My favorite person in politics at this moment has to be Michelle Obama, the wife of the latest African American political candidate with presidential aspirations. It’s understood that Ms. Obama isn’t running for a political office, that it’s her husband who’s the actual politician. But these days, where spouses are campaigning just as hard as the spouse with political ambitions it is more than fair to say that Barack Obama’s run for office is Ms. Obama’s run as well.
Ms. Obama was in the news for making a comment about the black community’s relationship with her husband. There are some political polls that suggest more African Americans are planning to support Hillary Clinton than the number willing to support Barack Obama. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll of black voters claims that Barack Obama is trailing Hillary Clinton by nine percentage points, thirty seven percent compared to forty six percent.
However, Ms. Obama expressed complete confidence in the fact that when it comes time to vote, the black community with support for her husband. Said Ms. Obama,
“First of all, I think that that’s not going to hold, I’m completely confident. Black Americans will wake up and get it. But what we’re dealing with in the black community is just the natural fear of possibility. When I look at my life, the stuff that we’re seeing in these polls is played out my whole life. Always been told by somebody that I’m not ready, you know, I can’t do something, my scores weren’t high enough.
“There’s always that doubt in the back of the minds of people of color. People who’ve been oppressed and haven’t been given real opportunities that you never really…That you believe that somehow someone is better than you. Deep down inside, you doubt whether you can do it, because all you’ve been told is, ‘No, wait.’ That’s all you hear.”
Michelle Obama also relayed a story about an African American flight attendant who told her husband that he could not win the presidential election because he’s black. Said Ms. Obama, “That’s right. That’s the psychology that’s going on in our heads, in our souls, and I understand it, I know where it comes from. And I think that is one of the horrible legacies of racism and discrimination and oppression.”
Being a black man I must confess that I would welcome the idea of a black person as President. I also must confess that when compared to the current presidential administration of the United States, I’d like to see anybody who doesn’t think like a racist spawn of Satan as President. After George W. Bush I’d welcome President Sprittle and Vice President Chim Chim, characters from the old Speed Racer cartoon. I’m pretty sure that if Barack Obama was just an average President, after this administration he’d look brilliant.
Unfortunately however, I’ve never seen Barack Obama appear at the forefront of any issue that has impacts for the black community. Barack Obama didn’t address the black community’s march against the Justice Department that was held last week. Mr. Obama didn’t address the case of the Jena Six until it became big news in the world of media and after some of his competitors had voiced their opinion. Mr. Obama made it very clear that he wanted to distance himself from Barry Bonds on the eve of breaking the homerun record.
And when the next issue regarding someone from the black community comes up I doubt very seriously if Barack Obama would don the courage to do anything to make his affiliation with the black community a matter of public record. So if the black community cannot count on Barack Obama, why should Barack Obama count on the black community?
Mr. Obama obviously wants to make his bid for the White House with as little attention to the fact that he is black as possible. He wants to be careful not to raise the suspicions of white people that he would take a sympathetic stand on matters close to the black community. Barack Obama has to appear to all voters and not just the black voters and so he wants to remain race neutral. Unfortunately, this is also a part of the legacy of racial discrimination that black people have to deal with as described by Ms. Obama. Just like the story of the flight attendant who expressed doubts for supporting Mr. Obama, Mr. Obama shows doubt for supporting other black people. Deep down inside he doubts whether he can be a black man and still appeal to enough people in the white community.
But on the flip side the black community isn’t so foolish to believe all our problems will be over if we elect a black person to the office of the President. Even if we were able to elect the black person who is the most conscious of the current relations between the black community and white community, as President he still has to work with a Senate and a House of Representatives. If a good chunk of the Congress isn’t on board for political support the President, whoever he or she may be, can’t get jack done. So the people in the black community have to be sure that not only do we elect for President the person that will have our back, but the person that can get things done on our behalf. Does this sound like Mr. Obama?
It would be nice to give Mr. Obama a resounding “yes”. But the reality is that in many respects, Mr. Obama is as clueless as his competitors when concerns of the black community catch the public’s attention. If Mr. Obama wants to take the black community for granted like many politicians do than he should know that he does so to his own detriment.