Not Much Has Changed
President Barack Obama learned a long time ago of the dangers associated with being a black politician at a national level and vocalizing anything about the institutionalized racism of the United States. While obviously racially non black politicians are free to remind the public of America’s racial shortcomings, a black politician doesn’t have that luxury out of some perception that the black politician would appear too close to the black community. When such an observation starts to manifest, the fear is that the black community’s need would trump the white community’s wants and America would never tolerate such a circumstance. It wouldn’t matter if the entire black community was slipping further into the oblivion of poverty and all the social ills associated with that condition, if white America wants ice cream somebody better make sure there’s a national plan to provide ice cream. To hell with black people!
When the news broke that candidate Barack Obama’s pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright was a closet racist who hated white people, regardless of how inaccurate the story was, Mr. Obama had to stiff arm his spiritual mentor for his political survival. When Mr. Obama weighed in on the arrest of his friend Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. and called the behavior of the Cambridge police stupid for arresting the prominent black American out of his own house, Mr. Obama was so vilified by his political opponents and many across the country that he had to back pedal his comments like Michael Jackson in a Billy Jean video. And when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in cold blood and his killer was allowed to go home with his murder weapon and protests were being held all over the country, Mr. Obama’s rather benign comment that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, his political critics again pounced on him calling the President a race baiter as they did their best to inject race into the matter as they rallied support for the black teenager’s murderer.
But all of that happened prior to Mr. Obama being reelected for his second term as commander-in-chief. Now that he’s been reelected and is no longer eligible to run for the highest office in the land again, Mr. Obama is a little freer to express himself more openly about issues of race. Before being reelected he would do his best to quell the specter of racism by saying that he didn’t think race was a factor in any happenings no matter how racially charged. But if Mr. Obama’s latest venture into the unwelcomed discussion of America’s racial dysfunction that many loath to have is any indication, things might be a little different now from the President’s perspective.
Six days after a six women jury acquitted George Zimmerman of any wrong doing in his assassination of Trayvon Martin the President surprised the White House reporters by appearing before them during a routine press conference being conducted by Press Secretary Jay Carney. Unprompted and unscripted the President extended his sympathies to the parents of Trayvon Martin. The President actually empathized with the murdered teenager saying that he could’ve been Trayvon thirty five short years ago. Thirty five years ago a young Barack Obama could have been murdered as he was walking home minding his own business and somebody thought it a good idea to snuff his life out and his murderer could’ve been acquitted because young Barry foolishly thought he could rebel against the establishment like so many other teenagers do, black and white.
Mr. Obama talked about how people responded to him in his earlier years by locking their car doors as he walked through the neighborhood, by people crossing the street as he walked towards them on the sidewalk, by women clutching their purse closer to their body as he got onto an elevator, and by being followed through a department store as if he would shoplift at any moment compelled to do so driven by his black skin. Mr. Obama knows all too well that being black is not even close to being some kind of benefit in our social construct. It is a curse that makes it possible for a black teenager to be murdered in the darkness of the evening.
Mr. Obama is ready to talk about his racism of the past. But he still needs to acknowledge the racism he continues to experience to this day. How else can anyone explain how the most powerful man in the free world is constantly hounded to produce his birth certificate as proof that he belongs in America and is eligible to serve as President unlike every single President that has come before him who were all accepted to be a citizen without question? Even though he doesn’t have to run for office again he still needs the support of the American people in order to do his job and hold his political opponents at bay. And the last thing America wants is to support any black person who is willing to say that they can’t do their job because of the racism that runs rampant in this country. Too many people are too ready to dismiss claims of racism as little more as whining in order to cover incompetence. Pull yourself up by your bootstrap is the knee jerk, overly simplistic response to racism regardless if it can be proven or not. The question is can you prove it beyond a shadow of doubt. And for many people, that shadow is so long it can never be overcome.
Americans want to hear that everything is good and racism is in our past or at least it’s getting better. In fact, Mr. Obama said as much when he gave his impromptu press conference. Despite our racial dysfunction, Mr. Obama says he looks at his daughters and their friends and comforts himself with the belief that things have gotten better and will continue to improve with time. We believe things have gotten so much better that we don’t even recognize the horrible fact that nothing’s changed. Just like Emmett Till was murdered way back in 1955 accused of doing something unseemly and paying for it with his life, Trayvon Martin was murdered today under accusations of attacking the man who was stalking him. Just like black people testified about what happened to Emmett Till and were dismissed, according to juror B-37 Rachel Jeantel’s testimony was dismissed as unreliable because of her lack of proper diction and the fact that she wasn’t properly educated. It’s a fair bet that the fact that she was black had something to do with her lack of credibility as well. Just like back then somebody got away with murder even though he was standing right there with the gun in his hand.
Things might look like they’re getting better. But the simple fact that to this day we continue to let our black children die and their murderers walk free proves that it isn’t getting any better at all. In fact, if you add the lies that things have gotten better, the deception of racial equality that we live under, things are far worse now than they’ve ever been. Back in Emmett Till’s day black people knew that they were second class citizens and no amount of sugar coating about how black people weren’t slaves anymore was going to make it better. Our measure for discrimination is not how good or bad our ancestors and elders had it. The measure for racial discrimination is the fact that we still do not live in a racially equal society. Our black children will continue to die until we wake up and recognize this simple fact and really begin to do something about it.
No comments yet.