Ishmael Reed on Obama and much more

ireed55d4.jpg  bluescity.jpg

Really great interview with Bay Area writer Ishmael Reed on CounterPunch today. He discusses a whole bunch of subjects, such as the presidential primaries, Barack Obama’s “Blackness” and the overall issue of race in this country, his writing process, etc. I’m loving this quote on Obama:

“I like the guy. I think he’s a real inspiration. For once, African American kids, especially the boys, are able to see someone handle intellectual combat. Like Jesse Jackson or Sharpton. Instead of the way they restrict us to athletes, or entertainers, or criminals.” 

At the same time, he is critical of Obama and never outright endorses him. I feel exactly the same way! I love everything Obama represents to the millions of young Black children in this country. To actually see someone that embodies the “you really CAN be anything you want to be” notion that we are taught as children. At the same time, Obama’s positions on many issues does not reflect my left progressive politics (I’m not talking about what he says in speeches, I’m talking about what he has voted for and what he says he will vote for. Those damn cold hard policies. What can I say? I’m a sociologist, a sucker for facts and data). I feel like such a downer next to all the Obama supporters of my generation, but hey, what are you gonna do.

Ishmael Reed’s book, Blues City: A Walk in Oakland, is one of my favorites.


7 responses to “Ishmael Reed on Obama and much more

  1. That is a great article. Ur not a downer to Obama supporters. The last thing the country should do, despite how hopeful this cat makes us feel, is blindly follow someone and not be critical. That is what Republicans have done for the last 8 years with Bush, never once examining the horriffic effects of his leadership. We can’t afford to do the same sh*t on the left.

    The less we question authority, the more likely it is that they will take advantage of their situation to make money for themselves. I dont think Obama falls into the same category in this department as George W., but he is human and not immune to the temptous lure of capital. Great post.

    Ishmael Reed goes.

  2. Good looks, C, I’ve been feeling like such a punk b/c I’m not AS juiced as everyone else for Obama. I’m like, “sorry folks, I’m a nerd and I read people’s voting records; I must say, I’m having some problems with Obama’s stances on health care, militarization, the Middle East, etc.” And then everyone’s like “Shut up with your damn facts and statistics, Cheddar! He’s pretty and every time he speaks it’s like the first time I heard the Beatles!”

    And come on, even uttering George Dubya and Obama in the same sentence is unacceptable. He is human though, like you said and like we all are.

    Peace, King.

  3. Great post.

    I agree with you guys.

    People must not equate questioning Obama’s record with somehow being anti-Obama.

    It’s dangerous to blindly support anyone and/or to get lost in the hype. America people must look beyond style and examine the substance of ANY political candidate.


  4. Amen, Silk, but we just love to put style over substance in the good ‘ol USA, don’t we? Thanks for stopping by and keep asking those questions.

  5. Ok, i have some degree of admiration for ishmael reed, but what he says about venkatesh and “gang leader for a day” is complete nonsense. he should not be talking like that about a book he has not read. in fact venkatesh is very different from folks like d’souza and even so-called “liberals” like henry louis gates. the brother does just the opposite of what reed insinuates he did in the book. (just take a look at jesse jackson’s blurb for the book; he would not have blurbed it if he held the views that reed holds about the book). also it is highly offensive to ask an indian-american to “write about india”, just because his parents happened to be immigrants. here reed appears just like the usual white xenophobes and racists i meet every now and then. frankly ishmael ’s inattentiveness to facts sometimes bothers me….

  6. Definitely feel you, Ishmael did get a little xenophobic on that ass for a minute. The article shook me up a little bit because “The Wire” is like my favorite show.

    I haven’t read Venkatesh’s book, but is he the guy mentioned in Steven Levitt’s Freakonomics? If that’s the case, I do remember that part of the book and being pretty turned off by the whole project they attempted, him studying the workings of an inner city drug operation for some sociology grad project or something. I dunno, probably my own issues with academia studying the inner city and if that actually results in any kind of empowerment for those devastated communities.

    I’ve really only read a couple of Ishmael’s articles and his book, Blues City, which made me a fan being from Oakland and everything. What I have appreciated about his articles is that he speaks his mind from a much more left intellectual perspective than anything I get in the mainstream media, and that I have sensed a seething anger/frustration with the state of society in his writing, which I can relate to. When someone does find a space to honestly vent feelings though, sometimes ugly things can come out. It is clear that Ishmael also probably harbors racist or xenophobic thoughts like all of us cannot help but have in our heads. I don’t excuse him of that, but I haven’t felt that the things he says comes from hatred, as opposed to the racist White xenophobes I hear on say, Fox News.

  7. Yea, Ishmael Reed’s a character. I remember when he came and talked to my english/history class at B-High and he was just off the hook. Sayin’ some slightly off the wall shit that i cant exactly remember. I DO Remember that he just started shouting out like 100 people and books that we need to read if we wanted to be smart. HELLA FUNNY.

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