Thursday, August 23, 2012

Black President Re-cap

If you haven't already you should really check out Ta-nehisi Coates latest piece in the Atlantic about President Obama. It touches on many of the topics we've discussed here at the blog over the years, and raises what some black folks see as the central debate about Obama's presidency.

Was it worth it?

Well, that's the way I read the piece at its core. Coates seems to be asking whether having a black president was worth the uptick in racism and the ridiculous attempts to downplay the effects of racism that have followed Obama's ascent. Moreover, Coates seems to be asking if it was worth all the hope and faith black folks invested in what Obama's presidency meant considering the fact that in order for him to be president he had to sacrifice or hide some of the very sentiments many black folks want a black president to express.

Let's be honest, most of us didn't expect Obama to be a revolutionary in the White House. Yet, deep in our hearts we likely hoped that at some point he would have a real talk with white folks. We hoped that eventually he would let white folks know exactly where the world stands and what part they played in getting it here. We knew this was unlikely and would probably be the end of his political career. But I'm willing to wager that most black folks expected that if we weren't going to get special treatment from the nation's first black president, we would at least get the unvarnished "Truth About White Folks" at some point.

That hasn't happened. I'm a big Obama fan and think the brother has done an admirable job in the face of ridiculous opposition. I'm proud to have voted for him. Unlike many, I know he's reformed the Justice Department and provided needed services to the poor. I know he's tried hard to undo the conservative evil wrought by Bush and his cronies. But, I also know that he's done all that while being extra careful to avoid offending the racial sensibilities of white folks.

Look, every black person who works for white folks or with white folks knows why that tact was necessary. There are very few other paths available to many of us. But I'd wager that most of us were hoping that Obama's seat at the big table would provide an opportunity for him to display righteous indignation at least some of the time. His indignation would have expressed the things we've always wanted to say, but often had to bite back because of other concerns. After all, being the Leader of the Free World should at least come with that perk, right?

Coates explores exactly why this hasn't happened and why it's unlikely to happen. He also discusses what that means for black folks in the long run, and whether Obama's success will have unintended consequences like the once heralded rush towards integration. Check out the brother's work when you get a chance.

Peace
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4 comments:

E.J. said...

"Real talk" was never a realistic possibility in his first term, not if he wants a second one. It's not realistic to expect one man to make that much progress in addressing 400 years of wrongs in just 4 years.

E.J. said...

"Real talk" was never a realistic possibility in his first term, not if he wants a second one. It's not realistic to expect one man to make that much progress in addressing 400 years of wrongs in just 4 years.

E.J. said...

"Real talk" was never a realistic possibility in his first term, not if he wants a second one. It's not realistic to expect one man to make that much progress in addressing 400 years of wrongs in just 4 years.

E.J. said...

"Real talk" was never a realistic possibility in his first term, not if he wants a second one. It's not realistic to expect one man to make that much progress in addressing 400 years of wrongs in just 4 years.

Raving Black Lunatic