This may come as a shock to anyone who expected Barack Obama to deliver reparations, 40 acres and a mule and a new flat-screen television to Black folks, but he’s not Black America’s president and never wanted to be.
“I want all Americans to have opportunity,” he told Black Enterprise Magazine. “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America.” When asked about criticism that he hasn’t done enough to help minority-owned businesses, he said, “The programs that we have put in place have been directed at those folks who are least able to get financing through conventional means, who have been in the past locked out of opportunities that were available to everybody.”
Obama, the first African American president, has been under pressure from some black activists to ease severe problems in the African American community such as unemployment, which is about 14 percent, far higher than the national rate of 8.3 percent. Another problem that African Americans want Obama to address is the high rate of incarceration for black men.
But he has consistently resisted calls for any type of “black agenda.” In the Black Enterprise interview, published in the magazine’s current issue, he added: “I’ll put my track record up against anybody in terms of us putting in place broad-based programs that ultimately had a huge benefit for African American businesses.”
Obama has taken considerable heat for his refusal to advance a “Black agenda” which has turned former supporters such as Cornel West into bitter enemies. West calls the president a “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs,” and then twists the knife even deeper saying “I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men” and “He feels most comfortable with upper middle-class white and Jewish men who consider themselves very smart, very savvy and very effective in getting what they want.”
Obama has always straddled the line of rising above his Blackness and being anchored by it. Even Obama supporters have occasionally stuck him in a Magic Negro box. Who can forget Joe Biden’s brain fart when he thought he was paying Obama a compliment, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
In the process of making a million dollar contribution to a pro-Obama PAC, actor Morgan Freeman couldn’t resist qualifying how “Black” the president is. The man who has played both the president and God pointed out that Barack is not America’s first Black president. America is still waiting for its first Black president.
“They just conveniently forget that Barack had a mama, and she was White – very White American, Kansas, middle America,” Freeman said. “There was no argument about who he is or what he is. America’s first Black president hasn’t arisen yet. He’s not America’s first Black president – he’s America’s first mixed-race president.”
Obama is probably glad to receive Freeman’s money. The unwanted history lesson and the actor’s musings on racial purity? Not so much. This is the permanent dilemma of Barack Hussein Obama: too Black for some and not Black enough for others.
I agree with Dr. West when he says Obama has been too cautious. Too conciliatory. Too willing to give breaks to Wall Street instead of Main Street. The president been terribly served by his economic team of advisers, especially Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, his lousiest Cabinet pick and Larry Summers, West’s old nemesis from Harvard whose primary interest was protecting big banks, not the little guys screwed over by them. There are problems specific and targeting Blacks that necessitate specific and targeted remedies.
But West is an ideologue and socialist who may had hopes he would be included in Obama’s Black brain trust along with Henry Louis Gates, Christopher Edley and Charles Ogletree. It didn’t happen and West, a relentless publicity hound and self-promoter who is more likely to be in the studio cutting rap albums and appearing in crappy Matrix sequels than he is shaping impressionable young minds in a lecture hall.
I respect Dr. West and he’s not entirely wrong how President Obama has fallen short of realizing the hopes Black Americans placed in him, but does he have no understanding the political realities of Washington and the limitations of the presidential power?
There was never any chance the Republicans (and more than a few Democrats) would ever sign on to a targeted program specifically benefiting African-Americans. The Republicans called healthcare reform a socialist plot. You’d have to be nuts to expect these obstructionists to give a thumb’s up to massive new spending targeted toward 36 million African-Americans. How does a moderate Democrat in Alabama go home to their district and sell that to their constituents as anything but another big government giveaway to Blacks? Nuts or Cornel West, not that there’s all that much difference it seems anymore.
America has elected more than a few White Presidents of White America, but it’s not about to elect a Black President of Black America. It’s too absurd to even consider except for the hopelessly naïve and delusional.
The ideologically pure dream have the luxury of dreaming of utopias. Realists have to do the heavy lifting of complicated reality. Whatever else that can said about Obama it has to be said he lives in the real world where if you’re not the president for as many as possible, you won’t be president for any of them long.
