Unleashing Black America: a national debate on Obama’s accountability
Between the Lines
This is the debate our community was waiting to have. It is a “must have.” We will discover everybody’s motives as this conversation shakes out—those who claim they’re with Obama, and just want him to “do something” to help Black people; those who just want to ‘push him’ to be ‘great;’ those who just want ‘what’s best for the people,’ and those who are true Obama-haters, but can’t admit it lest they lose legitimacy with the very people they claim to represent.
However, some want to push their impatience on the masses or give the impression Obama is losing support. Black people have tolerated 232 years of bull before seeing themselves in the ultimate power seat in America. We should be able to wait a few more years until he straightens it out.
This national impatience others have with Obama, namely the Republican and the Tea Party, can’t drive our decisions about how we calculate our political future’s best interests, and we can’t let people in our community who never supported Obama in the first place drive the hysteria.
I’d like to thank my friend, Tavis Smiley, for causing me to engage on this issue, with his so-called poverty tour, and trust me, I’m in it to win it now. And we ain’t gonna go the route of Steve Harvey (who has since apologized for the name-calling but not his accusation of disingenuousness tied to the poverty tour).
Harvey should have never called Smiley and Cornel West uncle toms. We can have differences without being disrespectful. Smiley and West are too invested in this community to be dissed like that. Last week, I just called them misguided on this issue and called for them to come clean on their anti-Obama sentiment. A national debate about Obama’s accountability will give everybody a chance to come clean or test dirty. Defend your claim. I don’t see anybody on the presidential landscape who has our interests covered better than Obama.
Yet, now we have to have a national conversation about whether President Obama has “done enough” for Black people to support him for re-election in the same way we had to have a national conversation four years ago as to whether then-candidate Barack Obama was Black enough for Black people to support for Democratic nomination. And some of the same people who didn’t think he was “Black enough” then, want to drive the national debate on whether he’s done enough now.
What a freakin’ coincidence! The “out group” wants to dictate what the “in group” does when it comes to how we support the president. Why didn’t they do that three weeks ago when the Republicans had their foot on the Democrat’s-necks?
Why didn’t the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) “fight harder” or “unleash” then? There are just as many of them as there are Tea Party members. The Congressional Black Caucus didn’t throw down like the Tea Partiers did. They could have been as loud as the Tea Party while the fight was taking place in Washington, but they waited until the recess to get loud. They didn’t want to face voter backlash. They’re waiting for their constituents to “unleash” them.
Now that’s some funny stuff, right there. What do their constituents know that obviously their elected and self-anointed leadership doesn’t? Well, they see the only Black man in the nation’s history is in a candy store, where nobody wants him and they’re following him all around the store. He has opposition on all fronts, hypercritical media that never gives him credit for anything; a panicked public blaming him for problems he didn’t cause, and political opportunists trying to exploit his apparent vulnerability. Hmmm … you think the people see that? I think they do. I think they know he’s trying.
They know that President Barack Obama put aside $1.5 billion to prevent homelessness, put another one billion dollars into anti-poverty programs—more by the way than any president in American history—and has extended unemployment longer than any president since the benefit was started.
And what do you think “the people” think when they’ve been taught that it’s the “squeaky wheel” that gets the grease, but no grease ever comes their way. Their lives are just as rough today as 20 years ago, when they elected the squeakiest wheel in Congress, but who can’t get her constituents the time of day with her community’s most popular figure; who they love and supported over squeaky’s endorsement of somebody else.
Hmmm … I think they see through that, too. But what do the people think of that?
Let’s call it “the Audacity of Dope.” That’s it. Because you got to be dopey as hell to think anybody is falling for that okee-doke.
But we are willing to entertain the conversation if it means we can move past this and get Obama re-elected president. This conversation is taking place at a critical juncture when people have been asking rhetorical questions, like, “Are we any better off after integration,” at the same time presidential candidates are telling people that “slavery wasn’t so bad.”
We can play these rhetorical games if we want to, but we know Blacks are better off after integration, like we know most White folks segregated again after Reagan (they just forgot to tell y’all) to obstruct and disrupt the politics of anti-poverty, and like we know one president is not going to cure poverty.
Moreover, it’s not like the CBC doesn’t understand the obstructionism that has taken place the past three years. But instead of helping the president fight against it, some of the CBC have chosen to become a part of it, and like the other obstructionist group, they use extreme statements in the media to gain press where there otherwise would be none, knowing the media is all too willing to play “divide and conquer” with Black people.
So now our so-called leaders are calling out the president, instead of calling out Congress or business leaders who are busy writing Republican presidential candidates million-dollar checks to defeat him. This not about taking our community for granted. This is about the folk in the field (CBC) refusing to fight the other folk in the field (Tea Party) who are obstructing the president from doing what he can for the poor.
Politics is a war fought on many levels. The president is winning at his level.
From what I’m seeing we’re losing this war in the battlefield. The Tea Party congresspeople are getting the best of all the rest, but the CBC claims the president needs to fight harder.
Hell, our members in Congress need to fight harder.
Poverty is a function of a society unwilling to contribute to the good of the whole. That’s the presidential conversation about “shared sacrifice” and the rich not being willing to pay their share.
Let’s have both sides of the conversation. So, we’ll play along with this “rope-a-dope” and let y’all pound on the president for a minute. Just know after y’all are all punched out, the people’s knockout punch s coming because we’re not leaving his side.
So now, consider me, unleashed. I’m willing to have the accountability conversation, as long as it swings both ways, and we have accountability conversations about those who are calling for accountability conversations.
I’ve never been one on a leash, nor have I been one to allow anyone to try to put a leash on me, but for now I’ll sign out until next week, when we pick up this conversation again. And again and again, if we have to. This is Samad … unleased! Deuces.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the upcoming book, “Real Eyez: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture.” He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com or on Twitter at @dranthonysamad.
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The events of the day have caused us to confuse what is real and what is important. It seems some people frame what’s important to them and forget what’s important to us all. There are things going on in our community that are significant and the people that say they speak for us or represent us, don’t seem to think so ... or don’t seem to care.
Every decade or so, some unconscious Negro steps forward into the national spotlight to demonstrate how insane he can sound in trying to attract the support or affinity of White folk by making the most outrageous and outlandish statements. It’s usually when some conservative initiative is in play. This year, it’s the conservative movement’s blackface response to President Barack Obama.
The Republican Party, in all its iterations, held its breath this week in anticipation that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie would enter the race for the 2012 presidential election. Christie, after taking conservatives to the brink of hope, has decided not to run. So, the search continues to try to find somebody, anybody, that can successfully disrupt the re-election of President Barack Obama.
After the August employment report came and it showed the economy flatlining (at least for a month) on new jobs, President Obama’s jobs plan is coming right on time. Lazy ass Congress is back at work, after a summer of political gamesmanship, and we will now see if all the “big talk” will turn to action. Or will it be more of the ideological bickering that led to gridlock the past year, and the whining of Democrats that the president is not fighting hard enough.
This is an issue I’ve known about for some time, but have chosen to remain silent on it, beyond a few friendly admonishments. But the issue has rocketed into the mainstream public discourse with the launch of a poverty tour. It’s a conflict between two people I highly respect. One I love and one I revere. I got mad love for Tavis Smiley, because of where he comes from and the voice he has represented the last 20 years. I consider him a friend, and I hope he considers me one.