One of the most common refrains that I remember from the well-intention-ed educators who desperately sought creative ways to encourage the predominantly African-American student population at Creveling Elementary School was, ‘if you study hard, you could be President of the United States.’ After witnessing the hellish existence that Barack Hussein Obama has received from all sides during his tenure as America’s first Black President, I have concluded that my teachers must have actually hated me, who else would wish such a curse upon a child’s life. I am quite certain that on most days President Obama feels that he is under the yoke of some unbreakable curse.
The latest problem that the alluded to curse has placed on the Commander and Chief is an entity that he has expertly avoided discussing at each and every turn, Race; the esteemed W.E.B. Du Bois referred to Race, or the color line, as “the problem of the twentieth-century.” Considering the continuing presence of Du Bois’ ‘color line’ we may wish to revise his classic tome The Souls of Black Folk to state that race will be the permanent problem of this democratic nation well beyond the twentieth-century.
Although President Obama has done his best to skirt the issue of race in America, the consistent pattern of African-American males being murdered in American streets by citizens (Trayvon Martin) and law enforcement officers (Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Mike Brown…) has forced the President to weigh in on the matter. To his credit, Obama related that the aforementioned deaths needed to not only be investigated, but also addressed through increased training for the nation’s law enforcement officers. Indicative of the polarizing nature of American racial policies, President Obama’s relatively lukewarm response was considered too harsh by law enforcement officers and their supporters and not strong enough by the African-American community.
Unfortunately, the curse seemingly hanging around the President’s neck has not been loosed as the divisive race issue has extended its ten-minutes of fame via the riotous behavior in Baltimore Maryland. White Americans who apparently believe that President Obama is the re-incarnation of Malcolm X eagerly awaited his comments regarding the riots occurring in Baltimore. Particularly as they fervently believed that the outbreaks were attributable solely to Black Baltimoreans.
To the shock of many, President Obama did not avoid the issue and stridently reminded that the murder of African-American males is not a new manifestation, “It’s been going on for decades…We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals, primarily African-American, often poor, in ways that raise troubling questions…it comes up…like once a week now…”
However, the above sentiments did not conclude President Obama’s position. The President continued and immediately curried favor with the vast majority of African-Americans who agreed with his contention that those African-Americans who choose to behave has ‘criminals and thugs’ carry a significant portion of the blame for the riots. Most non-African-Americans would be shocked to learn that the masses of African-Americans looked upon the rioters/looters behavior with a castigating stare that communicated nothing less than total disapproval.
Put simply, Black America, particularly its politically astute members, have tired of the reactionary nature of Black activism. All too often our ‘leaders’ resemble ambulance chasing lawyers seeking an opportunity to glean publicity and quick-cash from any victim that will have them. Although this position is rarely spoken publicly, it is undoubtedly the one that the majority of African-Americans speak behind closed doors. We realize that much of what passes for ‘Black leadership’ is little more than a class of charismatic charlatans seeking to advance their own financial position and much of what passes for Black activism does not include the day-to-day struggle that African-American institutions that are doing the true work of improving the community undertake.
If provided the opportunity, I would love to ask Black leaders such as Al Sharpton, Malik ‘Zulu’ Shabazz, the New Black Panther Party, Jesse Jackson, and the Congressional Black Caucus, the same query that the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., presented to the nation; Where Do We Go From Here?: Chaos or Community. Although it pains me to admit it, I think that in answering the above query, such figures would initially consider, and not just for a fleeting moment, which path was more personally advantageous. It is only by taking control of our own destiny via politico economic collectivism and a realistic plan of action that rests upon educating our youth that the curse that hangs around both the President and the rest of America’s neck will ever be removed.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph.D.
©Manhood, Race and Culture, 2015