It’s not often that I agree with a Republican on anything – let alone listen to one. But a recent headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught my attention: A Georgia GOP heavyweight puts the onus on Obama for turmoil in Ferguson. Normally, I wouldn’t even click such a link, because since Obama was first elected to office, the Republican party – and especially Tea Partyers – have been dedicated to undermining him at every turn while trying to claim that their attacks and lack of cooperation have nothing to do with race.
So I clicked. And read. Open-mindedly. And as I did, I was shocked to see that despite the obvious Republican focus of blaming Obama for every wrongdoing and mishap since the evolution of homo sapiens, I agreed with Mr. Evans on one single point: Obama has squandered “an opportunity to really advance race relations in the United States.”
More than that, to me though, is that Obama has failed black America by not doing enough to help improve our situation. Granted, I understand that during his first term, he could not afford to do too much without repercussions from the Republican party, and especially the extremists. As one commenter on the article replied:
If Obama seemed to be doing too much/anything directly for the African American community, the right wing would scream bloody murder about favoritism. I genuinely feel sorry for Obama and the plight of black men in general. The double standard is stacked against them big time. – NWGal
Now, however, Obama has nothing to lose in his second term by helping improve the socioeconomic status for African-Americans and ease the widescale suffering and injustice that plagues this country. He’s passed his major agenda, the Affordable Care Act. But instead of addressing race relations in this country, he skirts around it every opportunity he gets, because he’s still too focused on “playing nice” with people who have given him hell since day one.
Another commenter on the article had this to say:
President Obama has had years to use his bully pulpit to address issues of race on a broader, more direct and certainly comprehensive level. Although I applaud his efforts to address federal sentencing disparities, he’s done little else to improve the plight of African Americans in this nation. And I think its pretty ironic that black people are the last demographic in this nation that has a majority that supports the job he’s doing, and yet he makes every effort to avoid addressing black issues. And at times, he’s even seemed oblivious to obvious issues of race when the matter is right there in his face. – SouthernDem
One such example of his obliviousness is his response to the Michael Brown murder. As Marc Lamont Hill said in a CNN commentary:
…the President delivered a polite but ultimately dangerous message to the American public.
Noticeably absent from President Obama’s remarks was the issue of race….By not mentioning this racial dimension, the President reinforced the immature notion that racism can be defeated simply by pretending it doesn’t exist.
Rather than leading the nation into a new level of racial understanding and dialogue, the President took the safe path through the door of post-racial rhetoric.
And that’s the biggest problem in America – the continued denial of the racism that has existed since the formation of the 13 colonies. How anyone could look at the social and economic disparities in this country and not see a clear and obvious racial divide speaks to the blindness (not color blindness) and ignorance prevalent.
Again, referring back to Marc Lamont Hill, no one expects Obama to start shouting “Black Power” and becoming militant. But at least acknowledge that these inequities exist and DO something about them. Instead, he’s advanced everyone else’s agendas and fighting wars unnecessarily, except for the people that believed in his false mantras of change and hope. Nothing has changed for black America since Obama’s election, and what hope we had is diminished as our young men are being murdered at an increasingly alarming rate by racist white “law enforcement” officers who very infrequently are punished for their crimes.
Obama still has two years to make positive change and open serious and honest discussions on the proverbial elephant in the room. But with his track record so far, I’m not hopeful that anything will change.