“What about the black community, Obama?” Uhuru Movement challenges Obama on unwillingness to speak to African community interests

from UhuruNews.com

ST. PETERSBURG, FL — On Friday, August 1, the Barack Obama presidential campaign hit a serious bump in a St. Petersburg, Florida town hall meeting as members of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) challenged Obama on his unwillingness to speak to the interests of the African community.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AcXjHQA]

While demonstrators outside chanted “Obama, McCain, its the same game,” InPDUM members inside raised a banner that read “What about the black community, Obama?”

InPDUM International Organizer Diop Olugbala challenged Obama asking, “In the face of the numerous attacks that are made against the African community or the black community by the same U.S. government that you aspire to lead — and we are talking about attacks like the subprime mortgage that you spoke of that wasn’t just a general ambiguous kind of phenomena, but a phenomena that targeted the African community and Latino community; attacks like the killing of Sean Bell by the New York police department and Javon Dawson right here in St. Petersburg by the St. Petersburg police, and Jena 6 and Hurricane Katrina, and the list goes on. In the face of all these attacks that are clearly being made on the African community, why is it that you have not had the ability to not one time speak to the interests and even speak on the behalf of the oppressed and exploited African community or black community in this country?”

After stammering, Obama made the claim that he had addressed all of those issues with public statements, but that he just may not have spoken out in the way desired.

It is well known that he did make a statement after the acquittals of the police who pumped 50 bullets into Sean Bell’s car on his wedding day stating that the unjust verdict needed to be respected.

On the U.S. government’s leaving African people for days to die after Hurricane Katrina he stated on September 6, 2005, “I do not subscribe to the notion that the painfully slow response of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security was racially-based. The ineptitude was colorblind.”

Obama was right that he had not spoken to these issues as would be desired. While he may have conceded that the subprime loans were predatory, he has failed to condemn Penny Pritzker, his national finance advisor, for having made a fortune through the subprime mortgage scheme at the expense of Africans and Latinos.

In fact, Obama’s painting the U.S. as some place on the verge of a “post-racial” society with “race problems” being “90 percent” solved, his opposition to reparations for African people and his liquidating the colonial relationship that African people in the U.S. are held in are disarming. His role as a pied piper — leading African people who are disenchanted with the inability of the U.S. electoral process to provide any solution for them right back to the Democratic Party — is problematic for African people.

His role is one that works against African people’s struggle for self-determination — the loss of which was necessary for the building and maintaining of the United States of America.

The question for African people cannot be confined to whom to vote for in a bourgeois election where freedom and self-determination for African people will never be on the ballot. The question instead must be one of what must be done to win self-determination.

View Comments (2)
  • Although I agree that People of Color continue to suffer the effects of systemic and institutional racism and classism that define this country and its legacy, I have to wonder what other presidential candidates, or candidates for any other politcal office for that matter, has this group challenged on his “unwillingness to speak to African community interests.” What candidate has EVER been willing to speak on these things? And what are these interests? Besides racism, what other interests does the WHOLE African community have in common? We are not an homogenous group, and I think it is detrimental for us to think of ourselves as one. My interests may not be your interests, so why do we continue to seek one leader to speak to all our interests, as if we are all the same? To ask Obama to speak directly to racism at this stage in the game is to ask him to give up the presidency, because as we know, that is clearly not the way to run for president of THIS country. Again, what other candidate have you challenged and why do we insist on attacking our own, while allowing our obvious and historical oppressor to get a pass?

  • Have you even taken a moment to see what Obama has or has not done? Have you looked at his record on issues facing the black community? I’d wager that you haven’t, because had you looked you’d know that he has introduced legislation to put an end to Racial Profiling. He stood up for Hurricane Katrina victims in the legislature. My question is…what has/does UHURU do besides protest? What are you doing for my people? See I don’t come from a family with money. But my parents both worked hard to see that I went to school. What are you doing for kids who grew up like me? With hardworking parents who struggle, or with a hardworking parent who struggles and not much help from anyone?Do you tutor students? Offer scholarships? Feed the hungry? What do you do besides complain?

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