Time to take a step back. Another Black History Month is upon us, and due to the leap year, we have an extra day to do some thinking. This is election year, and everywhere the message is stated and restated that the stakes are high. From now until November, the choices put before us are very stark. Will President Obama be re-elected, or will one of the Republican candidates “retake” the White House? This is the big question before us. What is not being dealt with, is the state of being for President Obama’s most loyal constituency: African Americans. While we watch the elephants tussle it out among one another, the great unmentionable question looms in the background. Has President Obama done enough for the Black community, or has it been reconciled to hushed back into silence?
Some detractors will immediately say this is not the time to raise such issues. It appears that there never seems to be the “right time” to even ask questions on African-American concerns. So perhaps “speaking out of turn” is exactly what is necessary. After three years in office, it’s a fair question to put forth.
Many say that if we don’t support the President unconditionally, that we run the risk of “embarrassing” him in front of his opposition and giving them more ammo. The obstructionists don’t take their cues from us, and neither did Jan Brewer. They intend to frustrate, oppose, and obstruct anyway. Newt Gingrich is going to appeal to the conservative base with anti-Black rhetoric regardless, so that’s really an excuse. What is truly going on here, is that African Americans as a constituency and a voter base are hushed whenever we raise issues of disproportionate unemployment or a host of other issues. The underlying message is that if we ask for too much, and apply pressure to President Obama, then we are being unrealistic.
Is the president’s most loyal constituency to expect nothing? When, if ever will the conversation on what Black America needs be allowed to flourish without the idea that politicians are being asked to “give away the store?” President Obama is our president too, and what effects Black America effects all Americans. History has been made, now it’s time to ask for real progress. We cannot have that if our concerns are constantly marginalized.
-Marc W. Polite
Thought question of the month: Considering the reluctance of President Obama to deal with contemporary Black issues explicitly, is it a contradiction to photoshop him in pictures with past Black leaders like Martin and Malcolm?