It’s Not Symbolism; It’s Our Vanity

Irami Osei-Frimpong: Obama’s election and Harris’s selection aren’t symbols. Symbols are abstract. The meaning of a symbol is external and adjacent to the form it comes in. For example, if you use a lion as a symbol of courage. That same lion could just as easily be a symbol of carnivorous hunger.

Rather, Obama’s election and Harris’s selection are romantic expressions of concrete freedom. This is terrifying. Let me tell you why:

Obama’s election and Harris’s selection are expressions that your race, gender, or religion shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do, regardless of whether or how you change anything about the objective world, even if the job is literally securing justice in the objective world.

Their successful aspiration promises to validate you not by securing your freedom through setting up appropriate institutions of government; rather, they are promising to validate you by validating their own personal ambitions, regardless of the content of those ambitions. And in this way, they validate personal ambition in general, even the personal ambitions of Black and Brown boys and girls, as personal ambition.

This is why nobody is going to hold them accountable for their objective record. It’s because what Obama ran on and Harris is running on, in a deep way, is the freedom from being accountable to objective records. More here.

Leave a Reply