Obi Wan Obama You’re Not Our Only Hope

I’ve had a number of elderly black people whom I have the utmost respect for ask me why I, or people like me, criticize Barack Obama. “This may be the only chance we get” or “Why don’t you support the guy you voted for?,” are common arguments I hear.

With all due respect to the ancestors and the elders, I have a hard time believing they fought so hard so we could be passive political participants. People like my cousin Septima Poinsette Clark dedicated their lives to securing voting rights for my people. Was the goal really to have a black President follow the script of white Presidents (puppets really, but I digress) before him while black people continue shutting up so we don’t get in trouble?

How can you tell young people voting is so important and then tell them they’re wrong when they try to hold the person they voted for accountable?

Everyone else is lobbying Obama. Why should black people be left out?

When it came to immigration reform and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, the Latino and LGBT communities were out protesting and letting Obama know he wasn’t going to simply inherit their vote. The result was a change in immigration policy (Obama has been harsher than Bush) and a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. No one accused these communities of being Obama haters for fighting for their interests.

Conversely, I was forwarded an email not too long ago blaming Tavis Smiley and Cornel West for MSNBC pundit Mark Halperin calling Obama “kind of a dick” on TV. It said the two men set the tone for such behavior because of their vocal disagreement with the President’s policies, specifically him not fighting hard enough for poor and working class people.

Perhaps I missed this time where no one was saying ridiculous and disparaging things about the President until black people did it.

Difference of opinion is both natural and healthy. It helps ferret out bad ideas and strengthen good ones.

I’m very familiar with Willie Lynch and his divide and conquer strategies to condition slaves but disagreeing with Obama is not pitting us against each other. Just because the media plays up disagreements between Obama and black critics as the rebirth of the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop beef doesn’t mean we have to buy into it.

For example, I don’t agree with the war in Libya. I don’t support bombing civilians (How do you protect civilians by taking sides in a civil war?) for oil we’re securing for our allies (70 percent of the oil is going to Spain, Germany, France and Italy) as a favor for helping us in Iraq. Neither do I support staking out a strategic position in West Africa as a precursor to invading other countries for their resources.

Does that make me an Uncle Tom (Just one of the many terms used to slander Smiley and West)?

In fact, doesn’t putting one black man on a pedestal at the expense of everyone else and condemning all of his black critics sound like divide and conquer to you?

We are not a monolithic people. No race is. There’s a place in the discussion for everyone who is fighting for the betterment of the people. I may not agree with conservatives like Herman Cain or Allen West, but if they’re offering ideas in the name of black empowerment then they have every right to contribute to the discussion.

Obama may be facing more unnecessary heat than any other President from not-so-subtly racist pundits but that doesn’t mean we have to blindly follow him. What reasonable person really cares what Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh thinks?

We cripple our President when we don’t challenge him to make his policies better. Obama, just like any other leader, can’t do it alone.

Even if we unified and gave him the support to be the black crusader many of us wish he would be, chances are the powers that be would just kill him. Then we’d be running around like chickens with our heads cut off for the umpteenth time in history.

It’s never wrong to criticize as long as you keep your eyes on the prize.


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