OK, the field of national politics has me alert and paying attention.
Usually, I reserve my alertness for local politics. Which is a redundant phrase. In Chicago, we have done what no other local politics was capable of doing: we gave the United States a Black president. Well, and openly Black one. Not one of those few that may have had a drop or two of Black blood so, by law, they would have been Black, just never racially profiled while trying to get in their own house in Cambridge…
We have a black president. National politics. We have a Black man from the opposing party running for the nomination for president, and making a strong show of it.
Herman Cain reminds me a lot of my grandfather. Black men who grew up with nothing. In the south. Saw unfairness and racial evil that would have made Al Sharpton’s perm nap back. They learned early on that people who oppress you do not like you, and people who do not like you are not likely to give you anything. What you get, you get on your own. Getting on your own under those circumstances tends to make you view those who knuckled under as weak. Those who seek the approval of the oppressor are subhuman. Those who feel they cannot make it without the oppressor’s help, well, they may as well be dead.
It has to be a hoot to look at the very people who gave you hell coming up and saying, “I beat you at your own game. Now, I am on the national stage, making you look stupid.”
I get Herman Cain. I do.
I dig the fact that he is truly an American success story. I like that like my grandfather and other Black men of that generation, Mr. Cain has the cojones to call it like he sees it. Right or wrong. Do you ever remember your grandfather telling you and your cousins something you knew was crazy, but he didn’t give a hoot? He stuck to his guns and called it as he saw it? You’d be thinking, “That’s a crazy old man,” he’d be steady going on, “I’m right on this. Ya’ll see.”
That’s Herman Cain.
It’s not just his “Let Me Walk All Over Those Weaker than Me” attitude. When Cain disses Black folk who didn’t have the gumption to make it through hard work and whatnot, he is dissing those white folks who haven’t reached his pinnacle, too.
“What? I’m 'sposed to be scared a YOU? Didn’t you inherit your money, BOY? And YOU? Wasn’t your DADDY the GOVERNOR or something? How is it I made millions coming from nothing, and ya’ll can’t hold ya own against ME? I mean, haven’t ALL of you people had a bunch of advantages I could NEVER dream of having, yet I have bested YOU? Hell…weren’t YOU born WHITE?”
I get it, Rev. Cain. I do.
Which is why, when publishers of urban newspapers say, “Well, he has said he won’t allow any Muslims on his cabinet!”, I am forced to think, “Are there any Muslims there now? What about under Bush 43? Or Slick Willie? I mean, heck, just as Judaism is passed on through the mother, Islam passes from the dad, making the president the only person with any Islamic affiliation, and hey, he converted as soon as he knew what religion was. Man. Mr. Obama wouldn’t even stick with his own Black nationalist pastor that performed his wedding. You really think he’s gonna hire some Muslims?”
I get it, Mr. Cain. I do. When you suggest your 999 plan, and Black folk jump on it because they think its racist (I mean, c’mon…it’s a Republican plan, it HAS to be), I think, “Hey, wasn’t Congressman Chaka Fattah, a Democrat, trying to push transaction taxes as a way to invigorate the economy?” Racist? With a name like Chaka, I don’t think he has a Klan application on file.
Chairman Cain, I understand you are just calling it like you see it. When you say, “Black folk are just using racism as a reason to not achieve. Racism can not hold ya back if you don’t let it!” What do they expect you to say? You endured worse racism than most Black folk can imagine, and you are now giving it to white folk in spades. You defied a bunch of the silly stereotypes that have become synonymous with modern day Black folk. Things like having no respect for marriage. Expecting much for working little. Complaining about how people don’t like you but expecting those same folk to provide you with jobs, housing, etc. Making excuses at every turn. Not understanding business. None of that is you. Your success, your money and frankly, your lifestyle is bothering more white people than it is Black folk. You’re probably grinning inside the whole while.
I understand all of that. Hey, I agree with it.
I just can’t vote for him.
Well, for one, Cain isn’t going to win. I like to roll with winners.
Two, while the whole dump Rev. Wright thing bothers me, and while folk haven’t figured out Mr. Obama is a Chicago Democrat, which means talk blue but acts red, and while Black folk haven’t figured out POTUS # 44 has been dissing them worse than Cain ever could…
President Obama is a homeboy. I mean, we Chicagoans stick together. Period. Dot. Even when you let the Daley machine pull your strings. As a Black man, hey, I understand. We all work jobs where we gotta do what we told. Sometimes, working that job as best you can does nothing for your patience with people who won’t work at all. Especially those you risk your job trying to help.
I have admitted to some social conservatism in my writings. I do believe Black folk need to stop this overwhelming support of the Democrats simply on the basis that they are, well, Democrats. All Democrats are not good. All Republicans are not inherently evil. Many voting Black folk are quite conservative, regardless of what party they choose to support.
My issue with the GOP, Mr. Cain, is this: some pretty decent Black folk have allowed themselves to be poster children for this organization, only to be tossed aside like old charcoal that is no longer needed to cue anything when the party is over.
Remember Richie? The architect of the recent Republican electoral victory. His own party was so grateful that from minute one they let some entertainer with a penchant for prescription painkillers pimp slap him silly, thus forcing him to become both the party’s whipping boy and savior.
What about the young man from Oklahoma? Boy, they trotted you out to refute the claims of our “First Black President” (insert laugh track here) and let you take on anybody Black the party had no use for. I mean, look: we know these people love their sports heroes. They loved you, their Black token paragon of equality.
Where ya at, Son? Haven’t seen you in Congress lately. Party didn’t have your back, huh?
General? I still hold you in the highest regard. An old lion like you, however, should have seen in coming. Do they even allow you to cross the threshold of the United Nations anymore, sir?
So while, as a Chicagoan, I can quickly admit the Democratic Party isn’t a host of angels, I have to say, at least, if it suits their needs, they will offer some person of color to shine. Dick Daley used to brag that in his Chicago, there were Negro police captains, fire lieutenants, and elected officials. Sure, they had to toe his racist line, but it was better than down south, where they had the same racist thinking and wouldn’t even let you drink out of a fountain, much less run your own area. Democrats are the good party. Don’t forget it.
Is that foolish of me? Sure. It was foolish for a bunch of rednecks to vote for George W. Bush, thinking that because he liked cowboy boots they had so much in common. He still got eight years out of it. My loyalty to Obama can’t leave the country in as bad of a bind as their loyalty to Bush did.
Plus, again, I like to be on the winning side. Here in Chicago, if we want our guy to win, he wins. We will steal the election if we have to. Sadly, we won’t have to.
The Grand Old Party’s track record is pretty abysmal on their Black wunderkinds. I can see them congratulating themselves on their egalitarianism for inviting Cain to the dance. Then trying to lynch him for doing the slow grind with their sisters.
Regardless, after I cast my ballot, I will hear my maternal grandfather, his voice firm, saying, “This old fast food these companies are pushing will be the death of a once healthy country, mark my words…These prisons will one day be like a return to slavery, people with no rights collected together to do work for pennies and make others millions…One day, these projects here in Chicago will all come down, and only the wealthy will be able to live in those areas…That professional wrestling is really fake…I’m right on this, ya’ll see.”