Pigmentation itself, ethnicity itself, is not a factor that is going to sway people

[…] "In my district, people are going with Hillary," said state Sen. Robert
Ford, a Democrat from Charleston. "I am sure there will be some young
blacks who will be behind Obama, but elderly blacks are going with
Hillary because they love Bill and they love Hillary for standing
behind him for eight years." […]

[…] "People down here don't know him, and South Carolinians in many ways
are a difficult lot," said Cole Blease Graham, a political scientist at
the University of South Carolina. "They like to see their politicians
up close in the flesh, shake their hand and look them in the eye. "Blacks will determine the winner in South Carolina, and if it came
down to it right now, it would be Clinton because of the lack of
exposure Obama has here," said Graham. "If Obama can win some
attraction from whites and overwhelming support from black voters, he
can beat Clinton." […]

[…] "South Carolina is one of the most racially polarized places in the
country, and black people in South Carolina have never elected a black
candidate statewide," said David Bositis, senior political analyst for
the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington.
"There are places in the South where people don't think anybody black
can be elected to anything. So when they think about the presidential
election, they don't think of Obama as someone with very good

Quotes from Dahleen Glanton's Chicago Tribune article "Obama's Southern support not a cinch"

[…] "He has to campaign. Like any other candidate, he will have to prove
a viability, prove that he’s going to articulate the issues and do so
in a way that proves that he is an authentic Democrat and not a closet
Republican." […]

Rev. Joe Darby,
pastor of Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, one of the largest
black churches in the state, quoted in Aaron Gould Sheinin's The State article "Obama campaigning in S.C. today"

[…] "There are some things you can't run away from. He's going to have
to raise between $US50 million ($64 million) and $US100 million,
and that money's not coming from black people. So black people are
going to have to engage with that reality. He gives the impression
that he dances on both sides, but when he gets into the goldfish
bowl of an election campaign, he will be forced to define himself
more concretely." […]

Walters, the director of the African American Leadership Institute
and an expert on black presidential politics, in Gary Younge's Guardian UK (via Sydney Morning Herald) column "The real deal"

"If you're a black man in America today, you're treated
like a black man, every day. […] Toni Morrison called Bill
Clinton our first black president. He was very
comfortable around black people, played the saxophone, went to black
churches. I don't see where Hillary inherits that. She's a whole
different deal."

"If blackness is not consecrated by slavery and
childhood poverty, you're not black enough? That idea is nonsense. Nothing in Obama's
background justifies seeing him as a white guy's black guy. He has
addressed black concerns as a community organizer in Chicago and a
state senator in Springfield. […] Bill went out of his way to make black appointments, court black
voters, and she was at his side when he did it. And
blacks are loyal to people who they think have produced for them."

Quotes from Georgetown law professor Patricia King and her husband, civil rights activist Roger Wilkins, in Ken Bode's Indianapolis Star op-ed "Who will get blacks' votes?"

10 replies on “Pigmentation itself, ethnicity itself, is not a factor that is going to sway people”

As I’m currently reading The Race Beat, all this journalistic writing about Obama is very interesting. It’s quite the experience examining how we write about (or don’t write about) Race and Politics in the 50 or so years since mainstream journalists decided America’s Race story was actually worth coverage.

Did you read what I essentially consider an Obama smear piece on Salon? If so I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. Or have you already written about it somewhere and I just missed it? 

Jason, I’ll have to find a copy of that and soon. I could use a little historical context.

Karen, I’m working on more.

Michelle, do you mean Edward McClelland’s “How Obama became a natural?” It felt less like a hit piece or a smear to me and more like a look back from someone who could say “I knew him when.” It seemed plausible to me that Obama didn’t start out as a natural. (I haven’t read “Dreams From My Father” yet, but it’s on the shelf somewhere at home; I haven’t read “The Audacity of Hope” either.) I felt reassured by the idea that Obama has had to struggle to reconcile ability and ambition with environment and opportunity — and that the reason he connects with so many people now is that he’s learned how to tell the story of who he is, what he believes and how he can effect change.

[this is good] Hey there. I saw that Salon piece, and I had some objections, but it’s fascinating to me to hear the different takes on him, all based on how people have received him at various points in his political career.

I have heard before that he has been experienced as cocky, arrogant or impatient by some folks, and that his “ivy-league democrat” credentials had to be benched in an effort to get in the trenches (a skill eventually cultivated by Obama to earn his stripes in a working class community?).

I am fascinated by all of this frankly, so many different takes, so many different theories…

I would suggest that Obama’s evolution was one that any individual will experience as they begin to sort out how to best drive results in a very bureacratic society. I’m not sure that has a thing to do with his being black as it does his simply learning the ways to drive change.

That is the one George.

See I didn’t get the “Hey I knew him when” vibe from that. If I’d gotten that vibe it would have been a whole different ballgame. If all the same information had been written but conveyed a bit differently it would have seemed more “he lost, he learned from his mistakes and has grown because of it” instead the way it read to me was “he was a know-it-all who got his ass whooped and so developed a very intentional, deliberate (even manipulative?) plan to not lose again.” Same info, same back story, far different tone. Of course perhaps I’m just bringing my baggage to the piece and picking up vibes, tones and cues the author never intended. 

I would suggest that Obama’s evolution was one that any individual
will experience as they begin to sort out how to best drive results in
a very bureacratic society.

I totally agree with that. So perhaps it’s the fact that the Salon writer made such a big deal out of that common evolution is part of what lent itself to me walking away from the piece with such a negative impression.

[this is good] At risk of getting my Feminist membership card yanked away, I’m leaning much heavier toward Obama than I am to Hillary, but I’m still keeping my eye on Edwards. If Obama makes some more concrete points about working toward an end to poverty I just might jump in his ring with both feet and send some money his way. I’ll forgive his reluctance to make gay marriage legal if he is willing to work on leveling the haves vs. have-nots playing field. And I’m not just saying that cause he’s a local politician.

I have to agree with RPM about the Salon piece.  The author certainly did seem to share some negativity towards the beginning of the piece but near the end he conceded that he’d been a critic, and as Obama evolved, his perception of him did as well (and he noted that he wound up voting for him as well). 

I am fascinated both with Obama himself but also how he’s being portrayed in the media.

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