Monday, October 17, 2011

Yvette Carnell: Were Herman Cain and Barack Obama Separated at Birth?



Ideological Twins
by Yvette Carnell
Einstein famously said that if you can’t explain something simply, then you don’t understand it. And right now, black folks are having a hard time explaining to me why Herman Cain is being caricatured as The Boondocks’ Uncle Ruckus whilst Obama is being heralded as the incarnation of MLK.

Every choice demonstrates a person’s values, and politicians are no exception to that. So it is perfectly reasonable for African Americans to question Cain’s bona fides using his proposed policies and past remarks as a measure. It is, by extension, also reasonable for African Americans to reach the conclusion that Cain’s opposition to social justice (“if you’re not rich, blame yourself”) and his refusal to acknowledge racism as a factor in American life (“I don’t believe racism today holds anybody back in a big way”) shoot stray of the African American ideal.
But what of Obama’s incongruences?

Being black in America translates in manifold ways, but for Cain and Obama, the import of American blackness translates similarly. Cain queues white adoration when he, appropriately I think, evokes the story of how his father worked three jobs until he could afford to work two, and two until he could afford to work one. But then Cain errs by misjudging his father’s experience as a demonstration of American colorblindness rather than calling it what it really was; an affirmation that hard work is a formidable tool for combatting institutionalized racism.
Similarly, when faced with African American consternation, Obama, like Cain, queues white populist arousal by asserting that “a rising tide lifts all boats”.  When Herman Cain intimates that everything is all hunky dory in America, his sentiments are echoed by a President who chides black people to stop “crying” and take off their “slippers”. In a nutshell, the President is saying, as did Cain, “…blame yourself.”

Does anyone seriously believe that most of the policies we see coming out of the Obama administration, such as freezing federal wages, cutting discretionary spending, bailing out banks, increasing drone attacks and the like, wouldn’t be the same policies we’d see coming out of a Cain administration?

What Cain and Obama have in common is that they both represent domesticated adaptations of blackness. They both fish in the same pond because theirs are the only representations of blackness accepted by the mainstream political establishment.  Repudiation of generally accepted African American memes is the litmus test for black presidential candidates in both major political parties.

So we end up with two men who are saying roughly the same thing, to the same people (white people), and, quite remarkably, getting opposite reactions from the black community.

One man fetishizes the 60’s with a faux -preacher style rhetoric, but doesn’t reflect any of that 60’s moral conviction in his policies. The other man discusses self-stewardship in the same vein as Malcolm X, but doesn’t include any critique of racism in his rhetoric.

Truth is, both men are crippled aberrations of authentic black leadership. Cain and Obama are nothing more than stilted re-imaginings of Malcolm and Martin.  But with our blind spot firmly in place, we somehow see these failings in only one man.

Maybe Cain was right. Maybe we are brainwashed.



8 comments:

BloggingButterfly said...

A very thoughtful commentary.

I certainly don't agree with Herman Cain that the African American community has been "brainwashed". However, it is time that people stop being afraid to take a close look at ALL of President Obama's policies and be unafraid to criticize his policies when criticism is warranted.

Neither man is a reincarnation of past heroes nor should we expect them to be.

To borrow the sentiment expressed in a a comment by the late Lloyd Benson: I remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and President Obama is no MLK. On the other hand Herman Cain very much resembles Clarence Thomas.

B said...

Great post. Particularly these two points: 1) "When Herman Cain intimates that everything is all hunky dory in America, his sentiments are echoed by a President who chides black people to stop “crying” and take off their “slippers”. In a nutshell, the President is saying, as did Cain, “…blame yourself.” and 2) "What Cain and Obama have in common is that they both represent domesticated adaptations of blackness. They both fish in the same pond because theirs are the only representations of blackness accepted by the mainstream political establishment. Repudiation of generally accepted African American memes is the litmus test for black presidential candidates in both major political parties."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

I don't think that many black folks are so blind though. I have heard constant reiterations of your points in my circles and family, in other words constant acknowledgment that little differs between Obama and Cain. But it should be mentioned, Cain did recently say that he believes abortion should never under ANY circumstances be legal. This certainly separates him from Obama, at least in that one respect.

I personally dislike both individuals because they remind me of many of the professional negroes I've met who "make it" and then "forget it (i.e. where and hwo they came from)." Le sigh.

p.s. The comparisons people keep drawing between Obama and MLK is sickening to my gut. Just absolutely horrifying to be honest. We can't as a nation, as black folks, be THAT dumb.

Anonymous said...

yvette, you out did yourself on this one...this is your most idiotic commentary to date that i have read.

i wonder what is going on in your head to come up with these topics.

are you smoking weed or is it lsd?

Anonymous said...

