by Solomon Comissiong
“Obama trivialized blacks’ day to day struggles, and their historical quest for human rights.”
When then US Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president of the United States on February 10, 2007 it marked the beginning of the superficial “Change You Can Believe In” express. Many saw his candidacy, and impending coronation as president, as a breath of fresh air from the sulfur stench left in the atmosphere by the Bush/Cheney administration. Some even saw his candidacy as potentially great for Black America. On both counts, those people were, unfortunately, wrong. Barack Obama’s presidency has seen a continuation of many of the Bush administration’s repugnant policies. And President Obama has been one of the worst things to happen to a great many African Americans, pyschologically, in quite some time. Barack Obama has been horribly bad for Black America.
To say that Barack Obama has been anything but a blessing to Black America is enough to send many Obamanistas into full body convulsions. Unfortunately, far too many people are still inebriated on the Obama-aid punch. This mental drunkenness impedes their ability to see President Obama for what he really is: a war mongering, amoral, corporate puppet. President Obama has pursued policies that, if he were white, would have driven legions of so-called progressives and black people into mass protest. However, because Obama is a phenotypical brown man who possesses extraordinary skills of oratory, he continually gets a pass. His $700 million campaign war chest enabled his handlers to strategically place hollow slogans everywhere the eye could see. His campaign even claimed two top prizes at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Awards ceremony. Obama’s presidential campaign will be studied for decades to come, from top to bottom, as a textbook exercise in style over substance. However, few analysts will examine the damage his candidacy and tenure has done to the consciousness of many Black Americans. I am not talking about the instilling of “hope” and the bringing of “change” – quite the opposite.
“Obama’s presidential campaign will be studied for decades to come, from top to bottom, as a textbook exercise in style over substance.”
I can understand the initial frenzy that Barack Obama’s candidacy caused among black Americans. Jesse Jackson was the last black presidential candidate to excite African American passions. Barack Obama appeared to have a real chance at capturing the White House, and millions of black Americans saw their own interests as inextricably linked with those of the Illinois senator. However, as the Obama campaign moved forward, it was obvious that the feeling was not mutual. Obama’s utter disregard for African Americans and their continued struggles became more noticeable with each passing day. He showed a reluctance to address race based issues that even white Democratic candidates, such as John Edwards, did not. The more I tried to convince black Obamanistas that he did not give a damn about them, the more I received excuses such as, “He is not running for the president of black America.” I always found that rationale amusing, but sad; by such logic, black people must not be a part of America. Obama certainly didn’t seem to think so. He trivialized blacks’ day to day struggles, and their historical quest for human rights.
When Barack Obama essentially justified the police murder/lynching of a young black New Yorker named Sean Bell, it should have been obvious that he did not give a damn about the average black person’s life. Sean Bell was shot (unarmed) over 40 times by the NYPD in the wee hours of his wedding day morning. After a morally corrupt judge acquitted the officers that murdered Bell, Obama told black America that they should stop protesting and respect the verdict. It was the verbal equivalent of spitting in the face of every African American who has protested, marched, and fought for civil and human rights. From Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, and from Ida B. Wells to Ella Baker, black Americans have created new paths for humanity based on their ceaseless willingness to protest, organize and fight! Police brutality disproportionately affects black communities, in contrast to white ones. In America unarmed black men are still targeted and murdered by police – crimes that are facilitated by the same institutional racism that President Obama has ignored since announcing his candidacy. Apparently, Obama harbors no principles – aside from those valued on Wall Street.
“His job was to assure whites that he was the opposite of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright.”
Obama has never claimed to have an allegiance with black Americans and their unique struggles in this country. As a result of Black America’s misguided love affair with the Democratic Party, more than 94 percent of the Black vote goes to Democrats in presidential elections. Obama knew he could count on black votes no matter what he said or did in the campaign. In essence, he had the freedom to disrespect black America, and he exercised it. However, Obama had to convince white America that he was a safe enough Negro to vote for – that he would not rock the boat with real progressive change that might narrow the social gap between them and their black counterparts. His job was to assure whites that he was the opposite of his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright, whom he disinvited from his campaign launch.
Obama became so comfortable genuflecting to white America, he began publicly castigating blacks in what were dubbed “tough love” speeches. Whites loved to hear about his lectures on social maladies in black communities. “Blame the black folks” was Obama’s mantra. Of course, Obama would never have the guts to go into a white church and lecture white men on being better fathers. But he quite felt comfortable telling the NAACP’s 100th anniversary dinner that they should accept the fact that black youth have to work two and three times harder than their white counterparts simply to gain the same opportunities. In Obamaland, social injustices to black people are acceptable. Black people should grin, bear it and suck it up while their white counterparts continually reap all the benefits from their shiftless ancestors who stole land and people to build wealth.
“The Obama Effect’s psychological damage to black America has been devastating.”
Obama has settled into the role of white America’s sycophant. He seems to enjoy doing whatever he can to make large pockets of white people feel comfortable in their ways, even when their ways are destructive. Having beer on the White House lawn with a racist white police officer from Massachusetts, is a shining example of life in Obamaland. The Obama Effect’s psychological damage to black America has been devastating. His message to black people (young and older) is that if you don’t rock the boat, white America might let you in their house – while the rest of your people continue to catch hell.
Despite President Barack Obama’s blatant neglect of Black America and the enumerable racial inequities that continue (and multiply!) in America today, many African Americans still support him, unconditionally. With this kind of unwavering allegiance, why would he ever feel the need to address the root causes of mass black incarceration, disproportionate unemployment rates and police brutality, to name a few? The only way president Obama will ever get on the right side of justice is if black America comes to its senses and collectively pressures the brown man in the White House. Time and time again, Obama has shown that, when pressured, he will collapse like a house of cards.
Politicians like Barack Obama and superficial movements (a la Change You Can Believe In) do not deserve our votes and support. They do not support us. Movements like the Black is Back Coalition (blackisbackcoalition.org) and activists like Cynthia McKinney support us, and we must reciprocate. As Barack Obama escalate his wars of aggression, the black community must mobilize, organize, and demand justice and equality. There is no other way.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News radio program (www.blogtalkradio.com/Your-World-News). He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.