FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

With a "Brutha" Like This …

Whenever I’ve heard the phrase ‘first Black president’ with regards to former U.S. President William J. Clinton, it’s always disturbed me.

It’s reminded me of many things, but among them is the aphorism launched by Black comedian, Paul Mooney, who quips: “Everybody wanna be a ni—-, but don’t nobody wanna be a ni—-.”

What is disturbing is how nonchalant some Black folks are about the honorific, as if it is truly something intrinsically ‘Black’ about the behavior of Clinton. When the brilliant novelist, Toni Morrison, was credited with making the claim, it was clear that this celebrated fiction writer was utilizing metaphor to speak about how Blackness is perceived in the American mind, but not to ceremoniously award Mr. Clinton de facto admission into the tribe of the Sons of Africa.

This sense of nonchalance seems to suggest that being ‘black’ is synonymous with dillydallying with women (not one’s wife), or playing a musical instrument that has been closely identified with Black music (jazz).

If one examines this claim a little further, it is far less promising than at first glance.

For, while Black elites have rushed to embrace him as ‘one of their own’, this embrace has been decidedly one-sided.

His lifetime may have coincided with the rise and emergence of the Civil Rights Movement, but his own rise has been, not as a part of that movement, but indeed, as an exploiter of it.

He has never missed an opportunity to use his public power to discipline a Black person, or, as they used to say in the deep South, ‘put them in their place.’

His well reported conflicts with leading figures of that movement, like Rev. Jesse Jackson, for example, has been to cut him down to size. Like most politicians, he speaks loftily of the late Rev. Martin L. King, but if King were alive, ha would be finding ways to ignore his counsel at every turn.

For King would’ve been among his most severe critics, not a yes-man.

In his presidency, he consistently sacrificed Black supporters and interests, whenever they didn’t seem subservient enough. He jettisoned law professor, Lani Guinier, when she was in consideration of the #2 spot at the U.S. Justice Department’s civil rights division. When his former Surgeon General, Dr. Jocelyn Elders, was criticized by conservatives, he unceremoniously dumped her. He has betrayed virtually every constituency that supported him to bring into being his brand of neo liberalism, a kind of conservatism with a smile.

He interrupted his first presidential campaign to return to Little Rock to execute a brain damaged Black man on the Arkansas Death Row.

His vow to ‘end welfare as we know it’ was a sop to whites, who saw poor Blacks as getting something undeserved, and his own Cabinet secretary, Richard Rubin, has said as much! That he would countenance so much human suffering of the poor, so that the worst feelings of whites could be sated, is proof that the claim of being the ‘first black president’ was little more than a cruel, ironic joke.

With ‘bruthas’ like these, who needs enemies?

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL is the author of Live From Death Row.

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Mumia Abu-Jamal is the author of Writing on the Wall.

July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail