Breaking Brown

September 26, 2011

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

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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55 thoughts on “obama to black community; take off your scarves, wave caps and help me

  1. solomon1 says:

    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…

    1. Yvette says:

      That Obama dislikes African Americans is speculative. The difference here is I admit it, and I have a stream of Obama comments and speeches which support my view, whereas Harris-Perry bases her view on pseudo science and one quote from Smiley and West, respectively.

      And although what Obama – or anyone else -believes at their core is always speculative, it is a fact that he hasn’t done much to benefit AA’s while in office. It is a fact that he speaks to African Americans in a dismissive tone that he’d never consider using to address other communities. For us, he feels such a condescending tone is appropriate. As I said in the article, he’d never tell Israelis to exchange their slippers for marching shoes. He respects their struggle. What does that tell you about how he feels about the African American struggle?

      The fact is that no one will be helped by the Jobs Act because the bill, as it is, won’t pass Congress. It’s an election ploy and Obama knows it.

      And I’m bashing Obama because he bashes me and my community. I won’t sit idly by and let him have his way without some push back. I’m not meek in my thinking or my actions.

      Uh, and I never volunteered for him. I’m not heartbroken. The folks who are thinking with their heart instead of their head are folk like yourself. You carry his mantle on blogs and in polls, defend him among Tea Partiers and for what? How has he repaid your loyalty? By telling you to “march” for him? By ignoring you until campaign season?

      Obama can’t deride me, or anyone else, for not doing anything if he’s not willing to throw the first punch. He hasn’t fought the Tea Party. He hasn’t fought Boehner or the Republican majority. Maybe when he learns to fight, I’ll join him.

      1. solomon1 says:

        I don’t understand something about your position, or that of Tavis Smiley or Dr. West. I don’t understand how you try and marginalize Obama supporters by telling us his election was purely symbolic (inferring that he hasn’t done or isn’t interested in doing anything of substance for black folks) while bemoaning the fact that he does not make symbolic gestures such as standing up to Tea Party or “throwing the first punch” or discuss Troy Davis. Instead, you criticize him for taking a more nuanced and substantive approach like passing the first stimulus bill so that local gov’ts didn’t have to fire gov’t workers, like extending unemployment benefits, like nominating a diverse federal bench, like passing health insurance reform, like signing the Fair Sentencing Act, like passing financial industry reform, like guarding the pell grant, like saving the Detroit car industry, like implementing race to the top, like going after the heroin fields of Afghanistan or helping fight the Cartels in Mexico.- all of which was a) done before election season and b) has or will have a profound impact on black folks (will benefit blacks). Yet, you dismiss this nuanced approach as some “rising tide” bullshit. You can’t have it both ways. You really can’t, and that’s why when you say he hasn’t done much for black people that is intellectually dishonest. He certainly has done as much or more for black folks than any other president has done.

        Look, I don’t like everything Obama has done either-like the fact that he bailed out the banks with little in return. Like Dr. West, I’d rather see Krugman than Geithner. But he did try and put Elizabeth Warren as head of the CFPB and I would have appreciated him using political capital for Warren instead of nominating Elena Kegan to SCOTUS. I’d rather he fight to force (Feddie Mac and Fannie Mae) banks to reduce principal on mortgages. But I will keep the faith.

        I suggest you go back and really peep what the Professor was saying to Tavis.

        1. Yvette says:

          If Obama was ever interested in enacting legislation that benefited African Americans, he would’ve pushed for it long before election season. What he wouldn’t have done was dismiss our concerns with some “one tide lifts all ships” nonsense.

          And how is fighting the Tea Party symbolic? Using his political skills against his actual foes, instead of his core supporters, could have changed the game. In every instance, the Tea Party sets the stage for a stand-off and Obama blinks. And there are real-life, not purely symbolic, repercussions for his cowardice.

          And understand, a stimulus bill would’ve been passed regardless of who won the election. Republicans are only able to deride the bill because they weren’t in power. It’s the advantage of being the minority party. TARP began under George W. Bush remember? The key question here is one of accountability for the banks. Any true progressive with any knowledge of the Great Depression would’ve 1) forced the banks into a real accountability arrangement whereby any bailout would’ve been repaid with interest. 2) Prosecuted those who broke the law. Instead, Obama is coddling up to the very folks who engineered the crisis. That’s not progressive and worse, it’s not right.

          Financial reform is a toothless bill. No cheers here. And regarding the federal bench, he’s allowing the Senate to stymie many of his appointments at every term. And I’m not interested in saving “too big to fail” companies, be they in Detroit or elsewhere. I’m not in favor of socializing risk and privatizing reward. It’s a moral hazard and Obama gets no credit for subsidizing big business – on the backs of the unions no less – while claiming helplessness in subsidizing Main St. The Fair Sentencing act is nice, but what’s a small victory like that when one looks at the major victories the Republican party has won at the hands of a pseudo-Democratic President? For a President who had both houses of Congress when he took office, he’s an abject failure. I really don’t see how anyone could argue otherwise.

          With regard to Elizabeth Warren, he was scuttled and outmaneuvered by his own Treasury Secretary. No leadership ability. No core values. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

          1. Kwame Piankhi says:

            To add to your point Sister Yvette, the “stimulus” bill has done nothing to prevent the carnage of austerity cuts suffered by municipalities nationwide where many of of our people are losing their pensions and taking pay cuts or layoffs (A disproportionate percentage are municipal workers). All the stimulus bill did was to allow local and state governments to service their debts to the TBTF banks.

            Of the small percentage of stimulus funds that was spent on infrastructure, none went to Black contractors as of December, 2009 (see Inequities in Transportation Stimulus Spending and Black contractors still waiting on stimulus effects, still facing barriers

            Furthermore, the workers bore the brunt of the cuts during the Auto bailout while JP Morgan and Citigroup were made whole. (Greg Palast does an excellent analysis of this in his article: Grand Theft Auto: How Stevie the Rat bankrupted GM
   New UAW workers are now hired in at $13 – $14 dollars an hour vs. $23 an hour for older workers. It’s next to impossible to support a family on $14 let alone buy a new car. In the next downturn, the higher paid workers will be bought out, further condemning the Detroit area to economic misery.

      2. jeanettesdaughter says:

        nicely done! well said. en garde! i too, will stand with those who stand with me.

  2. solomon1 says:

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

    1. Yvette says:

      Have you ever seriously considered that maybe you’ll view Obama differently in 20 years? Has that thought ever crossed your mind? Have you ever pondered the thought that time will reveal all the opportunities squandered? And I doubt it will take 20 years……

      1. solomon1 says:

        It’s crossed my mind that you sound like the tea party equivalent in the democratic party- willing to sink the ship- or take your ball and go home if everything doesn’t go your way.

      2. Odile says:


        Please check out this article (on inthesetimes) written before the last election. This is a guy who knew Obama and saw it coming too. Here’s an excerpt:

        July 26, 2007
        The Squandering of Obama

        Political masterminds have transformed the candidate from a political visionary into an electoral product like every other presidential aspirant
        BY Salim Muwakkil

        “Sophisticated African-American voters are expected to tolerate this perverse electoral tendency and squash their specific gripes for the good of the progressive whole. Obama’s progressive supporters often utilize this argument to push back black demands for specific campaign attention.

        Many of us familiar with Obama hoped he would help put an end to the Democrats’ racial schizophrenia. Knowing him as a strong advocate of racial pride, with a deep knowledge of African-Americans’ liberation struggle, we thought Obama was perfectly cast as the candidate who could bring needed perspective to our racial dilemma. Our past conversations led me to believe he would seek that role as well.”

  3. dcserfmeat says:

    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.

    1. Yvette says:


      And even with Obama’s poll numbers dropping, he’s polling higher in AA community than any other demographic. And he STILL takes this opportunity to speak to us in a dismissive and derisive tone?

