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 James Thomas Jones III, PhD, MA
James Thomas Jones III, PhD, MA

Recently Australian billionaire Rupert Murdoch chose to venture into waters that the wisest of men have avoided at all costs. The troubling waters that I refer to have reached up and made many men, regardless of his occupation (public intellectual, politician, teacher, etc) disappear and to never be heard from again. One could argue that these waters have, and always will be, served as a hurricane that has dogged this nation from the moment of its genesis. The troubling waters that I am alluded to are commonly known as American race relations.

Recently, 84-year-old Rupert Murdoch joined a long-list of Republicans who have taken an opportunity to issue a public attack against President of the United States Barack Hussein Obama in one of the strangest arenas; they are questioning President Obama’s ability to lead a productive national debate regarding American race relations. Of course, the key word is ‘productive’; put simply, figures such as Murdoch are seeking an individual who is capable of lessening American racial tensions while explaining away his financial empire to an all too poor and Black populace that considers such a cache suspicious.

Adding to the lunacy of Rupert Murdoch’s criticisms of President Barack Hussein Obama is the suggestion that current Republican Party Presidential candidate and noted neurosurgeon Ben Carson would offer a much more reliable and truthful discussion on American racial matters. From Rupert Murdoch’s perspective, if elected, Ben Carson would be this nation’s first “real Black” President; put simply, it is Ben Carson, not President Obama, who has the ability to orchestrate racial reconciliation within this nation.

The comments of Murdoch, and those who think as he does, contradicts one of the primary realities that anyone who has ever studied the history of race in America will tell you, America is not, and most likely never will be, prepared to have an honest discussion about racism. Honestly, the vast majority of Americans, regardless of race/ethnicity has little understanding of racism and often find it extremely difficult to state the difference between racism, discrimination, and prejudice. Murdoch’s championing of what to most politically astute African-Americans is a politically polarizing and ironic character such as Ben Carson only drives home how clueless he is in regards to racial matters.

Any person with even a pinch of compassion must feel for President Obama in regards to American race relations. Put simply, the President of the United States is caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’ as he has been saddled with what most recognize as unprecedented and unachievable goals. Many African-Americans rallied behind the upstart Senator from Illinois and experienced their initial politicization and activism while working to elect Obama, have often felt that they have been ignored throughout Obama’s two-terms and often publicly criticized the President of the United States for his failure to make “Black” issues a priority. According to New Yorker Damon Thomas, “Black folk acted like Obama was going to be handing out one-hundred dollar bills to Black folk after he was elected; totally forgetting that he was the President of the entire nation and quite simply had more important issues such as the economy to address than the Black agenda.”

Making matters even worse is that non-Blacks attacked President Obama for serving as a divisive agent along racial lines. The aforementioned Rupert Murdoch falls into this camp; they are unable to pinpoint anything that President Obama has or has not done on the racial frontier; ironically, it appears that his Blackness is enough to drive a wedge through this nation in regards to race relations.

For individuals such as Murdoch, there appears to be an appeal surrounding Ben Carson that a long list of African-American activists could never rival. The type of leadership that most Whites desire from a “real Black” President is found almost exclusively in his ability to spin a narrative that explains well-documented socioeconomic and educational disparities in a manner that allows ‘the have nots’ to simultaneously understand why they are poor, a lack of effort and diligence on their part, and how they could improve their current position of socioeconomic marginality. Murdoch’s championing of Ben Carson is an obvious sign that many within the Republican Party feel that he is able to close the racial divide by explaining to impoverished Blacks why they are in this state, it is in everyway their own fault.

Despite what many within the Republican Party may think, Carson is not the first African-American to bring this highly contestable message that the onus for closing this nation’s racial gaps rests upon the shoulders of African-Americans and requires little more than hard-work from African-Americans. Such an explanation soothes White elites minds like no other explanation and it is for that reason, and that reason alone that wealthy Whites’ believe with the faith of religious fundamentalists that Ben Carson will be a “real Black” President. Because it would take a “real Black” President to explain to his people that it is their fault, and theirs alone, why they are the have nots in this nation of financial prosperity.

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