See? What I Had Meant Was: ‘Boondock’s’ McGruder Clears Up “Pessimistic” Comments

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.

Aaron McGruder

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.”

21 thoughts on “See? What I Had Meant Was: ‘Boondock’s’ McGruder Clears Up “Pessimistic” Comments

  1. good clarification by Aaron but I also agree with your assessment of the slave ancestry thing. i as it happens was born in Haiti. Let me tell you something the distinction is was w/o a difference.

  2. I think Obama is aware of the complexes that are gaining power and has already moved to put them in check (first day of office, ordered closing of gitmo within a year & authorized Iraq troop withdrawal plan.)I’ve always thought that Obama’s race would give him a unique spin on justice. I think that, as a descendant of oppressed people, he will have less tolerance for oppression. and no, barack’s daddy may not have been a slave, but i’m sure people didn’t check with him to make sure before they decided to be racist towards him.

  3. That blackness comment seemed out of character so I’m glad to hear the clarification. I think his point is academically true but culturally irrelevant. The man thinks very deeply about the impact of such issues. I’m a huge fan.So (fake) girlfriend, any news on a premiere date for The Boondocks Season 3?and Snob- why to I think the two of you would be a match made is snarktastic heaven?"My inner voice didn’t talk like this before he got in my class!"Mr. Petto, Riley’s ex-TeacherGENIUS!

  4. I agree with both Aaron and Snob. The fact is our history is not present in Barack; but, like Snob said, it’s just a different history. I don’t consider someone any more or less Black based on whether or not their ancestors were slaves in the US. I think broadening our knowledge of the history of the Diaspora would be a useful for all blacks. And with that would come the acceptance that, no, Barack isn’t the decedent of slaves, but that his father’s country has it’s own history and this difference doesn’t make him any more or less black. Acknowledge and accept the two and then move on to supporting our president and doing what we can to make our our world a successful one.

  5. Hmmm.. I pretty much co-sign what Mc said. When I think about Black people, I think about people born in America who have contributed to art forms such as Jazz and Gospel.African’s I think of as being part of the family. But africans are quick to let me know the feeling is not mutual. They look down on me and other "americans."Plus. It is the job of comedians, poets and other artists to question authority no matter who that authority is.

  6. First let me say, if there isn’t a spell check on this thing, you all are going to be reading the hell out of some ebonics. OK, black immigrants are not the ugly reminders of the dark legacy of slavery. That may not be any real significance to you, but it means something to white folk. A black immigrant cannot say ‘According to your 1866 Civil Rights Law, you owe me.’ The black immigrant is not a reminder of America’s criminal record. Yes, on individual bases you will find some ignorant white people that hate just because. We’re not concern about what ‘some white people’ with sick hearts thinks. For example, the argument of reparations is not challenging white people, (although many mistakably read it as such). Reparations challenges government institutions. Those systematic injustices. That the system has not followed up. Many white people tend to take it as an affront on their cultural inheritance by associating themselves with a power structure which happens to be white. They are white so it attacks them, as they see it. But it’s not skin color, it is a legal argument confronting a systematic tragedy. So the issue here is not some case by case assessment of how black immigrants are treated by some white folk in day to day hustle and bustle. That’s a given. That’s American racism that’s staying comfortably in place.Now if you want to get technical, and talk about DNA where do you stop? One can say we are all African by lineage so slavery happened to all of humanity. But any intelligent person understands that the context calls upon a cultural inheritance not something based on skin color and DNA.Various African communities look at their lineage not color. They are coming from civilizations that dwarf the ‘African-American’ legacy. They are not looking at themselves as, I’m black you’re white. However, anyone that comes here learns that rule of thumb quick. Still we read our environment as such because we are bred to understand the idiotic ‘one drop of black blood rule.’They see, ‘I’m Hausa your Fulani. I’m Wolof your Mandigo.’ It’s even racists to just call Nigerians, Senegalese and Ethiopians as being Africans. That is how Europeans have defined themselves, but ‘Africans’ have always defined themselves by nations, lineage etc. not by grouping themselves in one big bundle of ‘that whole continent of black people over there’. That is a description of Europeans defining what is not them.But a white Irish person cannot claim the same cultural disparities as a white Jew. They are both white. So what? A white Brit can’t sue Voltswagen as did some white Jewish Holocaust survivors. You may not be aware, but a good majority of immigrants (‘Africans’, Southeast Asians and Arabs) voted for Bush. This in itself is a testament to their detachment of our dark inheritance. That’s besides the point. Native blacks are a labor class that the government and private industry are allowing to become obsolete while foreign born immigrants fill the shrinking employment opportunities, yet we still suffer from the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow. That is not on some Big Bang randomness theory, that is systematically enforced. So I believe the point is, just how Obama’s presidency may be of some significance to you based on the color of his skin, to whites, it’s of some significance that he doesn’t share the same cultural inheritance. I think ultimately, there is some level of exoticism in this. Thinking about the African Americans that migrated to France after WWII. The native black population did not receive the same favorable treatment as the migrating African Americans. Likewise, there is a type of exoticism (of Jamaicans, Ethiopians, Senegalese etc.) and their acceptance of them that defuses some of the dark tragedies that have taken place on the native population. Sort of a dark skinned people that you can face without the feeling of guilt or some inherent tension. I think there is something to explore in the psychology of that.