      Yes, the Tea Party can whine all day about squiggly tailed light bulbs, but our job is to shut up and like it? I just don’t get it. And I don’t see how AA’s are still on Obama’s team.

      I’ll vote third party or stay home. Obama’s in my rearview. On that, we agree.

    2. jeanettesdaughter says:


  4. “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

    1. jeanettesdaughter says:

      Thank you for this. Clearly, “the thinking classes of American Negroes” were either absent at the convention or oddly silenced. A walk out — how magnificent that would have been! I tremble for my people and wonder what is to become of my grandchildren and their children and the world’s children under such timid leadership. There was a time when if no one else would take a stand, black leaders and even ordinary black folk would step up to fight for our own interests even when we were outnumbered and out-gunned. Now after all we have endured, survived, conquered, created, produced and won that we would backtrack and decide to become so docile and dumb downed is truly painful.

  5. Skip Kelly says:

    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”

    1. Yvette says:

      I know people who actually knew Obama during his time as Harvard and as a “community organizer”. Your depiction of him couldn’t be more wrong.

      1. Skip Kelly says:

        For our documentary “Believe: The Barack Obama Story”, we did extensive research and interviewed several political and community leaders in Chicago who knew Obama during his years as director of the Developing Communities Project (DCP) in the southside. They confirmed what has also been documented in several books by journalists that Obama was a dedicated community organizer who worked with Black church pastors and community activists in addressing community problems. A couple of examples:

        – DCP’s first significant action under the leadership of Obama was a rally in 1985 outside the home of southside State Senator Emil Jones Jr. to get his help with funding for a school dropout program. When he came out to see what the fuss was about, Senator Jones engaged the young activist Obama and assisted the DCP in getting funding for the school dropout program from the state board of education. It was the beginning of a long relationship between Obama and Jones, who later became President of the State Senate, and greatly assisted Obama’s political rise in the State State and campaign for U.S. Senate.

        – Under the leadership of Obama, the DCP made one of its most significant contributions in 1986 by taking action to pressure the Chicago Housing Authority to clean up a dangerous asbestos problem at the Altgeld Gardens Housing Project. Then, Obama and the DCP organized residents to confront the housing authority to address the problem but were met with delays and foot-dragging. The DCP then mobilized a dramatic protest at the housing authority central office, which led to the funding of a massive asbestos cleanup at Altgeld Gardens.

        And regarding Harvard Law School, we interviewed law school classmates who were impressed by Obama’s dedication to serving the community, and he pursued public service in Chicago after his graduation. And we confirmed that Obama certainly turned down lucrative corporate law offers and prestigious judicial clerkships. Whatever anybody says about Obama, he did not go after the typical trappings of success that were available to him.

        So I am confident about my depiction of Obama that does not fit your narrative.

        1. Yvette says:

          Of the two of us, only one has benefited from pushing a “narrative”, and that’s you. Unlike you, I didn’t help produce a piece of pure fiction that touted Obama as some sort of forerunner for truth or harbinger of Negro justice. You did that. And thus, you have something to lose. You have a dog in this fight, not me.

          For my part, I’m only outlining the facts and following them to their logical conclusions. I’m not enhancing Obama’s brand with a documentary, you are. And you’re protecting your product. Good for you.

          And are you really asserting, with a straight face, that 1) Obama’s greatest accomplishment as a community organizer was an asbestos clean-up and 2) that sort of “activism” is comparable to the marches of the 60’s, where activists and marchers were murdered and mauled?

          Many of the people sitting in that CBC room marched in the 60’s and put their lives on the line. They paved the way for Obama. And, in that same CBC room, Obama diminished their efforts by lecturing them on activism.

          That’s not my “narrative” talking. That’s the truth.

          1. Skip Kelly says:

            Getting back to my original point, when you stated Obama “never marched for anything during his days as a community organizer”, you were wrong on the facts and the truth that you profess to care about. You have attempted to deflect my focus on your false statement but never actually refuted my original point.

