I receive precious few viral emails from my 50+ aunts and cousins about race and politics or politics in general. Usually they involve warnings about the possibility of a raging computer virus or someone lurking under a car to grab my ankles and rape me. “Be careful, sugar! Protect yourself out there. Look under the car!”

Or there might be something inspirational involving Jesus’ miraculous ways or animated pictures of kittens or both. There was one email circulating about the Civil Rights Act re-authorization but that was some time ago.

So I was shocked when my one of my churchgoing sister cousins sent me this email. It’s long but I think worth reading because it addresses a few questions you might have been having recently such as:

– Why is Barack Obama gaining an edge over Hillary Clinton in popularity among black voters?
– How did black people respond to Tavis Smiley’s recent
– How do black people really view the “leaders” purported to represent them in the media?
– What issues may Hillary Clinton have to overcome in the black community to compete with Obama?
– How did Al Sharpton become basically irrelevant almost overnight as a presidential contender?
– And more.

Trust me, if I received this, it means that probably this email will be seen by potentially hundreds of thousands of middle class African-Americans, especially women. Do not underestimate the networking power of a good God-fearing black mama.

Emphasis mine. Not an endorsement. Just providing the commentary.
Check it:

>Subj: On Barack: An Open Letter and Invitation to Thoughtful Brothers And
>Sisters In America
>As I and my husband sat watching The State of Black America 2007,
>presented by Tavis Smiley, we were awe struck, motivated, inspired,
>filled with pride and edified by the broad ranging views of the
>impressive collection of black intelligencia represented on the stage.
>Following each of the richly-crafted commentary from rapper Chuck D to
>astronaut and engineer Mae Jemison to Professor Cornel West to poet
>Sonya Sanchez to one of my innovative classmates Omar Wasow (just to
>name a few), I ooohhed and ahhhed out loud as each broke it down, laid
>it out and spoke truth to power. But then it happened . . . my
>enthusiasm came to a screeching halt! Here we go again . . . that same
>gratuitous question mainstream media outlets across America seem to be
>commissioning ambitious black folk to answer and justify: Is our
>brother, Barack Obama, down enough with the cause to deserve our
>support? I just knew this panel of amazing minds and deep souls would
>once and for all stop the madness and give a resounding, “we’re not
>falling for another Rove-ian mindtrick to sidetrack us from the
>substantive issues at hand to debate your historical lies and give
>credibility to your ignorance.” I just knew this conscientious crew
>would cite to Obama’s academic excellence and obvious intelligence, his
>outstanding achievements, his proven commitment to our community through
>his life’s work, his impressive legislative record, his
>coalition-building skills and political experience. But instead,
>Malcolm’s proverbial crabs started grabbing, pulling, pinching and
>reaching for dear brother Barack’s neck. I was mortified.

