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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The diffference between "Shaquana" Jenkins and Mary Jenkins-More on the Class Divide for Voting for Obama

Again, as this blog purports a conservative bent, I'm used to questions of alleged Black authenticity but how much can a progressive such as Senator Obama take with more talk of not only a generational shift among voting Black folk but now a class shift. If there was any further evidence that people of color comprise a monolith was a fallacy, the latest piece from the Wall Street Journal should cement the deal. Here's an excerpt:

ELGIN, S.C. -- Briana Parker, a 17-year-old African-American, drives her Honda every Wednesday from her suburban home here to the local Barack Obama headquarters to work the phone banks. Already accepted at six colleges, the high-school senior finds Mr. Obama an inspiration. "He reminds me that I can go and do things that others said I couldn't do," says Ms. Parker, who plans to double major at college and become a physical therapist.
[Barack Obama]

Seventeen miles and a world away, Malcolm Davis, 25, waits outside his parole office in Columbia, S.C. Like 13% of all black men -- 1.4 million in total -- he can't vote because he lives in a state that disenfranchises people convicted of certain felonies. He scoffs at Mr. Obama's message of hope and change. "He didn't grow up the way I grew up -- Mom smoking crack, Daddy smoking crack. It doesn't matter what I think. Just because a black man is running for president doesn't mean it's going to change things."

Even as Mr. Obama is promising to bring America together, his candidacy is casting new light on the mounting class divide in the black community -- and the debate among blacks about how to get ahead. The expanding black middle class -- accounting for about 40% of the black population -- see in Mr. Obama a validation of the choices they have made: attending largely white colleges, working in predominantly white companies and government offices, climbing up the ladder of American success.

For African-Americans living in the inner city -- where most children are being raised by single mothers, male unemployment in some cities tops 50% and 40% of young black men are either in jail, awaiting trial or on probation -- the view of Mr. Obama is much more skeptical. Black teenagers mock Mr. Obama as a "Halfrican" and a "50-percenter" for his biracial background; his mother is white, his Kenyan-born father was black. A recent special on Mr. Obama on Black Entertainment Television, the most popular station among inner-city blacks, was titled, "Obama: What's in It for Us?"

The irony is....it may be Whites that have faith that a Black man can be president moreso than people of color. And I repeat, I may vote conservative locally, but I'm not sure about standing on the opposite side of history on the national scene. Also I must respond to the young man highlighted in the above article. I don't know how much convincing would be required if he can't see that a Black man being a serious presidential candidate does constitute as substantive progress. It's still early in the campaign season the last time I checked. Here's the article in its entirety:

Obama's Bid Turns Focus
On Class Split Among Blacks

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