obama to black community; take off your scarves, wave caps and help me

September 26 02:28 2011 Print This Article

I just finished listening to President Obama’s speech at the Congressional Black Caucus dinner and I’m still reeling with anger. Honestly, I’ve never been more afraid for my country or my people than I am right now.

In his speech, Obama told the mostly black audience;

“Take off your bedroom slippers. Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”

As writer Charing Ball noted, Obama may as well have said “take off your head scarf and wave caps, put away the jug of Kool-Aid and grape drink, stop frying that chicken.”

Of course, black people aren’t wearing “slippers”. To the contrary, we’re fighting, without any help from the executive branch mind you, to keep our heads above water in this recession.

But President Obama isn’t speaking to us, but about us – to conservative leaning independents. He’s speaking to the stereotype that they hold, that African-Americans are lazy critters who aren’t capable of self-actualization.  And it was remarkable to hear Obama bark patronizingly at an African American crowd, then watch the crowd answer in applause. In a word, heartbreaking.

Basically, the most risk averse President in modern history is telling us to put our ass on the line for him. He’s telling us to put on our marching shoes even though he never marched for anything during his days as a “community organizer”. The only thing Obama knows about marching is what he read under a palm tree in Hawaii, and he’s lecturing us?

The man who capitulates at every turn and invalidates progressives as the “professional left” has the nerve to demand our loyalty? The man who answers the whining of the Tea Party with strong and deliberate action has the nerve to admonish us for our criticisms?

Instead of helping us navigate our way through a Wall St engineered recession, Obama has relegated us to the 1960’s.  Truth is, if Obama had fought for something- anything- then maybe there would be less of a need to march.

And at least when folks marched in the 60’s, they marched against the escalation of the Vietnam War. Meanwhile, Obama ESCALATES war and wants us to march for him? He wants us to put our beliefs on the backburner for his careerist ambitions? For his legacy? For the continuance of our purely symbolic victory?

For those who are prepared to accept Obama’s call to arms, just know that Obama won’t have your back. If you strike out marching and get arrested (or worse), Obama will look on you with the same indifference that he looks upon the  “Occupy Wall. St.” protesters. Unlike JFK, who protected black protesters with the national guard, Obama hasn’t even acknowledged the Wall St protesters, let alone protect them. He won’t help you expunge your record and you won’t pass the background check for that new job you had your heart set on. That’s change you can believe in only if you’re stupid.

Saddest of all, though, is that Obama would never have told the Jewish community or Wall St. bankers to stop complaining and go march. He is, of course, respectful of and beholden to those constituencies. But he has no problem adding a little base to his voice and chastising us like toddlers.

I know Obama’s new to this, but the job of a politician is to ask for our votes, not berate us and give us our marching orders. He works for us, not the other way around. He should get busy doing his job. Maybe if Obama had fought for something other than his own skin, we’d fight alongside him. Maybe if Obama honored those who marched during the Civil Rights movement by working on their behalf to save Social Security and Medicare, then maybe I’d stand at his side. But Obama is a careerist politician who only stands for himself, and he’s a man who defends himself by debasing all African Americans and our legacy.

From where I stand, Obama doesn’t even like us, much less have our best interest at heart. This is what a compromised and conflicted black man looks like. Let us learn from this, so as to avoid making the same mistake again. In so far as hope goes, that’s all we have to cling to.

 

 

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56 comments
IBCbet
IBCbet

What i do not realize is if truth be told how you're no longer really a lot more smartly-appreciated than you may be now. You're so intelligent. You understand therefore significantly when it comes to this subject, produced me for my part believe it from a lot of various angles. Its like women and men are not fascinated except it's one thing to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your own stuffs great. Always maintain it up!

Talitha McEachin
Talitha McEachin

“Anytime you throw your weight behind a political party that controls two-thirds of the government, and that Party can’t keep the promise that it made to you during election time, and you’re dumb enough to walk around continuing to identify yourself with that Party, you’re not only a chump, but you’re a traitor to your race.”- Malcolm X

Gale Dicey
Gale Dicey

I believe you have noted some very interesting points, thank you for the post.