  7. Alright, let me throw another black perspective into the mix…I’m not even gonna touch McG’s comments on the military industrial complex: that’s a fight for another day; plus I’m a liberal but I’m not that left and I find most of those arguments a bit illogical, but anyway…What I am going to comment on is this – and there is no other word for it – ‘hate on’ for Obama amongst some in the African American community because his black ancestry has it roots directly in Africa and not in the deep south. To me, as an African Canadian, that smacks of a weird sort of xenophobia. Its something that a lot of others of us in the black diaspora here in Washington, DC (where I live) have noticed as well.(And for the record, being citizens of African descent with roots in the US does not give you ownership of the word ‘black’ – I’m black, my cousin who was born and raised in Berlin is black, and my grandmother from Montserrat, W.I. is black even though we all have different accents, zip codes, and cultural experiences.)We have similar histories (a lot of us were the descendants of slaves), we deal with similar problems (racism, being the ‘other’ in majority white societies, poverty, income inequality, violence) and share common traits (strong senses of family, a central role – for better or worse, you decide – of religion in our communities, ahm….hmmm…ethnicity).Yet, somehow we’re not black enough. If you met me on the street you’d think I was from the north east. I’m Canadian for crying out loud, and while I speak French, my accent makes me sound like I’m from New England. Yet, the minute I say where I was born in certain black circles – I’m set a bit apart. And its a difference that’s beyond my passport. I think that’s sad because that attitude, as expressed by McG, tends to cut African Americans off from other black communities. It belies our shared history.Let’s not forget … the underground railroad ended, not in Michigan, but in Canada. We’re you’re cousins people. Slavery was not unique to the American Black…the push to end slavery started in the isles of the Caribbean and the halls of Westminster. There are a thousand reasons why it started, but that’s where the push came from…the struggles of blacks in Brazil mirror many of the struggles of blacks in the US – from 200 years ago to today. They may speak Portuguese and all be ridiculously good looking (damn Brazilians) but they can empathize too…What’s wrong with us foreign blacks is the question I pose? What, because the plantation our ancestors were enslaved on were in Quebec or Brasilia or Jamaica, our forbears somehow didn’t suffer the same? As much? Enough? Obama’s Kenyan father didn’t know racism? Kenya didn’t live under the ridiculous exploitation or European powers for centuries? Please!! Why the false walls?And, why ignore that there is a lot our communities can learn from each other. African-Canadians/Brits/Dutch/Brazilianos have statistically higher rates of post-secondary educational achievement; something that African American commentators always cite as something to emulate. Racial relations in other Western countries between blacks and the majority whites can also be instructive on how to move the struggle for shared understanding forward (the Brits have a great track record, as do the Irish, and, to toot my own country’s horn, while Barack Obama may be the first black president – he is not the first black head of state of a Western nation. That’s right, we beat you up north by four years with our present governor general Michaëlle Jean – Snob, you’d love her). So, to state, even in a soft-soaped, walk on eggshells way, as McG did in his elaboration, that Barack Obama is not black (and therefore implicitly cannot speak to or inform the African American experience) only does African Americans a disservice. As my grandma would say; he’s already got his education: you know, the law degree, the family….the Presidency of the United States! He’s as American as apple pie and it defies logic to think that because his father was an immigrant he has nothing to say to young African Americans; that he can’t inspire them or lead them by example – as he leads the country – to reach for more, to be more.Snob said it best “Black American, African, Haitian, Jamaican, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Filipino — to a racist, to a xenophobe, is there really a difference?” She’s right. To everyone else – especially to some very bigoted people who are still out there gunning for him – he’s just another brother. So how ‘bout, at least, from our side, we give him a break…

