by Erica Caines
One of the biggest issues with perceived notions of Black excellence is the ways it is contributed to uncritical perceived notions of success. There is an avoidance in acknowledging that “Black excellence” is rooted in a colonial narrative of what makes someone exceptional. Circumstantially, that perception is determined by what we deem “success”. The contradictions of Black excellence is most evident in the romanticizing of The Obamas.
Barack Obama’s 8-year presidency has been a surface level achievement for the Black community based on identity reductionism. After all, he is the FIRST Black president. But a closer inspection of those 8 years speaks to everything BUT achievements for Black communities. Domestically, the neoliberal policies that drove the Obama administration embraced militarized policing, increased state-sanctioned violence protected by the Blue Alert Law, produced growth of the gig economy, secured displacement through heightened gentrification ( which was supported by a Wall Street bailout), an inadequate healthcare coverage plan, and the expansion of surveillance.