The Bridge: The Obama Conundrum

Ushered into the White House on a tide of desired change that followed changes in society, particularly the nation’s demographics, President Barack Obama is now the icon for change, and for many angry, frightened Whites, the icon for all that is wrong with America.

His iconic existence facilitates the anger of those angry Whites who ignored the eight years of wanton warfare and economic depravity waged by George W and facilitates singular focus on the rapid changes sought by the nation’s first Black president.


Hiding behind Obama’s pursuit of health-care reform, frothing racists claim that Obama will usher in socialism and dictatorship and so liken him to Adolph Hitler, of all people.

But anyone with a working brain can see the opposition is more directed at Obama the Black man, and not really at any policy.

A cursory examination of Obama’s health care policy pursuits reveals distortions and outright lies by opponents who clearly oppose the man and not the policies.

These same people show up to rally against health care plans as well as Obama’s bailout programs, which curiously extend on the bailouts Bush initiated.

After all, where were these people when Bush was grinding the nation and the world economy into the ground?

Curiously silent.

So, it confuses me when I hear anyone—Black, White or otherwise—refer to America as “Post-Racial.”

From what I can see, race and racism are in the forefront like never before.

And really, that’s part and parcel of the Obama Conundrum.

While the first African-American president represents change, to some Americans, he also represents everything that is wrong and ugly about America.

He represents change because a great deal of people of all colors had to come together to get him elected. Frankly, many of us never thought we would see the day.

But he also represents everything wrong and ugly, for the throngs of stupid Americans who have begun to raise him as a scapegoat for all that has gone awry, using his image to fill the rosters of hate groups and to fuel hateful racist activities, while claiming that there is no more racism because of his election.

As for the Blacks who are raging against Obama, they are no different than the bonehead Negroes who opposed Dr. King and who supported Reagan and both Bushes. These self hating ignorant Negroes come out of the woodwork in order to disagree with things that frankly, don’t exist.

However, it should come as no surprise to anyone that whites at the lower end of the economic strata would start to show their racist stripes. These are the same people who have traditionally promulgated racial strife.

And, if we take a look at who among them voted for Obama (younger Whites) and who now believe that they are under siege (older Whites), we begin to understand why racial strife is re-emerging.

Our current economic climate has been harsh to older White men who have seen their unemployment rate hit nearly twice that of the national average, while Blacks and Hispanics have not even come close to setting records.

To the frightened, angry White man, people of color are to blame, particularly those Black people who “took their jobs.”

Of course no person of color has literally taken the jobs of older White men. This is simply the code of the racists who want to lead the White brigades against the men of color who now have the potential to make them the real minority and, in their minds, take over the country with the election of a Black president.

And of course they are speaking and acting in code. The strongest taboo in America is to admit to racism. America has spent more than forty years denying that the vestiges of racism have a strong toehold on pockets of the nation.

But what else would explain the upsurge in hate groups and the sudden widespread interest by older Whites in the minutia of national policy?

It’s like watching a sporting event where one team scores, yet the announcer says that the other team is playing hard and leading the game.

We saw this with the beating of Rodney King, where an entire nation and a jury refused to see the beating of a Black man by a group of White men.

It’s an ugly game of smoke and mirrors.

The nation is being polarized and the first Black president is being stuck right in the middle of controversy that he did not create and is not addressing.

The same groups of people who coalesced around Obama to put him in office will have to continue to stand together even as they are being pulled in many directions by fractured interest groups.

They must deal with some confounding puzzles.

In order for the nation to become truly “Post-Racial,” it must finally deal with its racist legacy.

That’s a major part of the Obama Conundrum.

(Darryl James is an award-winning author of the powerful new anthology “Notes From The Edge.” Now, listen to Darryl live on every Monday from 8-10pm, PST. View previous installments of this column at Reach James at


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