The tragicomedy of Black politics in the age of Obama

Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

You know Black folks are in trouble when a Saturday Night Live skit provides more insight into African American politics than all the Black so-called political “analysts” at MSNBC. “Most African Americans are wholly unconcerned about Obama’s actual legislative and executive agenda.” The people are left defenseless, for the sake of an icon in the White House.
The Tragi-Comedy of Black Politics in the Age of Obama
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
Was there anything that Obama could do that would cause him to lose these Black folks’ support?”
Since the beginnings of Obamamania, we at Black Agenda Report have traced the appalling disintegration of Black politics at its most fundamental level: the evaporation of critical thinking when it comes to the actual policies of The First Black President. In speeches and in articles, I have often noted that much of Black America has ceased expressing their own political convictions on issues of war and peace and social justice, in favor of upholding whatever position Barack Obama seems to be taking. It is not that Blacks have embraced Obama’s aggressive militarism, his intimate relationship with Wall Street, or his relentless assaults on the social safety net. Rather, most African Americans are willfully oblivious of the nuts and bolts of what this president has wrought, or in the details of his plans for the future. They are wholly unconcerned about Obama’s actual legislative and executive agenda. The subject hardly comes up. As we wrote just two months ago, “The topic of Black conversation is usually not ‘What is Obama doing,” but, rather, “How is he doing?’”
So, it was somewhat disconcerting to see NBC’s Saturday Night Live’s recent five-minute skit about a fictitious Black public affairs program called, “How’s He Doing,” which the host described as “the show where the Black voter takes a frank and honest look at President Obama and asks, How’s he doing?”
In the sketch, Obama could do no wrong. Actors playing a writer for Ebony Magazine and a political science professor from Spelman College came up with comical rationalizations for the NSA spying revelations and the shaky start of Obamacare. They could not imagine breaking with Obama, whether he chose to become a Muslim, a Jew, a Scientologist or even an atheist. Was there anything that Obama could do that would cause him to lose these Black folks’ support? Apparently not.
They could not imagine breaking with Obama.”
It was a well done skit – and funny, in the moment. And then, at commercial break, deeply sad – not because it reflected the truth, but because the truth is much worse than a comedy sketch. It is not just that Obamacare’s web site is a disaster, but that his healthcare plan is a Republican scheme that will condemn additional millions of Americans to an early death, especially Black and poor people. The NSA spying revelations are more than an embarrassment; they reveal plans for a police state such as the world has never seen – and we know what American police states do to Black people. Those who are caught up in Obama’s spy web will have no recourse to the courts, under his preventive detention without trial regime. Obama maintains a “Kill List” and is as eager as any Republican to massacre tens of thousands in aggressive wars. He has already gone public with his plans to cut Social Security, on which Blacks disproportionately depend.
None of this is fiction, and it’s not a bit funny. At the end of the Saturday Night Live skit, the actors have a huge laugh at the very idea that things might have been better under Mitt Romney. But Black people and most of Saturday Night Live's white audience would have resisted a President Mitt Romney if he had sought preventive detention and more U.S. foreign wars and cuts in Social Security. But, they let Barack Obama get away with it – which is why he is the more effective evil, and why Wall Street and the Pentagon have the last laugh.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at
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