(ThyBlackMan.com) Yvette Carnell recently wrote an article with the title, “Bloomberg: Blacks Wrongly Believe Obama Made Their Lives Better.“ The article references the fact that many African Americans, because of their deep love and loyalty for President Obama, are typically disconnected from quality-of-life indicators that would determine how effective he has been as president. When presented with statistical evidence to show steep declines in black wealth and employment rates, those with persistent loyalty for the president either explain why none of this is his fault or argue that it was the black community which neglected its responsibility to improve our condition (as if black people suddenly became less hard working during the Obama presidency).
Personally, I don’t have a horse in the game either way. I don’t love or hate Barack Obama, since I don’t typically get too closely attached to any politician. But, my commitment to being objective about Obama’s performance is usually interpreted as hatred by those who somehow feel that Obama should have his picture in the living room right next to Jesus Christ (I’m not kidding. I know people who’ve done this).
You see, black people have a long tradition of faith. Faith is a beautiful and powerful thing when used in the right context. But it can also be a breeding ground for self-destruction and prolonged ignorance if you’re not careful. Faith sometimes tells you that even if your doctors say you have cancer, it will go away if you pray hard enough (even if you skip your medication). As the amazing blind writer Angela Braden explained, even after her mother took her to church after church, having hands laid on her and holy water sprinkled, she still ended up going blind during her senior year of high school. Angela articulately made the point that faith isn’t always enough. Instead, you must honestly assess your condition and engage in constructive action in order to make it better. But it’s OK to pray along the way if you feel like it.
When I saw the title of Yvette’s article, I realized something: Most of those who feel that black people are better off under Obama than we were under Bush or Clinton really can’t pull together stats to prove their point. But there is a value people gain from the symbolism that makes them high, like a drug that numbs your pain. When I say this, I’m referring to those people who love saying things like, “I love my president” or join Facebook pages with titles like, “I love waking up in the morning with Barack Obama as my president.” So, when something makes you feel better, it often makes you believe that things actually are better.
When we mix the euphoric high of having a black president with the psychological power of faith even in the absence of confirming evidence, you get the kind of prolonged, consistent, undying loyalty that some people have for President Obama. Barack could join the KKK tomorrow, and most of his supporters would never let him go. After all, he’s the only black president we’ve got.
This kind of thinking is not much different from a woman who knows a man for two months and believes he can do no wrong, or the professional athlete who remains close with his drug dealer homie from middle school. Some women may know nothing about a man’s history, his HIV status, his financial condition, abusive secrets of his past, or how he’s going to treat her in the future, but her faith leads her to remain as loyal to him as she might be to her own father. When President Obama rose on the scene, making one smooth statement after another, some people fell in love with him without knowing much about him other than the fact that he has adorable kids, a gorgeous wife, and a Harvard law degree. At that point, faith carried him through the first five years of his presidency.
There are those who’ve tried using logic to make points about the effectiveness or lack thereof, of the Obama presidency. The fact is that these arguments are a waste of time in some contexts, because logic is rarely an effective tool for confronting intense faith: It becomes as frustrating as trying to make the weather change by swinging a baseball bat toward the sun.
President Obama has not won the minds of black America; he has won their HEARTS. Also, the president is a political opiate for a suffering people who are looking for anything to grab onto to make them feel better about their existence. When you’ve been conditioned through 400 years of oppression to believe that you can’t change your world, then the only thing you can do is use some kind of mind-altering substance or escape mechanism to allow you to change your perception of the world around you. A person using a drug or consuming something that makes them feel good (like fried chicken, s*x, or a*****l) isn’t thinking about whether or not the drug is healthy. Instead, they are focused on the way the thing makes them feel.
So, it appears that, if you can’t objectively prove with data that black America is better off under Obama (most indicators say we’re far worse off than before), then effectively, Barack Obama is your drug. When put in the context of all the other ways that black people self-medicate (whether it’s an addiction to a substance, an activity or even religion), it all makes sense. Of course some people are going to get mad at me for making this point, but as my friend used to say in Kentucky, “The hit dog always hollers.”
If I’m wrong, then please prove me wrong. Otherwise, your perceptions might be defined by your emotions.
Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins