The Great White Hype: Of Course, It’s the US Elections

By Malkia Charlee NoCry
Philosophy Editor
13th September 2012, 17:30 GMT

Barack Obama accepts democratic nomination at the Democratic National Convention. Photo: AP

I’m not as active in partisan politics as most feminist theorists of my day. As a self-professed analytical philosopher, I spend much more time deconstructing the prevailing ritual values of a society that gives birth to the mascots of democrat/republican, tory/labour, libertarian, green and all the ones in between; than thinking about the leaders of those various cults. Not to say I’m not a member of a cult of my own or carry flags with various affiliations when necessary – because I do.

But what we’ve been seeing (the “we” are those who have been watching the latest coming from the US elections globally), is a country poised for making a tremendous historic decision with far-reaching impact. Aside from party lines, this decision is going to cause a butterfly effect – for those ascribing to the chaos theory – throughout the entire world, particularly global conversations concerning race relations in North America. It is no secret that Americans are some of the most race focused individuals on the globe, and have a history and present day social structure of segregation and racial paranoia. And this country will, in fact, for reasons stemming from high unemployment, mass incarcerations and economic catastrophe, perhaps bend and elect a Bi-Racial American male with dark-completion and an African-American wife to serve for an additional 4 years in office – the maximum term for a sitting president in the United States. This will undeniably change the perception of America, her tolerance of ethnicity, and the perceived position of Black people within America. It will be a springboard for debate, analysis and speculation around the cause for this shift in the American psyche.

Though, I was not one that believed it was impossible for America to elect a Black president; to the contrary, American Black’s have made an unparalleled global impact – economic, scientific, social, political, and cultural – and thus a people with such talents could not forever be denied access to the highest office in their land.

Men, by virtue of their gender, have always gained their rights prior to white women in America – mainly because men feel they can gain more camaraderie amongst themselves than the dreaded female – and partially, because of Black women’s support and diligent campaign for Black men’s rights to be equaled with white men. As America experienced tremendous hardship from the Bush administration, a Black president was in perfect timing – Barack Obama was in perfect timing.

Prison Labour: Woman works on American flags at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation Prison Industries Authority Fabrics program in Chochilla, California. Most likely when she leaves, she will enter a jobless market and the stigma of incarceration. Photo: AP

In keeping with my disinterest and displeasure with the North American two-party system; my analysis of Barack Obama’s ascent to President ends there. This election holds far greater importance for its cultural significance, than the in’s and out’s on how one particular democrat rose to prominence and gained the trust of the American people. What is more interesting is that this is not South Africa where the majority population is Black Africans; this is not England which has had a woman Prime Minister and a history of un-segregation, particularly amongst the lower classes. This is the United States of America, flyers of Confederate flags and the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan. This is a historic plateau, and should not be ignored in the mud-slinging and fear mongering that US elections typically bring –

what will be the impact on the global psyche with a Great White Hype election?

There has been a distinct shift in the cultural consciousness of American people who aren’t suffering through unemployment, tent cities, and the prison industrial complex. The working and middle-classes are not fighting a war on policy – to the contrary – most twitter and Facebook feeds mention an empty chair, a telegram from Kenya and the style savvy of the First Lady and the potential First Lady. All proof positive that this is an election that is simply combating culture. Who will represent America? And somehow this representation will cause a global trickle down, from which America’s uncompromising support of Israel will no longer be scrutinized, our soldiers will be seen in a more positive light, our global financial interests will become profitable, and our local economies will soar – all because of how American’s are seen.

Don’t pretend this isn’t the case – America’s future in maintaining global supremacy is a cultural war – and in Mitt Romney there has been the creation of the colloquial Great White Hype.

United States Prisoners on work detail. Most prison details are not picking up garbage on the side of the road; to the contrary, they will be mending roads, laying road, and even fixing busted pipes, mains and sewage systems. All without financial compensation – all jobs they and unemployed American’s should be paid to do. Photo: AP

The reason Obama’s Kenyan roots are bandied back and forth as a campaign point is because of what Africa represents. If Obama was of Vulcan heritage (the one in the Ukraine); this tedious issue of his birthplace would quickly disappear; in a similar fashion as Romney’s Mexican roots (by land, not ethnicity). But Obama is not of Vulcan ancestry; he is African – very boldly African, indicative in his unique name among US presidents. And this is a tremendously contentious point for white America, as Africa represents the poverty-stricken, the disease stricken, the desolate, and most particularly an unfortunate inability to shift patterns of unprofitability and diminished global status. Mitt Romney, to contrast, has multiple wives (suspected), multiple children (we’ve seen), and multiple businesses (that evade taxes). He is white, he is prosperous – the Old America outside of the Depression and before nasty protestors and challenges to the white status quo and segregation. These historic hells of America were good times. And for the average white person, they were secure in their identity of supremacy, irrespective of their station in life over Black people. White women pitied Black women’s looks, life, and family. And this, sadly, was the American dream. People emigrated in droves from European nations to experience this dream of whiteness. Even people from other non-white countries (Latin America, North Africa, Asia) came for the de facto supremacy over the indigenous Black population in America.

Already, America’s Black president has greatly tattered perceptions of Africa and Black Americans. Already, the equality of white men has been tremendously blown in favour of the equality of all men.

