Skip to main content

Time for President Obama to Return the Favor (Black Folks Ridin' Hard for POTUS)

Dear President Obama,

I listened to your comments on the looting going on in Baltimore yesterday.  All I could think was, "Here we go again."

Let me get to the point:  You're quick to criticize black folks when we don't live up to your standards, but you're slow to criticize non-black folks when their failure to live up to any standard of decency leads to the murder of black folks.

As one reporter noted, you did not walk the streets of Ferguson.  You were silent about Eric Garner.  I've not heard you utter the phrase "Black Lives Mater."

But the minute that black folks -- young black folks at that -- begin to loot and riot in response to the racial transgressions you barely acknowledge?  Then it's on.  You jump on the obvious bandwagon and, despite your race, fail to add anything to the conversation that non-blacks don't already think and say.  You fail to add the context that your experience as a black man in America would cause to come to you naturally.  Or at least it should.

Sure, it's easy to call young black people "thugs."  It's easy to confirm the pre-existing stereotypes.  But you have a higher calling and a greater debt to the very people you condemn so easily.

You have a higher calling because you know better and you were put into office in part because you were expected to lift your voice for black people at most, or at least to make sure that black people are treated equally under the law.  Make no mistake -- many black folks had their doubts about you.  I know for certain that many black women would not have voted for you but for the fact that you are married to Mrs. Obama, enabling you to wear her "race rank," for lack of a better phrase.  The idea behind black folks putting a black man in the White House was that he -- you -- would bring your life experience with you and deploy it for our equal treatment and everyone else's education. For many of us, the reason to vote you in for a second term was to give you the political freedom to speak to the uneasy issue of race that you didn't have in your first term.  The idea was that you'd have nothing to lose and you'd expend some political capital on the uneasy issue of race.  Instead, you chose to use Eric Holder as your proxy.

To make matters worse, your comments on Baltimore embodied Professor Derrick Bell''s Third Rule of Racial Standing from his book, "Faces at the Bottom of the Well, " to wit:

Few blacks avoid diminishment of racial standing, most of their statements about racial conditions being diluted and their recommendations of other blacks taken with a grain of salt. The usual exception to this rule is the black person who publicly disparages or criticizes other blacks who are speaking or acting in ways that upset whites. Instantly, such statements are granted 'enhanced standing' even when the speaker has no special expertise or experience in the subject he or she is criticizing. (emphasis added).
And when the President of the United States disparages black people, without adding the context to their actions that he knows or should knows, this exception to the rule of racial standing becomes all the more stronger.

But you knew that.

You chose to call them thugs when you could have quoted Dr. King about the nature of rioting:  "Riot is the language of the unheard."  You didn't put their actions into context,   You simply brushed all of those who looted with a broad brushstroke, with an easy sound bite, knowing that you wouldn't have to bear the consequences of the condemnation you heaped upon them and those who look like them.

Enough. Is.  Enough.

To borrow a turn of phrase from your girl Ms. Bey, black folks have been ridin' hard for you, Mr. President.  Ridin' hard, even when you've done things that, quite frankly, we and most of the free world didn't understand (like that "line in the sand" with Syria that you couldn't back up).  We understood why you couldn't consistently address issues of race in your first term -- because they would be a distraction from all the other issues you had to tackle -- the economy, two wars, health care reform, etc.  But we put you in a second time in hopes that you would be free to speak about, and do something about, race in America.  Because being the first black President -- hell, being the first black ANYTHING -- comes with its own set of responsibilities.  One of those is to make it better for those who look like you and don't have the same power or platform that you do.  This idea that you have to be a President of all the people and not just one group is undermined by the fact that we're Americans, too, and our race problem is America's race problem.  And yours.

Mr. President, Black America has been ridin' hard for you.  It's time for you to return the favor.  You could start by explaining us instead of being the first to criticize us.

Sincerely,

Black Woman Blogging

Comments

StevenT said…
Awesome as usual, BWB.

Popular posts from this blog

When You Leave The Ghetto, Don't Bring It With You

NBA player Gilbert Arenas brings a gun to an NBA locker room. NBA player Ron Artest lets his pit bulls run wild and free in Loomis, California while playing for the Sacramento Kings. NFL player Michael Vick did time for fighting dogs. And NFL player Plaxico Burress is doing time for shooting his damn self.

What do all these men have in common? BMNB would say an inability to make a profound paradigm shift. I’m less eloquent than BMNB is, so I’ll say it differently: The inability to leave the ghetto behind.

Yes, call me saditty, bourgie, elitist, stuck-up, whatever. I don’t care. Until you’ve had a tweaker ruin your Thanksgiving turkey, you don’t even know (more on that later), and I’m not trying to hear you.

Living in Western Placer County, my husband and I continue to hear stories from folks like us who had to flee “those who can’t leave the ghetto behind.” You know these people, and they come in all races. In our case, we had returned to Sacramento in 2004 and 2005, respective…

Hillary Clinton Can Stop Trump -- If She Releases Her Electors

Hillary Clinton isn't going to be President of the United States.  At least not yet.  And not in 2017.

But she can possibly stop Donald Trump from being President by releasing her pledged electors  in the Electoral College to vote for a compromise Republican candidate.

This is part of the strategy of the Hamilton Electors, members of the Electoral College who see that Donald Trump is not qualified to be President.  They argue that the Electoral College's role is not to rubber-stamp the popular vote -- which, in this case, would belong to Clinton -- but to serve as a check on the popular vote to make sure that no one who is unfit assumes the office of President.

According to the Hamilton Electors, named for Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (Yes, he of the very popular musical for which I can't get tickets) Hamilton stated that the Electoral College's test for fitness to be the President was as follows (and I'm quoting):

Election of a Qualified Person: As Hamilton s…

Malia's Hair is Off Limits! So is Sasha's!

I read a snippet of a New York Times article in which there was criticism of the hairstyle Malia Obama wore to Italy. Twists, to be precise. Said twists were criticized as not befitting someone representing the United States abroad.

Hold up. Slow your roll, America. You don't get a say in this. Neither Malia nor Sasha "chose" to represent the United States in any way, shape, or form. And their hair, and how they wear it, is off limits. Back the eff off.

I was hotter than a hornet reading this. The whole black woman's hair thing? That's personal with me. We black women have more than enough issues and neuroses about our hair and how we wear it. It is not open to debate within wider circles, especially when there's a child involved. The choices we have, other than wearing our hair in its natural state in twists, dreads, braids, cornrows or afros, are painful -- chemical relaxers, also called "creamy crack," and searing hot straightening combs. If Malia …