definitions/ categories, over time. It seems to suggest, inter alia, that a simple (?) question of one’s skin colour, necessarilly, positions such a person as being in direct relationship to an antagonistic racial politics, vis-a-vis definitions of ‘whiteness’ in American society, (as well as elsewhere).

    Whereas, that might well be true, in parts, there is room for acknowledgement that the complexities of identity (politics) in the current dispensation has, largely, meant that racial categories have never been fixed. It would, therefore, be inappropriate and wrong to reduce identity, in its myriad permutations, to (only) one category – physical appearance at the level of the body.

    What the post does not do, effectively, is to argue about, whether all black men in America, or even elsewhere, have all lined up behind the traditional thesis of ‘angry victimhood’ in quite the same way. Or, whether such a reality is the unique purview of all black people.

    Without making those distinctions, the blog may well be read as a gloss (?) over an otherwise complex/ poltical issue which finds its roots in an even more complex history which, till present, has consistently disavowed and undermined black identities at the level of their humanity. We/ They were either all angry, or all non-humans, or both. In any event, to be black was to be ‘other’ and, therefore, incapable of the said same nuances of the Obama strategy Toure references, for winning the elections and, presumably, governance of America/ the world.

    The point being that, issues of ‘black victimhood’ are directly equivalent to issues of ‘white privilege’, such as it is. Both are part of the same process(es), in terms of what it is that handicaps one group compared to the other.

    The question, as posed, about a ‘black victimhood’ must, therefore, be answered in the actual interrogation of what it means to (also) be white (in America). And, why it is that, to discuss race in America/ around the world; that is, if you are black it is automatically assumed that you either angry, reactionary, or both.

    The fact is, there is an abiding philosophy of race, which seeks, as per the ‘enlightened modernist project’ sought to do, to erase the humanities of black people everywhere. They were all the same and all jealous of and, presumably, inferior to white cultures simply (?) because of their skin colour/ racial heritage. How ridiculous! In the process, disavowing the painfully traumatic historical processes which have systematically shaped black marginalisation in many societies in the modern era and the dire implications of such (a) process(es) in terms of real life chances.

    Race, in effect, was created as a construct to separate and conquer, largely, on the premise of economics, but also at the levels of ideology and symbolism, etc. It meant that, for better or worse, we would always see ‘race’ until otherwise able to actively work to undo these openly rank systems of injustices perpetuated for the benefit of a few.

  39. 39 VictorK
    November 14, 2008 at 09:16

    @Rawpolitics: your response reminded me of a squid shooting out ink to cover its escape. A long post with little of substance.

    *Fact: Obama is an African American, but not an African-American.
    *Fact: Jesse Jackson’s experience (I believe he’s from South Carolina) is fully in the tradition of African-American life; Obama’s (raised by a white family from Kansas) isn’t.
    *Fact: Hilary Clinton was originally expected to capture the black vote because of Obama’s supposed exoticness as a half-white, half-Kenyan African-American manque.
    *Fact: you asserted that I didn’t give credence to black anger when it went beyond what I was comfortable with. I asked if, given your willingness to treat ‘anger’ as something to be treated as a pointer to genuine grievances, you were prepared to extend that to the anger of white Southerners during certain periods of American history, even when that anger was directed against blacks. Your silence on this point is eloquent and needs no further comment.

    Your being rattled by arguments you can’t or won’t answer is no reason for getting abusive and personal. The only justification for calling someone biased, illogical, fallacious, and ill-intentioned is when you can attach each of these labels to what he’s written, and not using these words as a squid’s ink of verbiage. Please try to address the subject, not the person.

  40. 40 Vijay
    November 14, 2008 at 14:04

    With the rise of the BNP and return of the Bullingdon club Tory to
    prominence in the UK,some people feel safe enough to blame the victim for their own persecution,when Racism and white oppression end then after a while non whites victim mentality will stop.

