Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How Black Is Black?

Barack Obama and Michelle Obama
Barack Obama and Michelle Obama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I never did have patience for those who in 2007 sought to know if Barack Obama was black enough. And I am no apologist. My passionate feelings against racism are matched perhaps only by my passionate feelings for democracy for those who suffer under dictators.

I was in New York City and it felt like every black politician in town was outside the Barack Obama camp for, let's face it, he was not going to win.

For Barack Obama to win the top political office in the world with his skin color and to do the best job he can - which he has - is what is best for black America. This dude is not your pastor, he is not your civil rights leader. He is an executive. He has a job. He is on salary. He answers to an electorate.

Doing right by his job is the best thing he can do for black America, as for white America. One of the things I noticed about his stimulus bill in 2009 was that he was pumping billions into inner city schools. Those are Martin Luther King level steps in my book. Education is the way out for the young blacks in America. And Barack Obama knows. Because that was the path for him and Michelle.

He has emphasized education, he brought about health care reform, a long progressive fantasy. And if you talk about the Great Recession, where was FDR in 1936? Nowhere. It was finally the huge stimulus of World War II that dug America out of the Great Depression.

I am for a second stimulus bill, this time for a trillion dollars. And so the blacks in America just like progressives across the board should be thinking in terms of retaking the House, not if it is worth keeping the White House.

Barack Obama showed up after five centuries of non whites getting the shaft. His rise to the top is a tectonic shift. It speaks of the man but also the times. Perhaps this is to be a new century.

Barack Obama should do his job, but that should not stop black civil rights leaders from stepping forth to help take race relations in America to the next level. Where are they? Who are they?

I'd want Barack Obama to stay focused on public policy rather than get sidetracked by vague deliberations on race.

The Price of a Black President
the modern Republican Party’s utter disregard for economic justice, civil rights and the social safety net. ...... Whether it ends in 2013 or 2017, the Obama presidency has already marked the decline, rather than the pinnacle, of a political vision centered on challenging racial inequality. The tragedy is that black elites — from intellectuals and civil rights leaders to politicians and clergy members — have acquiesced to this decline, seeing it as the necessary price for the pride and satisfaction of having a black family in the White House. ...... 28 percent of African-Americans, and 37 percent of black children, are poor (compared with 10 percent of whites and 13 percent of white children); 13 percent of blacks are unemployed (compared with 7 percent of whites); more than 900,000 black men are in prison; blacks experienced a sharper drop in income since 2007 than any other racial group; black household wealth, which had been disproportionately concentrated in housing, has hit its lowest level in decades; blacks accounted, in 2009, for 44 percent of new H.I.V. infections. ....... The political scientist Daniel Q. Gillion found that Mr. Obama, in his first two years in office, talked about race less than any Democratic president had since 1961. From racial profiling to mass incarceration to affirmative action, his comments have been sparse and halting. ..... It wasn’t until earlier this year that Mr. Obama spoke as forcefully on a civil rights matter — the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida — saying, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” ..... “puzzling the idea that a president who happens to be black has to focus on black issues.” ....... the new cadre of black politicians who serve largely black constituencies, like Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark, Mayor Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia and Representative Terri Sewell of Alabama — all of whom, like Mr. Obama, have Ivy League degrees and rarely discuss the impact of racism on contemporary black life. ...... “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” The political scientist E. E. Schattschneider noted that conflict was essential to agenda-setting. Other interest groups — Tea Party activists, environmentalists, advocates for gay and lesbian rights, supporters of Israel and, most of all, rich and large corporations — grasp this insight. Have African-Americans forgotten it?
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