>Seeming to come to his aid, one of my longtime heroes, Professor
>Olgetree, pointed out that Barack, Michelle Obama and others of his
>students had not only been impressive students at Harvard, but had
>dedicated their lives and careers to public service. But, (damn it), he
>added, he can’t take our vote for granted. Then, Brother Cornel (whose
>audio version of Race Matters I listened to so many times I almost
>committed chapters to memory) chimed in, not to save Brother Barack, but
>to highlight his absence from the State of Black America panel to be
>(how dare he) at some other event to boost his Presidential candidacy
>when he knew about Tavis’ event more than a year ago. While Professor
>West did mention that his questions about the depths of one’s love for
>the people were relevant for all candidates everywhere, they,
>unfortunately, were explicitly asked only of Obama. Finally, our
>fearless leader and host, Tavis, who, by his own admission, knew Barack
>before he was “Barack Obama” sealed the tomb. He assured the audience
>that, the night before, he got a call from an apologetic Barack who was
>unable to attend, but “really wanted to be here.” As if completely cued
>in by the tone in Brother Tavis’ statement, the audience gave a loud and
>unambiguously sarcastic “Aaawwww.” Adding salt to the wound, dear
>friend Tavis responded, “well, that’s what he told me” in that familiar
>-brother-anyway delivery.
>Now, I don’t point out the dynamics of this dialogue to take away from
>the amazing legacies of Brothers Ogletree, West or Smiley. They’ve all
>made important and lasting contributions to our community and will
>likely continue to do so, but I do question why they, and we as a
>community, tend to be so uncharitable toward our own, but inexplicably
>benevolent to others. For example, how does a white man who signed the
>deeply disparate crack-cocaine bill into law, introduced a devastating
>crime bill that further entrenched the prison industrial complex at the
>expense of black communities and black political power everywhere,
>oversaw the murder of more people on death row during his presidency
>than any president in the history of our country, completely dissed and
>dismissed our sister Lani Guinier, who would have been an amazing
>Attorney General for our country and for our community, purely for the
>sake of political expediency, get to be donned the “First Black
>President”? Is our loyalty so easily spawned because one acts like a
>”pimp,” plays the saxophone and visits a few pulpits?
I am absolutely
>amazed at the absence of critical black analysis about Clinton’s
>performance in office while Brother Barack has to be hyper-analyzed,
>criticized and have his thumbnails extricated for DNA samples before
>we’ll believe he’s one of “us.” There is no other candidate in this or
>any other Presidential race (save Shirley Chisholm who, in her day, was
>hung out to dry by the Black Caucus) who has had to work so hard despite
>an extraordinary track record to show us that he or she is about the
>business of making the country better for black people and thereby
>making the country better for all people.
>Al Sharpton, you are absolutely right that everyone who looks like “us”
>is not one of “us” – at least to the extent that you mean not all black
>people work for what’s in the collective best interest of black people
>(that is, if such a collective interest still exists – which is another
>discussion altogether) – but when did you become the blackometer? And,
>why raise a question of loyalty when you have no substantive evidence of
>disloyalty? Just to hear yourself talk? Because he’s getting more
>press than you? I’m not suggesting for a minute that Obama and every
>political candidate not be held accountable for their voting records,
>their political past, or even their personal judgment, but to question
>Obama’s blackness simply because he is black is the ultimate irony and a
>dumb distraction, for which Republicans and racists everywhere are
>cheering us on.
And, to question Obama’s loyalty simply because he
>didn’t make an appearance at this week’s forum hosted by the black
>gatekeeper flavor of the month is sheer idiocy.
>I think a more relevant question is what do the black commentators who
>make the television and radio appearances to raise and answer the
>question of Barack’s blackness have to gain? It certainly provides them
>with more face time before the American public and cushions their
>backsides with a blacker-than-thou throne (even if only in their own
>minds). I think a more relevant question to our so-called black leaders
>and academicians is what (other than a supersized ego or potential
>profits) gets in the way of their unequivocal support of the only person
>in the race who has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to
>implementing policies that best serve black people? To be sure, there
>may be valid critiques of Obama, but his absence from a forum, his
>failure to be stereotypically “black” or the fact that he is black are
>not valid or even useful critiques. So, forgive me for being just a bit
>skeptical of those black politicians (who reside in key states – e.g.,
>Brother Al and South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford) whose primary
>critiques are that Barack just may not be black enough or, even better,
>that America’s just not ready for a black President, so they can gain
>the political spoils and spotlight press of selling out a brother early
>and often.
>If I had the technological saavy, I would jump off this page with all
>the passion, hope, rage and volume of Spike Lee’s Dap and tell you,
>brothers and sisters everywhere, please please please WAKE UP!!!!!!!!
>The best thing Barack can do for us is to win, not show up at yet
>another black forum simply to prove he’s one of us by placating the egos
>who believe Barack should clear his calendar for their “ultimate black”
>event! There are plenty of other candidates (and so-called leaders) who
>warrant our scrutiny and skepticism – not to mention a host of
>misogynistic lyricists, child molesting musicians, and other
>unaccountable black-community-made millionaires. Barack, however, has
>proven with his excellence, his achievements, his commitments, and his
>life’s work that he warrants our support.
>Rather than using his credentials and connections to build his personal
>wealth, Obama chose to pursue careers like providing job training for
>residents of poor neighborhoods, directing voter registration drives and
>fighting for civil rights. Unlike other candidates in the race, Obama
>has been consistent in speaking against sending our black babies to
>murder, and to be murdered by, brown people in the Mesopotamia for the
>sake of multinational corporate interests.
He has successfully forged
>coalitions with people across racial and political lines to introduce a
>host of legislation that would, among other things, get guns off our
>streets, reduce greenhouse emissions, and limit the influence of special
>interest lobbyist on Capital Hill.
>As for whether Barack’s black enough, let us not forget that race exists
>in America not in our biology, genetic code or even our phenotype, but
>rather by the institutionalization of the economic and social construct
>of chattel slavery and its vicious offshoots. Under that regime, “a
>dab’ll do ya.” Whiteness equates to economic and social privilege and
>that privilege fades as it traverses the racial spectrum. Anyone who
>has any black ancestry living in this country, whether for a day or for
>generations, will experience the vestiges of slavery and the
>consequences of white privilege, making the question of whether one is
>descended from enslaved Africans or colonized and oppressed Africans
>irrelevant. It is not simply the experience of that oppression,
>however, that demonstrates loyalty to our community and that deserves
>our community’s loyalty, but rather recognition of the injustice of it
>and actions taken to dismantle it. Clearly, Obama has met this test!
>Let the record of each candidate speak for itself. But, for the sake of
>our ancestors and, more importantly, our descendants, do not
>inadvertently become a pawn of white privilege by demanding that Obama’s
>record be scrutinized more closely and meet a higher standard than his
>white counterparts simply because some narcissistic crab in a barrel
>didn’t find himself at the top.
>B.L. Jackson
>A Sister Who Unequivocably And Without Apology to Hillary, Bill or Al
>Supports Barack Obama for President And Invites Other Thoughtful
>Brothers and Sisters To Do the Same

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