Tavis Smiley is correct for telling President Obama to stop telling black people that they can’t compare what is happening now to what happened fifty years ago and for insisting that blacks should wait. Why should I wait? I can’t breathe, so why should I have Obama tell me that I have to wait? What the hell am I to wait for when Obama hasn’t articulated a policy that I should sit and salivate for? This president has done nothing to address police violence against poor communities or to ensure that federal funds are distributed to at-risk areas in order to create educational equality and improve life quality. Instead this president has dodged black people ever since he went in office. But years ago when he stepped out of the closet, it was to tell black people that they grumbled and complained too much.
Obama is playing a dirty race game. He has managed to seduce the majority of black people, who won’t criticize him because—the presence of the black face in the White House seduces them. That’s all these people need to see—a black face in the White House. Obama has become like a cosmetic for black desires. He is just there occupying space, creating aesthetic representation rather than transformation.
And Obama is more than just cosmetic. His presence is disabling to progress; thus, I refuse to accept that Obama can do nothing because he has a black face in a White House. I have a black face too, and I don’t have the privileged of being sheltered by the White House, so I have to speak up. Obama’s body has become a barrier to black progress. It has not aided us. It has disabled us. It’s time we heal ourselves, time to reclaim our dignity, our power, our abilities by criticizing the president. We need to destroy the Obama cosmetic so we can see ourselves and our power. Thanks to Tavis Smiley’s Cornel West’s consistency in trying to do that!
Not only has Obama made life more dangerous for black and brown people in America, he has increased the war brutalities across the Middle East, endangering the lives of Arab populations. The liberal bandwagon has not critiqued Obama’s war brutalities. It isn’t that liberals are suffering from amnesia, it’s just that their integrity has a price: loyalty to party. Liberal bandwagon riders will never address brutality when a democratic president engineers it. I doubt any one can raise a compelling argument that denies Obama has extended wars beyond those commenced by George Bush’s evil ambitions.
Certainly, Obama sits among the worse presidents in recent history when it comes to addressing race. Racial tensions have grown under his administration. No white president could have ignored–to the extent Obama has—the increased murdering and maiming of black and brown lives by federal drug convictions and police criminality. Under Obama’s leadership, conservative talking heads have become emboldened in spreading their hateful rhetoric. No more do they need to whisper, no more do they reveal their hate in their employment practices, no more do they have to keep their violence in homes and boardrooms, for now all is best displayed in the open. Conservatives are trying to be the new radicals. Conservative radicalism means loudly invalidating and crippling civil rights progress.
Obama has rendered black votes powerless, black lives hopeless, black issues the driving force that republicans should mobilize against. The Supreme Court and other high courts have rolled back Voting Rights laws won during the 1960s. Affirmative Action no longer has the wide teeth and moral authority it used to give decency and hope to numerous locations. A storm is blowing more forcefully every day against blacks. We are told that color doesn’t matter. We are told to focus on our humanity. We would like to do that. But Obama reminds us every day that our color matters so much that he has to stay far from it. And police violence draws to our color like magnet.
Obama has not elevated the status and life quality of anyone but the rich and powerful. Look at the anti-civil rights and pro-corporate reputation of the many persons he appointed to places like the treasury and other boards. Even his recent nomination of Antonio F. Weiss as Under Secretary of Treasury for Domestic Finance has Senator Elizabeth Warren outraged.
“It’s time for the Obama administration to loosen the hold that Wall Street banks have over economic policy-making,” she wrote on the Huffington Post, “there’s the larger, more general issue of Wall Street executives dominating the Obama administration, as well as the Democratic Party’s, overall economic policymaking apparatus”
Aside from his sponsorship of Wall Street ambitions, what three policies have Obama created (not the My Brother’s Keeper stage show) that we can celebrate him for when it comes to racial equality? Where is this change we can believe in? The only change is the increased open display of racism and violence by powerful figures, bodies, and security structures. And we know that within ten years after Obama leaves office, his financial assets will change from under a million to multimillion-dollar holdings as he cashes in favors that his avoidance of black bodies had negotiated.