Part and parcel of tossing one's hat into political philosophy's ring of fire of is the sheer weight of un-learning and assigning alternate values to the accumulation of ideas that shape one from youth. In my father's house were shelves and shelves of books - the natural direction of my intellectual curiosity went there. As a matter of pride I have often considered my inheritance of this library, the province of my black cultural nationalist father and upbringing. Further, it has often been my naive assumption that anyone not responding to the term 'negro' was at least partially invested in understanding the intellectual connotations of the Black revolution. These days, I become more convinced that blackness *is* a simple herrenvolk term. We are the tribal people of us, created very simply, in native alienation and considered impervious to intellectual distinction. The very idea of debating Booker T. Washington vs WEB DuBois itself seems parochial and out of touch, if not childish.
In that regard, there is no black intellectual future. Black intellect serves at the foot of an old master, whose imperative was 'race raising' which in the end is a futile if not tyrannical exercise for any man. Alas we must deal with greater struggles.
On the way there, I think there is some baggage which I must disabuse myself of, some of which has been useful, others not. I look at my own bookshelf and wonder if there is anything there that gave me any insight as to the size of my intellectual prison of the Left. What instinct in me caused me to distrust finally what I had figured was good for my black soul. In many ways, I am just as speechless as any black man on the other side of the aisle. We have a black president in America and Franz Fanon had nothing to do with it. So why did I waste my time learning Franz Fanon?
This is the question a great number of blackfolks are going to be faced with - what to do with the sort of symbol he is vs what to do with the sort of power he has. Remember how I laughed until milk came out my nose when people were saying great things about Howard Dean's declarations about race. I remember how the implications of Obama's distance from Black Liberation Theology were so very significant, as well as his dismissal of Tavis Smiley. In every way, every popular song about painting the White House black, has been wrong and now is the time to deal with what didn't happen. The Left *is* Barack Obama, for a time, and the black Left is most definitely Barack Obama. So what is left of the Left that is not?
But the armament on my left side must be shed a bit more rapidly. In fact, I need to understand what aspects of my Talented Tenth inheritance falls dangerously close the the tyranny of liberal fascism. I need to find out what explicit political and cultural experiments I felt held promise in my passion for race raising before I understood the Right, and finally weigh the consequences of their realization on the whole of humanity. The thing I must make perfectly clear is that as an actualized man accepting of myself fully as an individual within the world context I am firstly made aware of the ethnocentrism of my political upbringing. I held it axiomatically that anything that could have objective benefits for black people was demonstrably good. Period. End of discussion. If I percieved that white people got welfare, then I would say black people should get welfare, and the more welfare black people got, the better.
I understand that it is premature to suggest that everything blackfolks generated politically that is not deeply centered in Obama's philosophy is worthless. But that does not change the fact that Obama is *our* president, meaning the American president, not just black people's president. And what the Obama administration is going to mean and how it's going to be remembered will not be a function of what black people feel about him or his expression of what black politics has been until now. Like everything else in American life, the mainstream story will survive, the alternative and 'authentic' black story will live only in dimly remember legend, and books by blacks.
There's one other thing that I'm going to throw into this bucket before I dash off, which is something I remember about a performance of my son's middle school band at the local mall. There were a couple of middle aged black men who were proctoring a field trip of mentally handicapped kids, and in what I can only call characteristic defiance, they refused to stand for the national anthem. I'm sure they had their reasons. Similarly, I recall a lecture in my mind delivered to black college students about racism in the real world. I suggested that I had found the cure to white privilege and that if they made this particular gesture that it would guarantee that the negative of being black in first impressions would immediately be transformed into a positive. I asked how many people would employ this method of black pride. All hands raised. Then I handed out American flag lapel pins. Some refused to accept them.
Today, do those blacks who refused to wear the pin with pride, do those who quoted some post-modern intellectual to defend their refusal to salute the American flag or sing the national anthem now do the right, proper and patriotic thing? Who else is casting off radical ideas?