My fake boyfriend, Boondocks creator and cartoonist Aaron McGruder has felt the heat over some recent comment he made about President Barack Obama.
Feeling he was misinterpreted and misstated (this snippet from the syphilis of black gossip sites, MediaTakeOut, is a good example of the kind of coverage he’s received), McGruder released a statement via Facebook to clear up the possible misconceptions on Obama, his pessimism in government and his definition of blackness — American style.
Here’s the letter in its entirety after the jump.
For a long time now, I have tried to keep my opinions on the election and Barack Obama to myself. I occasionally do speaking engagements, which are not open to the press, and unfortunately some of my comments have been twisted around in a silly manner. The claim that I asserted our new President was not Black is categorically false.
I have seen an endless stream of Black pundits on TV pontificating about the significance of President Obama’s election – many of them making reference to the 3/5th’s clause in the constitution regarding slaves. The point I was making is that this is not an accurate comparison. Barack is the son of an immigrant, not the descendant of slaves. It’s like comparing a half-Japanese man to the oppressed Chinese who built the American railroads. Yes, they are both Asian, but it is not an honest or accurate comparison. We all share the common experiences of being Black in America today – we do not all share a common history. A history that in part makes us who we are – and in some cases (as with the psychological damage that still lingers from slavery) holds us back. These are not, I believe, insignificant distinctions.
I did say I was cautiously pessimistic about Obama’s Presidency – but this is simply acknowledging the reality of an American Empire that is out of control and on the verge of collapse. Let us not forget that on the eve of the election, we witnessed a near trillion dollar robbery of the US treasury. That robbery is still taking place. I do not blame President Obama, but I do not believe the financial and corporate interests that own and control this country will fold so easily. I do not question the integrity of the man as much as the power of his office – which I believe has greatly diminished over the years. I believe the Federal Reserve Bank, the Military Industrial Complex, and the massive corporate interests that run this country have more power than our new President. I hope I am wrong.
After 9/11, I witnessed the most of this country become obsessed with squashing dissent and silencing critics. I hope this election does not turn Black America towards this same, fascist mind state; but already I am starting to see it, and it saddens me greatly. I absolutely wish our new President and his family success and safety. But after all I have witnessed in my lifetime, and especially in the last eight years, I am not ready to lay down my skepticism or my outrage for this government. To do so would be unwise and, ironically enough, anti-American.
January 21, 2009 (Facebook)
Does this change the current “how dare he!” POV or do you think my fake boyfriend is doing some post-bad press ass covering? Aaron, for all his flaws, is a smart, usually well-thought out guy. I really think he took a strong “L” in his defining of blackness as the color-coded, one-drop ethnicity, in itself, can be quite abstract, but by going more in-depth with his statements he sounds less like the “Blackness police” and more like someone studying too hard over ethnic minutiae.
While the pall of slavery does color the perspectives of black Americans, and black immigrants who move here to be citizens have a different history, the experience of being black in modern America is the quite akin. You’re just working with a different history.
I honestly don’t think this is an issue when it comes to the president, so I’m not sure why McGruder made it an issue as it is divisive when it comes to relations across the African Diaspora.
For example, a black American, with slave ancestry, but was raised by white people probably would have turned out the the same way Barack did regardless of heritage. This would bode the same for biracial and multi ethnic people with a black American parent. I went to high school with a black boy who was adopted by a white couple and he dealt with a lot of the same frustration, pain and confusion that comes with adjusting to being black in a majority white society. Slavery is simply another facet to the much, much larger picture of what it is to be black in this country. And who your parents are, plus where you are raised, truly trump any historical DNA. Especially considering nearly all members of the Diaspora, no matter where they reside, have been touched by either slavery or colonialism in some horrid, racist way.
In the end, we still have more in common than different.
One must remember (as Aaron likely knows) the first and only successful slave revolt happened in Haiti and they still carry the scars of what slavery did to that country. The Western world punished Haiti, a once prosperous colony, because the African slaves and mixed population there dared to want to control their own destiny. The Haitian revolt also directly impacted how black Americans were treated in this country because white slave owners lived in fear of their chattel following suit, hence creating the most punitive punishment for Negroes who didn’t make good slaves.
Are Haitians who live in the United States less black than me because of their differing experience with slavery in the New World? Don’t you still have to deal with the same level of drama, only with different historical references to fall back on?
So, yes, the Chinese who were brought over to toil and build our railroads did have a very different experience from the Japanese who also came here to work. But the Japanese, despite being American citizens, were thrown into detention camps during WWII and had their patriotism questioned routinely. They’re both Asian. They’re both different. Yet racism is amazingly the same.
If I had one criticism of Aaron’s logic, that would be it. Black American, African, Haitian, Jamaican, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino — to a racist, to a xenophobe, is there really a difference?
As for the governmental skepticism, I thinks it’s healthy to be suspicious of our government, but he had to know that he was going to catch some flak from Obama supporters who would interpret his statements as dismissing of Obama before the man even did anything. While America is always two steps from full-on fascism, we’re not fascists yet. You can keep an eagle eye on your civil liberties and question the new administration, but it might be helpful if Obama actually did something as president first so you’d at least have concrete actions to criticize.
Not a parsing of “what ifs” and “could bes.”
But, as Papa Snob always says, “If you always expect the worst, you’ll never be disappointed.”