The Help: Obama Promises to Work as Butler to Republicans If Re-elected
by Yvette Carnell
For years in this country, the only jobs available to black people were as “the help”. We could clean white folks homes, mow their yards, and even tend their animals and children, but the realm of our opportunities didn’t extend far beyond that.
But throughout it all, African-Americans have worked steadfastly to demonstrate that we are equals in this country, and on this planet, second to no man – or woman.
The road to overcoming these entrenched disparities has been rocky; slavery, the Civil War, Jim Crow, affirmative action, and intellectual battles which need not be re-fought here (see: The Bell Curve). We’re not home yet, though. Pattern matching is real. Meritocracy is a myth.
But probably the greatest blow to white supremacy has been the interruption of the steady flow of white presidents, which, at least symbolically, provides black youth with an ideal that is worlds away from washing someone’s car, walking someone’s dog, or cleaning someone’s home. And just as black people are celebrating our success at diligently removing the inscriptions of white supremacy from public and private American life, what does Obama do?
Would you like to be my maid?
In a radio interview, President Obama, leader of the free world, volunteered to work as house help for Republicans if they just go along with him on a budget plan.
“I’ll wash John Boehner’s car, I’ll walk Mitch McConnell’s dog,” Mr. Obama said to radio host Michael Smerconish, referring to the Republican Speaker and Senate minority leader, respectively.
Even as I watch with utter disdain as conservatives fail to moderate their proclivity toward racial instigation, I recoil at Obama’s almost instinctual need to please the powerful white elite in Washington, even at the expense of his own dignity.
When all else fails, resort to your archetypal role, I guess. And this belies my unyielding criticism of Barack Obama. He’s all things to all people. If black people need him to be MLK, he’ll mimic Malcolm’s cadence and MLK’s oratory. But if white folks need him to take out the trash, while they laugh and point, he’ll do that too. He has no real sense of being, no real sense of his place in this world, or how to maneuver within it.
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