Home » Black History » From President to Tar Baby: Black America’s Sticky Situation

From President to Tar Baby: Black America’s Sticky Situation

It’s Me!



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On Monday, August 1st, 2011 reports started circulating the web regarding Colorado GOP Congressman Doug Lamborn and his reference to working with President Obama as being akin to “touching a tar baby,” on the Caplis and Silverman radio show last Friday (TheGrio.com). The most unnerving idea about this entire situation is that there will be online chats, radio programs, etc for about as long as we can stand it, and then the ones of us that feel that we have made ‘it’ are going to be the first ones advocating that African Americans move past race.  That sentiment will set us back even further when confronting people who feel a sense of entitlement to this nation, above all other races.  Spike Lee said it best, “wake up!”  What more will it take for us to snap out of the post-racial dream we believe we have absorbed into?  How much longer will we continue to lounge in our chairs when there is plenty of work and “checking” to do?

Every American has an obligation to ensure America is as good as its promise.  We DO NOT have a right to cast the burden on one man’s shoulders as if we have no role to play in how great America is or can become.  I mean really! Have we forgotten every ounce of sacrifice our forefathers endured in their attempt to make America suitable for people that didn’t even think that we were human?  Have we forgotten that history is not by accident?  I guess when you give thumbs up for one racial epithet (nigga) all of the others become fair game as well.  No matter how Wikipedia and Random House attempt to modernize interpretations of a tar baby, there is no justification for the use of this racist innuendo in association to President Obama; the problems with America’s insatiable appetite for gluttonous spending and casting itself in “sticky situations” existed long before President Obama took office and they will exist long after.

For those of you still in doubt, do yourself a favor and read “The Wonderful Tar Baby Story” or any of the other Uncle Remus stories created by Joel Harris in the 1880s during Post Reconstruction, a period of time in which White Southern Democrats looked to redeem their place in American society following Reconstruction and the rise of African American male elected officials.   The vernacular in which these stories are written as well as the time period in which these stories were written was a time in which African Americans were subjected to being tenant farmers, sharecroppers, black codes and living in absolute fear of the Ku Klux Klan and are reason enough for any sane person to NEVER allow their own racism or naïveté the use of the term “tar baby.”

At no point in time should President Obama ever be subjected to racist attacks from American citizens and certainly not from members of Congress! A Congressman should know better. Despite what we as individuals may think of others, Congressman Lamborn’s comment being broadcast across the airwaves of America and the world, thanks to technology, has created an unsafe environment for our President and for those of us that look like him. For this, he needs to resign.  Apologies are no good at this point in time.

We are a resilient people, but not resilient enough that the sting of insulting words will allow most of us to refrain from striking back. And then there is President Obama.  What he has endured while working for these United States of America would garner most of us charges of assault and battery; those of us that think we are really tough would find ourselves only capable of defending our humanity with fists and blows and obscene language.  Is there no such thing as reverence anymore?  Contrary to what I have heard from those of us that I respect and those of us that have clearly lost our way, President Obama is not a “nigga /negro like you and me.”  He has demonstrated better than you or I that he can withstand the dysfunction through courage, skill, intelligence, and conviction to lead America across the finish line to make it and us better. Cut him some slack and have his back! While America is in cut-throat competition with Asia to become better economically, at home America is in a RACE to nowhere good.

Listen for yourself:


Contact Doug Lamborn’s Office to let him know his actions were unconscionable and he needs to resign:
437 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-4422
Fax: (202) 226-2638

1271 Kelly Johnson Blvd. Suite 110
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Phone: (719) 520-0055
Fax: (719) 520-0840

415 Main Street
Buena Vista, CO 81211
Phone: (719) 520-0055
Fax: (719) 520-0840


  1. Mike Ricks says:

    This is just insane to me that a congressman would say that to the President of the United States. I hope everybody speaks up to get these man out of office.

