By Robert Scott, Editor
(ATLANTA – August 9, 2016) – I have been questioned quite a few times about what Barack Obama’s legacy will be. I typically respond much in the same way as I do regarding many of our Black leaders. I’m thoughtful and honest and recognize both their positives and perceived negatives. I then attempt to give an answer that quantifies their impact in a vacuum. Many of our leaders are summed up with a word, phrase or a couple of sentences. They are mere mortals that are called to service and rise above circumstances to lay their impact on society. Most are courageous and operate against the odds. Conditions and circumstances impact their efforts and outcomes, but each helps to move us forward in our recovery.
I consider myself more than a Black history buff. I am an African history nut and I’m passionate about recognizing the significance of African leaders whether African-born or born in the diaspora. No diasporic country is Blacker or more African than another. Our captors and conditions may be different but equally as vile and each intentionally used physical and mental brutality to separate us from our souls. My perspective is as broad as the history of mankind and I don’t focus on small blocks of time. I realize that we as Blacks/Africans are in a state of flux and recovery. The reasons why are painful but we are under repair.
Before responding to Obama’s legacy, I’d like to make a few other things clear. Slavery and colonization has been a paralyzing force on the minds of people of African descent. Our sense of time and space has been retarded to the point that we identify and view our existence in a 500-year room. The programming we suffer from seals us in that room and many of us can’t find the courage to open the door(s) and step out. That room has a subliminal wrapping of mental chains that hold us in a state of self-loathing and self-hate. There are windows to that room that look out to a fence constructed by our captors. It’s a fence that is based on the design that we first constructed and taught to them. We called it African (Kemetic) spirituality and they call it religion. Religion limits us a 2,000-year perception of the world of and that is used to bind us and keep the most influential of us under control.
My reference to recovery is my acknowledgement of African people being the original people. When I step out of that room and fence I begin to acknowledge that our time from 1619 to the present is just a blip on the radar screen. From a modern recorded historical standpoint, there were 25 dynasties of Nubian Kemetic/Egyptian record before Europeans were first introduced to Egypt. That represented over 5,000 years of Black civilization, government, technology, economics, astronomy, science and spirituality. They came as students and learned. By the 32nd Dynasty, we find the first non-Kemetic/Egyptian Pharoah. There is over 7,000 years of African history throughout Africa before the Nicaean Councils of 325 A.D. Prior to Egypt, the first San Bushman left Africa over 60,000 years ago to populate the world and mutate the other races. I say this to say that the control that the European has had over us due to slavery is only recent and is a small percentage of time by comparison. We are recovering from a 500-year room that will take much more than 65 years to complete the recovery. All along the way we have leaders, freedom fighters, business people, inventors, educators, politicians, entertainers and others that contribute to our recovery.
What is Barack Obama’s legacy? I don’t see his role as being more than it was. SYMBOLIC! Had anything more radical been done, then symbolism would have been lost. Like other leaders, Obama is not the answer but a stepping stone. He was stripped of power by the time the first mid-term election was over. The Senate and Congress was under GOP control and they vowed to make him a one-term president. Politically, he was a lame duck that only had executive order powers to wield. That he did and did it well. He operated with poise, cool and dignity and will go down as one of the best Presidents, given the circumstances, in history. Those are his positives in the perspective of liberal American politics. From a Black/African American perspective, it is two-fold. For many, he did all that he could do to survive two terms and ride the fence of civility and American patriotism. On another hand, many Blacks were not satisfied. They would have liked for him to introduce legislation requesting Black Reparations and having him be more vocal for the rights and defense of Blacks at the hands of police and the court system. Again, Obama is not the answer, but a stepping stone.
Like MLK, like Brother Malcolm, like Marcus, like Du Bois, ….each operated in the belly of the beast against the odds of numbers, hatred and purposeful obstacles. MLK could have been better and leaned more toward Human Rights as opposed to Civil Rights. But, he took the path that he was prepared for. Malcolm could have been less-influenced by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, but his journey was self-developing and resulted in a man that was more righteous in the end than Elijah, MLK and many others to follow. Marcus Garvey could have been less boastful, though he effected a pride that was needed among Black people. His business savvy came into question, though we all know that the odds and government were set against him. The UNIA could have been a Black Wall Street that has impact and presence today. Do I have to expound on WEB Du Bois? His talented tenth theory surely contrasted/conflicted the teachings of Booker T Washington. He was principle in the Niagara movement and the NAACP. He became a Communist and passed away in Ghana. Each of them were targets of White American politics. All Black leaders that have come and gone have had conditions and the politics of race in America working against them. Each of them have Blacks that sing their praises and each of them have their detractors. It’s a marathon and not a sprint with respect to the African Recovery throughout the diaspora.
Nelson Mandela’s impact on South Africa and its abolishment of apartheid comes with cheers and dissent. Patrice Lumumba was a freedom fighter in the Congo and was eventually assassinated. The Congo had dealt with the insanity of Leopold II and is still in a state of dis-repair. There is a French Republic of the Congo and a Belgium Republic of the Congo. Idi Amin Dada was considered a dictator though fought against colonial rule. Kwame Nkrumah in Ghana and Sekou Ture in Senegal each had battles with the colonial powers. Nkrumah was criticized for eventually marrying a white woman and both initially used European names that were given to them. Jomo Kenyatta, educated in London lead his country to independence and did stints in prison. He joined the Communist Party and also attended the Pan-African Congress along with Du Bois and Nkrumah. Ask people of each one of these leaders’ nations if they were completely pleased with them and one will find issues with each of them. For the most part, they did positive work but had to make concessions due to the fact that slavery and colonization limited the advancement and paths they could take. Barack Obama and each of these leaders brought about a sense of pride to most of their followers and each has contributed mightily to the recovery of Black/African People.
Robert Scott can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org