            And I never asserted that Obama’s activism is comparable to the marches of the ’60s. In fact, Obama reveres Congressman John Lewis and other civil rights activists who risked their lives to change America, and their great sacrifice inspired Obama to become a community organizer. During his CBC speech, Obama praised Lewis, Rev. Joseph Lowery and other civil rights veterans.

            And I can assert with a straight face that, among Obama’s accomplishments as a community organizer, the asbestos clean-up stands out because it saved the health and potentially the lives of thousands of residents at the Altgeld Gardens Housing Project. Asbestos is a major cause of cancer that was the focus of the EPA and environmental activists because it was so prevalent in older buildings including inner city housing projects.

            Redarding my documentary “Believe: The Barack Obama Story”, we certainly had a point of view in producing it, but it is based on solid research of facts and history, interviews with respected people who knew him and hosted by television journalist Roland Martin. To call it “pure fiction that touted Obama as some sort of forerunner for truth or harbinger of Negro justice” is a real stretch even for a bombastic blogger like yourself.

            I have no problem with you criticizing Obama or supporters like myself. But you should be fair and accurate to maintain your credibility.

        1. jeanettesdaughter says:

          right yvette.

  6. Odile says:

    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.

  7. Yvette says:

    @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.

    1. Skip Kelly says:

      Not only me but President Obama himself would be the first to say that the civil rights movement and other great movements far outweigh anything he ever did as a community organizer. But the people that we interviewed in Chicago said it was more than just a “dalliance”, and his leadership of Project Vote, which significantly increased African American voter registration in Chicago, was another accomplishment they noted. I would never compare this to those great movements, I was only trying to point out that it is untrue to say he “never marched for anything during his days as a community organizer.”

      As to your main point criticizing Obama for what he said at the end of the CBC speech, I happen to agree with you completely. It was silly, stupid and offensive, and ruined an otherwise pretty good speech. It brought negative media attention and criticism from all quarters, even from supporters like me.

      So I can be objective about Obama when I believe he is wrong.

      1. Yvette says:

        I’ve worked with Project Vote during the 2004 campaign and am at least as familiar with their work as you are. Those folk work hard and with little fan fare. I give them that.

        But we agree that voter registration is not comparable to the push for the 40 hour work week or the Civil Rights movement. So it is curious to me that a man with so little experience on the forefront of a movement would seek to criticize a group with so much experience. They should be teaching him, scolding him, not the other way around. That was my point. I think your point of fact about whether or not there was an asbestos march missed the intent of the blog post..

        1. Skip Kelly says:

          Yes, I actually agreed with the intent of your blog post. By the way, what is the end goal for all the Obama bashing? If Obama goes down in 2012, doesn’t that hurt our long term interests by enabling the Tea Party to gain more power in Congress and the White House? Can we have a strategy that can be critical of Obama while at the same time recognizing that the alternative could much be much, much worse?

          1. Yvette says:

            It’s not about “bashing” Skip. It’s about offering a thoughtful, and legislatively relevant, critique. If we want Obama to move to the left (and I do),then that goal won’t be accomplished by insulating him from criticism.

            And we could learn a lot from the Tea Party. They pushed their party to the Right by holding them accountable.They didn’t sit on the sidelines whispering to each other, “well, it could always be worse.” I aim to do the same,only this time from the left. I hope that answers your question.

  8. Skip Kelly says:

    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.

    1. Yvette says:

      Firstly, I would note that we no longer have a true Left in this country. Long ago, we had a Left flank populated largely by socialists, anarchists, and other anti- capitalists. Today, those folks have been largely marginalized in favor of the center-left. And the center-left is rarely “over the top”.

      Secondly, this is a blog. I editorialize. I speculate. If you’re looking for hard news, then head on over to CNN. But my assertion, albeit bold, is based on actual facts. And continually dismissing the black electorate and speaking condescendingly to us at every opportunity does, I believe, speak to how Obama feels about our demographic.

