Also, as Dragon Horse points out, the lady who cheered Barack for marrying a black woman isn't incoherent, but she is phrasing her praise in a way that is technically self-defeating if taken literally. I was being a wise guy. Black men tend to favor women with European facial features and ligther skin over darker women with more prominent sub-Saharan African features. That in addition to black men being nearly three times as likely to marry and five times as likely to cohabitate with white women as white men are to marry/cohabitate with black women shows why her frustrations are understandable.
Ahead of the DNC in Denver last weekend, the WSJ ran an article about how Obama's candidacy "has sparked a debate about identity" in the black community. The thrust of the article revolves around what Steve Sailer has identified as Obama's quest to prove he is black enough. This underscores the assertion that Obama owned the black vote in the Democratic primaries because he was blacker than the other white candidates. Had Al Sharpton run again, Obama wouldn't have received the nomination on Thursday. The article also illustrates some generally accepted fallacious "conventional wisdom" that is worth pointing out, which is why I excerpt so liberally:
Sen. Obama embodies contradictions in the community that are starting to bubble to the surface -- largely out of the earshot of whites. He is the biracial son of an African father and a white mother in a community where most people are descended from slavery or whose ancestors had direct experience with segregation. He is the married father of two in a community in which more than 60% of children grow up in a single-parent household. He's a politician who isn't steeped in the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s and didn't grow up in the inner city or in a black neighborhood.He is also half-Kenyan by descent. Other than pigmentation, he doesn't look like most American blacks, who are of West African descent. Both of his children were born in wedlock, something fewer than one-in-three American blacks enjoy. He went to a mostly white prep school in the blackless state of Hawaii. Not exactly the optimal profile of one who wants to show he is down with the struggle.
The article gives the impression that American blacks are undergoing the same transformation that other immigrant groups did upon arriving in the US (huh?):
Sen. Obama has "taken the discussion out of that box that America tends to put people in and given some additional light on us as a people," says Curtis Watkins, 52, who runs a social-service agency in Washington, D.C. "I don't think it was his intention, but it is what it is and he can't lessen that."Those groups began rising in a generation or two. Blacks have been in the US longer than any other non-native, non-European group has, and they comprised a significant portion of the population for centuries before Jews came to represent one in 100 Americans. At the end of the Civil War, Jews comprised less than .5% of the US population.
This dialogue isn't that different from discussions that other groups -- Jews, Italians, Asians, Irish -- have had as they have risen in America.
Nevermind that, Obama is lighting the way just as Lierberman showed that at the turn of the century, the US had finally come to accept Jews in positions of power:
The 2000 vice-presidential nomination of Sen. Joe Lieberman, an observant Jew, provoked initial unease among some Jews but eventually was widely seen as proof of the widespread acceptance of Jews in America.Because up until 2000, Jewish success in the US was so rare! In science, medicine, politics, and punditry (where, still struggling today, they make up less than half--only 27%, actually--of the top media talking heads), it took Lieberman's ascension to prod other Jews into finally having an impact on America!
Though Obama may have a tough time brandishing his street credentials, he shouldn't be rejected out-of-hand just because he didn't enjoy the luxuries growing up that 50 Cent did:
In his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," Sen. Obama wrote that in college, "I didn't have the luxury, I suppose, the certainty of the tribe.... I hadn't grown up in Compton or Watts. I had nothing to escape from except my own inner doubts."Imagine if a white preppie (and Obama is closer to that than he is to 50) said the same. Yeah, I suffered from my two parent middle class home, soccer games on Saturday afternoons and church on Sunday mornings, barely ever able to escape the plushness and enjoy a good run on 13th and MLK boulevard!
Continuing on the curiously absurd theme of blacks as new arrivals to the US, the authors point to the success of black immigrants:
Immigrant blacks fare better for many of the same reasons as other immigrants:No, most other immigrants fare worse than their native counterparts do. Black immigrants are an exception to the general trend, not an example of it. Hispanics immigrants, representing nearly 50% of the foreign-born population, mostly fare worse than native Hispanics do.
They're often a self-selected, highly motivated group.
Previously, I created an index to rank immigrant performance in the US by country using six factors including the percentage using one or more welfare programs, who are self-employed, without health insurance, have less than a high school education, have a bachelor's degree or greater, and who are in poverty. Immigrants from Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and most significantly Mexico (which, comprising two-thirds of the total foreign-born Hispanic population in the US ranked dead last among 25 countries*) do more poorly than native Hispanics (or native blacks, for that matter) do. In contrast, immigrants from the two majority black countries of Haiti and Jamaica outperform native blacks.
Notice I write "native blacks", not "native African-Americans" (wouldn't that be a contradiction in terms?). Whiter readers might have thought that indicative of my backward boorishness. Turns out I'm actually ahead of the curve:
The growing prominence of black immigrants is prompting some to favor the term "black" as more accurate, and inclusive, than "African-American."When I was in high school, I played against the Barry Sanders-like Darren Sproles. As a D-end, I was told to wait for him to come back if he headed outside opposite. I don't think it did much good then, but in this case applying the advice worked out.
Moving on, the article offers some irony:
[Pat, a teacher from Nairobi who is visiting Vermont] turns to Prudence Carter, a Stanford sociologist and an African-American. "You talk about race all the time," she says. "I don't understand that."Diversity is celebrated when it means a reduction in the size of the white population and/or its cultural influence. That is the right kind of diversity. Other forms of diversity, especially those that reduce solidarity among NAMs, are the wrong kinds of diversity and so should be resisted.
