Ever since Republican Herman Cain, a self-described "Black conservative," remarked that two-thirds of Black Democrats are "brainwashed," the question of his "Blackness" has been contrasted with that of President Obama. Beyond the resentment from brainwashing claims, this issue should prompt discourse and partisan introspection to determine if Blackness "politically exists" in either party.
First, what is Blackness and how is it measured? Originally, before its 1960s incarnation, Black was derogatory. But during the Civil Rights/Black Power Movements we embraced Black. Understanding that White establishmentarian practices were self-serving and antithetical, Blackness not only signified color, but moreover consciousness. Among others, a consciousness that our common and collective self-interests should not be compromised to accommodate White interests--a consciousness that we are the first and last lines of defense against manmade inequalities--a self-determinative consciousness of "Black Nationalism" to rightly restore and advance what little remained of our tattered personhood and African-ness.
However, the admirable ideals of nationalism as espoused worldwide by others, were co-opted and unfairly stigmatized as something impermissible and unintelligently odd for us--as if "being Black" and "being Nationalistic" are intrinsically racist--as if "all was well" and then the Black Power Movement just illegitimately popped-out of nowhere without explainable need or historical context. Conjunctly, Webster's favorably defines "Nationalist" as "A member of a political party or group advocating national independence or strong national government," while "Black Nationalist" is debased as "A member of a group of militant blacks who advocate separatism from whites."
Coupled with this demonizing, Blackness never gained mainstream political traction, given that the brute force and psychological methods originally used to instill fear and obedience, also distorted our sense of self-identity and self-relevance, causing us to yearn and politically validate our self-worth according to how far and fast we assimilate and gain acceptance.
But by no means did/does our assimilation constitute a mutual merger of two equally liberated people. Being a fragmented subculture, we integrated into their already-existing nation of fully-operational designs. We conformed, we did not construct the sovereign or nationalistic or ideological contours of the nation. Other than our labor and loyalty, we hobbled into the relationship without independently possessing anything that they didn't already own or control. Hence, no "bilateral agreement" of any sort was ever jointly signed.
While we are visible in both Parties today, our presence should not be mistaken as "equal receptivity" of Euro-Americans to infuse Black/African mores or ideals into governance. Contrarily, our presence reflects our "full receptivity" to their practices of governance, including ambiguous wars that mock governing principles of Dr. King who is enshrined on the National Mall for placation. That said, in effort to prove we are just as "American" as they are, we adopted their ethos, ethics, traditions, belief systems and sociopolitical traits as our own. Black ideals and agendas that do not supplement their norms are routinely proscribed as racist, inconsequential, and non-authoritative.
This partly explains why Black Democrats accept Obama's "race-neutral" position to not openly support Black Agendas aimed at inequalities, even though we openly supported him as a bona-fide constituency with 96% of Black votes. Knowing that Black-related agendas would rile both parties, we devised the face-saving retreat that: "Obama's not the president of Black America; he's the president of all Americans." Nevertheless, our very need for such agendas, links to the very fact that all of the prior 43 White presidents were "the president of all Americans" too, yet that didn't preclude 35 of them (Washington to Kennedy) from upholding enslavement or segregation.
In sum, there's really no functional scale of Blackness by which Obama or Cain can be weighed since Black consciousness has been relegated as "politically impertinent" to the ideological and nationalistic makeup of both parties. More and more, Black consciousness is becoming like a hobby that's only relevant in privacy or at barbeques and family reunions. So unless the political legitimacy and authentic collectivity of Black self-interests are evolutionized with 21st-century relevance and functionality, then by mass default, men like Obama and Cain will personify a Siamese standard of a new "Say It Loud . . ."
Ezrah Aharone is the author of two acclaimed political books: Sovereign Evolution: Manifest Destiny from Civil Rights to Sovereign Rights (2009) and Pawned Sovereignty: Sharpened Black Perspectives on Americanization, Africa, War and Reparations (2003). He is a founding member of the Center for Sovereignty Advancement. He can be reached at