Yvette
Yvette

I haven't been deflecting. I've acknowledged that you may be right; that Obama may have orchestrated small marches during his time in Chicago. But that was NEVER the point of my blog, and you know it. Why you keep trucking down this old dusty trail is corious. Unlike you, I'm not focused on what Obama accomplished 10 or 12 years ago. We're in the midst of the greatest crisis since the Great Depression NOW. Obama is undermining his base NOW. People are suffering NOW. Those are my concerns. And so yes, I am rather unwilling to allow you to turn my post about Obama's CBC speech into a tit for tat regarding what he did or didn't do during his time as a community organizer. For all I know, that's your intention. But I won't allow it. You can call it deflection, hell, you can call it a kickball for all I care. I know you don't think 99% of what I said was correct. I know you were just pretending to share my qualms with Obama so that I'd identify with you. It's an old rhetorical trick; "hey! we're both in the same boat here, I just think you're taking it too far..." It's intended to create a false sense of familiarity and fellowship. Been there, done that.And it's not that I don't believe a person can support a candidate and still disagree with him or her on certain issues, I just don't believe you Mr. Obama Documentarian. I'm just not buying what you're selling. It really is that simple.

Skip Kelly
Skip Kelly

Hey, I'm not trying to backtrack or reframe any of my previous posts. To the contrary, I completely stand by my original post that your were wrong when you stated Obama “never marched for anything during his days as a community organizer.” And I also stand by all my posts about Obama's community work because it shows his past dedication to the black community and to progressive action. So the "heart and soul" of your argument was never at issue for me, just pointing out a wrong statement that hurt your credibility. You look at everything in terms of someone being on your side or not, so you can't accept someone who can have different points of view about Obama if they are true. And no matter what you think about Obama and the Democrats, we can't just stay home in 2012. We should enlist and vote for progressive candidates in congressional, state and local elections. We can't just concede our country to the Tea Party!

Yvette
Yvette

@Skip, You spent the bulk of your energy defending Obama's asbestos march as opposed to focusing on the heart and soul of my argument, the point of which was that Obama's speech at the CBC dinner was condescending and derisive to African Americans. It took you about 6 or 7 posts to finally admit that Obama's comments were, well, exactly what I said they were. So yes, your argument echoed a protectionist inclination. I'm not painting you as an "Obamabot", or anything else for that matter. You painted yourself into this corner with your own words. No need to try to backtrack or reframe it now. Damage is done. With regard to OWS, I support them 1,000%! And I'm even more happy that the folks in NYC haven't allowed themselves to be co-opted by an Obama / labor union / center right hierarchy. To rally on behalf of Obama would be a disaster for the OWS movement. What you're missing is that OWS isn't about 2012. It's not about rallying around Obama. It's about a paradigm shift (There are quite a few "Obama = Bush" signs on Wall St right about now). And 2010 shouldn't have been a lesson for us voters, but it should have been a lesson for elected democrats; ignore us and we'll ignore you. We'll stay home. As of right now, I don't think most democrats (especially Obama) have learned that lesson and I certainly don't think they should be rewarded for it.

Skip Kelly
Skip Kelly

Yes, the polls showing Obama dipping hold a lot of weight with me because it points out that he needs to get his act together. The main reason progressives have to turn out in 2012 is for our own agenda beyond Obama, just like the Tea Party did in 2010. And I agree with you on just about every single policy criticism and suggestion that you made. What makes you think I am trying to insulate Obama from criticism? You keep trying to put me in an "Obamabot" box that doesn't fit me or a lot of other fair minded Obama supporters for that matter. To the contray, I believe "thoughtful and legislatively relevant" criticism will push Obama to do better. But if Obama doesn't come around to your satisfaction, progressives need to mobilize and take action anyway for our own agenda, like the Occupy Wall Street movement. The 2010 election was a big political lesson for us all, as the Tea Party impacted elections at all levels, congressional, state and local. And we have seen their right wing agenda implemented not only in Congress but also by governors and state legislatures all across the nation. That is why progressives need to turn out in 2012 for congressional, state and local elections, not just presidential. And if we do turn out big again in 2012, we'll have a true mandate from the people at all levels of government. That is real change! And whether or not Obama does what you believe is the right thing, I hope you and other critics will not be "on the sofa" with our future at stake!

