Obama: America Was Not Ready for a Black President

I was originally going to post this essay in January of 2017 at the end of Barack Obama’s second term but for reasons that will become clear later, I am posting it now.

The United States of America is not a racist country. It is, however, an acutely racially aware country. The population falls roughly into these categories:

  1. The outright bigots – blacks and whites who hate each other on sight. Sociologists much smarter than I can get underneath the reasons for the deep-seated bigotry but it is there. Fortunately the numbers in this category decrease with every passing generation.
  2. The racially wary – blacks and whites who don’t completely trust each other but will bond given enough time and exposure to common interests.
  3. The overcompensating – these folks, primarily white, are consumed with guilt over the “black experience” and go out of their way to make up for it. Examples range from MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to Rachel Dolezal, so crazed about race she faked being black.
  4. The race-neutral – these folks take everyone as an individual and judge them by their behavior. MLK’s ideal citizen.
  5. The racially oblivious – these folks “don’t see race”. Virtually no one above the age of five qualifies for this group.

The most famous example of the fifth category was Stephen Colbert’s conservative alter-ego that he played on Comedy Central. Colbert was famous for telling his guests “I don’t see race. Am I white? Oh, you’re black – I didn’t notice.” As I said, few adults can make this claim, and it doesn’t make those that can’t, bigots. It just means they live in a society immersed in racial awareness.

Toss these five personality types into a workplace environment and things get interesting. In “Black-ish”, a situation comedy on ABC, Anthony Anderson plays a successful black ad agency employee. In this scene from the pilot, we see an exchange not atypical in a white dominated workplace.It does indeed happen that the well-meaning white will ask a black man for the answer “only a black man” could give him. Because America is so racially aware, blacks in a white dominated work environment get a special kind of scrutiny. The scrutiny goes both ways. Some assume the black man can’t do the job. Others consider him a hero and inspiration for just being among the successful. For the average black man, both assumptions miss the mark.

Now, take the workplace environment described above and put it on display 24/7 in the news media. That is what working in the White House is. It is a workplace environment magnified 100 fold for all the world to observe. Now, make a black man the boss in that workplace environment that is under a microscope. That is what Barack Obama has been dealing with for the past six and half years. He is a black man running a predominantly white “company”, with all the complexity that racial awareness brings, and everyone gets to watch how he deals with it.

Remember in the “Black-ish” clip where Josh asks Dre how a black man says good morning? In 2009, that is essentially what happened to Barack Obama at a press conference about health care. After taking a series of on-topic questions, Obama is asked by Lynn Sweet a question that would never have been asked of him had he been white.

It has always disappointed me that Obama did not respond, “Lynn, what does Skip Gates’ arrest have to do with this press conference or anything else that I, as leader of the free world, need to be worried about? What other “black news” would you like to ask me about?” Instead, Obama played right into her hands and made life difficult for himself. It would not be the last time. While trying to be race-neutral, he has addressed race at the worst times, often in the worst ways – “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”, a prime example.

But my heart goes out to the President. He simply cannot win. If he ignores race or goes even further to say race should not be an excuse for failure, he will be called an Uncle Tom. If he advocates for “black causes”, he will be called a race-baiting radical. In this country, founded on the falsely professed belief that “all men are created equal”, race is ever-present. Even when a situation is not about race, it is, because we have to THINK about whether it is or not. As a society, we just can’t seem to shake it. I don’t think we will in my lifetime and until we do, we cannot have a black President without a lot of accompanying drama.

Race relations since 2009 have deteriorated. Having a black President didn’t help matters and in fact, probably made matters worse. Despite electing a black man to the highest office in the land in 2008 and 2012, America really is not ready for a black President and won’t be until we get our heads straight about race.


Post script: Three events coincided in the past month. First, I lost my job, the second time I have been laid off in eight years. Second, WordPress sent me an automated congratulations on the eighth anniversary of this blog. Third, someone is whispering to me from beyond, today.

I started this blog in September of 2007 shortly after I was laid off after 24 years of service to IBM. Since then I have written well over 500 articles and for a short time even hosted an Internet radio show. It has been mostly a labor of love. But back to that person who is whispering to me.

Had my mother been alive in 2007, she would have said, “stop blogging and get a job”. Of course, since then I have pursued employment but with limited success. Today, the third “event” that I referred to, marks the 11th anniversary of my mother’s death and I hear her again saying “you just lost your job and you have a family to support. Focus. Enough with the blogging.”

