There is a black saxophone playing street musician who is a fixture on Michigan Avenue here in Chicago. I have been living in Chicago for more than ten years. I would guess that he has been here for many more years than me.
There are many black street musicians, drummers, creative types, shoeshine men, newspaper salespeople, panhandlers, and others who comprise the familiar faces, on every block, that make a neighborhood, a town, a city, or a well-traveled thoroughfare more than just a collection of random people and buildings.
This saxophone playing street musician is distinguished and made special by his limited catalog of songs. He plays "When the Saints Go Marching In" with passion and glee. The theme from Sanford and Son is another one of his crowd pleasing classics. He loses his way on songs by Sinatra and the standard "Feelings". His limitations may be a function of a broken saxophone and tired reed, hands not as dexterous as in years before.
He is self-trained. The saxophone man is not a virtuoso who has fallen on hard times, where drink, or drugs, or love, or a bad economy and poor investments broke him.
He is a workaday man who went to a job for many years and somehow through poor decision-making--did the saxophone man do a bid in prison for a petty crime that had the promise of great fortune attached to it by his more streetwise and crooked friends?--found himself with his Alto sax, playing outside, everyday, for monies that he brings home to a relative, friend, lover, or fellow traveler, the latter blessed with more luck than him, which the saxophone man throws into the communal rent and utilities pile.
The brother is always clean. His old clothes are very neat. He takes pride in his work and appearance.
Tourists pay him because that is what tourists, especially white tourists in the "big city" do, throwing some change into the hat or cup of the poor black street musician as part of the fee, the noblesse oblige that is "taking it all in" while on holiday. While on safari, one is expected to feed the animals.
The saxophone playing street musician also extracts a tithe and blackmail money. The folks who work in the office building above wherever he has created an informal stage for the day's performance must pay him, for purposes of productivity, sanity, and piece of mind, to relocate his atonal concert once the novelty and familiarity have grown thin. His playing is an announcement that a new day is here; his playing is also an announcement that a new day in a job that I already do not like is here too. He smiles while accepting the bribe.
On the night of Barack Obama's election in 2008, the black street musician saxophonist played "Hail to the Chief" with enthusiasm and vigor. The marks cum pigeons were ready to be plucked. A smart businessman understands that success is a function of timing, luck, and leveraging the emotions of a potential customer. Obama's election in 2008 was a night of lucre for him, sadly it was the finite and limited lucre of a poor or working class man earning 50 dollars a turn.
He knows it is not much in relative terms. There are businessmen who spend that amount as part of their nightly after work winding down drinking ritual. Some people would kill for less. It is several meals, a fix, or enough to feed their children and pets for a week or two. The symbolic value of 50 dollars is what matters to the saxophone man. The transaction makes him feel like the richest person in the world. His work and art were acknowledged by strangers, they who are his friends.
The Michigan Avenue black street performer saxophonist herald and Pied Piper of Obama's 2008 presidential election blew a broken saxophone that produced off key notes for an emotion filled rendition of "Hail to the Chief".
Barack Obama is approaching the end of his second term as President of the United States. As we assess Obama's performance and record, I wonder, was our black street musician a prophet?
The Right-wing noise machine, with the help of some African-Americans in the media and elsewhere, has conjured up a new meme and talking point which suggests that "Black Americans are doing worse under Barack Obama than they were in 2008 under Bush".
This is an insincere lie and misrepresentation of empirical reality where "white" and "gray" propaganda-- what is a mix of "facts" and "half-facts"--are used to slur black people as politically unsophisticated and stupid, as well as to suggest that Romney and company would have done better by black Americans than Barack Obama.
The subtext of the Right-wing media's "black folks would have done better without Obama" talking point is that African-Americans are practicing "racial tribalism" against white Republicans. Consequently, anti-white "racism" by African-Americans has created self-inflicted wounds; voting for the Democratic Party is an act of political self-flagellation.
The most effective propaganda mixes "facts" with "common sense": such a combination makes the lie that much harder to rebut.
The White Right's newest meme about Obama's performance as it relates to the relative health of Black America should be framed as one of alternatives, where the premise and question is the more accurate, "how much worse would black and brown folks be doing if Republicans had been elected to the White House in 2008 and 2012?"
How would you rebut or respond to the White Right's talking point that Obama has left Black Americans worse off than the alternative that was/is a Tea Party GOP President and Vice President?