Yvette
Yvette

The polls also show that Obama is dipping in the polls. Does that hold as much weight with you? You say progressives can win if they turn out. Of course that's true, but what reason do progressives have to turn out in numbers similar to those we saw in 2008? On several occasions, Obama has demonstrated a willingness to work with Republicans to do something "big" on Social Security. He recently refused to back his own EPA and enact stricter rules on clean air standards. He has increased predator drone attacks. etc, etc. So as you talk about winning, my only question is, winning what? If we go all out for Obama, what's our prize? If Obama wants disaffected liberals back in his camp, he should 1) stop berating us via surrogates as the "professional left" 2) stop speaking condescendingly to his strongest supporters. And even then, that would only be a start. Politicians only respond to political pressure, and unless they feel that they're in imminent danger of being renounced by voters, they'll continue doing what they've always done. It's time to threaten to walk away from Obama, not rally around him. Your strategy of insulating this President from criticism hasn't worked thus far, and I don't anticipate it working in the future. Has Obama does good things? Yes. I like Sonya Sotomayor. But with unemployment at 16% in the AA community, now is not the time to exalt his few and far between successes. It's imprudent and ineffective. I say that not because I'm not invested in a negative representation of Obama. If Obama changes his tune, I'll be more than happy to do a 180. I don't want him to fail. I want him to do the right thing. And whether or not he does what I believe is the right thing is his choice, but I have choices of my own to make. Most of which will be decided at the ballot box..... or on the sofa. If he wins, we'll all see his true colors. For all of our sakes, I hope I'm wrong. And I mean that with all sincerity.

Skip Kelly
Skip Kelly

I truly believe that constructive criticism from the left is definitely good for our politics. But often, criticism from the left is over the top and way too personal. For example, saying Obama doesn't like black people is the kind of rhetoric that sours the discourse and turns off a lot of black people who would be sympathetic to a thoughtful critique from the left. And I totally agree with you that we could learn a lot from the Tea Party, and one important lesson is that they created a movement that was independent of any political leader in Washington. I am hopping that the left develops an independent movement from the Occupy Wall Street protests, and then turns out in 2012 like the Tea Party did in 2010. Then we can get more progressives in Congress and state governments throughout the country that will truly bring change to America. And if Obama gets re-elected, he will have a real mandate that will be driven from the new Congress as it should be.

Yvette
Yvette

@Skip Kelley Listen, I never asserted that YOU said the Civil Rights movement was comparable to Obama's dalliances in the streets of Chicago. That was, however, my original point. My original post focused on how a man who's done so little, who knows so little, could chastise the CBC. A group filled with people who either survived the Civil Rights movement or were active within it. Obama's experience in Chicago isn't even in the ballpark in terms of hard fought struggles, and yes, that includes his asbestos work. The point here is that you're inflating Obama's experience and his resume'. You continually home my attention on this one success as if it represents a grand leap forward for a significant constituency. It doesn't. And although I don't require a lesson in asbestos and its impact, I do believe you need a refresher course on how to measure and assess political movements in America. There's a wealth of information on labor leaders and Civil Rights leaders who mounted REAL movements in this country. They are my measure. They are my benchmark. You're anything but subjective with regard to the information you're presenting. That's your failure as a filmmaker and a thinker.

Odile
Odile

Yvette, I'm so glad that you 'get' it since so many are in denial. Be sure to check the racist Breitbart site and another one called hotair for their take of Obama's scolding of the Black community. Obama is a straight up calculator and I fear for his wife once he leaves office and she has served her usefulness. He's becoming a huge embarrassment particularly when he does not show his strength to those who really dog him...namely Israeli lobbyist as of late. "I don’t know, if someone told me to take off my bedroom slippers that would sound a little chastising or condescending to me, no matter what the rest of the sentence was. I’d be tempted to tell him to quit campaignin’ and go do some presidentin’, ya’ll.