      With regard to the Tea Party, they are a far Right wing slice of the electorate and they are succeeding by applying pressure to the Republican party. So you are right when you say that they are independent of the Republican party. Especially in so far as they judge their elected leaders based on their votes and legislative initiatives, not empty promises or high flying rhetoric. Some would call the way the Tea Party forced themselves on the ballot and primaried their fellow republicans “over the top.” For people who don’t agree with you, everything you do is “over the top.”

      1. Skip Kelly says:

        No, I totally respect criticism of Obama that is, as you stated, “thoughtful and legislatively relevant.” And I often agree with the criticism because I don’t think Obama has taken a strong enough stand on certain isssues. But I do believe that personal attacks and questions about Obama’s blackness are “over the top” and don’t get us anywhere but a dead end. I think we can agree that what really matters is “what is he doing for black people?”, and I concede the answer is “not enough!” So more power to the critics who can push him to do better and inspire the people to agigate for positive change. But don’t make the mistake of the Tea Party by being so extreme and negative that the people are turning against them.

        1. Yvette says:

          And I believe talk about bedroom “slippers” and “grumbling” is over the top. Get where I’m going?

          I’m not questioning Obama’s blackness by making the point that he deals with our community dismissively, and speaks to us in a way that he would never speak to another demographic. That’s not questioning his blackness as much as it is calling him out on his hypocrisy.

          I’ll take you at your word that you don’t believe Obama is doing enough for the black community, but you sure do have a funny way of articulating that belief. You spent at least 4 or so posts debating me on whether Obama led an asbestos march. That doesn’t much sound like a person who is concerned about or critical of Obama’s policies. It did, however, come off as a person who is invested in defending Obama’s legacy. I don’t see how we can move forward while you’re so heavily invested in Obama’s pre-2008 image. It would seem that you’re much more focused on symbolism, while I’ve homed in on substance.

          And say what you like about the Tea Party, but they get what they want from Obama and the Republican leadership. Will the public turn against them? We’ll have an answer in 2012. But any assessment made this early in the game is premature.

          1. Skip Kelly says:

            The polls show that the majority of Americans have turned against the Tea Party because of their extremism during the debt ceiling debate. But they are an energized and organized minority that can still impact the Republican primaries and the general election in 2012. However, the progressive coalition can win in 2012 if black folks, Latinos, young people and liberal white folks of all ages turn out like they did in 2008. We need to do this for our own interests to bring real change to America no matter how we feel about Obama.

            What you don’t understand is that I can believe that Obama has not done enough for the black community as president, an obvious fact given the rise in unemployment and poverty, and at the same time, acknowledge the good things that he has done for the black community in his past. That’s just being true to history, and dare I say, “homed in on substance!”

            You are so “invested” in your totally negative views about Obama that you minimize the good things that Obama did as a young man who was idealistic and very progressive. With the asbestos march, Obama actually helped improve the health and save the lives of thousands of public housing residents, including many children who otherwise would have suffered miserable lives. Excuse me for thinking that was significant!

            But hey, I also recognize that people are complicated, and politicians often change when they ascend to high office. You make some good arguments that Obama has changed for the worse, or that his real character and beliefs have been exposed. That’s a reasonable argument that can be debated in looking at Obama’s presidency. I’m not “so heavily invested in Obama’s pre-2008 image”, I am actually looking at his presidency objectively. If he fails and is a dissapointment in the end, I will re-edit my documentary to include this sad history.

            For all our sakes, I hope he gets his act together. One thing he needs to do is stop talking about “slippers” and “grumbling”, you’re absolutely right, that is over the top!

  9. Yvette says:

    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.

    1. Bryan C says:

      @Yvette I’m glad that there are people on the left (I’m a black independent, but will likely vote Repub this time if Cain or Paul make it to the generals) that are able to see what is being said without playing apologist and clinging to supporting a candidate that doesn’t return the favor, all because they claimed they would return it almost three years ago and their party affiliations ally.

