Monday, January 25, 2010

Would A White President Better Serve Black America?

Would A White President Better Serve Black America?
Monday, January 25, 2010
The Times Of Trenton STAFF WRITER

After Scott Brown's stunning upset victory over Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts senatorial election Tuesday, many pundits have started speaking about how troubled Barack Obama's presidency might now be. Their consensus seems to center on whether the Obama White House is capable of getting any significant legislative packages -- health care-related or otherwise -- enacted by Congress.

Although I have similar concerns about President Obama's future effectiveness as a national leader, I'm writing today to posit the question of whether -- through the first year of the Obama presidential term -- black Americans would have been more effectively served by having an individual in the Oval Office who was white. An incendiary question for sure, but nonetheless, one that needs to be considered.

Before I am accused of any black-on-black "crime" for even raising such a question (I am black), consider that in a Jan. 15 New York Times op-ed by Clyde Haberman, "For These Three, the Audacity of Nope," the focus was on President Obama's reticence in supporting three black men who are/were contemplating their candidacies for mayor of New York City, governor of New York State, and U.S. senator from New York. (Those candidates are, respectively, William Thompson, who lost his bid in the November 2009 election; David Paterson, who was encouraged by the Obama administration not to run again; and Harold Ford Jr., who was also urged not to run.) Consistent with Princeton University Professor Cornel West's Martin Luther King Jr. Day address in Atlanta directing black Americans to hold President Obama accountable, the time has fortunately arrived when it is no longer taboo for black Americans to analyze the policies and actions of state and national leaders who just happen to be black. As implied by West and President Obama himself, it is probably black Americans' civil and moral duty to engage in such review.

So would the 95 percent of black Americans who voted for Barack Obama have been better served during 2009 had the president been a white man? I would say yes. And here I speak not to how the president has fared relative to his policy initiatives (or lack thereof) respecting, for example, immigration reform, expansion of gay/lesbian freedoms, health insurance overhaul and military expansion in Afghanistan. (Yes, I am aware that black Americans stand to be affected, either directly or indirectly, by choices made by the White House with regard to such policy advances.)

What I'm writing about today goes far beyond that. It's my postulation that black Americans are unjustifiably (perhaps even irreparably) compromised by not being able to politely engage the White House in public conversations about problems sometimes unique to Black America, because the top dog there is a black guy who seemingly thinks it would be impolitic to discuss such matters. Among those issues would be the unabated national epidemic of racial profiling of black men by law-enforcement personnel. The publicity attached to, for example, the unwarranted stops of black drivers by the New Jersey State Police and, most recently, the baseless arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates have brought additional focus on a practice that continues to unnerve black communities throughout America.

Next for consideration by the president could be the phenomenon by which, for example, black New Yorkers are seven times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession notwithstanding surveys that have demonstrated whites to be heavier users. Equally troubling is that in New Jersey, almost 80 percent of incarcerated men are black even though blacks don't commit that large a percentage of New Jersey's crimes.

Moving on to issues of unemployment and economic vitality, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert noted in his column "Blacks in retreat" (see Page A8) that more than one-third of black children are living in poverty. He further wrote that while unemployment for whites is 9 percent, the rate for black Americans is 16.2 percent.

Problems such as these could require substantial governmental response. And if prospective governmental response can't even get to the drawing board because the head man won't publicly discuss the underlying problems, why support having him in office?

Finally, consider this: If President Obama were able to magically replace President Truman in 1948, would he -- as the president of the United States who just happened to be a black guy -- have had the courage to sign the executive order of that year that integrated America's armed services? Or consider, if President Obama were able to similarly replace President Johnson in the 1960s, whether he would have had the intestinal fortitude to usher through the U.S. Senate those legislative initiatives that Johnson subsequently signed into law as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Something to think about, eh?

Donald Roscoe Brown is a lawyer who writes and lives in Ewing.

See Also...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio Special: Pres. Obama A.K.A. Mr. Tough Love & The Myth Of A Post-Racial America Part One

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special:Reflections On The 2009 Inauguration Part One:

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: Yes He Did...So Now What??? Defining The Obama Presidency...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special:O Yes We Did!!! The Barack Obama Tribute...

W.E. A.L.L. B.E. News & Radio Special: Barack Obama & The Hip Hop Effect On American Politics:
Get The Barack Obama Holiday Inaugural Gift Package By R2C2H2 Tha Artivist!!!

1 comment:

Tom Degan said...

I can't believe the racist reaction to this president. Perhaps a white Liberal would have been a better thing for black America. And yet it's too early in the game to write this administration off. I still have hope.

As for Harold Ford, I like him. I really hope he is able to pull this off but I think he might have gotten in over his head. There are so many forces stacked against him (particularly Chuckles Schumer) that it would seem to be a herculean task before him. But if anyone can do it, he can. he's a smart guy and a good guy.

That being said, a lot of people who should know better are predicting that 2010 will be a Republican year. They aren't paying attention. The extremists within that party will only continue to destroy it. Anyone who thinks that 2010 is going to be a Republican year had better think again. The Tea Party knuckleheads are already taking credit for the Massachusetts upset last week and are set (they believe) to take over the party. When they are denied the opportunity to do that, they'll splinter the vote with third or even fourth party uprisings.

How am I so sure of this? It's quite simple, really. These people are not only crazy, they're dumber than doggy dung. It's only a matter of months before their mad house of cards comes crashing down.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY