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Location: United Kingdom

A Naija Guy living (and loving) in the UK.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

30 Rock, Barack Obama and American Idol

I've recently fallen in love new NBC comedy series 30 Rock. The show features Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan of Saturday Night Live and it deals with issues relating to the cast and production team of fictional TV show, 'The Girlie Show.' I first started appreciating the show when it dealt with a new twist tothe issue of sensitivity to the N-Word, when one black character took offence when another black character refered to him as his N****. The clip below shows Toofer (who is Harvard educated) calling Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) his N****. The difference in social class of the actors appears to distort the playing field and thus the term was perceived as derogatory from one black male to another.





Personally I have never appreciated the attempt to reclaim the word by the black community using it as a term of endearment, as all it seems to be doing is causing confusion for white people who don't seem to understand why they can't use it when its used in most gangsta rap songs nowadays. (The argument is that its alright to diss your own family but if people from outside try this mess, "they going down"). Chris Rock recently expressed similar sentiment when he recanted his Niggas vs. Black People Sketch in an interview on 60 Minutes before his Oscar hosting in 05. Anyhoo, 30 Rock this week dealt with Politics and Barack Obama.





I guess this bit focuses on the challenge Obama faces in his race for 08. Barack Obama is not the first black candidate to run for the white house. Jesse Jackson, Rev Al Sharpton and former Democratic Senator Carol Mosely-Braun have all been there. Obama is clearly making waves as he has endeared himself to White America, its Black America he is struggling with. When civil rights activist Jesse Jackson launched his attempt to seek the democratic nomination in 1984, it was clear what platform he choose to stand on, where he thought his votes would come from.

It is undeniable that Race Matters when it comes to politics. There is an unwritten rule that Blacks are expected to vote Democrat/Labour (dependent on which side of the Atlantic Ocean you live on). I guess this is based on the assumption that these parties in general are based on the principles of establishing a more equitable society and this is seen as being to the benefit of black people as we are generally less affluent compared to white people in the West. It is assumed that a black candidate will better understand the difficulties that black people face in western society, discrimination in employment etc. I guess this is one of the problems Obama faces, he has himself admitted that his upbringing is not typical of an African American.

I'm sure the Obama team is curently asking itself if a Black Candidate can win election to high office in the USA without the Black vote. Obama won election as Senator against another black candidate, Republican Alan Keyes. While the Obama camp has recently been seeking to woo the black vote, Black people need to believe that by electing him it will change their lot. Is it enough for black america just to have a black man in the white house or does his politics have to be black as well. Critics of Obama point out that 10years of having Clarence Thomas on the bench haven't done a damn thing for Black America. It says creating a symbol is no longer enough. I personally think its a shame that the USA in the 21st Century has only seen 5 black senators in its history and I think only one black govenor. Al Sharpton argues that America cannot afford to look beyond race in a climate that is still populated by inequalities that are inherently due to racial prejudice and historical inequalities. I agree.

Should Obama succeed in wooing the black vote he will still have problems with Black females who are experiencing a case of divided loyalties over voting for a woman or a black male!

Obama has joked that he worried his political career was over after 9/11 because his name sounded too much like Osama bin Laden. (the reason for Jenna's confusion in the 30 Rock sketch below). Named after his father, his full name is Barack Hussein Obama Jr. Some of his opponents have taken to using his full name Senator Obama Barack Hussein Obama to repeatedly attempt to link Obama with two of America's hated enemies - Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussain.





As a study of how race matters in a voting system one needs look no further than American Idol. Viewers of the show cross race, age and social backgrounds. I happened to be in New York a few years ago when the final of the show featured a head to head between Fantasia and Diana Degarmo. I was amazed at how many white people were rooting for Diana. I thought any neutral observer just assessing singing talent would clearly see that Fantasia's singing voice was a million times better than Diana. Alas I was wrong. For anyone who doubts how polarising race can be in a voting system, visit the American Idol Discussion Board. One guy posted a rant seeking support for a ban on all votes for Sanjaya Malakar cause he is too 'Indian looking'. Fortunately that post didn't stay up too long.

For what its worth, I think the only remaining superpower needs to elect a minority to the White House in 08 (Woman, Black Male, Mormon) to prove to the world it is truly embracing its diversity and dreams can come true in the ole US of A. My vote goes to Barack Obama.



10 Comments:

Anonymous Ashton Anderson said...

The point is, I don't want to vote for Sanjaya. I think he's a sweet kid but he's completely outclassed by his peers in this competition at this point of time (seriously, they need to set the age limit a little higher - it's a massacre out there on stage every year) and I am not going to vote for him based on who his father was.

8:18 am, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Morountodun said...

Ashton I should have made myself a bit clearer. I don't really care if people vote for Sanjaya or not, my only hope is that they do so based on his ability not his ethnic background. Oh and by the way who as his dad? (I thought Sundance Head was the one with a famous dad).

10:58 am, February 24, 2007  
Blogger DiAmOnD hawk said...

i always wondered about that...the democratic vote being equal to the black vote... im not a democrat and it took some research for me to decide who i wanted to be politically associated with... Obama definitely has my vote

we preach that we must get past this race issue...but it's in everything we do...ur diana degarmo experience is just an example. to be real...my thot at first was i'd vote for Obama just because he was black...probably not the best way to look at it...but then i started paying attn and i support his platform

11:45 am, February 24, 2007  
Blogger Morountodun said...

Yes Diamond, Obama has got good stuff to say (I must admit to not being tooo tuned in as I live in the UK). Lets hope it only gets better as his experience grows and he doesn't become a "professional politician"

Ask this Black Woman has some thoughts on the use of the N-Word here.

(Oh and anonymous I had to delete your comment it was just too long. If you would like me to email it back to you so you can stick it on a blog or something just drop me a line. Thanks for dropping by)

10:35 am, February 25, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ive been watching 30 Rock too and i mostly find it funny but they seem to have got stuck on race recently i think its time to move on.

9:40 am, March 02, 2007  
Blogger Monef said...

I love 30 Rock!

Anyway, on the Obama side of things I think he faces more obscurity issues than anything else. Black people in this country have no idea what he stands for. Once the debates get underway however, I can see him making some real headway. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have never even come close to enjoying the sort of support that Obama has behind him, and they apparently had the black vote sewn up. For a black candidate to be elected to the highest office in the land, the peole have to feel that the agenda that will be put forward is on that will best serve everyone.

3:04 pm, April 10, 2007  
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