Once Upon a Time in Obama Land

Georgia NeSmith
3 min readFeb 14, 2022

The pervasiveness of racism in American politics…

NOTA BENE: This article was originally posted in my “Notes” section on Facebook several years ago. It has languished in obscurity so long I don’t even know when the first draft was completed. In any case, tho it is clear by its contents that it was originally published while Obama was still president, it remains, in journalism parlance, an “evergreen.”

This is the way it works.

You take people’s deep, intense and sometimes unconscious stereotypes beaten into them by popular culture over their entire lives, and any time a black politician attempts to accomplish good while at the same time making occasional mistakes, their actions will ALWAYS be interpreted from within that framework — black folks are “lazy,” “ethically challenged,” “out for #1,” “shucking and jiving,” “morally corrupt,” etc.

A black woman must fit either the “mammy” or the “hooker” or “welfare queen” stereotype. If somehow she has managed to get a decent education and obtained a position of relatively high status or power, it could happen only by nefarious means, and always undeservedly.

Keep that image in mind when there is the SLIGHTEST MISS-STEP, and suddenly she must be crucified precisely because she has proven the always present, but always denied stereotypes that people hold in their heads (including, I must regretfully acknowledge, the heads of at least some people on the left, who should know better, and usually do, UNLESS their preferred candidate has lost).

Now, there is no question that there are black politicians who have behaved in unethical ways, just as there are white politicians who have done so.

But ALWAYS, as with crime, a black person committing a wrong does so as representative of his or her race, whereas a white criminal is just, well, a criminal and represents no one but him or herself. In contrast, when a black person commits a crime it is the responsibility of the entire “black community.”

Into this cultural milieu comes a black female politician who rises to a position few in the white power structure expected her to obtain, and makes a few mis-steps, or APPEARS to make a few mis-steps, and suddenly there are calls for impeachment or…

Georgia NeSmith

Retired professor, feminist, writer, photographer, activist, grandmother of 5, overall Wise Woman. Phd UIA School of Journalism & Mass Communication, 1994.