It's so sad to see how some of us "BLACK" People just can't accept our Black President without constantly finding error with anything he attempts to do! It's the Black intellectuals whinning the most about BS towards President Obama. And you Yvette surely must be brainwashed if you can't see how White People are using you to attack your own race! You are about as INTELLIGENT as master need you to be!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with alot of what the writer says. But, I will say that many of us are not brainwashed. It is just that those who aspire to conform to the European, Anglo-Saxon style of living, and culture are more accepted in these United States. The truth is, Obama does not represent the majority of what African Americans believe in because, although he grew up with brown skin, he was raised by people who had the advantage of the American institutions. That makes a huge difference. His presence as the President makes it a little easier for the majority to get use to the idea, thought and sight of brown skin being in the Oval Office. No White person would have ever gotten away with treating and talking down to Black folk the way Obama has. This shows a prejudice on the part of the so-called Black leaders who continue to give him a past. We have given him a chance and he is more concerned with being President than he is with correcting institutionalized oppression against one-half of his people. But, he pleases the other half-so he is able to sleep at night, although he presides over a government policy that is openly creating a permanent underclass-through mass incarceration of brown skinned people. And as for Herman Cain--when one considers his statements you get the idea that he is a lover of money. And this love is the root of all evil. One that loves money will commit any wrong to acquire, just like one who sets his 'heart' on the presidency will do the same as evidenced by Obama's public denouncing of a man of God--his pastor, the man who introduced Christ to him. Jeremiah Wright was right--Obama is a politician. He uses his mulatto status to gain access to the big house and then tell the field negroes to shut up and stop complaining about the master's mistreatment of them. So, in a sense, I guess the writer is about right--Cain and Obama are two peas in the same pot. Black folk need to stop looking for a human saviour and return to the church--the institution that has sustained us. Otherwise, the conforming nature of the black woman--as described in the WIllie Lynch letter of 1712 will keep us in mental chains. For, what can be more harmful to the Black mindset than to think that your race is the only race that God Almighty hated and created wrong when it comes to our looks and particularly our hair. Self-esteem comes from within and if you think that your natural, God-given hair is the wrong hair, then you are in trouble. The sisters were forced to lay with the master and from that forced relationship straight-hair and loose curl headed children were born. THey were favored during slavery and the sisters have taken it to a higher level. Now, young men prefer light skinned woman with straight hair, because this is what was subconsciously taught to them by the women in their lives. So, Cain is the field negro foreman who willingly beat and mistreated the field Blacks for an extra bowl of porigde. And Obama is the house negro who mistreats the field Negro for access to the big house. Black folk have not awakened to Obama yet because of the light skin and curly hair--a result of the sisters unknowingly putting down their own heritage.

Anonymous said...

I agree with alot of what the writer says. But, I will say that many of us are not brainwashed. It is just that those who aspire to conform to the European, Anglo-Saxon style of living, and culture are more accepted in these United States. The truth is, Obama does not represent the majority of what African Americans believe in because, although he grew up with brown skin, he was raised by people who had the advantage of the American institutions. That makes a huge difference. His presence as the President makes it a little easier for the majority to get use to the idea, thought and sight of brown skin being in the Oval Office. No White person would have ever gotten away with treating and talking down to Black folk the way Obama has. This shows a prejudice on the part of the so-called Black leaders who continue to give him a past. We have given him a chance and he is more concerned with being President than he is with correcting institutionalized oppression against one-half of his people. But, he pleases the other half-so he is able to sleep at night, although he presides over a government policy that is openly creating a permanent underclass-through mass incarceration of brown skinned people. And as for Herman Cain--when one considers his statements you get the idea that he is a lover of money. And this love is the root of all evil. One that loves money will commit any wrong to acquire, just like one who sets his 'heart' on the presidency will do the same as evidenced by Obama's public denouncing of a man of God--his pastor, the man who introduced Christ to him. Jeremiah Wright was right--Obama is a politician. He uses his mulatto status to gain access to the big house and then tell the field negroes to shut up and stop complaining about the master's mistreatment of them. So, in a sense, I guess the writer is about right--Cain and Obama are two peas in the same pot. Black folk need to stop looking for a human saviour and return to the church--the institution that has sustained us. Otherwise, the conforming nature of the black woman--as described in the WIllie Lynch letter of 1712 will keep us in mental chains. For, what can be more harmful to the Black mindset than to think that your race is the only race that God Almighty hated and created wrong when it comes to our looks and particularly our hair. Self-esteem comes from within and if you think that your natural, God-given hair is the wrong hair, then you are in trouble. The sisters were forced to lay with the master and from that forced relationship straight-hair and loose curl headed children were born. THey were favored during slavery and the sisters have taken it to a higher level. Now, young men prefer light skinned woman with straight hair, because this is what was subconsciously taught to them by the women in their lives. So, Cain is the field negro foreman who willingly beat and mistreated the field Blacks for an extra bowl of porigde. And Obama is the house negro who mistreats the field Negro for access to the big house. Black folk have not awakened to Obama yet because of the light skin and curly hair--a result of the sisters unknowingly putting down their own heritage.

Anonymous said...

The majority of Black folks are brainwashed. Cain and Obama don't care about black folks. And we as a whole are two dumbed down and socialized to realize. Do desperate for a leader we settle for anything. Open your eyes people. Yvette speaks truth, most just dont want to hear it!

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