by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Barack Obama sends his number two, a white man, to tell Black folks that Republicans want to throw them back into slavery. You’d think Al Sharpton would object. But no, because “Black leadership has been effectively co-opted by the Obama Administration and the goal is to keep us doped up and afraid to use our Democratic voice.”
Al Sharpton Says Biden’s Slavery Comments Were “Over the Top,” Then He Retreats
by Dr. Boyce Watkins
This article previously appeared in KultureKritic.com.
“You can certainly get the black vote by scaring the living sh*t out of black people with references to slavery.”
The alliance between Rev. Al Sharpton and the Obama Administration has been as consistent as the relationship between Flavor Flav and his clock. When President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden say something is good, Sharpton agrees. When they say it’s bad, Sharpton then tells us that it’s bad. If I get married and my wife is so agreeable, I will speculate that she might have been lobotomized. Black leadership has been effectively co-opted by the Obama Administration and the goal is to keep us doped up and afraid to use our Democratic voice.
The steel alliance was temporarily shaken as Sharpton (gasp) expressed honest disagreement with Vice President Joe Biden for remarks that Biden made about slavery. In a speech before a largely black audience, Biden worked to further secure the black vote by politicizing the most traumatic experience in black American history.
Biden told the audience that the Republicans would “put ya’ll back in chains” if we don’t rush out and support him in the next election. Sure, Biden’s party doesn’t say a word about chronic black unemployment and mass incarceration, but you can certainly get the black vote by scaring the living sh*t out of black people with references to slavery. The Democratic slogan for the black community should be “Sure, we ignore you, but the Republicans will niggerize you all for sure.”
For a moment, Al Sharpton was caught being the man he used to be. Perhaps thinking that no one from the mainstream (read “white”) media would be listening to his radio show, Sharpton stated exactly what many of us had been thinking. What’s sad is that as soon as he expressed even the most remote criticism of Biden’s comments, Sharpton back-pedaled faster than Deion Sanders did when he played cornerback for the Dallas Cowboys.
Speaking with my respected colleague, Dave Wilson, editor of TheGrio.com, Sharpton said this:
“I think it was, I think he used the wrong term, I think he might have been over the top. But what, hateful? If he was referring to the middle class, even in front of a black audience, I don’t know how you make that hateful.”
“Joe Biden would not go before Jews and make a casual reference to the Nazi Holocaust.”
For one second, I could hear Sharpton actually speaking as a true advocate for black people. Anyone could see that Biden’s comments were definitely over the top. Then, right after making this point, Sharpton excuses the white man who owns the house for using the very same words he would never allowed to be uttered by a political enemy. Sure, Joe Biden is no racist Republican, but the man has clearly bought into some aspect of (paternalistic) white supremacy – that’s where the benevolent overseer tells you “I’ve fed and clothed you, which is more than the other guy would do. So, you better give me what I want or else.” If you recall, Biden was also the man who said that Barack Obama was “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean.”
For Biden to single-handedly marginalize millions of educated black men across America (as he did this week and also back in 2007 with his “articulate” comment) is nothing less than entirely unacceptable. When I heard Biden refer to millions of hard-working black men (myself included) as being unclean, dim-witted and inarticulate, my reaction was simple: “The racist son of a b*tch can go to hell.” The funny thing is that I am sure that this was Sharpton’s reaction as well (since he is far more intelligent than Biden), but he allows his fear of an Obama backlash to keep him from saying the obvious. Progress is never made when the truth becomes the enemy.
The fact is that, as I mentioned in another article, Joe Biden needs to apologize to the African American community. Al Sharpton knows this, but since he is not empowered enough to say it, I can say it for him. If Joe Biden would not go before Jews and make a casual reference to the Nazi Holocaust, then he has no right to politicize what our ancestors experienced during slavery. Asking Biden for an apology is not the same as being disloyal to the Obama administration. Our black leaders must understand that you can remain aligned with someone and still command that they show you at least a baseline of mutual respect.
When support for black Americans is superseded by loyalty to the Democratic Party, our community is in serious trouble. I admit that I look forward to when this Obama Presidency comes to an end. Sure, I wouldn’t mind seeing Barack get another four years. But when he’s left the public eye and returned to Martha’s Vineyard with the other wealthy Harvard alums, we’ll still be faced with the same problems we had when he was in office. Our solutions are going to come from us, and they are only going to come from courage. Black America’s well-being should not be compromised for any political alliance, no matter how personally rewarding and exciting that alliance may be.
Joe Biden owes all of us an apology, and maybe Al Sharpton does too.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition.