Monday, October 13, 2008

The Monday Moment

Triple Consciousness and Barack Obama

Thanks to all of you who emailed me concerning my last post. In particular I would like to thank Ms. Lhea J. Copeland for introducing a third world to me. Actually, I knew about this world but this world is in part made up of and sometimes dominanted by those folks you tend to not want to recognize in mixed company. This world known as the greater black community. The intersection of these now three worlds is what Ms. Copeland calls tresconsciousness or triple consciousness alluding to W. E. B. Du Bois's notion of Double consciousness. In 1897, DuBois wrote of a two-ness, of being "an American, a Negro; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

Triple consciousness is an expansion of DuBosian double consciousness. It is the balancing the world of power and privilege, the upward mobility and ambition of those who have survived and the traditional values and struggle of the greater black community within a single black person. As Du Bois spoke of two “warring ideals” over one century ago, today I suggest that Barack Obama is our single best example of how each of these three levels of consciousness can coexist in one person, and, therefore, provides a blue print for all of African descent for evolution and prosperity in America.

The greater black community contains several sub-cultures that from time to time dominant, but at its heart is what Dr. Cornell West described as Black Nihilism. A “lived experience of coping with a life of horrifying meaninglessness, hopelessness, and (most important) lovelessness. The frightening result is a numbing detachment from others and a self-destructive disposition toward the world. Life without meaning, hope, and love breeds a coldhearted, mean-spirited outlook that destroys both the individual and others.”

This is a world where folks are encourage to stop snitching, where keeping it real never goes wrong, where street credibility means everything, where if your status ain't hood folks ain't checkin' for you, where a man is looking for a project chick, a hood rat chick, or a bust-it baby and where a woman needs a soldier, a ruffneck, “a rude boy that's good to me, wit street credibility.”

Admittedly, this is a world where I haven’t lived from some time, but with which I have kept my citizenship and have enough stamps in my passport to make a comfortable visit for extended periods of time. This is also the world where the black middle class resides, where my parents reside, where the Civil Rights Movement brought us and left us. This is a world where a young man dressing as an old woman is still funny, the where the deacons and woman’s missionary circles meet, where old time religion requires no less than 3 hours on Sunday and another 2 hours on Wednesday, where Jesus is on the main line and your arms aren’t too short to box with God.

This is a place where we wear the names and faces of those who have passed on t-shirts, where we shall overcome – not today but someday, where dreams are deferred, where mediocrity is praised, where violence typically ends a gathering and frustration prevails; a place where I received my greatest strength and my biggest weakness – rage (also known as Angry Black Man syndrome).

What makes Barack so unique is that he possesses all the strengths and ambitions of a black man along with the heightened intellectual capacity and amplified eloquence found in many survivors, but yet he somehow avoids two of biggest pitfalls which face black men – rage and white women.

Have you ever seen Barack display anger? He has been faced with stinging criticisms, questioned like no other has been questioned, dealt with enemies from within his own camps, handled (Reverends) crabs in the barrel, but he has yet to even furrow his brow. Instead, he has displayed confidence when challenged, he asserts himself but doesn’t scare the white man (or woman). He’s been direct yet engaging, enthusiastic yet warm and inclusive. In addition to not displaying any signs of Angry Black Man syndrome, Barack doesn’t have a white woman on his arm despite his success. Indeed, He got a beautiful, brown-skinned wife, with two gorgeous brown-skinned girls. Obama is at the height of the black male evolutionary chain. A family and background that the greater black community can respect, the temperament and diplomacy that the white man can tolerate, and the credentials that validate the survivors.

So what does all this mean? A fellow blogger passionately called for more people to get involved in government from the private sector. I humbly suggest that we need don’t need more people in government we just need different people in government. People who can reach across the aisle of class, of race and of temperament. One who can to walk with kings but yet not lose the common touch. That different person embodied within Barack Obama. I believe that Barack is the best candidate for the job not because of his political stance – is his stance really any different than HRC, Kerry or Gore? – but because he represents black men and everything we should be striving to become.


Will Hill said...

Excellent! I am going to read this again.

Vaughn Bryant said...

Absolutely agree that different ppl in government, not necessarily more. Very well said. I know Lhea. Sharp sista' from the D :-)

Vaughn Bryant said...

I also meant more American's should be engaged in our government, not necessarily working in/for government. The more American's are paying attention, the accountable our politicians will be.