What Will Four More Years Mean For Black America?

After a clear victory last week, many are referring to the re-election of President Obama as a mandate. With 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206, it is not clear what else to call it. While many are jubilant about the election results, let us not forget a key constituency that made the Obama re-election possible:  African Americans.

There are many who are elated about the election results, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, let it not be lost in the equation the very critical work that has to be done now that this contest has been decided. It is time to take a critical look at how President Obama relates to the Black community. To do that, this constituency must reshape the conversation around the question of African-American demands on the first Black President. In order to do this, three key things need to occur.


  1. On #1, Smiley and West probably need to tune their message to be well received and to accomplish what they ultimately say they want. I’m not 100% current on their ordeals but I know that being a strong voice for Black America does not necessarily mean having a strong positive effect on the discourse.

    On #2, This is a battle over the narrative and connected to #1. Black America must not define itself by race or skin color…but by commonality with other minorities and the progressive movement ie Social Justice. See, when you come right out demanding things what you do in today’s media is give people ammo to smear and distort the reality you are trying to stand for. See Bill O’Reilly on election night…50% of Americans want “stuff” and Obama is going to give it to “them”. You can write your congressman, go to town halls, make phone calls regularly to your congressman and most importantly VOTE…but coming right out and saying what you want? NO! That’s what the GOP does so well…they talk one game and when they govern they do another. Your second point makes the tired idea that the President can do this or that…the name of the game is political capital…If he is talking about an issue and he frames it in a “black” centric tone…he will likely burn political capital without getting much. See #1 here.

    On #3, See my #2 above. I do Agree that the body politic needs to become more sophisticated…we need more quiet deal makers…more people who don’t make a lot of noise but get the shit done. That’s what Obama is good at. He doesn’t speak to Black American directly but many of his policies help it just the same. I know you want him to say “My Obamacare will help this many millions of my brothers and sisters who are without access to affordable health care”….but if he did that during the sell job…would we even have the bill we have?


  2. Good evening Fausto. Thanks for your response. I do disagree with how you see the need to not make demands. The forces in today’s media will find something wrong with Black people raising demands regardless. Racist narratives will not go anywhere, so there is no reason to adjust oneself to intransigent bigotry.

    The other aspect of your response, and its a common one, is that Black America is pitted against all other Americans. This is a tactic to proverbially put Black interests “in the ghetto” and is dishonest. It doesn’t have to be framed as either Black Americans get “stuff” or the rest of America does.

  3. I’m saying that maybe in the past making demands worked for some people but it isn’t always the right approach…what you need is a more sophisticated message. To borrow from Lee Atwater ” You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.””
    This has been the GOP playbook for decades now. Forget the media… tune the message to appeal to the masses…and it just so happens that it helps minorities. Make it seem like people who aren’t minority benefit…make them understand that. I said it before and I’ll say it again….Obama can’t overtly be “pro black”…he’s already walking that rope, balancing between what helps black people and what helps poor people….a large number of which are black and minorities and also the future of the Democratic Party. The black community wants him to acknowledge them…but he already has.

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