    • Zakiyyah Ali says:

      Damien, thank you for taking the time to read my post in the PoliDay Report blog. I really appreciate you for it.

      I completely disagree with you and what’s sad to me is how you worked so hard to defend his rhetoric. I heard you say Lamborn “made a valid point.” Answer me this, what is valid about a Congressman passing the buck saying that he doesn’t want to be associated with the President in a Congress in which he sought election? In alignment with your logic, he (Lamborn) is claiming that he doesn’t want to get stuck holding the baggage of what comes along with President Obama’s decision-making. Answer me this, since when does Congress work in isolation of the executive branch? Never. Since when is Congress not accountable to the President and the President not accountable to them? Never. Any Congressman that jumps into the arena and decides to work with any Presidential administration during interim elections is forever included in the decisions that are made during that administration. People that understand the political process will never look at Doug Lamborn in isolation of the Congress in which he chose to be a member of and the very one that services the first term of the Obama Administration.

      What saddens me is that so many African American people of my generation and younger are all of the ones asking for a second chance for this man—-the second chance only lasts until you are the receiver the insult. Furthermore, those that disagree in terms of race have no understanding about the history or time period in which the tar baby was created by its writer Joel Harris, first appearing in print in 1879 in the stories of Bre’r Rabbit and Uncle Remus. Please do some research! Please!

      There are several reasons why yours and Lamborn’s argument that he used a poor choice of words will not work:
      1. His age will not recuse him from not being knowledgeable about the use of derogatory insults that have been heralded toward African Americans.
      2. His role of a Congressman and his assumed knowledge of his duties as they are outlined in Article 1 of the Constitution discredit his entire argument that he doesn’t want to get “stuck” or associated with President Obama. As a Congressman, he has no choice.
      3. A quagmire would have been an even poorer choice of words because all a quagmire implies is that the situation is difficult. Really. What is difficult about being a Congressman, the law making body of our government? There are procedures that they must take, and when they take the steps to making a bill a law, that bill goes on to the next phase until it reaches the President. If the President agrees with the bill, he signs it and, voila! The bill is a law. If not, the bill goes through those steps again in both houses. What is so hard about complying with procedure?!

      Stop giving these people cushions for when they fall. He was wrong if for nothing more than being insubordinate to the President. Respect his position! Not only did he use a poor choice of words, but he used a RACIST poor choice of words to offend and discredit the highest post in the world, the President of the United States (notice I did not say in the nation). Get with it people from my generation and younger. There will NEVER be a such thing as being color blind; who would want to be anyway? The beauty of creation is that we do represent different races and cultures, but along with that should also come some basic human courtesy and respect.

      Not once did I ever say that every person that is white is racist, nor do I believe that every person that disagrees with President Obama, who is also white, is a racist. I just think Doug Lamborn is a racist and he needs to be relieved of his duties since he doesn’t want his job or job performance to have any association with an administration he campaigned to be a part of. Pass it over to someone willing to take accountability in the job that they swore to serve. There is no place for racism in this government—not on my watch.

  2. Thank you for your healthy disagreement! Here’s exactly what he said: “Even if some people say, ‘Well the Republicans should have done this or they should have done that,’ they will hold the President responsible. Now, I don’t even want to have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby and you get it, you’re stuck, and you’re a part of the problem now and you can’t get away. I don’t want that to happen to us, but if it does or not, he’ll still get, properly so, the blame because his policies for four years will have failed the American people.”

    Am I defending his rhetoric? In a way, yes. Why? Because too many people take soundbites and hastily deem people racists without proper context or without doing further research. I have a problem with that. Calling someone a racist is a serious offense and we just shouldn’t toss it around as most do. I will defend anybody’s right to free speech and I will give anyone benefit of the doubt when we don’t have deep details on the topic. I don’t have enough info to call him a racist, so therefore I won’t.

