Senator Obama, Holla Bro’

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The Nation’s fifth African American Senator in history has now officially declared his candidacy for the Oval Office.

At his announcement in Illinois he even threw in his favorite word—found in the title of his best-selling book. “I recognize there is a certain audacity (how much does he use that word at home?) to this announcement. I know I haven’t spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I’ve been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.”

Problem number one; he won’t be running against Alan Keyes. That 70% landslide victory he enjoyed back in 2004 won’t come nearly as easily in the 9/08 Primary. Many people have devoted a lot of attention to Obama’s ethnicity, armchair biologists and eugenicists have come out of the woodwork in the Black community.

Statements regarding Obama’s mama, Obama’s lack of Ebonics, Obama’s lack of ghetto Drama, hound the talk-radio airwaves. No longer is it enough just to look Black, and have African blood—time was when kinky hair, thick lips and brown skin did the trick.

Not in the age of intelligence-enhancing devices such as Blackberrys, and I-Pods. C’mon Obama, you can’t pull a fast one on us Dawg. I mean sure, back in the feel-good 70’s yeah—back when we had calculators, CB radios, and 8-Tracks and “Boonesfarm,” you could’ve got away with some s—t then. You’d been Black then bro’. But not today. Things are advanced now. Other Blacks pledge strong support primarily because he is a Black democrat. He may have audacity, but can he hang?

Problem number two: What is being overlooked is his political history. The fact is Obama’s record against strong opponents is not good. The record shows that back in 1996 he obtained his first State Senate post through the incumbent Alice Palmer dropping out the race to run for Congress. Obama took the open seat with her endorsement and blessing.
For whatever reason Palmer changed her mind before officially leaving the Illinois Senate, but Obama refused to step aside. That proves he’s Black right there—everyone in the ‘hood knows if you move, you lose. Palmer was a longtime favorite with Blacks on Chicago’s Southside and a longtime activist. This marked the first point of tension between Obama and local Blacks in the Windy City. It wouldn’t improve soon.

In 2000, Obama tried a run at Congress, this time against Bobby Rush, a former Black Panther official. He was blown out 61% to 38%.

After that bitter race Obama set out to write laws specific to the concerns of Blacks while still serving the 13th District. He authored a Bill requiring law enforcement to collect data regarding the race and ethnicity of all motorists pulled over. Later on, he would write and push another law requiring police to videotape interrogations.

Both Bills were passed. Never mind “clean” and “mainstream,” this kind of resiliency can win.  


Black Star contributing columnist, Stevenson is a writer for the Buffalo Criterion. Send him comments to him at

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