Saturday, July 24, 2010

Obama, Race and the fight of his Presidency

IF you follow me on Twitter (jovonnam) or Facebook, you would know that I have been a little more than disappointed with the topic of race relations this week. The whole Shirley Sherrod situation grated my nerves like you would not believe and I said as much in my updates. While sending out resumes, I saw her on the Today show where she said that while she was not expecting an apology from the President, she would like to talk to him about her situation. There is so much wrong with that statement. So, I was all in attack mode about her and then I read this article, which made my panties get all bunched up even more.

This article criticizes the President for being silent on race for the vast majority of his reign in office. Um, why are we talking about that like it is a bad thing? The author says that the President has has nothing to say regarding the deaths of Oscar Grant, Sean Bell or Aiyanna Jones. So. Neither do I. I am not saying that I don't give a shit about these deaths- all were at the hands of the police (Grant in California, Bell in New York and Jones in Detroit)- but what exactly does it have to do with the office of the President? Why does Shirley think that she should get to talk to Barack?

In my honest opinion (which is what you get when you read this blog) people are pissed off because they voted for Barack for the wrong reasons. If you voted for Barack simply because he is Black- shame on you. If you voted for him because you thought that he was going to cure all social ills that have plagued minorities- again, shame on you. If you think that race relations are going to magically be fixed because America has a Black President, or that said President HAS to respond every time there is a Black person shot at the hands of a non-Black person- you are naive and shame on you. Why do people think that Barack owes you a speech on race every time an Oscar Grant situation comes up? Every time a Sean Bell situation surfaces? Every time someone like Shirley loses her job? Did Barack shoot Sean Bell? Did he fire Shirley? Um, no. So why does he have to talk to their families? Why does Shirley think she is good enough to have a conversation with the President?

The author says that the Sherrod situation was "one of those folded arms, pursed lips, neck-twisted, 'so-what-you-gonna-do-now-Barack?' moments for Black America." Let's all be clear: I do not like that description. I find it very stereotypical (I mean can't you just see some overweight Black woman with ridiculously long fake nails mouthing those words?) Not only do I find the description off putting, it is also not a true statement for me. I don't care that Shirley lost her job. Is it unfortunate? Sure. But is it clear that everything you say (or type) now a days can and will be used against you? Absolutely. PLUS, that woman was offered another job... and she said that she doubted she was going to take it. If someone wronged you and offered to make it right and you are too proud to take it... shut the hell up with your complaining. Especially during this time when people are fighting for jobs.

Are race relations important? Yes. Are they relevant in these days? Sure. Should our President be commenting on every instance of inequality? That is totally a no brainer... NO. That is not his job. Would you expect George W. to comment every time a Yale graduate got into some trouble? Every time an oil tycoon was taxed extra money? Any time a Texan was shot and killed? You think that Bill Clinton should respond every time an Arkansas resident is unjustly arrested or fired from a job without cause? No. That is never gonna happen. As the President, your job is to work towards the betterment of the COUNTRY, not groups within the country. If Bush and Clinton had done any of the above, they would have been instantly lambasted, but at the slightest nod in the direction of a racial situation people expect that Barack is gonna drop everything and be at the head of the equality march. Listen, unemployment is well above 9%; we aren't really bouncing back from this last recession; our country is involved in two wars; the Gulf Coast has yet to recover from Hurricane Katrina (5 years ago) let alone this BP fiasco; violence is taking over our major cities (Chicago included); states are going bankrupt (Illinois included); foreclosures are engulfing neighborhoods like wildfire; and in the richest country in the world some children are going to bed hungry every night.. the list goes on and I point these items out because it is clear to me that the President, no matter what ethnicity he is, has more to worry about that what Shirley Sherrod is going to do with the rest of her life.

You want racial equality? Try this out: the outrage should be coming from our neighborhoods, our churches, our city officials, our police. Shocking, I know. Local movements should be taking place. You want violence to stop? Start reporting violence when it happens. You want better neighborhoods? Get involved. I complain... you know why? Because I am involved. I call the police. They know who I am. The kids know that I will call on them in a split second. Go to city council meetings; get involved in city politics; PTA... anyone? America was built on the actions of a few that changed the tide of a whole nation, not on the apologies of a President. If you are putting all your race relations hopes in the 'Barack will fix it basket' you deserve to be disappointed.


Tasha said...

I understand, and value, your stance, as I too feel that Pres. Barack can't be at several places at once, addressing all of the race issues--saving the day. Furthermore, I find it unfortunate that a lot of people expect the President to be the spokesperson for the race relations issues (and they are anything but invisible) in our country. Granted I'm proud to say I voted for Mr. President; but also slightly not as enthusiastic about his tone (e.g., the lack thereof) on several issues (none racially driven) once playing the part. But this just leads to the local government taking action and holding Big Daddy government accountable. Local government, communities, school boards, and the like (including myself) really need to step it up.

Oh, and regarding Sherrod not taking her job back after offered. She's being stubborn, but at the same time making a point. I honestly respect the statement she's making by declining the job being stubborn also. :)

Miss Mox said...

I am the queen of stubborn BUT there is a point when stubborn has to go out the window and it just seems to me that Sherrod does not know where she needs to stop.

I am a Obama fan- and I voted for him AND I have pointed out lots of places where I disagree with his policy. I think that he is doing a good job with what he has been given, and I do not think that he is given credit for what he has done. Let's hope that history will be kind to him and his groundbreaking administration.

Tasha said...

Yes, I agree. I hope our fellow Americans (and other folks) learn to respect our President and acknowledge his efforts....and realize that the title "President" does not equate to "supernatural hero."

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