So today marks my last full essay for the Bar and Grill. One thing I did not anticipate eight years ago was that in addition to blogger, I would be a community moderator. As of this writing, about a dozen people gather here just about every day to share their opinions and more importantly, share what is going on in their lives. They have become friends of sorts — not all of them to me — but definitely to one another. Since I don’t want to “break up the band”, I’m not closing the bar. I will sort of put it on automatic.

Every week (or so) I will publish two or three one-line assertions, much as I did in the post prior to this one. They may not even represent my views. They will simply be there to start discussion and more importantly open up a new thread so discussion threads don’t get bogged down and impossible to load in browsers. I will participate, minimally, in those discussion threads while I focus on what is most urgent right now.

It’s been a pleasure writing here. I thank everyone who has visited in the past eight years for their patronage.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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Let’s Argue the Hypothetical

MSNBC truly crossed the Rubicon this week.

In South Carolina, after what should have been a routine traffic stop, a white policeman shot a middle aged black man in the back as he was running away. He fired at the man eight times, hitting him at least five. Our best guess is that prior to this, the two men had scuffled and the cop’s Taser was used. Scott, the middle aged black man, may have tried to grab the Taser. The whole circumstance might have actually gone in the cop’s favor had he not picked up the dropped Taser, yards from the dead suspect, and then dropped (planted) it next to the man’s body.

As luck would have it, a young man walking by caught most of the relevant stuff on video and handed it over to the police. Officer Slager was fired and arrested and charged with murder. Justice served, case closed, right?

Wrong!! Since we can’t get into a huge racist conspiracy stew over what happened, MSNBC (and no doubt other liberal outlets) are getting into a stew over what MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED! Yes folks, the TV is now full of 24 hour conjecture on what might have happened if the video had not come to light. Chris Hayes, who is rapidly becoming a white version of Al Sharpton, rushed down to SC to provide on the ground coverage, backed by MSNBC resident race-baiter and former daytime hostess Joy Reid. At this point, I wouldn’t put it past these pot-stirrers to inspire a riot down there. The rallying cry would be “you didn’t act racist but that’s only cos you got caught on tape. You’re really racist.”

Is it any wonder we have crumbling roads and bridges, thousands born out of wedlock into poverty with little hope of achievement and a dying middle class? We waste our precious time and resources on utter foolishness.

WITH THAT SAID

SC Representative Jim Clyburn has said some slightly nutty stuff over the past 48 hours but I heard one thing from him that did make sense. He wants young folks to have their cell phones with them and at the ready to video anything cockeyed going on with the police. Until cop-cams become mandatory across the country, I do believe it is in the best interests of the citizenry to have their own cam at the ready — and for cops to know they’re never really alone with their suspect, as Slager seemed to think he was.

What do you think? The bar is open.

Please Blacks, Beware of What Rand Paul is Selling

In business there is a practice known as root cause analysis. The notion is you can’t solve a problem if you don’t get to the root of it. Eliminating symptoms and side effects (often millions of project dollars later) leaves you with the original problem rearing its ugly head again.

Recently GOP Senator Rand Paul and Dem Senator Cory Booker made headlines advocating criminal justice reform. The REDEEM act calls for expunging non-violent juvenile records and other measures to help young criminals get out from under the label of “criminal”. Paul has also spoken to black audiences about the unfairness of sentencing laws, stating that blacks get tougher sentences for crack cocaine than whites get for the powdered variety.

There is no doubt that sentencing should be fair and color blind but is this really the best Paul can offer black folk? He’s stealing from the tired old liberal playbook of addressing everything EXCEPT the root cause. The root cause is that blacks are committing crime in the first place.

It’s almost as though Paul were saying “now we know, because of the MAN, that you just can’t stop doing drugs and committing crime so let’s reduce the consequences of your behavior.” How about CHANGING the behavior? How about no new drug legislation until black communities make a serious effort to rebuild? How about we wait for black “culture” to stop embracing rap singers who celebrate criminal behavior?

Rand Paul, a doctor by the way, is addressing the black man’s toothache by performing a colonoscopy. He is attacking the wrong end of the problem. It should not be the goal of blacks to get away with as much crime as their white counterparts. The goal should be no crime and that is fueled by increased opportunity, staying in school and developing a self-sufficient spirit.

I just hope my fellow blacks don’t believe that Paul’s efforts are helping them. If you buy what Paul is selling, no matter how well-intentioned, you are still left with high crime and poverty. What we need now are leaders with the courage to do some root cause analysis.

Respectfully,
Rutherford