      The world needs many more “Yvettes” than “Skip Kellys”. More people who use their heads than people who honestly think, nearly 3 years in, that Obama doesn’t “have his act together”. It’s together plenty, it’s just not what he said it was.

      Malcom X put it best:
      “And despite the fact that you are in a position to — to be the determining factor, what do you get out of it? The Democrats have been in Washington D.C. only because of the Negro vote. They’ve been down there four years, and they’re — all other legislation they wanted to bring up they brought it up and gotten it out of the way, and now they bring up you. And now, they bring up you. You put them first, and they put you last, ’cause you’re a chump, a political chump.

      In Washington D.C., in the House of Representatives, there are 257 who are Democrats; only 177 are Republican. In the Senate there are 67 Democrats; only 33 are Republicans. The Party that you backed controls two-thirds of the House of Representatives and the Senate, and still they can’t keep their promise to you, ’cause you’re a chump.

      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.”

      Amazing how that quote rings true with Obama’s actions towards the black community, nearly down to the timing (nearly three years in and NOW is the time to act? Really?).

      1. Yvette says:

        Thank you Brian. I wasn’t aware of the Malcolm X quote, but how apropro. That quote could’ve just as well been made yesterday, last week, or last month.I’ve always maintained that politics is an exchange and that our vote is our currency. We offer our vote in exchange for legislative action. But AAs are showing up at the booth, ticket in hand, and are being turned away by Obama & Co. empty handed. I don’t call that politics. I call it a con / scam.

        1. Bryan C says:

          Exactly, and still the majority of black Americans waste their vote by voting party affiliation only.

          There is a really good video floating around youtube that give lots of info as to why most of us vote democrat without a second thought:

          “Examining Black Loyalty to Democrats”

          …and another video with a wealth of insight on why government regulations have done little to help the black community:

          “The State Against Blacks” by Economist Dr. Walter Williams

  10. Skip Kelly says:

    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!

  11. Yvette says:


    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.

    1. jeanettesdaughter says:

      i’m sorry. this guy is wasting your time, yvette. if you keep engaging him, he’ll just go on and on with these circular arguments saying i agree and then i dont’ agree with what i said i agreed with but actually i agree with you on the whole or mostly or almost entirely… etc. my head is spinning. as for me i will be leaning way left on the futon with my flip flops on my feet not on my head! all the work that needs doing cannot get done in the voting booth. that we think it can is part of the problem. and i say this as one of those who marched as a teenager to insure voting rights, to take people to the polls sometimes under fire, so i am entitled to put on some slippers and do something else with my political education and what is left of my radical energy…

  12. Skip Kelly says:

    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!

    1. Jayce says:

      Clearly not. As the debt ceiling battle amply demonstrated, conceding our country to the Tea Party is the President’s job.

    2. Yvette says:

      You don’t get it Skip. For me, this is not about “sides” as much as it is about holding our President accountable. And when I discussed marching, I was referencing marches in the vein of Civil Rights marches, not some arbitrary asbestos marches with a few hundred, even a thousand, people.If Obama had managed a movement that in any way resembled the Civil Rights movement or the labor rights movement, we all would’ve known his name long before he was elected Senator from Illinois. I could rally a march downtown right now. Does that place me on the level of King or Malcolm?

      And when you enter a debate where 99% of what the author says is correct, and you decide to home in on the one percent that may be, technically, untrue, it says a lot about your credibility. It certainly speaks volumes about your politics. You’re an Obama supporter and you plan to vote for him in November. We all know it, so just say it and stop hiding behind the false claim that you are critical of the President. You’re not. You wouldn’t have needed to mount such a stalwart defense were that not the case.

      1. Skip Kelly says:

        Yvette, you continue to deflect from your untrue statement by stating that you were referencing marches during the great movements of American history. You never made any point of reference, you just flat out made a bold statement that Obama “never marched for anything during his days as a community organizer.”

