tv [untitled] CSPAN April 6, 2010 6:30am-7:00am EDT
so anyway, i say that to talk a little bit about sort of who we are, where we are going, and to raise the question whether or not barack obama is this transformative leadership that we need or is it more reactionary and transactional. robert read the first chapter but his grandmother. i'm going to read from the last chapter which is about a young man named lee alexander, south africa, young south african, 28, and he married a young african-american woman from chicago. and he -- this chapter begins
basically when barack obama is about to accept denver and there is a crowd of people, about ten people mostly black but not all, some blacks and whites, some arab and we are watching television as barack obama takes the stage and this young man, wheat, is watching and everyone else is sort of celebrate -- the ret in celebration, and lee is looking with his head between -- he's on his knees looking pensive almost like she's worried and i describe this leader in the conversation about this moment and why he was looking so peacefully -- pensively and i will store reading from here.
materially very little has changed for his black countrymen since beijing quist right to lead the white minority rule in the first space election. on and plan it is higher than ever. economic disparities have grown. the crime rate has soared, schools are crumbling and the farm land, the country's most valuable resource remains almost wholly owned by whites and just as it was during the days of apartheid. walk into any nice restaurant in k-town and see who sits and who serves, who drives their mercedes and who rides. the fleet of crowded buses that swarm johannesburg and cape town lake pingree buzzing bees. pool owns the house and who cleans it. mandela has come and gone from the main stage and voters are preparing to elect their third president enough to launch this is 2008 again. but the defining truth is laid of land now as always the darker your skin the poor do our.
what good is a dummy prisoner of your jailer looks like cuba does not set you free? black south africans turned to one of their own to govern but wasted the opportunity to transform the values opposed on their country by outsiders and he can hardly bear the thought of, repeating the mistake. in south africa's case, lee believes the mistake was looking at the west generally and to washington, d.c. specifically to solve the problems of african people. and as was the case with apartheid there's nothing in americans fetish for democracy but the free-market for people of color. what is it the cubin -- what is it the cubans say? each day in the world to hundred million people sleep in the streets, not one of them is in cuba. can america's a that? while lee is watching, obama takes a step closer to the presidency and an african
proverb comes to mind. one of his black countrymen often try to describe the dilemma in the post-apartheid era got a stone but not a not to crack, not a not a that no stone to correct it with. the south majority government built homes for the people what left them without money to pay the rent provide them with running water but shut off the top when they couldn't be the bill to replace the names of bullheaded white segregationists and the the schoolhouses with those of black liberation heroes but didn't replace the shoddy roofs. order companies to hire blacks but permitted them to slash wages. so it goes for the new south africa where a small white minority continues to inhabit a split country, splendid country that is for all intensive purposes canada while three-quarters of the population resides in the country with living conditions similar to those of kenya or zambia. it's almost as if black south
africans vanquishing the partite only apply to the fresh paint to a house on fire. the architect of the open ocean remains intact. i like obama but i'm not that in to him, lee says leader. yes he is black but i believe he is a white mentality because he was raised in a household with his grand mother this building that ronald reagan garbage. threat least 60 years black south africans and americans have seen in one another their avatar bono's leaves from that country ever land ashore in the united states. jim-crow laws were not very different from apartheid structures. the catechism of the assassinated african-american icon malcolm x was the model for that preached by the assassinated south african icon steve. with mandela and the king the fund inspiration from gandhi and the liberation hero.
america's anti-apartheid movement was largely set in motion by black americans like randall robinson and south africa's afrikaners white settlers of dutch and french extraction who initiated the formal part by state or the spending architectural image of america's white southerners both groups invented full-court tales of how the conquer hostel play and and hostile dark skinned people delivering civilization, religion and technology to welcome savage. south africans translate the work colloquially as red neck. there's a popular story told in south africa perhaps. it goes like this, a white south africans traveled to the united states in the mid 80's and landed at o'hare international airport in chicago. at customs, a white american immigration officer summed silently to the south africans passport for a minute or two
prompting the white south african traveller to ask the middle-aged officer if there was a problem. so your from south africa, the officer asked without looking up. his on-again, the traveler answered expecting the worst. the officer stanch the passport, lifted his head to look the south african in the eye, smiled and returned it to him. we like the way you handle your niggers over there and he waved him through. consider this: 1961 the year obama was born and mandela formed the armed wing of the african national congress, black americans earned on average 54 cents for every dollar earned by white americans. and 100% of all south africans living in poverty were blacked. 47 years later 99% of all poor south africans are black and african-americans earnings have inched up to 57 cents for every dollar earned by white americans
these are not political structures. political and economic structures that are designed for black people to get ahead. niggers says later describing his faults one of the room around him celebrated obama's acceptance address. i ron for that moment -- of roughly that moment in his thoughts his friend whose parents held from haiti surfaced from his stance lee, she shouts, yes, brother, lee answers, we are about to do this, she shouts, pounding his chest twice for emphasis to it shocked the world, shocked the world, south african style, baby, south africans title. yes, lee says, like removing his glasses to wipe them with a handkerchief. that is exactly what i am afraid of. so anyway, i will open a two questions here, but i hope you get a sort of feel for what we were trying to expand upon
