New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said last evening that the race problem in America has gotten worse since Barack Obama became president. He is echoing what many have said.
Even though I have some issues with some of what has and has not been done by our president as concerns race, I find myself wondering what people thought his being president was supposed to do. Right after he was elected, people, some who pride themselves on being really intelligent, gushed out that his election meant there was no more racism in this nation. America was “post racial,” they said.
There was a collective sigh of relief. Finally, people seemed to think, we could forget that racism is as much a part of America’s legacy as is its Constitution.
It hit me that America wants racism to just go away without being dealt with. So, I am guessing that when Mr. Obama was elected people thought we didn’t have to talk about “it” anymore. It was over. Americans, black and white, had crossed the Great Racial Divide, and all was well.
Except …it wasn’t. Racism is a disease, a disease which has never been openly dealt with. White people have been on the defense, proclaiming that they “are not racist” and daring anyone to make their truth any less than that. Black people have for the most part just wanted to fit in and be accepted, their race notwithstanding. Neither scenario has helped this nation come face to face with its sordid racist legacy.
I wonder what Christie and others thought was going to happen once Obama became president. The New Jersey governor said that Obama “gave us hope.” True, but as concerns racism, what was the expectation? That all of the pain and misery caused by racism would just fall into the sea? Did Christie and others think that those who grew up thinking and believing that black people were stupid and bad and inferior would somehow just …change their minds? Did they not anticipate that many people, including, it seems, the Congress, would be consumed by their racism and be driven by their resentment that a black man was in the White House? Did he and others not understand that for many people, Obama’s election was a slap in the face of what they believed America was called to be? That, for them, America was supposed to be a “white man’s country.” Obama’s election for many was almost a mortal sin. They wanted nothing but to see him fail. The Congress, Conservative talk radio, and other American institutions …seethed. They openly respected him. Members of Congress plotted to make him a one-term president. They hated that Obama was out of line, being the head of this nation.
Black people thought that things for them would vastly improve under Obama’s presidency; he was, after all, a black man. He would, of course, have their backs. But Mr. Obama was only the president. His movement as president was sharply controlled by the Congress, in spite of the fact that he managed to get the Affordable Care Act passed. The Congress was not going to tolerate him giving black people special treatment. He couldn’t even make the comment, after Trayvon Martin’s tragic murder, that “if I had a son, he would look like Trayvon.” How innocent a statement is that, and how true? Yet, he was attacked for being “racist” for expressing an honest evaluation of what it means to be black in America.
So, Gov. Christie and others, just how was Obama supposed to handle this issue of racism? Could it be that you think race matters are worse because Obama’s very presence in the White House rubbed the racist nerves of this country in the wrong way, making them come face to face with their prejudices and preconceptions about black people? With a white leader, those nerves are kept at bay, but a black man was just too much for those carrying racist ideologies to handle? Could that be the case? Obama has been pretty silent on the actions of rogue police officers that have resulted in the deaths of way too many black people during his administration, and yet Christie and others say he hasn’t had the backs of the police. Seriously? Much of the black community has been frustrated because he hasn’t said enough about what is going on …and yet, Christie and others think he has supported the black community at the expense of police officers? Something is wrong with Christie’s analysis.
I wish Christie and others would be specific. What would you have had Mr. Obama do? It’s not really sufficient for you to say that under his presidency race relations are worse. Why do you feel that way? Can you be more specific?
My guess is that they cannot. I think that America’s racist underbelly just has not been able to stand that a black man was the Commander in Chief of America. America is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave…white people.
A candid observation …
I wish someone would explain to me what his presidency would have looked like had