  8. "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?"Yes, but ethnic and racial identities are not only externally defined, i.e., imposed. They are also internally created in individuals and in groups, so I think considering only xenophobic categorizations in this regard is not very logical.I also think that Obama, running for two years for President and operating as the de facto President b/w November and January (Bush who?) gives us an informed sense of his leadership, on which McGruder might have come to his conclusions about Obama.If you are truly as angry with the system as McGruder is, and who can blame him, I completely understand how he might not be able to have any faith in Obama or any president.

  9. No hard feelings but I tend to agree with "FakeBoyfreind" re Obama’s African heritage. No one is saying BHO is not black … he’s just not ‘Black’ American, no matter what y’all want to say. He’s a genuine African American. And I can tell from personal experience that Blacks who come from elsewhere to this country, even if they encounter racism, they deal with it differently from ‘African Americans’ because we mostly come from class-based societies where blacks are already in charge of their own destinies, even if our countries are considered ‘Third World’ trust me on this. . . In those societies, our own blacks in the middle & upper classes are seen as the enemies/oppressors/bigots whatever just as much as the whites are here. We definitely relate to BHO on another level, but most are not honest enough to admit this. And BTW, Danielle, for someone so ‘learned’ as you are, the word is FLAK, not ‘flack’! Hope I didn’t stir things up too much.

  10. Glad he clarified his point, but as the Haitian brother or sister said above, it’s a distinction without a difference. I’m going to focus on the race issue b/c McGrudder is right to be skeptical. I’m just sick and tired of people trying to discount one type of blackness. It’s like saying you aren’t really Jewish unless your family experienced the Holocaust. As long as your momma is a Jew, converted or otherwise, you’re a Jew. When people say Obama isn’t really black because his ancestors weren’t slaves here in the US, it shows a lack of knowledge about colonized Africa and what that meant and makes it seem as if modern day discrimination against black people only occurs to blk people who had been enslaved. Saying Obama isn’t black enough is to say that he’s never been discriminated against, as if he’s never had white women clutch their handbags around him; or never be able to get a cab or have a people look at him funny if he was in Nordstrom’s or some other upscale store; or being stopped for driving while black. That is the black experience here in modern America. Slavery is central to this discrimination, but it affects black people no matter where they come from. To say he isn’t black is to deny that common experience that all black people face regardless of where we hail from. It also denies the discrimination Obama’s very dark father faced in Kenya and the US. I recommend that McGrudder read "Dreams of My Father" to get Obama’s experience and why he has the right to call himself black. One of the stories he recounts is about how his now-deceased grandmother was stopped by this black man who asked her for money and how scared she was by his panhandling. She recounts the story to her husband and her WHITE husband basically calls her out for being racist for being scared of this black guy; he basically said if he had been white she would have given him money. And the thing is, Barack is in the room and he says this was the first time he questioned his white grandparents’ love for him because he basically placed himself in the stead of that black guy and wondered if his grandparents, especially his grandmother loved him less b/c he was black. I think McGrudder and the negro police is shortsighted to discount this experience. Furthermore, Barack basically spends half of "Dreams" recounting the doubts he had a Punahou b/c their were so few black people; that’s one of the reasons that he left the island for Occidental; but he leaves Occidental for Columbia b/c it’s so racially polarized.I also think that the negro police discount the discrimination inherent in colonization of Africa. During apartheid in South Africa, black people weren’t enslaved, but they were denied their right to self-determination, belittled, made to feel less, ostracized from their own culture. And this is what happened in Kenya during colonization. Slavery isn’t the only hallmark of blackness, it’s part of it, but the apartheid, the discrimination, etc. I mean Obama’s grandfather was basically tortured by the Brits during an insurrection in Kenya. For the negro police to discount the Kenyan experience as inauthentically black is straight retarded. The point is whether in the Americas or in Africa, black people have always caught hell; to disregard one type of suffering is stupid.