elaborating which is what is our black political identity and a sort of we are in this age of post racial america. [inaudible] i'm breaking my promise. i'm going to speak for a small libertarian [inaudible] about six of us in america. we focus on the individual and [inaudible] post racial america seems to be the strong argument i don't think it is the idea to [inaudible] people who say what are you talking about post
racial so consider that but it seems to me the argument ought to be something that maybe bill cosby got in trouble for don't argue about that word, argue about take a look at how much race plays and economic prosperity on deciding advancement in africom middle class americans and contrast that how much individual behaviors, white or black dysfunctional behavior play in the economic development which you focus on as i can tell [inaudible] isn't that a bitter debate to have? >> [inaudible] -- that's what you're talking about and we do talk about that. i think there's a lot of debates to have in the country and we do focus on individuals. there's not a lot of people that
we talked to in this book. jon and i have differences of opinions and that is why we've wrote the book together. because there are lots of different -- sorry -- lots of different americas. but there is -- it is unmistakable that there are still top-down things that happen in america that affect how you operate in today's society. a black man was elected president in the united states a year ago, and the next morning in a lot of communities including my own and the paper, the headline the next day in the newspaper the disseminated all the news in that area said the came, louisianan favors mccain. that was the headline. it didn't even -- it said obama
to receive intelligence briefing. never said he's the 44th president of the united states. so to say that it's just about individual -- what happens to individuals, it's not true to what exists in today's society. yes, has there been progress? everyone we talked to would talk about the progress that has been made. but post racial has become we would argue a political term that actually and i think we are not that far apart on that a political term that doesn't mean anything, it is meant to sort of squelch discussion as opposed to open up a debate. >> i just want to add one thing which is one things in the book is a sort of complicated intersection between race and class so of course it is very difficult to part the two. but one thing you see over and over again to give away stored
in memory of a celebrated african-americans or people who are black or identify with black or who sort of speak the same language and one of the women we interview we profile as a white woman comes from scotland originally who married a caribbean man and had two daughters. i joke with robert she's the blackest person in the book in some ways. but we wanted to identify and talk about sort of how every successful social movement in this country's history black people have played a central role. that's not to assert any kind of superiority. it is just true of the abolitionist movement, whether it is the civil rights movement, you know, every construction which is trying to build the egalitarian society not just for black people but poor white people who fought the war so what we are trying to do is give this place because typically when the blacks have been sort
of have a leadership role as the rest of the country has followed in one way, shape or form a citizen of the things we want to do is give voice to people whose voices are increasingly marginalized but are very central to any kind of progress in this country in terms of social movements. >> if you can just keep the microphone and handed@ were african americans and young
people and both of these groups have not traditionally been in the power structure of america therefore we are not used to holding elected leaders accountable or are not as good as you would say conservative evangelical movement. i think this impacts obama's ability to impact of these groups in the sense that because he doesn't have his base it's hard for him to have the constructs that informs his decision making because obviously his construct doesn't aligned with african-americans
political community as you can tell by the congressional black caucus lack of ability to sway his agenda so i just want to get your reaction to that while obama doesn't have a base and may be our fault in that being as able to hold the hour leaders accountable. >> the argument you make, the one argument that why obama is not dealing with some of his constituents what is because those constituents are not making him do it. so you could argue that will go to your first point but i guess i would take exception to the fact that african-americans are one of the first people elected because democrats always got to 97% of the black vote and so obama might have gotten -- i forget what the number is but we are still 13% of the populations of black folks didn't put him in office. if they could have just gone away from him than maybe that would have hurt him. but anyway, you wanted to say something?
>> by putting him in office a thing you have to focus, they chose him about -- >> that is a great question and in some ways spawned this book because robert and i have been arguing in some ways we agreed where we want to go we've been arguing for two years about barack obama as though. it is a great question. two things. one is barack obama does have a base. the problem is the base, and this is not unique to barack obama. it was true with bill clinton that the establishment for lack of a better term conservatives and even to be honest the sort of blue dog democrats, white democrats from southern states mostly who are more conservative don't accept as a legitimate his base which is black people, people of color, women, they don't accept the base as legitimate. that is part of the base, it is.
so if you look at how george bush responded once he was elected president the first time, even though he did not win that election he had a mandate because he was in office. that is a mandate, right? that brings us to the second point which is part of the problem is he's not recognized as having a legitimate case, as a legitimate president by a wide swaths of the country. i couldn't tell do if it is half or not but a fairly substantial chunk of the country. the other problem is that this is -- i don't have the answer to this but i agree black people have to do more to make a demand on the black politicians and all politicians as well as the working-class people need to make more demand on politicians. i'm not sure it's going to work and this is why.
