Saturday, October 25, 2008

Guest Blogger Baldwin Said--Obama is Exceptional!

Obama is Exceptional!

Maybe not. Senator Barack Obama is probably one of the most talented politicians and orators of our time; arguably in history. He is the quintessential intellectual and currently holds titles as “the first” and “the only”; with one more to be added on November 4. He is an impressive individual, but his “exceptionalism” is due to exclusion.

Senator Obama IS exceptional by any standard, but he is not an exception. I don’t intend to diminish the achievements of Senator Obama; however, the lack of media coverage of successful black men leaves people in this country, and across the world, with depictions of inarticulate, criminal minded, non-parenting, money-chasing, unemployed, lazy, womanizing black men. When a black man— void of these descriptions— enters the national scene, we are amazed and awed.

At times I am shocked at the public’s reception of dynamic black men in the media. I recall when Kwame Jackson was a contestant on “The Apprentice.” To most viewers, it was almost unbelievable that that Kwame was educated at Harvard’s prestigious school of business, co-founded several Internet start-ups during his time there, and held sales and marketing positions at the multi-billion dollar, Fortune 500, Procter & Gamble. Are his achievements impressive? Indeed. Should I be surprised? No.

There is an excess of positive stories of black men to be told, but the media’s failure to tell the stories of black men like Kwame, and their ardent promotion of minstrels like Flava Flav is due to pure laziness and the public’s unwillingness to accept positive images of black men.

Ill-informed images of black men in the media not only shape the public’s perception, but also influence how black men see themselves. I would argue that these depictions do not boil down to a direct cause-effect relationship— negative images seen produce negative behavior. What takes place is the creation of a subconscious framework that influences how one views and relates to black men. By perpetuating these negative images, the media reinforces pre-existing stereotypes that encourage prejudice behavior.

The most important point this raises is the esteem issues that black men face when they enter a hostile world that views them in the most negative light. A black man’s awareness of how he is perceived by society creates an additional hurdle he must overcome in order to focus and cultivate his natural talents and abilities.

Instead of striding into an interview with the self-assuredness to tout how he can uniquely contribute to an organization, he first thinks about how the interviewer will frame their interaction based on the color of his skin. Instead of being confident in his pitch to a potential client, he frets that they may be inclined to think he isn’t competent to handle their business because he is a “lazy black man.” Although one must always be aware of their environment, this neurosis impedes him from focusing on what’s important by obsessing over the racial barriers that have hindered him and generations of men like him in the past.

Senator Obama has made a positive impact on how black men are seen nationally and internationally, and has inspired many black men to continue pursuing their dreams. But to take a page from the Senator’s campaign play book— it took millions of people donating $100 and less to fortify his war chest, not just a few big spenders maxing out at $2,300— the way black men are viewed will take the stories of many to show the diversity within this community and dispel the notions of a monolithic body that history created.

--Baldwin Said

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Celebration of Mediocrity!

And so—it amazes me how far the fight for women’s equality fell last night. With every bat of her eyelashes and ever wink that Palin made… she put women back 10 years in the fight for equality. For far too long women have had to fight to be taken seriously in the workplace…to be thought of as more than competent to lead…Last night Palin, stole any bit of progress that Hillary Clinton’s campaign made. Hillary is a serious woman who was not running to be the first woman President but instead running to Be President! It sickened me to watch Palin use her sexuality to deter from the fact that she couldn’t answer a straight question…that every time the subject strayed from Energy she brought it right back…regardless if we were talking about Afghanistan or not. I am not impressed that after 4 days of cramming with McCain’s cronies that her colleagues said her performance was “good enough”. Do you want a VP… or potential President to be “good enough”? Didn’t we already go down the “Jo six pack” road with Bush???? And look where it got us…No disrespect to small town folks but I don’t want you leading this country…you don’t know enough. You live in a bubble in the bible belt where everyone looks the same, worships at the same church, eats the same food, works the same job as their parents before them, and goes to the big game on Friday night…and well if you’re a little different you stand the chance of being beaten to death, jailed for having consensual sex with a white girl (only if you happen to be a young black man” or dragged behind a car( if you’re on the wrong side of town)…no, I am not interested! I am not interested in anyone who sits and drinks a “six pack” in one sitting negotiating treaties…with a finger on the nuke button! I am not interested in someone claiming to run a microcosm of the U.S. but yet whose own state has about as much diversity as the characters on the Hills!

This is a serious time for serious people…not show ponies who need days to cram with her daddies friends…in the real world there is no time to cram! Either you mean what you say or you don’t. I have had enough of a President who thought it was “ok” to learn on the job! I want someone who can not only answer but coherently follow up on questions from a reporter… someone who knows their stance on important issues like foreign affairs, energy, and economics like the back of their hand. The time for training wheels is over…Palin did women who have worked for decades to have a woman looked at in the same intelligent light as a man an EXTREME disservice last night…Biden, had kid gloves on...why you ask??? Because he was dealing with a “lil lady” last night not a woman! And the conservatives were just waiting for him to point out that she wasn’t answering the questions asked…by saying he was “picking on her” What is this pre-school!!!! I want a woman who is going to discuss her plans and policies in a clear and assertive matter…a woman who wants the tough questions because she is smart enough and tough enough to answer them… not a woman who thinks a National Debate is the appropriate place to shout out her fucking family like she’s on a talk show!!! The time for “reality television” is over…let’s get back to the seriousness of the stakes we have in front of us…I don’t think we can get out of our economic crisis by “winking” it away…and flashing a smile…it’s going to take hard work and a thoughtful plan…and that my friends is not coming from a pit-bull with lipstick!

And That’s my Two Cents