Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Pulling The Trigger On Political Discussions

Pulling The Trigger

by Brian Egeston

We have a saying here at Barbershop Digest. Once we’re ready to do something, after we’ve pondered and repondered the repercussions, then it’s time to “pull the trigger.”

When we pull the trigger, things usually happen in a big way and we typically get big results. Well, we pulled the trigger on the first issue of Barbershop Digest and there was some initial recoil from the firepower. It seems some people have taken issue with the fact that we put presidential hopeful Barack Obama on the cover with the provocative caption “Please don’t kill this man.” An old Black lady called to cuss me out over the caption. It’s not that I have a problem with old Black ladies cussing me out. I’ve had that all my life.

The issue I have is that people pretend as though this subject is not in the minds of many. Look, this is the Barbershop Digest. We talk about what’s being talked about in the shop. And in the 50 barbershops I’ve visited in the past month, they’re talking about Obama staying alive.

More to that point is the realization that the article is not about Obama being assassinated. It’s about Black folks killing his chances at winning the presidency. It’s my contention, that the people who won’t read the article because of the title, may be the ones we’re talking about in the article who may not vote or who may not be registered to vote.

I hate to think that the old theory is true: If you want to hide something from a Black person, put it in a newspaper. We put Obama’s platform inside the pages of Barbershop Digest and some folks didn’t read it. Unfortunate.

I began to think that I was over the top with the front-page caption. But then I went into the sanctuary and began asking around. The sanctuary being the Black barbershops. And brothers are genuinely afraid that someone will try something stupid if Obama is elected president.

I consulted with media consultant, Lance Robertson who's a Georgia resident and managing director of Robertson Media Group. He’s seen the good, bad and ugly during his more than 25 years involvement in American politics through organizations such as the Young Democrats.

“The young bright African-American minds have embraced [Obama],” said Robertson. “I think the older African-American minds have yet to embrace him, because for some reason they think he hasn’t paid his dues.” Look to his left and look to his right,” says Robertson. “He is as Black as they get when you compare him to the people he’s running against. Obama’s campaign has been able to connect with the forward thinking masses,” Robertson explained.

Lance Robertston

Then Robertson and I got into the nitty gritty. I asked if an assassination attempt is a serious concern or has America moved on from that?
“It’s a serious concern,” Robertson said. “If you look back at the history of who killed JFK, those powers that be are stilled around…There’s no way the powers that be will let [Obama] win, if they don’t feel comfortable with him in office.”

Robertson is not the only one who shares this concern. While out visiting barbershops, there was almost a moment of silence when we walked in with the magazine. Whatever was being talked about turned quickly to Barack Obama and how we could keep him alive.

And last, I’ve had several comments from readers who say they are voting for the first time and people who want to finally register to vote. That’s what’s going on the shop, that’s what folks are talking about.

Let us hear what you’ve got to say.

1 comment:

LaSalle said...


Congratulations to the team at Barbershop Digest for the launch of a fine publication. I wish you all much success in the future. Thank you for a well-constructed view of some of the attitudes in the African-American community that threaten to hinder Barack Obama’s candidacy for the Oval Office. I would submit to you that there is another significant issue that will be a key factor as we move forward towards the November election.

Sen. Obama has displayed considerable substance and poise thus far, and I believe that he has a fresh voice that deserves to be heard. However, there is a group of established Black “leaders” that still exert considerable influence on the minority voting block. Many of these people, U.S. Representative John Lewis and Rev. Al Sharpton for example, are clearly dubious to Obama’s candidacy.

The reasons for this are numerous, and go beyond the question of “Is he Black enough?” Some of these leaders are likely jealous toward a Black man that has garnered such broad support without “paying his dues” as a civil rights advocate. I’m sure that the political ties to the Democratic National Committee will force many prominent voices to maintain the status quo, as you mentioned in your feature, by supporting Hillary Rodham Clinton and the Clinton legacy at all costs. Unfortunately, there will always be a segment of African-Americans that will heed the call of these stale, antiquated voices without conducting their own review of the facts. This inability or unwillingness to think and act independently is not good for Black Americans and it dilutes the strength of our vote. Hopefully, the state of our nation over the last decade will compel people to use their vote wisely and in large numbers during the coming election.

LaSalle Smith