Middle-class and middle-aged American’s fastest growing homeless population. Children and families make up 37% of the homeless – the total number of homeless is 637,000 people on any given night. 46 million Americans are impoverished and stand the risk of homelessness, while tens of thousands are within tent cities. The term “Tent Cities” does not apply for protests camps – they are where people live. Photo: AP

There has been talk that this election dons a true “post-racial” America. What does that exactly mean? For those who follow racial news from people such as Michelle Alexander or Tim Wise, interpersonal race relations, police profiling, disproportionate sentencing, reversal of affirmative action, health inequity and economic inequity is at its same, if not intensified level, for the average ethnic American (particularly Blacks and Latino’s). With America’s overwhelming preoccupations with ongoing wars, white unemployment and global economic standing – a change in the treatment of ethnic Americans by police and racist/racial non-ethnic Americans will most likely stay exactly the same.

Racism that impacts Black people’s quality of life will stay the same, as evident in the first term of a Black president.

75% of women incarcerated are mothers – this is a nursery within a federal prison. Most likely, all of these women will work within the prison industrial complex in textiles, computers, or other jobs in order to maintain contact with their children. Currently the ethnic distribution of female prisoners is 45% white and 48% Black and Latino; with women of colour being the fastest growing prison population. Photo: AP

Yet with all the overwhelming challenges within the African-American community; Diaspora Africans in Western Nations still believe African-Americans are in a better position than they – and this is not entirely the case. And this view that Black people are “better off” will create a dangerous isolation for the vulnerable ethnicities of America – a false perception that America has somehow become a “better place” through simply the presence of a Black president. This may not impact the views from North London British Black or Arab men/women racially profiled as with the internet abound with radical bloggers, they will quickly develop an understanding of the Black American crisis and any similarities to their own.

No, as I alluded to earlier, it is the semi-cocooned miniscule population of the middle-classes and those able to don the appearance of middle-class without the salary, for which this global symbol will impact their judgments on the progressiveness and forward thinking of a country with deeply seeded racism and inequity.

The situation of Blacks in America has greatly worsened since the 1950s, and this is true for numerous reasons for a majority of the Black American population. In a world where Black people’s British-born, French-born, Norwegian-born brothers and sisters have universal healthcare, more job security, and better educational opportunities than themselves – the current concerns of extreme systematic institutionalised racism will become forgotten, as they will simply note the fact that Americans were the first Diaspora people to elect a Black president in a country that is not predominantly their ethnicity. You may be aware of this quote by Noam Chomsky about the backward development of quality of life for African-Americans from the 1950s:

“The postwar boom offered employment. A black man could get a job in a unionised auto plant, earn a decent salary, buy a house, and maybe send his children to college. That lasted for about 20 years, until the 1970s, when the economy was radically redesigned on newly dominant neoliberal principles, with rapid growth of financialisation and the offshoring of production. The black population, now largely superfluous, has been recriminalized.”

The recrimilization of Black life has escalated in measure; and in the United States of America, this escalation is of far greater magnitude than in other Western Nations for Black people. This is a true fact; as the blatant denial of basic citizenry rights, such as the right to vote are denied Black people routinely, who are by birthright, generational citizens – a situation that does not occur in any other part of the world to the extent it does in the United States.

Infamous Angola Prison in the United States. Almost all the men are serving life sentences (many of which on mandatory minimums) and they are producing goods that they would otherwise not be employed to do – or have the opportunity to do – while on the outside. Photo: AP

The effect of this, as we live in a global community governed by international law, is devastating to the quality of life, and the quality of activism by Americans. This perception of being the “best in the world” that will be solidified with the re-election of a Black president may cause complacency when fighting for rights that are being eroded by local government within bigger government and the police state that is being created in many urban areas throughout the entire United States. This has spurred protests against both parties and their leaders, creating great anxiety among democrats within the country.

So now let’s say the Black president doesn’t win – that the Great White Hype prevails. The win of the Black president in 2008 suggests that race does not the dominant factor to a sizeable majority of voters when choosing a leader – that skill, precision and the ability to get a job done seems more predominant. This left to a certain degree the previous ongoing cultural wars at a stalemate. Yet, with perceived failures by the democrats; we see a “Great Betrayal” riff burgeoning in America. The Great Betrayal, an allusion to Nazi propaganda surrounding the reasons Germany lost WWI. As America’s natural state is racial polarization – no group felt particularly intertwined with the thinking of another so in that consistency there was a kind of political peace. White people were separatist, supremacist and Black people believed white people thought nothing more than barrels of stereotypes about them – but now, we’ve had a Black president.

The sting of security in Americans no longer making decisions based on race will find (or believe) that whites always did value blood over land, hence the chaos I alluded to earlier.

African-American woman being evicted from her home in United States. Her things will probably be sold or trashed. Photo: AP

And, if the White Hype fails to perform (as many suspect), or there is a decrease in quality of American life from the Black president (regardless of reasons), all Americans will feel betrayed by one another, as we saw in the landslide victories of Tea Party candidates, only to be voted out of most of their seats with the coming elections due to their poor performance – yet democrats or more liberal candidates were not always chosen instead.

America can’t afford poor performance; nor can it afford further racial polarization.

This election has far greater social impact than simply policy. Occupy New England say’s that the party platforms have no differences; I can honestly say, I have not investigated enough detail to make that judgment. But what I have investigated is the emotional connection the American people have with this election. And any way the wind blows, could trigger a tremendous opportunity for never-ending race-baiting, confusion and global isolation.

Something intellectuals are duty-bound to control and not ignore.

For more articles about the US Elections from Femficatio see the Editors Note: A Contemplation Around the Upcoming American Presidential Election.

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