- Pres. Obama is The President of Black America As Well (atlantablackstar.com)
- Morgan Freeman: Obama’s not our first black president (marquee.blogs.cnn.com)
- President Obama Says He’s Not The President Of “Black America” (bossip.com)
I wanted to say something about the Occupy Wall Street movement. I admire the activism and the energy being exhibited by people whom are fed up with being part of the many who don’t benefit while a select few make out like bandits. There’s plenty in America to make it a better place for everyone. But there are those who are greedy and have no intentions of giving up anything they have so others can have something.
When the mainstream news media isn’t ignoring the demonstrators, it’s ridiculing and sneering at them as being too White, too liberal, too motley and too unfocused. What do these over-privileged, pampered and spoiled hippie liberal brats and ragged Socialists want anyway? is the message coming from CNN, Fox News and others.
It seems to me those that are pissing all over the Wall Street protests the most are the same ones rushing to defend the Tea Party raising hell.
Apparently its fine to challenge the status quo when it’s the right-wing doing the challenging. Not so much when it’s coming from the left though. Double standards and situational ethics are fun to watch. The stench of rank hypocrisy does get to be a bit much though.
Why is there so much criticism levied at the protestors for lacking specific demands? I don’t remember Fox News bitching about this when it was the Tea Party raising hell. What did they want? Take back our country? From who? What makes you think it only belonged to you in the first place?
You are not rich.
You do not get bailed out.
You do not own politicians.
There are no tax loopholes created especially for you.
You may work hard for what you have and you may hate to associate yourself with dirty liberal hippies, but guess what?
You are the 99%!
It’s amazing how many of yesterday’s radicals are today’s conservatives. I suppose they had to come from somewhere. If they had started off as conservatives and ended up even more conservative look how much evolving they would have missed out on since 1968.
When the Tea Party raised seven different kinds of hell at the town hall meetings of some scared Congresscritters, they were derided as loudmouthed bullies, kooks and worse. I know because I was one of those deriding them.
I could not disagree more with the Tea Party’s principles. However, I support their right to organize and raise seven different kinds of hell because it got results. If anything the Left has watched and learned.
Wall Street is not going to crumble and fall because of these protests. Capitalism isn’t going to crumble and fall because of these protests. So what the hell are so many in the media and elsewhere so worried about? At some point the protests will pass and we all get back to our football games and the new fall television seasons. Maybe some talent deprived pop tart will get out of a car without her underwear on and we can have a good old scandal to amuse us for a while. Maybe somebody famous will die and that can distract us for a weekend or so.
And maybe we can let the bankers and the brokers and the dealers and hustlers and smart guys get back to business of nickel and diming the rest of us when they aren’t robbing us blind with billion dollar bailouts to get them out the messes they made for themselves.
If what’s happening on Wall Street is just street theater by a handful of malcontents, posers, anarchists and spoiled rich brats, what is there to be afraid of? One might think the charade might not simply collapse, but blow away by one stiff breeze out of sheer weightlessness.
It seems the rich and powerful don’t like being reminded just how well things are working out for them when compared to everyone else.
Every movement starts with a few dissatisfied souls. It’s only from them reminding the rest of us how dissatisfied we should be too that anything ever changes around here.
Dissent is not only the highest form of patriotism, it’s as American as the flag and mom’s apple pie. Faced with a broken system where no one is held accountable and nothing seems to work for the people, you can hardly blame the occupy Wall Street groups for finally saying, “Enough! No more!”
This isn’t about covering Obama’s ass for his failures and coziness to Wall Street. It’s about a general sentiment of “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” types and all politicians are being held equally accountable for the state of the economy.
If you want the rulebook changed you go to the guys who paid off the officials and gave them their jobs in the first place.
I have no idea why Americans cheer on protests in Middle East countries against elitist oligarchs over there and sneer at them as being smelly hippies here.
Maybe it’s simply easier to dismiss them as malcontents than concerned citizens who give a good goddamn about the raw deal everyone but the bankers and brokers got with their Wall Street bail out while everyone else just takes the assault and bleeds out quietly.
It’s a terrific story. I just wish the corporate media cared about covering it as much as they do about some fucking English twit getting married.