Editor’s Note: This post comes to us from Dr. Darron Smith- M.P.
Its generally dangerous territory to criticize powerful people especially the nations first black President, as Tavis Smiley and Cornel West (http://www.povertytour.smileyandwest.com) learned in 2011 during their highly visible poverty tour. Cornell West, who supported the President in 2008, has been the most vocal critic, characterizing Mr. Obama as the “black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats.” West further intimates that the president is out of touch with the everyday suffering of Black Americans because he was not socialized himself to be a black man (http://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2011/05/west_obama_a_bl.html). Cornel West experienced bitter criticism by members of the black intelligentsia for his viewpoints regarding the president. Given that black Americans have endured 246 year history of brutal chattel slavery followed by another 90 years of Jim Crow, it is reasonable then that Black Americans want and are looking for Messianic leadership from the President to ease the burden of nearly 20 generations of discrimination and gross inequality, which remains a reality in American life.
Blacks have yet to benefit from the fruits of the so-called “American Dream.” Black unemployment is still unacceptably high for millions and the unregulated predatory mortgage debacle disproportionately injured Black Americans worse than other folks with little federal relief. And how about the prison industrial complex and mass incarceration of young black men and women removed from the workforce and their families, often branded and stigmatized as felons in America, which surely means a lifetime of stigma. There is much more this president can still do for 43 million African Americans who so richly rewarded him with a whooping 96% of their vote in 2012 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-ross/black-voters-obama-2012_b_2086538.html). But Black Americans have to be careful not to get too caught up in romantic notions of the First Family and the president as the coming Messiah. For many African Americans of faith, the president occupies a sacred place in their hearts and minds. He is above reproach and is the personification of hope and change, the deliverer from Pharaoh’s army. The blending of religious discourse with notions of American exceptionalism where every American gets a fair chance as the president so often says has not and cannot happen by ignoring issues relevant to the black community. When the LGBT community’s mounting criticism were leveled against the President for not addressing key issues for that community reached it’s peak, he responded by ending “don’t ask don’t tell” and publically supporting some-sex marriages (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/05/obama-comes-out-i-think-same-sex-couples-should-be-able-to-get-married/). When Latinos took to the streets demanding that Washington address immigration on some level, the president likewise responded and gave them an executive order—The Dream Act (http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/15/us/immigration-deferred-deportation/index.htm). When women rightfully addressed fair act pay he gave them the Lilly Ledbetter Act. But what of Black folks, which he owes his reelection. The president has done very little thus far in his presidency for Black Americans. In fact, he has been overly cautious and careful to avoid being seen as too black by his white constituents (http://www.darronsmith.com/2012/10/dont-be-too-black-mr-president-the-racial-effect-of-president-obamas-performance-in-the-2012-presidential-debates/), which has impacted his ability to deliver effective reprieve for millions African Americans anxiously waiting deliverance from the persistence of American racism and injustice.
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