Nearly two years ago, I interviewed fromer Montgomery, AL resident, Odell S. for an AOL Black Voices article on the “new African Americans”. The series was a hit. As recently as a few weeks ago, I received a request to reprint the article. But enough about that.
When I decided to revisit the subject, once again, I thought of Odell.
Here’s what the 32-year-old salesperson and artist had to say about the Obama drama and the “blackness test”.
What are your thoughts about the [Senator[ Obama drama and the question, “Are you black enough?”
It’s almost funny when you hear people ask if Obama is black enough to represent the black community. What is not funny is most of the time the people who would make this statement don’t really do things themselves to help the black community. Just because a person is black doesn’t mean that he/she is going to help in the struggle.
With that being said, Obama is black. He may be mixed but he is black. He has had some of the same struggles as I have had. He may have money now but I’m pretty sure he has been pulled over by the cops for no reason; looked at extra hard by security when going into certain retail locations and has experienced some blatant racism in his days. The questions people need to ask are: Is he going to have the interests of the black community at the forefront of his presidency. And is he going to do some things that will really help us?
I’m pretty sure 90 percent of the people who ask the question is Obama is black enough couldn’t pass a basic Black History exam. These same people probably don’t know who Garrett Morgan, Crispus Atticus, or Paul Robeson is.
Do you think that there is a “blackness test”?
I don’t think there is blackness test because who can truly be a judge of someone’s blackness. Now, what we can do is keep track of what people and leaders do.
I can’t say Clarence Thomas isn’t black; he is. But I can keep my eyes on his track record and say he may not have the interests of my people in mind even though we share the same race.
Even when looking at J.C. Watts, who I loved as a star quarterback for my beloved Oklahoma Sooners and who led the team to a big bowl win when he was playing football at the university, I can’t say he always looked out for black people when he was a congressman.
Although a lot of Republican (white) lawmakers loved him, they still saw him as being another black man; so he still experienced racism. Jason Whitlock, a sports writer, who I frequently disagree with, at times makes me downright angry with some of the nonsense he writes. But can I test his blackness? No.
If there is no such test, why do people ask the question, “Are you black enough?”
Like I mentioned earlier people watch your actions because they speak louder than words. So, if you are doing things that throw up a red flag, people will question your blackness. In the past when I was younger, I would quickly question someone’s blackness but now that I’m older all I can question is the interest of these people. To say is someone black enough does not make sense. We are such a great people with so many different views, aspects and outlooks; there is no perfect formula to being black and no guidelines to go by.
But like I keep saying, you must call a spade a spade. If you are a so-called leader and you are asking for the vote of black people but you don’t really care about the black community, you deserve to get checked.
Do you believe civil rights leaders have a vested interest in defining “black” or “African American” in a certain way?
It’s hard to believe that most of these civil rights leaders have the interests of black folks in mind let alone defining our names in a certain way.
Coming Next: “Man versus Myth” – Odell S. talks about his experiences as a black American who is actively involved in the Caribbean social/party scene.