Randall: “I am just saying, I forgot Obama was Black too.”
In a recent e-mail conversation, law professor Vernellia Randall raised some interesting points about President Obama’s lack of focus on racial justice issues. With her permission, I’m reposting her observations here:
I am just saying, I forgot Obama was Black – too.
During the campaign, I said that Obama would be bad for the Black community. In my life, I have seen a number of black people rise to position of authority. There is nothing worse than the black person who runs from racial justice issues like it is a rabid dog. During the campaign, people insisted on portraying Obama as a progressive, liberal even a radical.
I didn’t see the liberal, progressive side then — and I am still waiting to see the liberal progressive side of Obama. The so “liberal, progressive radical” Obama administration has made it clear that there will be as little racial justice talk as possible.
Over the past year, there has been many examples of the Obama administration not making the obvious racial connections. The latest was in the state of the Union. President Obama pointed out that “One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard.” Yet, he failed to mention the horror is hitting communities of color, generally and the black communities specifically as being hit worst or harder than “small towns and rural communites.” According to the The Economist, the black unemployment rate is 16% — 18% for black men. And as The Economist noted, “These rates are based on a labour-force number which excludes those in prison; if there were not five times as many blacks behind bars as whites, the figures would look even worse.”
Yet, Obama’s failure to mention the black community or even the racial euphesim – urban area – is just another example of his refusal to address racial justice issues. Whenever he is asked about addressing the needs of the black community, his response is that “he has to help all Americans.” Aren’t black Americans a part of the “all Americans”? Is he saying that helping black Americans is in direct opposition to helping other Americans? Is “helping all Americans” just another code for “help white middle class Americans”. Can’t he do both?
President Obama takes a “jobs creation” approach. He is likely to do the same thing on jobs that the he has done on other economic stimulus – failed to assure that there is accounting for the racial impact. And consequently, our communities have not felt the improvement in proportion to their need.
No wonder, Chris Matthews could rave about the post-racial Obama, that for an hour he forgot that Obama was Black. He could say that because for an hour Obama failed to even hint at any the racial justice issues facing our community.
This is white liberal dream — to have a black person in authority who doesn’t address the obvious in racial justice issues — being freed of white liberal guilt.
My prediction – issues of racial justice are going to become even more difficult to address over the next 3 years because too many black people and organizations are going to be too busy protecting the legacy of the “first black president” instead of protecting the immediate interest and needs of the black community and other communities of color
It is time to really start worrying about Obama and his legacy? Will his color-blind economic approach merely widen the racial income and wealth gap? Will his refusal to discuss race mean that the only racial issues that are deemed important are attacks on him? Will white america move to a post-racial position despite all the evidence to the contrary?
I’m just saying. . . it is time for us to get our voice back; it is time for us to start fighting back!