As Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols once sneered, “Ever feel like you been cheated?”
Apparently some of y’all do. And you’re not shy about letting everyone know it.
THIS ISN’T CHANGE WE BELIEVE IN!
Bad news Mr. President. The honeymoon is over and the morning after some folks woke up to find they didn’t like what they brought home.
This is going to be hard as for some people to accept, but you can’t change everything wrong that happened over the past eight years in just seven months. A change is still going to come but if you were expecting spontaneous results it’s not going to work out that way. This is the Domino’s Pizza theory of politics: we want it within 30 minutes or Barack Obama is a failure.
A Gallup poll says the president’s popularity has dipped below 60 percent. Moderate Democrats are trying to slow down the pace of healthcare reform. Republicans are seeing a surge in campaign contributions and are hopeful that will translate into gains in next year gubernatorical and Congressional races. A lot of people aren’t happy with the president’s deficit spending.
Oh, and Sarah Palin is on her way down to the lower 48 as the lone superstar of the GOP and thinking that’s going to be enough for her to knock off Obama in 2012.
If it’s this bad for Obama now, it’s going to be nothing short of an apocalypse for him by 2011.
Or maybe not. Could we wind the clock back to the summer of 2001 when George W. Bush was seven months deep into his presidency and September 11 was still to come. Just how disgruntled were his supporters that he hadn’t rolled back every last facet of the Clinton Administration?
For now, we can sit back and suffer as gays gripe, minorities mope, pro-choicers pout and every other special interest group complains about Obama not delivering the change they voted for. At least we know the Republicans are going to continue to be against everything. They’re nothing if not consistent.
If anyone was foolish enough to believe any politician, even one as charismatic and smart as Obama, was going to walk into the White House and turn every day into Christmas they deserve their present disappointment. Barack Obama is not your Santa Claus.
This week’s go-to gripe for the professional pissers and moaners is President Obama’s speech to the NAACP. Seems some folks didn’t dig Obama telling them to pull the plug on the kids’ Xbox and make ’em read a book. Probably Dreams From My Father or something like that.
With a Black man in the White House, the need for the NAACP doesn’t seem as immediate as it once was. So when President Obama gave a fire-and-brimstone speech to the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, he seemed to be challenging the NAACP to get its act together as much as the rest of Black America.
Government programs alone won’t get our children to the Promised Land. We need a new mind set, a new set of attitudes—because one of the most durable and destructive legacies of discrimination is the way we’ve internalized a sense of limitation; how so many in our community have come to expect so little from the world and from themselves.
We’ve got to say to our children, yes, if you’re African American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face. But that’s not a reason to get bad grades, that’s not a reason to cut class, that’s not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands—you cannot forget that. That’s what we have to teach all of our children. No excuses. No excuses.
You get that education, all those hardships will just make you stronger, better able to compete. Yes we can.
To parents, we can’t tell our kids to do well in school and then fail to support them when they get home. You can’t just contract out parenting. For our kids to excel, we have to accept our responsibility to help them learn. That means putting away the Xbox —putting our kids to bed at a reasonable hour. It means attending those parent-teacher conferences and reading to our children and helping them with their homework.
Seems some folks weren’t feelin’ what Obama laid on them.
Within in the soul of Black folks there’s a tug of war between “what can you do for us?.” and “what can you do for yourself?” Barack Obama’s election did not signal the death of American racism. Instead, it heralds a revaluation of where we are now and how much further we need to go.
I’ve read some commentators wonder where Obama gets off telling other Black folks to stop feeling sorry for themselves. No excuses? There’s plenty of excuses for not trying. There just aren’t any good ones.
Your destiny is in your own hands and only you can make it. I didn’t crib those words from the president. I had shared them with my own son two days before Obama’s Come-to-Jesus moment with the NAACP. I get it that it’s still not a easy thing to be young, gifted and Black in America. In fact, it can be a real bitch.
It’s still not a reason not to try and make your life better. It’s still not a reason to put on a belt, pull up your pants and go get a job. Sitting around waiting for someone to bring you something to eat only works for babies. Once you’re big enough to sit at the table it becomes your responsiblity to put something on the table to eat.
These are not original thoughts by Obama or me. Bill Cosby has been running this rap for years now (and catching a lot of flak). The same folks who wished Cosby would go sit down somewhere with a pudding pop are finding it a bit harder to tell the president to shut up.
Neither the NAACP nor anyone else should see Obama’s election as an excuse to ease up and relax. As Julian Bond observed even the President of the United States can’t get his kids into The Valley Club’s swimming pool. The problems facing the nation are beyond one man’s ability to fix in four years or eight and that includes getting racism out of the body politic.
Like most African-Americans, I’m respectful of what the NAACP has done in the past without actually wanting to join in with what they’re doing now. Every so often I’ll read about a lawsuit the civil rights organization is filing against some corporation engaged in discriminatory behavior and how they’re fighting with George Bush, but Bush is gone now and I haven’t paid much attention to anything else the NAACP might be up to.
These civil rights organizations have a problem. It’s not enough to be respected. They need new blood and younger blood in order to grow and thrive. The NAACP, Urban League, Southern Christian Leadership Council are all old in both membership and thought. They don’t reach the grassroots, catering instead to the middle and upper classes of the race. The NAACP seems stuck in a time warp refighting battles already won with tactics better suited for 1959 instead of 2009.
The Black intelligentsia may have their nose out of joint over Obama talking smack about personal responsibility, but they can’t deny he’s right when he says we need a lot more brothers aspiring to be the next Thurgood on the Supreme Court and a lot less trying to be the next LeBron on the basketball court.
If we really want to make sure Obama succeeds, African-Americans can take the initiative in improving our own lives instead of waiting for him to do it for us.
Then by the time Obama does get around to bringing the change we need, we’ll already have a head start on fixing the problems of our communities ourselves.