In a letter to Editor and Publisher Boondocks creator Aaron McGruder writes:
“For a long time now, I have tried to keep my opinions on the election and Barack Obama to myself. I occasionally do speaking engagements, which are not open to the press, and unfortunately some of my comments have been twisted around in a silly manner. The claim that I asserted our new President was not Black is categorically false.
“I have seen an endless stream of Black pundits on TV pontificating about the significance of President Obama‘s election – many of them making reference to the 3/5th’s clause in the constitution regarding slaves. The point I was making is that this is not an accurate comparison.
“Barack is the son of an immigrant, not the descendant of slaves. It’s like comparing a half-Japanese man to the oppressed Chinese who built the American railroads. Yes, they are both Asian, but it is not an honest or accurate comparison. We all share the common experiences of being Black in America today – we do not all share a common history. A history that in part makes us who we are – and in some cases (as with the psychological damage that still lingers from slavery) holds us back. These are not, I believe, insignificant distinctions.
“I did say I was cautiously pessimistic about Obama’s Presidency – but this is simply acknowledging the reality of an American Empire that is out of control and on the verge of collapse. Let us not forget that on the eve of the election, we witnessed a near-trillion dollar robbery of the US treasury. That robbery is still taking place. I do not blame President Obama, but I do not believe the financial and corporate interests that own and control this country will fold so easily. I do not question the integrity of the man as much as the power of his office – which I believe has greatly diminished over the years. I believe the Federal Reserve Bank, the Military Industrial Complex, and the massive corporate interests that run this country have more power than our new President. I hope I am wrong.
“After 9/11, I witnessed most of this country become obsessed with squashing dissent and silencing critics. I hope this election does not turn Black America towards this same, fascist mind state; but already I am starting to see it, and it saddens me greatly. I absolutely wish our new President and his family success and safety. But after all I have witnessed in my lifetime, and especially in the last eight years, I am not ready to lay down my skepticism or my outrage for this government. To do so would be unwise and, ironically enough, anti-American.”
Maybe I’m reading this wrong but it seems that McGruder still believes that Kenyans did not experience slavery, so Obama cannot relate to the African-American experience of slavery in the United States? And by extension, that Black immigrants from the West Indies, etc. did not experience slavery and are not “descendants of slaves.” This is not true! The Portugese and Arabs enslaved Kenyans and transported them to the United States! Yes, the experience of slavery in the United States is unique but that does not mean that Africans in the diaspora did not suffer the same atrocities. Marcus Garvey was born in Jamaica but didn’t think this made him different from Blacks born in America.
McGruder’s illustration of a Japanese American’s experience being different from a Chinese American’s is disingenuous because the Japanese suffered their own brand of racism in this country after Pearl Harbor. Why shouldn’t Asians in America use this as a point of commonality as opposed to another reason to separate themselves? “My oppression wasn’t the same as yours.” This is akin to saying that a Jewish person born in the United States can’t embrace the history of the Holocaust, which is just insane. I was born and raised in the United States but my father is an immigrant. Does this mean he can’t relate to my experience in this country as a Black man?
What if someone digs now into Michelle Obama’s lineage and finds out she’s half Cherokee (like many Black Americans) does this make her less representative in his eyes? Come on Aaron, you’re better than this. Stop looking for ways to divide us.