In Dr. Hill’s op-ed “Obama, can’t you see black anger in Ferguson?”, he unabashedly – and respectfully does possibly one of the most important things that can be done in response to all the things that have been happening in Ferguson, Mo – he called out President Obama. He points out that him not coming to Ferguson where many of black folk are screaming out for justice, empathy and concern is not appropriate and almost cowardly – primarily to the detriment of the black people that dearly need him now. He explains that, not only is his lack of physical presence damaging to their cause, but the cold and strategic way he addresses the topic would be better omitted all together.
Here are some of the excerpts:
“Over the past two days, President Barack Obama has finally weighed in on the tragic shooting of Michael Brown, as well as the wave of protests that emerged in its aftermath. In an official White House statement on Wednesday and a brief speech from Martha’s Vineyard on Thursday, the President played his usual role of “the uniter,” preaching calm and healing to the American public.
I wish he’d just said nothing.
To be clear, I didn’t have any unrealistic expectations for Obama. I didn’t expect him to pump a black fist in solidarity or scream “fight the power” from the makeshift press room. I didn’t even need him to take a clear side on the issue. I did, however, expect him to tell the truth. Instead, the President delivered a polite but ultimately dangerous message to the American public.
Rather than leading the nation into a new level of racial understanding and dialogue, the President took the safe path through the door of post-racial rhetoric.
Obama has also placed the highest priority on remaining calm. While this may seem reasonable on its face, particularly against the backdrop of rioting and looting, his words failed to acknowledge the legitimacy of black anger. Black people die violent deaths way out of proportion to their numbers, sometimes killed by rogue cops and even more often each other. Why would we not be angry?
But unlike black-on-black violence, which is tragic but typically punished through proper legal channels, killings of unarmed young people by law enforcement continue to happen with impunity. Instead of acknowledging the legitimacy of black anger over this, the President simply told us to calm down and stop looting. In doing so, he joined the chorus of far too many politicians and civil rights leaders who understate and trivialize righteous anger in order to show the public that they have “the people” under control.
Micheal Eric Dyson continues this discussion on MSNBC with Melissa Harris-Perry and also in an op-ed he wrote in the Washington Post where amongst many things he calls Obama’s speech regarding the Micheal Brown shooting and Ferguson a “tone deaf” and “disappointing” one.”
“If President Obama’s comments on race in the anguished aftermath of the not-guilty verdict in George Zimmerman’s trial gleamed in light, his words on the rage that has thumped Ferguson, Mo., were shrouded in darkness. They revealed a gifted leader whose palpable discomfort with discussing race has made him a sometimes unreliable and distant narrator of black life.
Like the president himself, the language was careful and qualified, cautious and perhaps a tad too clinical; he is ever mindful of not favoring black folk in his analysis lest he be seen as giving them the upper hand, something the far right never tires of charging. And yet that hardly captures the fiery realities that burn in black bodies and communities.
What Obama said is true but incomplete. Injustice is not simply a matter of perception, an instance where blacks “feel” left behind or are subject to “different” — rather than inferior — brands of justice. The brute facts say it’s so, and those facts help explain why Ferguson combusted into shrieking anarchy. Decades of police aggression. The repeated killing of unarmed black people. The desperate poverty of black citizens. The bias in the criminal justice system. The raging social inequality. The intended or inadvertent disenfranchisement of large swaths of the citizenry. The dim prospects of upward mobility that grow bleaker by the day. Blacks must often use extraordinary measures, including protests in the streets, appearances in the media and appeals to local and national leaders to amplify their grievances, just to end up where white citizens begin. In psychological terms, that’s why Ferguson blew its id.”
And I must say, I absolutely agree with both of these brothas have to say on the topic. Something, that I have been waiting to have said more from the black community for a long time.
Let’s be clear, black people are in no way saying that we’re expecting for only our issues to be discussed and no one elses. But only the opposite has been true. He freely speaks of things that he agrees with including: environmental issues, the importance of school for all Americans and improving the economy through Keynesian means. Hell – he even speaks about things that are necessarily close to his heart and that he even in many ways might disagree with, such as: women’s rights, gay rights (that for most of his life his disapproved of) and republican governmental policies and economic beliefs including the many wars that we have waged! Why in the world would we expect less than that? But, we as black people have allowed for less – much less. Hey, it’s true, he is black and has a lot of unprecedented pressure for our community. Just the same, there is a big difference waiting for Jay-Z to come back around and respected Nas for never having us wait in the first place.
Would it be different for any other group? If Obama fucked off all women’s issues because it was politically unpopular to discuss, would they be like: “Oh yea, its cool Obama just saw that stark study that just came out about gender income inequality but we get that he can’t speak on it because of the expected backlash.” Have Gay Americans ever gave him a pass? No way, they still are extremely harsh on the cat. And most importantly, the Republicans who never gave a fuck about him, and have spent the last 6-7 years bash the guy, they get on his head if he puts a comma in the wrong place of a speech.
So, if we Black Americans are supposed to believe that we should play possum to his political and verbal treatment of our concerns, then my thoughts on that are: “Get the fuck outta here”.
Dr. Dyson finishes it, most eloquently in his closing section: “For all of his lectures about responsibility to black audiences across the land, the president could use a dose of it himself.”
And that’s life. Oh yea, and a big, big, big ups to my man Eric Holder for going down to Ferguson and showing love. All of your heartfelt efforts over the past 6 years by no means go unnoticed.
– One Love