So I have a bit of a rant. Maybe it’s just a thought, a conundrum of sorts. Walk with me a bit.
Yesterday I saw an interview with rapper Killer Mike on CNN. The subject matter was Ferguson, with specifically his reaction to the grand jury decision not to indict the police officer who murdered unarmed teenager Mike Brown. Killer Mike (His rap name for killing the microphone) is intelligent, thoughtful and passionate as he cleverly orating a wide range of thought. Then a question was asking of him by the reporter: Should President Obama have visited Ferguson?
This was his response: “He’s the president of the United States. Not just 45 million Black people.”
He went on to say that as a black father he wished the president had visited Ferguson. Then he elaborated, “He has to be hands off in the office of presidency in that way. But as a Black father and as a Black man, I would hope that when he stepped away from that podium; when he went and sat on the bed next to his wife I would hope that he experiences the same feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that I felt. Because those feelings are what invigorates you the next day to fight the better fight.”
Now understand I am not at all offended by one thing that Mike said. His theme is what many Black Americans have endorsed for the last 6 years. The reality that in this day and age of psycho racial hatred towards The President because of his skin color, he has to be reticent to extend any sort of helping hand towards people who look like him for fear of being labeled a racist himself. You see that’s the problem.
A question to ponder: Why would concerning himself with something effecting Black people be racist? (I’ll get back to that.)
Let’s examine the first sentence: “He’s the president of the United States. Not just 45 million Black people.”
Last I checked black people ARE a part of the United States. Since Obama was elected the first time, most intelligent Black folk have given him some latitude understanding that he has to ride a fine line of not appearing too partial towards black struggle for fear of backlash and not getting a second term. But we never thought that gave him a free pass to ignore us. Yes there Obama sycophants who are so in love with the idea of a Black president that they don’t dare publicly express any displeasure in his shortcomings or mishaps. I’ve challenged them often that any president has to be pushed in order to have him pay any attention to your issue. President Johnson told Martin Luther King that he wanted to pass a civil rights bill, but that King would have to make him do it. In other words, he needed the pressure in order for him to act. This is so in President Obama’s case as well. You actually honor the man and his position by holding him accountable to certain things that you find important enough. And yet here we are less than two years away from a newly elected president and we are still asking this one to seek comfort in the arms of his wife in the secrecy of his bedroom so as to not offend White folks who disdain him anyway.
I’m not saying whether President Obama should have visited Ferguson or not. (If not Obama, which president should or would?) What I am saying is that I don’t believe he should have avoided Ferguson for fear of what his haters would say about it. I don’t believe he should tip toe around a reality that is as much American as apple pie: racism, police brutality, police cover-ups, and a lack of justice when it comes to the Black lives that millions of Americans from New York to Seattle are boldly proclaiming matter. To be blunt, Black folks should not have to be treated like bald headed step-children with no teeth. We are just as American as any other group of people.
Getting back to my question; Why would concerning himself with something effecting Black people be racist?Recently the President signed an executive order on immigration. This order affects the lives of millions of Latina children. Some within their community applaud the order. Some say it doesn’t go far enough in protecting the parents of the children. And yet he signed the order; an order benefiting a specific group of people who were not White. He did this against the backdrop of the GOP threatening to impeach, prosecute, or shut down the government. He’s not going to apologize for it either.
That far too many Black people don’t feel we deserve such attention when warranted, we are by default endorsing our own second class citizenship status! “Sure Mr. President. It’s OK. You don’t have to look out for our interest. We understand.” I find that attitude seriously problematic.