Civil Rights

An inconvenient truth for Obama, Black Lives Matter and racial hypnotism

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With eight months remaining in the first mulatto presidency, Barack Obama is clearly more deeply invested in racial identity politics than anyone foresaw. A year ago I opined that in the remainder of his administration the president could salvage a legacy of pointing toward a transcendent commonality, a transcendence of race consciousness altogether. Unfortunately, the president had neither the courage or the inclination to plant the seeds of that change.

Instead, we have witnessed rioting in locales as diverse as Baltimore and Ferguson, and the latter’s spawning of BlackLivesMatter —a politically ambitious coalition focused exclusively on blacks killed by white cops while turning a blind eye to the skyrocketing black-on-black murder rate.

{mosads}Furthermore two black males, seemingly radicalized online by militant Afrocentrism, targeted and murdered eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge following the deaths of two blacks at the hands of police in Louisiana and Minnesota.


According to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll, 69 percent of Americans say race relations are generally bad, the highest level of discontent since the 1992 riots in Los Angeles during the Rodney King case.

While no president is obliged to attempt bringing people together, surely the first half-white/half-black president would have shouted from the rooftops that humans are far more alike than different. Most blacks have European ancestry and reject Afrocentric dogma that whites are melanin-deficient “ice people,” lacking the ability to wholly embrace humanity. Many whites are part black or Native American and repudiate centuries-old supremacist doctrine that blacks are subhuman beasts of burden.

Supremacist dogma also holds that blacks cannot intelligently have any regard for “their own kind.” If a white cop who is only vaguely familiar with such thinking frequently toils in a precinct where he regularly encounters people with seemingly “no regard for their own,” how might his racial worldview evolve? We err dangerously when we treat discussions of police maltreatment of blacks and surging inner-city violence as mutually exclusive.

The president sides with those who rightly call for racist cops to be rooted out, but who also contend that the problem of inner city violence is strictly a gun control issue — nothing to do with behavior.

Barack Obama isn’t the only example of a prominent mixed-race politician identifying solely with his minority heritage. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. “passed for white” while attending Colgate University but later opted to champion the black cause by representing Harlem in Congress. What level of consciousness compels one to take this path, including practically beaming as a White House Correspondents’ Dinner comedian addresses you as “my n—-r”?

Everett Stonequist, sociologist and author of The Marginal Man (1937), theorized: “By losing himself in a cause larger than himself the marginal nationalist overrides, if he does not solve, his own personal conflicts.”

Stonequist posited that a primary cause of the mulatto’s emergence as race leader is “the disparity between his aspirations and his status.” This disparity will “make him the kind of marginal man who integrates his personality through reacting back to the Negro group and working to raise its status.”

Was Obama’s adoption of an exclusive black identity a calculated decision predicated upon, as Stonequist suggests, a perceived gap between his aspirations and his mulatto status? Only the twice-elected president knows.

Mixed-race poet and novelist Jean Toomer (1894-1967) asserted: “I would liberate myself and ourselves from the entire machinery of verbal hypnotism. I am simply of the human race. This new race of mixed people, now forming all over the world but especially in America, may be the turning point for the return of mankind, now divided into hostile races, to one unified race, namely, to the human race.”

Black/white multiracial Americans largely fall into two camps, one in agreement with Toomer’s worldview and the other viewing its European ancestry and the attendant colonialist history as evil incarnate, irredeemably racist.

On the spiritual level, a true teacher doesn’t teach you so much as he, like a mirror, reflects back your own inner knowing, and lovingly reminds you of the vastness of your being. The inconvenient legacy of the first mulatto presidency may be more of fierce racial strife than of reflecting back to us our innate capacity to heal.

Byrd is a freelance opinion writer whose pieces deal with racial identity politics and religion. He is of white, black and Cherokee heritage. He lives in Queens, N.Y.

The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.


Tags Barack Obama Black Lives Matter civil rights race relations United States Washington D.C.

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