if you look at the entire war demonstrations and the people in the streets, you look up the immigrants, the immigrant movement that put millions of people in the streets of chicago and los angeles are around the country nothing changed so i say that to say this i'm not convinced we are at a point this is a failed state that is unable or unwilling to respond to the will of most of the people. if you look at health care reform, most people want single-payer, some kind of government style reform, canadian-style ka european-style, they don't get it. they don't want to be in this war. not only aren't we at war we expand under barack obama. so one is there is this a legitimate basis that barack obama is seen as powerful people and the other is i'm not sure that he isn't heading at this point a failed state. he's not innocent in this, but
it's not like he's the first either. there is a history of i think you could easily go back to clinton at least of this being a failed state, unresponsive to the people. and you see that again and again. >> the failed status jon's words. people don't talk about it, some of it talk about it but people talk about the on responsiveness of government and not in that low were sort of context. but there is a lot of different voices, about that and i would argue [inaudible] >> good evening. i enjoyed the presentation. you said that the post at rival -- i would say for the most part if you put the issue of same-sex marriage on the ballot those who
speak to first call as you heard second, i would like your views on a racial nomenclature as the upcoming census. when it comes to the issues of race, it says black, african-american or negro. and there are a number of african-americans who are negro is appearing november, 2010 census but supposedly the black population is so called -- what do you think of that? >> this is the first question you had about our african-americans views towards the gay community and gay rights and this is the one if we had
more time the chapter in the book by wanted to write was about african-americans attitudes towards the gay community and based on what happened in los angeles and california during the the election and i don't know if you remember that there was tremendous scapegoating as it sailed the exit polls said african-americans are against gay marriage and we were. the majority voted were against gay marriage. not nearly as much as though as latinos, whites, mormons, catholics. why do you scapegoat, why would people scapegoat us? so this is really sort of a very relevant issue to the book which is like this sort of cynicism, faceless mass and the african-american community as the inability to recognize for who we are. there is a tremendous amount of homophobia in the community. it just so happens not nearly as much as other communities so why
are we always singled out? there is a nuance that's complicated. i don't want to make it seem as though we are perfect. we are not by any stretch the imagination and we need to deal with this idea of also be but it's a lot more nuanced than you will see in the mainstream press. on the issue of i've never spoken to terry miller. i don't expect a call from her by the week. [laughter] and on the last question, i am aware of the sort of phrasing of the language for the census. i'm kind of diagnostic. i think especially now when you look at the unemployment right now what everyone, not just blacks, the real unemployment rate if you measure the way we did in 1980 is 22%. the height of the great depression of its 25%. so in the trade and cities like that, detroit, oakland, you see basically the unemployment rate that is fair world, the same as what you see in johannesburg's south africa.
and so it seems almost like a distraction. it's not that big a deal like don't think personally, my personal opinion is there is so much more to be concerned about. really i think the irony of this book and barack obama is that at the time we appoint this black president we are really black people, african-americans are isolated from the mainstream from our neighbors in an effort at any point in the history of america if you think about sort of there is this jim-crow is gone which in some ways to delayed how far we could go and now we have this incredible distance between wealthy african-americans and everybody else which is true of the entire country and that is such a -- that is unsustainable. that is how some communities and some people collapse so i'm just kind of diagnostic on the whole since this issue. >> after we take your question
and i don't we see if a woman has a question. >> i grew up in alabama so i know the deep south and am looking to respond to two things. you see in the book there is a wide variety of opinions for people in african-american communities. would you consider that day demonstration of the notion of the style leadership and lead people to the promised land that opinion -- the failure of president ought to move significant gender that would leave black people pleased that he is going to be able to -- the fact he can't button that said just king or malcolm x rise up
and speaking for the country as a group that is antiquated because he is in the most powerful position on the planet and yet his ability to move the agenda in office has to be not considered [inaudible] this website is sometimes we have to be careful of what we ask for because we did it because in terms of president obama becoming the first black president he's not the icon for the meritocracy like he is risen from the place that many black people have risen from the place black people start and we know the pedigree nothing is farther from the truth so in two ways, one of the leadership is datacom and number two, our presence has become an indictment against us. >> messianic leadership. when we start talking about the
media -- it's easy to do that. it's hard and the environment in which we operate. i don't want to say that it sells necessarily but that is how you end up -- our community is different than it was when martin luther king was there. there's a lot of different voices. let me step back a little bit. when we talk about what barack obama's agenda is and what he has not been able to get accomplished, first of all a lot of the people ascribed to him things he never said he was going to do and so i think we have to sort of backed up and say what did he say he was quick to? for afghanistan he is doing exactly what he said he was going to do. people say we should be out of the boer mac. but he said on the campaign trail i'm going to increase the troops in afghanistan so that's
not something you can knock him on because he said he was going to do that. and number of other issues that are similar so i think that is one issue. the second part is i'm not sure -- will back to the question earlier, there was a certain segment of the community who may be some who had not purchase it pitted the young people and people who otherwise feel like they are left out of the sort of mainstream who thought you could get things done right now. but most of the people we talked to understood clearly that sort of improvement is a process. people like for instance the koppel we talked to out of prince george county they wanted one thing, largely one thing. they were small business owners and say don't get rid of push's tax of people over to under $50,000. they are not looking in a party in the sky from barack obama. that is