Yesterday I turned on the TV in my phone just in time to watch Obama’s acceptance speech (serendipity perhaps). He scored 336 to 158 (or something like that). It reminded me of an opinion piece I read earlier that day in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The article by Peter Hartcher, The nation that stops a race … until now, seems to say that you can only be a powerful black American if you are only a recent black American. Others have some sort of inferiority complex.
It uses Colin Powell, a first generation American with Jamaican parents, and Barack Obama, another first generation with a Kenyan father, as examples of how African Americans can succeed (and become powerful). But that it only works for newcomers to the African American fraternity. That they both don’t have to live with the ancestral memory of slavery, the self doubt and feeling of low self worth that is holding back the other blacks in America.
His argument seems to ignore other African Americans that have succeeded.
There are prominent black American members of the entertainment industry. Will Smith and Halle Berry are good examples. Not to mention the success of Oprah Winfrey, in business, not just entertainment.
I’m sure there are many black American sport stars, though I’m not a follower of American sports, so can name only a few. Are Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, not important/successful African Americans?
And I can’t comment on black American business leaders, it’s not my area of expertise. But I’m sure some exist.
An important omission from his list of powerful African Americans is the current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
While I can see his point about memory of slavery, I think it is an over simplification. And I disagree with the premis that only outsiders have a chance. As can be seen from the above examples, not all long term African Americans are limited by their heritage.