Links of Interest, 9/15/2008

[1] No Obama = Black Community Drama?

Recent articles from The Wall Street Journal (Black Voters Fret Over Obama) and the Washington Post (The Big ‘What If’) discuss the possible fall-out in the black community from a Barack Obama loss in the November election.

From the WSJ article:

An anxious murmur is rising among black voters as the presidential race tightens: What if Barack Obama loses?

Black talk-show hosts and black-themed Web sites are being flooded with callers and bloggers reflecting a nervousness — and anger — over the campaign. Bev Smith, a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host, devoted her entire three-hour show Monday night to the question: “If Obama doesn’t win, what will you think?”

“My audience is upset,” she said in an interview. “Some people said they would be so angry it would be reminiscent of the [1960s] riots — that is how despondent they would be.”

Myself, I think this talk of a devastating blow to the collective black psyche from an Obama loss is itself overblown. People will no doubt be unhappy, but they’ll get over it. The black community has been through much worse.

My own concern is this: will the organizational structures and practices that are being used in this campaign be repurposed as part of an ongoing effort to boost black political participation? If they are, then that will be a lasting legacy of this campaign. If they are not, then this will wind up being a bright and shining moment with no long term impact. Now that would be something to get upset about.

[2] 11 Black Americas

Algernon Austin of the Thora Institute has an excellent summary of Radio One’s Black America study. This is an excerpt of his comments:

…based on demographics, values and consumption patterns, black Americans were segmented into 11 distinct groups. The following are abbreviated descriptions of the groups, from youngest to oldest group:

1. Connected Black Teens: “They are tech savvy, highly social, brand driven and fans of Black music (Hip Hop
and R&B).”

2. Digital Networkers: “Over half of this web savvy, high tech, mobile segment are college or high school students who ‘network’ heavily using Facebook, MySpace, instant messaging and their cell phones.”

3. Black Onliners: “Heavy web users, this mostly male segment is stressed by their work/life balance and the need to straddle Black and White worlds; they are focused on money as the most meaningful measure of success and are the most stressed of any segment about ‘having to fit in’.”

The rest of the list can be found at the Thora Institute site. Refer to the post dated 8/17/08.

[3] Condoleezza Rice: Not Enough Blacks at the State Department

CNN reports that “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there are too few black Americans in the State Department. She was delivering the keynote speech at the annual Conference of the White House Initiative on National Historically Black Colleges and Universities.”

The article also notes that “Rice praised partnerships between federal government departments and agencies and black colleges. Last year, such colleges received $5 million in scholarships and grants from the State Department for language training, study abroad and exchange programs.”

[4] Obama Stumps the Experts

The Chronicle of Higher Education has an interesting article titled Wanted: More-Sophisticated Theories of Racial Politics. The article discusses an address by Dianne M. Pinderhughes, who is the first African American female president of the American Political Science Association, to the association’s annual conference in June:

…as recently as a year ago, Pinderhughes and many of her colleagues failed to predict that Mr. Obama’s campaign would succeed — an error that she likened to the discipline’s failure to predict the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The failure to foresee the possibility of Mr. Obama’s success, Ms. Pinderhughes said, was just one small symptom of the discipline’s general failure to develop serious models of the politics of race. “We must begin to consider race in a complex way,” she said, “in the same way that we consider the Founding, international relations, and constitutional law. We’re facing a profound change in American public life without the theoretical tools that we need to explain it.”

It’s an interesting thought. But the fact is, the Obama candidacy surprised a lot of people inside and out of academia. Sometimes it’s about vision, not theory.

[5] Black Minority in Iraq Faces Discrimination; Is Inspired by Obama

I want to give a hat tip to Tariq for pointing to an article from the LA Times, IRAQ: Black Iraqis hoping for a Barack Obama win. The article speaks of the struggles of the African minority in the majority Arab country of Iraq, and how Barack Obama, who is seen as a son of Africa, inspires them.

The post on Nelson’s blog has some interesting comments concerning race as a factor in Islamic culture and relations.

[6] Former Nation of Islam Leader W.D. Mohammed Dies

Wallace Mohammed, AKA Warith Deen Mohammed, son and successor to Elijah Muhammad as a leader of the Nation of Islam, passed away on September 9th. W. D. Mohammed was notable for abandoning the Nation’s previous views on white supremacy and moving its followers into mainstream Islam.

However, W. D. Mohammed was never able to gain the media prominence of Minister Louis Farrakhan, who broke with Mohammed over the changes to the Nation’s philosophy and direction. Farrakhan went on to lead his own group, also called the Nation of Islam.

I was surprised at how little news coverage there was of this. At one time, the Nation of Islam captured the imagination, if not large numbers of members from, large segments of the African American community, especially in the North and Midwest. The scant attention given to Mohammed’s passing shows how weak a force the Nation has become in black America’s consciousness.

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