Taking the Negative: Voting in the 2012 Elections

DISCLAIMER: This post concerns itself with race and politics. While no people White or Black were harmed or made fun of in this post there is still a chance that you may get offended. While your getting offended is not and was not my intention, I will be happy to send you a free MrMary Sticker to compensate you for your troubles

Hello Friends,

The taking the negative series is one of my favorite series to write. Basically it is a simple tool to deconstruct social situation. The goal in doing this is to learn more about ourselves as a culture I have done a few of these and have many more to do. Here are the few I have done:

  1. Introducing a new Series: Taking the Negative dedicated to Chinua Achebe
  2. Taking the Negative: Islam and terrorism
  3. Taking the Negative: The Movie Hero
  4. Taking the Negative: The Monster’s Ball Syndrome

How it Works

I will illustrate how this works. In the debut Taking the Negative post  I looked at the trend of Caucasian Hollywood stars adopting African Babies. This is a very altruistic and laudable thing to do for many reasons that I listed in my initial posting.  Then I  said what would the negative of that look, what if Samuel L. Jackson or Don Cheedle or  Djimon Gaston Hounsou and other famous black stars and also couples started adopting blonde hair blue eyed babies ?   I asked if that image, the figurative negative image of the first image be as lauded and as acceptable. Before I continue I’d like it to be known that I’m analyzing social attitudes and the mentality from which they are born from.

I’m not calling anyone racist,
I’m not playing the race card
I’m not asking for a hand-out,
I’m not complaining,
I’m not promoting reverse-racism (which is a contradiction in and of itself),
I’m not being appreciative of what America has done for me and all the many other things I get accused of for just articulating some observations.

So with that Disclaimer I think I can get into today’s topic Voting in the 2012 Elections.  I notice every time I want to write about anything that might barely even touch upon race I have to issue a lot of disclaimers, not just on the blog, just to ensure that I can get my point out and not get accused of using the race cards or some other nonsense.

2012 Elections

For the first time in American History we have a mulatto president but owing to the one-drop theory in the US, Americans with any known African ancestry, no matter how slight, are often categorized as black.  During his first election many people asked the question are black voting for Obama because he is black the question still persists. Two common points that I hear much talk about can be summed up as follows:

  • When it comes to black people: there is no critical thought involved in deciding on a candidate, when in fact we do vote
  • Voting for someone just for his race/color is being racist

I would like to quote something from the article:

“African American support for Obama can be seemingly dismissed because black voters are using racial bias as a decision-making criteria, whereas everyone else is using merit. Yet it is more likely that holding the belief that African American voters are biased allows one to justify their own hidden biases. “

This statement is important because it shows how the issue is complex. It is not so cut and dry, black or white.

A Comments from the Net that sums it up

100% of the black people I know and 100% of the black people I work with only know two things about the election. Obama and Bush. They will not even engage in a conversation about Romney. They don’t care. Obama said Romney is a liar and that’s all they heard. Game over. Race is a very powerful thing when it’s on your side. And Sununu only said out loud what everybody already knows.

The comments made by Sununu are as follows: “When you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to look at whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or he’s got a slightly different reason for endorsing President Obama,” Sununu said, adding: “I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.” Basically again saying that Powell is endorsing Obama again because he is black like Colin Powell used to be. Later, Sununu released a statement saying “Colin Powell is a friend and I respect the endorsement decision he made and I do not doubt that it was based on anything but his support of the President’s policies.”

The Reality

I was going to publish this post on Thursday but luckily I waited and I came across these articles which thankfully helped me out a lot.  Let me post the article title and their respective pertinent quotes:

The Racial Bias in Dismissing Blacks Voters’ Support for Obama

An undeniable truth from the results is that the public is largely biased in their judgments of African American voting practices. And, if the public is biased, then concluding that it is not, which is the norm among political commentators, is incorrect.

These data show how easily politics become “racialized,” leading individuals to potentially associate their beliefs, prejudices, resentments and opinions about race with seeminglynon-racial instances . Just to be clear, one does not have to be racist (e.g., dislike black people or other racial groups) to use race in their thinking and, more importantly, racial thinking is not one directional; regardless of one’s own racial background they are susceptible to racialized biases and subsequently racialized behaviors or “racial discrimination.” The real problem is people denying it or tossing aside any need for self- or public- reflection.