Ms. Carter, 38, shakes her head sadly. "On the one hand it's beautiful we are diverse," she says. "But can we become so fragmented that we don't share anything?"
Think electing Obama will be a cathartic experience that'll put an end to black community's resentment over the perceived restraining force of the white power structure like John McWhorter does**? Maybe not:
Yet even as they bask in the senator's success, some middle-class blacks remain uneasy about their own choices and wonder whether they have distanced themselves too much from poor blacks. They worry that Mr. Obama's success -- what many call being a "good black" -- could feed negative stereotypes among whites about blacks who don't succeed or who act in a more confrontational manner.If a black guy becomes President, white society will expect us all to become Presidents. It'll turn the bigotry of low expectations on its head! And they'll expect us to play the game, too:
"Part of me has my fist clenched under the table," says Dawn Jefferson, a 31-year-old who teaches at a predominantly white private school outside Washington, D.C. "There is this feeling that black confrontational behavior won't be so acceptable. We have to all play the game now."Welcome to the professional world. We all have to play the game.
... Oh, he meant that game:
Michael Patterson, 34, who owns a car-related business in Jena called Classic Shine and Detail, says he isn't sure if Sen. Obama has endured the "black experience." He describes this as being stopped by police and being afraid of what might happen even "when you know you've done nothing wrong," and "coming home from school and finding out the lights have been cut off."To reassure people that he's seen policemen doing their jobs, Obama employs the thug hug, plays basketball, adopts a black inflection in his voice when speaking in front of black audiences (notice how every couple of sentences ends just short of a yell, and also how words ending in "y" roll of his tongue), attended Trinity and considered Wright a spiritual mentor, and married a black woman with West African, not European, features.
Michelle might wear the pants, but if most black women think gaining the upper hand is something just over the horizon, they are going to be waiting for it until they're blue in the face:
In conversations, many wonder why there aren't more men like Sen. Obama in their lives.Black men are thirteen times more likely to be imprisoned than black women are (p34). They are nearly three times more likely to marry white women than black women are likely to marry white men (and the non-married cohabitation ratio is even more skewed, with black male-white female couples occuring five times as often as white male-black female couples occur). Despite 5% of the black male population behind bars at any given time, black men are still more likely to be married than black women are. There are 106 married black men for every 100 married black women.
"You should see the emails I get from my girlfriends," says Makeba Lloyd, a real-estate agent in Harlem and campaign volunteer, who is 34 and single. "We all want someone who lifts us up and praises us. Obama is raising the bar for black men."
From 1950 to 2000, the percentage of black women and girls 15 and over who are married declined to about 36% from 62%, according to census data. Among white females, the decline was far less, to about 57% from 66%. Over the same 50 years, the percentage of black women who had never been married doubled, to about 42% from 21%.
The supply of black women exceeds the demand by an estimated 8%^. On average, black women need to lower--not raise--their standards to snag a husband. A 34 year-old woman who cannot find a man and now thinks that demanding even more in a man than before will land her a husband is setting herself up for more disappointment.
Barack's choice of a spouse probably helped him in the primaries. Without competition from another black candidate, he had black men in the bag. But a sliver of black women might've gone the feminist route if he'd married a white woman:
Angering many black women is the perceived tendency of some successful black men to marry white women or lighter-skinned blacks. "Obama could have easily chosen a white woman," says Adrienne Dixon, an education professor at Ohio State University in Columbus and 40-year-old mother of two teenagers. "The fact that he didn't says a lot. It's important for my boys to see a love relationship that doesn't depend on skin types. They see they don't have to be with a light-skinned black woman to be successful."As interracial unions consitute just under 4% of total marriages according to the 2006 Census estimates, Dixon's point doesn't make sense. Black men are still more likely to marry black women than they are to marry white women, so Obama having married a white woman would've done a better job showing her sons that love doesn't depend on skin types (assuming Obama is seen as a black man rather than a halfrican). But blacks tend to look at these things through a different prism than whites do (see the preceeding remark about diversity).
Anyway, it's good that black men are already in the bag, because this sort of thing definitely does not impress black guys who are keeping it real:
"I wouldn't give a damn about him if it wasn't for Michelle," she says. "He has enough fortitude and courage to let Michelle be Michelle."Black guys I know have another word for that.
"Does he rub his wife's back? Does he take out the garbage?"
It doesn't really matter what blacks think of Obama's authenticity. They're going to vote for him. Obama's actual challenge will be to show that he is white enough without causing people to think he is a whiterperson in disguise.
If Obama wins in November, we get to look forward to an uptick in these sorts of articles for at least the next four years. That's 1,461 days. Yikes.
* Data on former Soviet countries were amalgamated into a single "country".
** To be fair to McWhorter, he also thinks the hazy conception of a 'racist America' will also be lifted among whites if Obama is elected, especially among younger generations. McWhorter has understandably taken a lot of flak for his apology of the Obama's Trinity Church membership, but from my experience he gets the middle class black attitude right in saying that many who immerse themselves in the Reverend Wright atmosphere are doing it for ritualistic value and cultural solidarity, not because their beliefs are actually that extreme. It's kind of like professional blacks who go to black comedy clubs to yuck it up even though they don't live the life the comedian is portraying, the life that many lower class blacks actually do live.
^ Assuming that the black prison population is entirely off the market (which isn't exactly the case) and that marriage disparities proxy reliably for relationship disparities.