  11. Excellent point Jon D and willet784. I think some African Americans can be just myopic as white Americans.Barack is black but he is not African-American. So what? I don’t have a problem with that. My parents are from the Caribbean. I still caught hell from racists but yes my experience growing up in the States was culturally different from my African-Americans friends. I wish someone would say to my face I’m not really black. There was this New York Times article a few years ago about the black student body at Harvard. Over 2/3 are from the Caribbean, Africa, 1st generation American or biracial. It was controversial (like McGruder’s statements) because some people said why bring this up? But Professor Gates among others, was wondering why the descendants of American slaves (i.e. African American) who were so supposed to benefit from Affirmative Action were/are so underrepresented? It’s not about income, what is it? I don’t think these issues are going to go away. The world is getting smaller. The blackness police need to travel and get a clue.

  12. @ PlatinumWoman:Hey, no worries. I’m a brainiac, but I only made it to round four in my Fourth grade spelling bee. I got stumped by the word "giraffe." It was then I learned that spelling would never be my strong suit despite my many other skills.I’m still somewhat editor-less so I’m going to make the occasional typing error. I’ve had problems with flak and flack since college. Thanks for the heads up.@ EveryoneMy only concern is the potential divisiveness the comments create. We already have divisions in the Diaspora of different blacks thinking they are better than one another for chickenshit reasons. I simply believe despite our different background we have way more in common and way more to learn from one another than what is different. When I saw Kenyans celebrate Obama’s election and Inauguration just as hard (if not harder) than the black people here, it warmed my heart. I felt, wow, maybe that bond will grow tighter now. Maybe the few American blacks and Kenyan Americans will not give each other the side-eye on campus today and will eat lunch together and talk. Maybe more American blacks will visit Kenya. Maybe we’ll exchange ideas and intellect. Maybe we’ll learn from each other all the good things we can share with one another.I recall a wonderful episode of "60 Minutes" last year about a white American doctor who’d made it his mission to serve the people of Haiti by getting them the same access to drugs the "First World" countries got to fight AIDS and other diseases. With him was an American black man, a doctor, who had attended Ivy League schools. They showed him hiking through the jungle to get to a poor family to see about their sick daughter and you could see the gratitude from the people in that village that someone with the skills saw them as humans, saw their need and came to share and help. Not point fingers. Not mock Haitians for having less than black Americans, but someone who got off his ass and claimed them. And when he broke down and cried after meeting with the family, realizing there was little he could do to save that sick girl, it showed how he understood how big his job is and how he didn’t want to be in any other place but than where he was needed.That’s what I love to see. People recognizing that what we have in common. Sharing our gifts with one another. Learning from one another. For those Haitian kids to see a black man as a doctor gave them hope. They wanted to be doctors, just like people look at the Obamas and they want to do better, be better. We, despite our different nationalities, can do that for each other.It’s good to discuss the differences. Obama did have an atypical experience from most black Americans. But you don’t want to come off as if you’re dismissing someone else’s struggle and history. Everyone has a story to tell, but I’m pro bringing the Diaspora together to learn from one-another. Seriously pro.Like, this close …. THIS CLOSE to just going around talking to different black groups and giving them lists of reasons why they should reach out to one another and work towards a common cause to make America better for all minorities.For instance, black people from Europe often come here because for all America’s flaws, in certain career areas, especially TV media, they have a better shot at getting a good job than in Europe. While underrepresented, we DO get on TV in good positions with much more frequency than blacks in Germany, France or Great Britain. Historically, the creative and cultured class of black Americans flocked to France for some love …. even though the French are known for treating the black members of their former colonies like shit. Blacks from Europe sometimes admire how blacks in America have their "own" things, schools, clubs, businesses, groups, whatever. We (should) admire the aggressiveness and fortitude of the immigrant spirit in our European, Caribbean and African brothers and sisters who come here on a mission.And I’ve never understood black people who give frickin’ Canadians the side-eye. Why be suspicious of the slaves who went the "Full Monty" and didn’t stop in New York or St. Louis but said, "Fuck it. I’m going to Canada!" after the Fugitive Slave Act? And they’ve been suffering from the same "people without a country" syndrome that we have for the same exact amount of time. Many Canadian blacks are decendents of slaves who fought on the side of the British during the Revolutionary War with promises of being freed. The British, in a half-ass way, gave them asylum in Canada, only to renege on the jobs and land they promised them for their sacrifice. (Seems even back then the white colonists of Canada were not interested in "losing their job" to a minority. In the fucking 1700s.) If you can’t relate to a black Canadian just because their accent is slightly more New England than Southern, you sir, are a true numbnuts.Yet we still have these stereotypes and follow the tortured logic of our oppressors who have told us that something is wrong with all of us. I often point out that we all are working from the same variation on a theme when it comes to the prejudices we have against each other. They’re all things racists have said about us. All of us. That we are dumb, violent, lazy, sexually aggressive, ignorant, immoral, heathens with no souls. So it doesn’t surprise me that there is tension between us all at times. We’re just looking for what we’ve been told about each other and pointing "I knew I was right!" when we see it. I realize that was not what Aaron meant (hence the clarification), but that’s the adverse reaction you get when your words fall flat because only soundbites and quotes are used, and you’re dealing with half an audience that shut down on you the minute you put "pessimism" and "Obama Administration" in the same sentence.But I know that Aaron understands the black Diaspora and the importance of togetherness over division, understanding over suspicion. He wanted to make a point about the differences, but it came off as exclusionary, hence the comments from me and many others.