Skip Kelly
Skip Kelly

When you stated Obama "never marched for anything during his days as a community organizer", you are so wrong that it hurts your credibilty as a critic of President Obama. For the record, Barack Obama did a lot of marching as a community organizer in the southside of Chicago, to improve public housing conditions and bring job training to those hard pressed neighborhoods. He used the protest and organizing tactics that he learned from studying the civil rights movement and from the pioneering Chicago activist Saul Alinsky, focusing on high visibilty marches and street rallies to pressure those in power to address the needs of the community. Obama was effective because he worked closely with Black churches and grass roots community leaders, developing strong personal relationships with people who lived in the community. He later used marches and rallies to organize Project Vote, which significantly increased African American voter registration in Chicago, and became a model for his own historic presidential campaign. So contrary to your rants against Obama, he was not some Ivy league elitist, but he chose to use his education to work in service to the African American community. After graduating from Columbia University, he decided to move to Chicago to take a $10,000 a year job as a community organizer leaving a corporate job in New York. And after graduating from Harvard Law School as the president of the Harvard Law Review, he worked on Project Vote and became a law professor, turning down many lucrative and prestigious opportunities available to him. So no matter what you think of him as President, Obama certainly did his share of marching and spent much of his young adulthood in service to the African American community. When you criticize his presidency, please be fair and accurate about Obama's life story. For more info: "Believe: The Barack Obama Story" www.otpvideo.com/obama.html

Kevin Alexander Gray
Kevin Alexander Gray

"But the hushing of the criticism of honest opponents is a dangerous thing. It leads some of the best of the critics to unfortunate silence and paralysis of effort, and others to burst into speech so passionately and intemperately as to lose listeners. Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly touched,—criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed, of leaders by those led, —this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard of modern society." ... "In failing thus to state plainly and unequivocally the legitimate demands of their people, even at the cost of opposing an honored leader, the thinking classes of American Negroes would shirk a heavy responsibility,—a responsibility to themselves, a responsibility to the struggling masses, a responsibility to the darker races of men whose future depends so largely on this American experiment, but especially a responsibility to this nation,—this common Fatherland." ... "We have no right to sit silently by while the inevitable seeds are sown for a harvest of disaster to our children, black and white." -W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903

dcserfmeat
dcserfmeat

I was not amused by his insults. No "black" president who carries the legacy of America's birth-defect would chastise black folk, who are pressing him on behalf of those dealing with the plight of poverty and joblessness, to just shut the f--k up and get in line. What really pisses me off is that every time this Harvard failure stands in front of a gathering of black folk, he starts slapping them around in southern ebonics. His behavior demeaning and disgusting. And despite the shameless, pavlovian applause he received from some in attendance, I wouldn't be surprised if many black voters at home respond to his petulant and vitriolic hectoring of them with indifference in 2012. I didn't vote for him in 2008, and I damn sure won't in 2012.

solomon1
solomon1

Sadly, 20 year from now, you will see that you were on the wrong side of history.

solomon1
solomon1

But, isn't your argument about Obama not liking black folk as speculative as Melissa's argument that Tavis and Dr. West don't like Obama? Even if it's not hypocritical, your bitterness is mostly without merit. Not one factual rebuttal about the positive impact of his legislative agenda for black folk that he listed in the CBC speech, just ad hominem attacks. It's provocative, a good read, but intellectually dishonest. Do you dispute the numbers, the facts about how many black folks will be helped by the American Job Act? Do you suggest that a more liberal agenda can pass the house? If so, what is it? Please share? Bashing Obama is not a strategy for change. Listing your Obama heartbreaks because you volunteered for him is politically immature. Obama is a politician. I like the fact that he is not into moral victories, but instead about getting something rather than nothing. Now, we do agree that he put some bass in his voice at the CBC speech, I didn't care for that either. I went back and listened to the Speech at the bridge this week and his tone was different. But I think he was arguing against folks like you to say, do you know what I'm up against, do you really know, stop watching MSNBC and reading Mother Jones in the comfort of your home, stop blogging (or responding to blogs in my case) and actually do something. And if you are doing something, join him, you may not agree, but join him and see what can happen. But again I am working my way through your blogs...