President Obama and the Black Community: What Went Wrong and How to Fix It

Up at Yourblackworld.com, I lay out what I believe is a comprehensive plan for moving forward with (or without) the Obama administration. It’s an extensive 1,500 or so words, so read and ponder when you have some free time. As always, an appetizer:

In 1956, I shall not go to the polls. I have not registered. I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or say. –W.E.B. DuBois

As of late, I’ve adopted the habit of consulting the work of black intellectual giants for my queues, and not just on airy matters, but as a force of habit in practical affairs as well. When I began considering whether I should vote in 2012, I also began reading a piece by W.E.B. DuBois entitled “Why I Won’t Vote.”  Like me, DuBois lamented the corrupting impact of money in politics, America’s adventures abroad, and, of course, the little positive action being taken  on the Negro question.

What I discovered was that there were no practical distinctions between where DuBois was then and where I am now. The seminal departure from where I am in 2012 and where DuBois was in 1956 rests on one shiver of twilight: The Obama Presidency.  All the corruption, misdeeds, and unfairness is still with us, but there is now a fleeting opportunity to do some good from within the political structure. But even in the 21stcentury, with the first black president in the White House, the Negro question still looms.

The prevailing thought in the African American community was that, finally, we had someone in the White House who could perceive our needs and integrate them within the broader swath of American needs. No one expected a messiah.  We didn’t cry all over ourselves on inauguration day because we were witnessing the second coming of Jesus Christ, but because we were watching a man who was, or so we thought, the incarnation of an African American progression, spanning some 400 years,  which supported equality, fairness, and benevolent leadership.

I think about that moment and I brim with pride, then I think about this moment, and I shrink. We haven’t been made bigger and better by President Obama’s election; we’ve been made smaller, largely diminished by both Obama and his critics. So it is time to ask; how did we get here?  Where did President Obama, Tavis Smiley, Dr. Cornel West, and Rev. Al Sharpton go wrong? And did they, have they, collectively squandered the opportunity for the African American community to have a reciprocal relationship with this White House?

It pains me to write this. I ache under the weight of writing a piece that outlines both the shortfalls of the first black president and his black detractors, but it must be done, and it must necessarily be done before the upcoming presidential election.

Please, read the whole thing. And once you’re done, add to the dialogue. I want to hear your thoughts and concerns. This is serious.

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1 comments
Phuong Lama
Phuong Lama

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