  13. Hey Snob,I’m glad McGruder clarified himself as I was ready to boycott his ass, LOL!As a Nigerian-American, I’m sooo sick of the "Blacker than thou" contests between Af-Ams and Black foreigners. We all have been affected by White supremacy. Why use certain tools of White supremacy (i.e., slavery and colonialism) to authenticate Blackness? When we’re not looking through the lens of White systematic racism, we’ve got more in common than we’d want to acknowledge.Good read BTW.

  14. Whenever I think of the question of "blackness" I always ask, if the United States government were to pay out reparations, who would be entitled to the money?Also Mr. McGruder is right.

  15. As far as the reparations question, it is actually not as clear cut as it seems. I have a friend whose grand mother was an African-American woman who married an African man and raised the children in Ghana. My friend therefore has direct American slave ancestry. She however did not grow up here or experience any of the prejudice and difficulties that arise from such an experience. Is she more entitled to reparations than the daughter of two Jamaican immigrants who grew up in the US and has direct impact on her life of racism? Just a question for thought…..

  16. Thank you black snob. You make excellent points about how much we’ve all suffered from the diaspora, slavery and colonialism. You were informative and made your point well. I’m fairly new to your site but love it. I really liked your two follow ups in the comment section and you were so classy in your response to Platinum Woman. I went off on someone last week for accusing me of not being educated for misspelling something so I like how you handled that one. I know lots of smart people who are bad spellers and some not too bright people who spell rather well, but everyone slips up sometimes. Big deal.

  17. I had this discussion with my students about blackness and the English Language. We have to be careful about defining ourselves in a way that we accuse one another of not "being black enough," or "being too black." We run of the risk of stratifying ourselves in an unhealthy way. I know that Aaron clarified himself, and I can co-sign on his retracted statement, but its just a caution about the power of language in relation to race.

  18. I don’t live in the USA anymore and I don’t know about the controversy that preceded Mr. McGruder’s statement above, but I did enjoy reading his statement as printed above and understand why as a man of African ancestry he has been trying to keep his opinions re: Obama to himself. I imagine in the context of African American history and culture his point of view would piss off a lot of people.From my perspective, I don’t think that pointing out the ways that people of African ancestry are not a monolith, makes us any less African. It just makes us rich and varied and complex and non-reducible to a single definition. Likewise, I have never understood the argument that because a racist would judge us by the colour of our skin, we should therefore surrender and reduce the complexity of our self-identity to a single definition. I also agree with Mr. McGruder’s reasons for his skepticism about Mr. Obama’s presidency. Though I wish Mr. Obama well and adore his family, the solution to the problems facing the USA and I dare say the world are not down to a single personality (no matter how well intentioned, bright and charming), it can only be found in a radical change of systems. If this is one’s viewpoint, the election of a man who looks like you to one of the most powerful positions in the world will not impress you, even if it marks a milestone in race relations.

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