Few imagined how dangerous a “Black” U.S. presidency could be for Black interests and the prospects for world peace. Barack Obama’s “success” – as it will be judged by those powers with which he has aligned – requires that “we valorize capitalist imperialism, male supremacy, militarism, and white supremacy.”
“Of what value is hope predicated on African death and dying?”
A “Black” US president can be a deadly thing, of that I am convinced. It was apparent as candidate Barak Obama made his presidential bid. It is apparent in the continuities between his administration and the Bush administration that preceded him. It is apparent in three recent events.
Event one. In the wake of the Haitian earthquake Obama appointed Bill Clinton and George W. Bush to lead the US “humanitarian” efforts to Haiti. This was more than symbolic violence against Haiti. Obama was appointing two enemies of the Haitian people to oversee “humanitarian aid” to them. That Bill Clinton is an enemy of the Haitian people is not masked by the fact that he helped return Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power in 1994, with a little more than about a year of his term left. The Clinton administration imposed diabolical conditions on Aristide as the basis for his return to the office of president.i 
The George W. Bush anti-Haiti legacy is perhaps more widely known. It is the Bush administration that removed the democratically elected president Aristide by a coup d’état.ii  If this is not enough, what of Bush’s murderous policies toward the people of the US Gulf coast? How many lives were lost and are still being destroyed because of the Bush neoliberal handling of Hurricane Katrina? But given Obama’s love for Reagan probably we should not be surprised he would give Bush a Hollywood makeover.
Thus, in the wake of Haiti’s earthquake President Obama was not content to occupy Haiti with 16 thousand US marines. He would demonstrate his bipartisanship by appointing a Democrat and a Republican, both with Haitian blood on their hands, to oversee what may be more bloodletting. The death of African (Haitian) masses would help “secure” a positive image for Bush; it would help “secure” Obama’s bipartisan political credentials; and it would “secure” US imperial hegemony in Haiti. Three cheers for the “Black” president.
“Obama appointed two enemies of the Haitian people to oversee ‘humanitarian aid’ to them.”
Event two. I attended a panel on African politics as the recently convened Left Forum at Pace University, in New York. The discussion was generally informative and insightful. However, a comment at the very end of the panel was particularly striking. After at least one of the panelists expressed concern over President Obama’s continuation of Africom, the final speaker made comments that effectively blunted the critical edge of the previous speaker. This final speaker informed that he had lived in the US for over a decade and could not return home for political reasons. During his time in the US he had fathered a daughter. Obama’s presidency, he assured the audience, was very important for him because he could not vote in the African country where he was born. His daughter, however, would be able to vote in the United States and she would grow up during the era of a “Black” president.
His comments were followed by murmurs. I interpreted this as discomfort, if not disappointment by members of the audience. I was certainly disappointed. In my estimation, there were dangerous implications embedded in the speaker’s position. The speaker (inadvertently?) minimized the deadly significance of Africom for African peoples. This minimization or ignoring of the violent threat that Africom represents was ultimately constructed as an acceptable price for the speaker’s daughter to be able to vote in the US. I do not intend to belittle the importance the speaker feels for his daughter’s ability to participate in electoral politics by casting a vote. What disturbs me is the apparent willingness to accept the murder of African people by US imperialism so that his daughter can vote. In effect, the speaker, denied citizenship (the right to vote) in the African country of his birth, was “trading” the lives other African so that his daughter could one day vote in the US.
“A ‘Black’ president can obscure the continuation, perhaps even intensification, of white supremacy.”
Such is the deadly power of a US “Black” president. A “Black” president can kindle incredible hope in the possibility of the US overcoming its commitment to white supremacy. Simultaneously, a “Black” president can obscure the continuation, perhaps even intensification, of white supremacy. Surely, since Obama promised nothing of substance in regards to positively transforming the lives of African peoples during his campaign, it is unfair to blame him for the misplaced hope of others. However, since the Obama administration is facilitating the expansion of financial capital’s domination of the state and this is likely to intensify the exploitation and subordination of African masses, we can question the benefits of a “Black” president.
Event Three. The ongoing US militarization of Africa. The US is experiencing an economic decline. This does not mean that it has relinquished its commitment to imperial rule. The US new military bases in Colombia and the deployment of the US Navy’s 4th fleet to the Caribbean Sea near Venezuela are explicit imperial statements.iii  The warning has an intensely violent backdrop. The invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrates, with Iraqi and Afghan blood, that the US is intent on maintaining global domination. The high rates of unemployment, the foreclosure crisis, or the control of the US state apparatus by financial capital, does not mean that US has lost capacity or willingness to deploy massive violence.
“Obama is clearly continuing the Clinton and Bush policies of militarizing Africa.”
This is why Africom should be resisted.iv  It is peddled as something benevolent for Africa. However, the US military on African soil can only be dangerous as the US sources more and more of its oil from Africa. Obama is clearly continuing the Clinton and Bush policies of militarizing Africa. This is obvious in the expansion of US military “interventions.” For example, US support to the Nigerian ruling elites efforts to eliminate the resistance movements in the Niger Delta. Consider also the expansion of the US International Military Education and Training (IMET) program as well as the increased US arms sales to African countries.v  These are not designed to improve the quality of life of the African masses, but to ensure the continuation of resource exploitation and extractions that serves Western, and more specifically, US corporate interests. This, then, is another instance of the way in which a “Black” president can be particularly deadly.
A “Black” US president is a deadly thing because dead and dying African (black) bodies are the grounds on which white power stands. White power in black-face also stands on those same dead African and other racialized peoples bodies. The rise to prominence of characters like Clarence Thomas, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powel, and Barak Obama to positions of power can, of course, offer hope.
But of what value is hope predicated on African death and dying? To the extent that his achievements requires that we valorize capitalist imperialism, male supremacy, militarism, and white supremacy, we must question the value of a “Black” US president. Moreover, if and when support for a “Black” US president cannot be separated from demands that we accept the death of the least among us, nationally and globally, then it is time to vigorously struggle to build social relations that reject presidents who serve domination, subordination, and hierarchy.
i  Peter Hallward 2008. Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide, and the Politics of Containment. UK: Verso. See also Paul Farmer’s The Uses of Haiti.
ii  Walt Bogdanich abd Hebbt Birdberg 2006. “Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti toward Chaos,” New York Times (January 26). www.nytimes.com/2006/01/29/international/americas/29haiti.html?_r=1 .
Even if the NYTimes ultimately downplays the extent of US complicity this is still a useful source.
iii  Nikolas Kozloff 2008. Revolution!: South America and the Rise of the New Left. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.
iv  See Africa faith & Justice Network at www.afjn.org/focus-campaigns/militarization-us-africa-policy.html?start=20 .
v  See Daniel Volman “U.S. Military Holds War games on Nigeria, Somalia” at http://allafrica.com/stories/200908140153.html . Accessed March 25, 2010.