  41. November 14, 2008 at 15:30

    @ VictorK,

    Seems to me that we are either speaking past each other, or this is complete comedy of errors. As for the “verbiage” and not addressing “facts”, as you have indicated, I am sure that you might see where the aim of my post was not to answer questions of “white anger”, such as it is.

    Rather, it was to explain (?) that there is a very real way in which the implication of “black anger” (whatever that is!) denies one a meaningful opportunity to be considered as human, generally; in part because by your own arguments, there is an implied position that Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama are the anti-thesis of each other. With Jackson being the “authentic black man” (who is angry) and Barrack Obama, by virtue of his “mixed heritage”, is not.

    Based on this argument, it explains why Obama was more successful as a presidential candidate than Jackson ever was. Implicit in this argument, therefore, is the notion that “blackness” (again, that term!) is homogeneous. That would also mean, where there are areas of differnce, as per the binary opposition model that you are deploying, then there is a “logical” explanation insofar as a sort of (expected) non-black influence- in this case, white. That is completely ridiculous, on two premises.

    Firstly, all black people are not the same, with the exception of having some links to the African continent. In addition, the colonial project was almost always about legislating whiteness (identity) to the extent that it separated people based on race. Those who fell in between the two dominant groups were, for all intents and purposes, black.

    Whether whites, like the KKK and others with similar or related agendas feel “angry” was never part of my original post. Nor, was I intending to suggest that there is no room for that consideration. Far from it. Anger is anger. What is under question, however, is whether there is justification (?) for that anger and, if there is, what is the basis of that justification.

    I would therefore, submit that there cannot be a similar equation between being “angry” because I think my privilege is being encroached upon and an “anger” born of that a related disprivilege. While that distinction may seem semantic, there is room to consider that these positions are almost always used to explain away “black anger” as a reality (?) to be dismissed under the same headings as reactionary groups like the KKK and others. That you have made a case for their inclusion makes the point all the more profound, in terms of attempting to silence critique of white racism, explicit, or otherwise. Your claim about my personal attack on you must, therefore, be read in a similar manner.

    I can neither agree with your original thesis in relation to your acceptance of the sort of ‘natural blackness’ encoded in the term “black victimhood” (in the question), nor your subsequent remarks culminating in your claims about my comments being that of a squid, or as you call it “verbiage”! Either way, it’s all good on this end.

  42. 42 Shakhoor Rehman
    November 15, 2008 at 17:25

    I do not see the connection between black culture and victimhood. Black culture has electrified the world and been a positive influence inspiring debate etc. Black self-esteem or any ethnic group self-esteem is another matter. If the notion of black people feeling sorry for themselves is a result of inequality etc then that is correct. Black culture has helped to change that but only the pursuit of general knowledge can give anyone self-esteem and the confidence to succeed and not to fall into the permanent victim mentality. As Ice-T once put it ‘ My lethal weapon is my mind’.

  43. 43 sentamu obeid
    November 28, 2008 at 12:37

    Pardon my polemic approach but speaking from an African perspective i really have a hard time understanding why it is that we as Africans are sneered upon when we express our anti-sentiments(call it black victim hood if you like) unto the rape and defilement our race has had to face over the years. Granted there is a failure on our part to take matters in our own hands( e.g bad leadership, corruption e.t.c), but the truth is there is a lack of will to genuinely help and by that i do not mean we want hand-outs. If you look at the state of Isreal, unwavering support is all that has come its way ever since its inception, never mind the fact that she is allowed audience whenever she cries foul. Why then must we be treated different when we express our dissatisfaction.? Every attempt to emancipate and assert ourselves is undermined and vetoed through mechanisms that are meant to keep us firmly in the back seat and we mustn’t complain? The belligerence on the African continent continues abetted but who facilitates it? We need not to kid ourselves! This is more than black people playing victim hood, and like the erstwhile British premiere once said, Africa will always remain a curse on our conscious.

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