    When we dissect his statement, he said he doesn’t want to be associated with President Obama’s policies. To want to isolate yourself politically from what you think is bad government is okay. There’s nothing wrong with that. He was elected in 2007 to serve the interest of his constituents; not serve President Obama. The founding fathers framed the constitution to encourage political disagreement and debate. Mr.Lamborn has a political disagreement with President Obama’s policies and that’s within his duties as congressman.

    I am most certainly not asking for a second chance for Mr. Lamborn nor am I calling for his resignation. He made a mistake and it just depends on your reputation and constituency whether you have to resign. I didn’t want Anthony Weiner to resign but the pressure mounted. If dissenters can mount pressure on Lamborn and make him resign, I will not lose sleep. We all must be responsible for our actions. What I am asking is that all people, especially African Americans, look at this incident in an objective manner rather than allow a soundbite to get you all worked up.

    Congress is all about laws and specific language. If he is a racist, thats not grounds to relieve him of his duties. He hasn’t or didn’t break any laws with his words. You may not like them, but he is allowed an opinion. Quagmire was a good term to use because he was asked about the economy. The country is in economic turmoil and he and his party want no parts of the current administration’s economic policies. That’s what this is all about. I don’t see any racism in his comments. if you see it, prove it, but being a racist, misogynist, alcoholic, etc doesn’t disqualify you from serving in Congress. We live in a democracy that allows freedom in many ways. And he was in no way “insubordinate” to the President. Again, freedom of speech and expression are contexually key. And lets remember, the Office of President (currently held by Barack Obama) is one part of our government; not the govenment. No branch is more powerful than the other. Congress is not elected to serve the President; they serve the people, no matter who the Prez is.


    • Zakiyyah Ali says:

      Hey Damien—yeah it was quite a mouthful, Haha! Thanks for your attempt to dissect his words, and trust me when I say I cannot stand the soundbite mentality, I really cannot which is why I steer clear of it on all levels. Prior to writing my blog, I heard what Lamborn said and it didn’t sit well with me initially. So I took out my headphones this time and re-listened to what he had to say. There is no mistaking what he said or meant. The context behind his sentiment was not misunderstood by me—it was racist no matter the angle. In your blog you asked me to prove to you that it was. I don’t have to prove it. The historical record already has.

      At no point in time did Lamborn ever mention the word policy in his statement, no matter what was asked. He was immediately disassociating himself and the Republican Party from this President that they believe to be taking America on a train wreck. What’s so bad is that President Obama echoes a lot of their policies. No Damien, this was not about policy. Besides saying, “Touching a tar baby” his first words were that “I don’t want to have to be associated with him.” There is not a Congressman in this America that will ever work in isolation of the President . Whichever administration Congress serves with is how they will be judged.

      Am I saying they will share the same view? By all means, no. Common sense shows that people can work together and have different policies on governing our country. Case and point:, George Washington’s Cabinet with Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson; they had completely different political policies and ideologies. However, when you are a white man of a certain age, living in America and you choose to use language from and incendiary historical past and think that you can remix the context the word for your convenience, you are sadly mistaken. None of us have the privilege of rewriting history, no matter how hard we try.

      Of the abundant difficulties this nation faced during the Bush years, historically racist rhetoric was never used. In addition, you couldn’t even find quagmire in the vocabulary of the critics. Naivete is cool at times, but it cannot override the truth. New found liberalism will allow for this type of behavior to persist and when it is directed you remember you opened the door for it to continue.

      Finally, Lamborn hasn’t broken any law being a racist. Since when has that been a crime in America? Never. He is guilty of not fulfilling his job to the best of his ability and in good faith for all of his constituencies. He does not only serve a base that shares his views. Even those that voted against him in the district in which he serves, depend on his leadership to ensure that they get the best services he can render. Oddly enough, I reached out some of the Black Coloradans in his district and they feel that his statements were racist too. Maybe you didn’t Wiener to step down, but he should have stepped down. These people, albeit human, are still public figures. Handle your job with more integrity.

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