        You can denigrate the marches that Obama helped organize in Chicago all you want. But the people in those communities did not believe it was “abitrary” to clean up life threatening asbestos for thousands of public housing residents, or to get job training and school dropout programs.

        Nobody is even thinking about comparing him or any other politician to the level of King or Malcolm. But he did a lot more than a whole lot of critics have ever done for the black community.

        And for the record, I don’t think 99% of what you said was correct. I focused on the most obvious incorrect statement on which I had knowledge to share. I think it’s important to be accurate about Obama’s life story.

        I have never tried to hide that I am a supporter of Obama, and I do plan to vote for him in 2012 because I think he is by far the best alternative who has a chance to win. I don’t want America and the world to go through what we went through in the last decade, when some progressives stayed home or voted for Nader in 2000. I know that Al Gore, no matter how flawed he was, would not have gone to war against Iraq, cut taxes for the rich and put America in the huge hole that we are still in today.

        You think a supporter of Obama can’t be critical of him at the same time? That’s absurd! What do you think has been going on for the last two years, people who are still supporting Obama but criticizing him on specific policies, strategies or speeches that he gives. That’s what most people do in politics, they can support someone overall but be critical when they believe that person is wrong.

        But you look at everything regarding Obama in absolute terms of being totally on one side or the other, Obamabot or Obamanot!

      2. jeanettesdaughter says:

        Yvette for president – third party candidadte!!!

        1. jeanettesdaughter says:

          oops – Candidate!

  13. Yvette says:

    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.

    1. Skip Kelly says:

      My qualms about Obama are very real and genuine for one important reason – I believe his failure would be a disaster for America and the world. And he cannot succeed unless he does better on many of the issues that you stated, as I agreed. His fate in 2012 is tied directly to him doing better and giving his base a reason to turn out. As you stated “I don’t want him to fail. I want him to do the right thing.” I couldn’t state it any better!

      Yes, I produced a documentary that was a positive portrayal of Obama, and I stand by it because it is based on his true life story. But I am not going to overlook problems with Obama’s presidency such as high black unemployment and poverty rates. Our people are hurting, I’m surely not going to deny it!

      And you underestimate Obama supporters if you think we are so loyal to Obama no matter what he does or does not do. To the contrary, the latest polls show that we have tempered our enthusiasm for Obama in all the latest polls. That is what discerning voters do when they support a politician because he is so much better than the alternative, but are still dissappointed in his performance. Just because Obama supporters don’t abandon him like you want doesn’t mean that we don’t question his performance and want him to do better.

      I understand that you are a little paronoid after intense battles with Obama supporters, but to state that I was “pretending” in order to “create a false sense of familiarity” is a real stretch. To paraphrase your excellent blog today, I was trying to “draw a line through” to the common denominator between us.

      1. jeanettesdaughter says:

        Are you kidding? What media planet are you living on? Obama is already fast becoming a disaster for the world, and the world knows it. African Americans here and too many nations to count — we’re all thrown under the bus. I won’t say take your blinders off because you’re obviously very fond of them. Vote for him if you wish! Those of us who cannot in good conscience do so will not. That. Is. All. There is no more time to leverage our vote for something more than the dulcet tones he saves for his white audiences and the harsh big papa voice he reserves for us, no more time to view the pretty photo ops or to revisit, continuously his glorious past or the symbolic victory of the inaugural walk. You may not know that black Americans were thrilled when Ralph Bunch was appointed ambassador to Israel. In fact, we were thrilled when any so called American Negro anywhere did or won anything! That was a big political event for my grandmother’s generation, but you know what she said to me about that? ( i believe I did a school report for Negro History Week…) She said, “Keep going . We can’t eat Ralph Bunch lunch.” In other words, our fate and the fate of the world does not depend on the greatness (or lack thereof) of any one man. Frankly, we need better thinking people on our local school boards, in every political sphere extant and where none exists we probably need to create some new ones.

  14. “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

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