I have been thinking this for the longest time, and have been trying NOT to think it, actually, but the Shirley Sherrod thing did it.
I am angry at our president. I am angry that our president is afraid to embrace his African American heritage because he believes it will be bad for him politically. Or at least it appears that way.
I was irritated with him before he was elected. He was giving a speech commemorating the March on Washington, and he didn’t – he couldn’t – even say Martin Luther King’s name. Someone must have told him it would be too risky.
And these same advisors, I guess, have been telling him to tow the line, to not mention race if at all possible. And so he doesn’t, and ironically, his silence on race is as damaging as I guess his advisors thought it would be to mention the “r” word.
In spite of slavery having been ended in 1865, slavery really does exist. Our minds and our spirits are so deeply in bondage, both white and black. White folks are enslaved to the fear of being called racists; they are way too defensive and way too ready to slide into denial as a way to cope with their fear. Black people are still enslaved by anger and a spirit of victim hood; way too many of them believe that their lot in this country is hopelessly dismal.
White people want racism, and the memories of our racist history, to just go away. Black people want white people to stop dodging the issue and deal with the mess made by racism. And black people wanted, I think, Mr. Obama to begin to blaze the trail for real change in race relations to begin. Instead, Mr. Obama, like too many white people, dodges the issue as well.
I understand the need for politicians to be political. I understand that they must represent ALL of the people. I also understand, recognize and appreciate the work done by Mr. Obama which will help the poor and disadvantaged of this country.
But I am sorely disappointed that Mr. Obama’s neck, like the neck of the NAACP, was placed in the noose thrown by the Right. This debacle was an opportunity for the president to step up and be presidential on the issue of race. It was an opportunity for him to tell his staff to remain calm until all the facts were known.
Instead, he reacted as the noose was tightened and in effect, transferred the noose to the neck of an innocent woman whose life has been one of fighting racism and class inequity. My president has egg on his face, as does the NAACP and Ben Jealous.
Racism will not go away. The Right, while eager to accuse others of pulling the race card, actually pulls it more often, daring others to challenge them. The Right is smart in knowing how to politicize race while ignoring the problem of racism. They will use “race card strategy” a lot, I am afraid, in the upcoming Congressional elections probably and in the 2012 presidential election most certainly.
Mr. Obama cannot do what so many people in this country have been doing: deny that racism exists. He will have to step up, man up, if you will, and face this demon head on, in order to steer the country in new directions. Denial will not work. It never has, not for any problem, and it never will.
And that is a candid observation.