My main academic point is that it’s nearly impossible to deny that race matters in politics even when one claims they are making an objective political assessment. My main social point is that nearly all people hold racial stereotypes and use them in their everyday life, but because these beliefs are socially unacceptable, we’ll deny them at all costs. But always remember, denial doesn’t mean you’re not guilty.

AP poll: Majority harbor prejudice against blacks

Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties……That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 percent).

Do black people support Obama because he’s black?

Black voters switched after Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed through the 1960s civil rights legislation and Republicans successfully pursued the votes of white people who disliked the civil rights agenda. Since then, Democrats have persistently wooed black voters with programs and platforms that African-Americans favor, and the party has been rewarded every four years. Clinton got 83 percent of the black vote in 1992 and 84 percent in 1996; the third-party candidate Ross Perot probably sliced away some of Clinton’s black support. Al Gore got 90 percent in 2000; John Kerry got 88 percent in 2004. Obama captured 95 percent in 2008, and 2 million more black people voted than in the previous election.

The Conclusion’s I’ve Reached

I have always felt personally that racism is still alive, not just against Blacks I should add. it is crazy to think that racism just went away disappeared after 1968. It is going to be around as long as humanity is going to be around. It may not be legalized but the mentality from which it is born is forever prevalent.

Because so much of politics nowadays is dominated by an Us vs Them Attitude it is very polarizing and divisive. In such cases it isn’t too long before people are divided by the factors that have a historical precedence in that particular culture, society and or nation. One cannot ignore historic precedence for class warfare, racism, hatred of Immigrants, Antisemitism, themes in US history. To make matters more complicated, I think what is also important to point to the fact that racism and class warfare enjoy a very intimate relationship. It’s impossible to talk about economic classes without talking about race.

These issues aren’t endemic to the US or Democracy they are part of the fabric of the human experience. I feel in the US our collective policy is denial. We deny something or oppose it  or force the facts into an artificial narrative that can quickly be concluded like the many sitcoms we love so much. But the problem with doing that is that the narratives we force the facts into do nothing for the complexity of the social issue.

I think that these words of Fanon are really important here:

“Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.”

Every 4 years we (in the US) are given a moment of catharsis as a nation to look at ourselves. That is one of the greatest features of democracy. Granted it is very easy for democracy to be hijack by business interests, or by prevalent racial , gender, zenophobic, and anti-religious attitudes (to name a few) but it’s amazing what a moment of catharsis can do for a Nation look at Civil Right ?


I think one of the major issues writing this has made apparent to me has been that we do not have an accessible language or a way to talk about racism. We cannot have discussions about something we don’t have words for. When one use the term like “White People” or “Black people” is a huge generalization. How many distinct linguistic, cultural, political, ethnic, religious groups exist under the umbrella of white people or black people – too many to make gross generalizations about. Roman Catholic Italian Americans are very different from Protestant German-Americans.  I am Haitian American I speak 3 languages and conceptualize American and my place differently than a Nigerian American than a southern black who has been here for a few generations though we are all “black”.

I think its too easy to generalize “Blacks vote for Obama because he is black”,  “Whites vote for Mitt Romney because he is white” , or that If there was a serious female contender for the Oval Office, that all women would vote for her because she was a woman. All these grand over sweeping statement ignore the complex issue of self identity and the rich history of conflict, class struggle and a few centuries worth for domestic and foreign policy. I think that people who  advocate these sensationalist, lowest common denominator, mass media fodder are really those not interested in a dialogue. Education dialogue is essential to the democratic process.

Of course I have more to say on things. I think we can break some concepts down further but I don’t like to write such pieces on here

Till Next time


One comment

  1. Very thoughtful post, and I’m loving the whole series! There is art in being able to discuss such highly controversial issues.
    I’m not American and as such am removed from the election fever in your country, but the race argument is an important one. Also, a universal one – you could ask the same question about women aspiring to achieve certain positions, and the support they need to muster – is that support based purely on objective reasoning? And to make it even more complicated, wouldn’t ‘equal opportunity / levelling’ be an objective argument anyway?


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