an African American, I have been confused, frustrated, enraged and
mystified by what is now referred to as the “Obama phenomenon” among
African Americans. And while this phenomenon is complex, I am only
going to comment on one aspect of the phenomenon - the almost
irrational defense of President Obama by significant majorities in the
African American community.
It is only through our own efforts that we define and defend our rights, build our future and create a better world.
the election of Barak Obama in 2008, African Americans and progressives
in the U.S. and throughout the world celebrated what appeared to be the
beginning of a new era in the U.S. and a possible change in how the
U.S. relates to the world. So the pride felt by many African Americans
with the election of the first “Black” President was understandable.
And with the rise of the Tea Party and the clearly racist treatment he
was receiving, it was also understandable that most African Americans
would want to protect this president.
what is not understandable, at least not in rational terms, is the
complete lack of critical discussion and/or analysis in the African
American community of the Obama administrations’ policies. For example,
as African Americans approach the next election and have an opportunity
to reflect on the administration and the impact of its policies on the
health and prospects for the development of African American
communities, one would assume there would be serious discussions taking
place in our communities where we would examine the administrations’
past policies and formulate new demands that represent our community's
concerns and positions in order for the administration to receive our
votes. But that is not happening. Even though our communities are
facing an economic calamity unlike anything experienced since the
depression era of the 1930s, not only are those discussions nowhere to
be found, but to even suggest the need for a conversation like that is
usually met with hostility.
is the most disturbing aspect of the Obama phenomenon. This strange and
dangerous disconnection between what is really happening in our
communities - unemployment more than double the national average,
capital disinvestment, record foreclosures, collapsing housing stock
for the poor, dwindling government services, abusive police and a
racist judicial system responsible for locking up more than a million
African Americans - and our unwillingness to acknowledge the crisis
that we face!
only explanation is that, for many in our communities, to acknowledge
the crisis would also require acknowledgement that we have not received
much relief in the form of general or specifically tailored policies
from the Obama administration. And many of our people are reluctant to
do that because it might play into the hands of Obama’s enemies, so it
is claimed. Instead, convenient explanations are offered by African
American politicians and opinion leaders regarding how hard it is for
Obama to pass legislation with the opposition he receives from the
Republicans, while we pretend not to notice the administration pushing
through legislation that benefit the banks and corporations and signing
executive orders to expand and protect the rights of almost every
constituency group out there but us.
is not understandable, at least not in rational terms, is the complete
lack of critical discussion and/or analysis in the African American
community of the Obama administrations’ policies.
know that the majority of African Americans are going to give the Obama
administration and the Democrats their votes, partly in response to the
very real threat of the radical right represented by the candidacy of
Gov. Romney, partly because of the “lesser-of-two-evils” argument and
partly out of habit. But at least before that great day in November
when the vote is tabulated, I hope that across this country African
Americans along with our allies and friends would sit down together and
discuss in rational terms just what we are getting for our votes from
the Obama administration.
specifically for those of us in the African American community, I also
hope that, when we finally get past the Obama phenomenon and come back
to our senses, one of the lessons learned is that we cannot put our
faith or future in the hands of any one person or party - that we
finally understand that it is only through our own efforts that we
define and defend our rights, build our future and create a better
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Ajamu Baraka, is
a human rights activist and veteran of the Black Liberation, anti-war,
anti-apartheid and Central American solidarity movements in the United
States. He is currently a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies,
where he is editing a book on human rights titled, “The Fight Must be for Human Rights: Voices from the Frontline.” The book is scheduled to be published in 2013. Click here to contact Mr. Baraka.