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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“Mitt” the Movie and Obama the Juror

“Mitt” the Movie

At long last I watched the Netflix film “Mitt” a documentary about Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 runs for President.

If more folks had seen this side of Mitt, he might be President today. When the film ended even I felt bad for how severely I had judged him. Any suspicions that Romney is Fred MacMurray’s Steve Douglas from “My Three Sons” are confirmed in this documentary. Mitt is truly from a different age. He is wholesome to the core. Very devoted to family and to his religion.

In a telling moment Mitt complains about his lot as the “flipping Mormon”. He remarks that he can’t change the Mormon part and then quickly corrects himself that he WON’T change the Mormon part.

Other notable moments are his intense admiration for his father George Romney and his brutal honesty in the wake of his 2012 defeat where he refuses to say in his concession speech that all will go well with Obama. “I’m not going to be soothing” says Romney.

I have a problem with the way the film was edited. Seeing Romney go through the 2008 primary process humanizes him. We don’t get to see him go through the 2012 primary process and how hard he had to fight in an anyone-but-Romney lead up to his nomination. So the Mitt we see in 2012 is a hardened Mitt missing the softer edges that made him sympathetic in the film’s first half.

Still what stands out is Mitt obsessively picking trash off the floor when he’s nervous, his decent self deprecating humor, and the degree to which his family adores him – and how hurt they are by the process of running for POTUS. If nothing else, this film is a cautionary tale for the families of Presidential hopefuls.

Obama the Juror

It started on July 20, 2009 when Lynn Sweet asked Obama to weigh in on the arrest of Professor Skip Gates (a question she would never have asked a white president). Obama, self important bloviator that he is, fell right into her trap:

I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that. But I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and, number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.

While I felt at the time (and still do) that both Gates and the cop were stupid, Obama would have been wiser to say “no comment”. Or better, “Lynn would you be asking me this if I were white?”

Then on March 23, 2012, he did it again:

My main message is to the parents of Trayvon Martin. You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon. All of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves.

This comment became more absurd the more we learned what a thug Trayvon was. Again, refusing to comment on an ongoing investigation would have been smarter.

But wait, there’s more. This past Friday Obama felt compelled to comment on the murder of three young North Carolina Muslims:

No one in the United States of America should ever be targeted because of who they are, what they look like, or how they worship.

Only one problem. We do not know with certainty that the victims’ religion played a role in their deaths. Again, Obama plays juror and renders verdict before all the evidence is in.

Obama may feel some special pressure as the first black President but this series of public pronouncements just comes off unpresidential at best and negligent at worst. Sometimes the best thing to do Mr. President is just shut up.

Just shut up.

What do you think? The bar is open.

Damn! Another Thug!

We were told that down in Florida an angelic black child with only candy and iced tea had been gunned down by a crazy lilly white vigilante who was not arrested. Photos of the child made him look between 10 and 13. Following my liberal instincts I joined the chorus of the outraged.

Then came the drip drip drip of truth. The shooter was not lilly white. He was part Hispanic so the “racial angle” was immediately compromised. Then we learned the little angel was not so little and was far from an angel. In deep trouble at school, his Twitter handle was NoLimitNigga. He was essentially a thug. The possibility that he beat his shooter in a very fear inducing way became quite believable.

Trayvon Martin taught me to hold my fire on these racial injustice stories. And so it went this week when the unarmed “gentle giant” Michael Brown was shot and killed by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri. This time I waited to chime in. This time, thanks to an unwise move by the Ferguson chief of police, we didn’t get the drip drip drip. This time we got video of the gentle giant robbing a convenience store and assaulting one of its employees mere minutes before his fatal encounter with police.

Alas, like Trayvon before him, Brown was a thug and if we believe our own eyes, a more intimidating thug than Trayvon was.

Was the video prejudicial? Of course it was. Did its release disrespect the parents of the dead young man? Yes, sadly it did. But the video served a far more noble purpose. It allows us to get REAL about this young man who has captured the sympathy of so many.

When Fox News asked Jesse Jackson why we never see him decrying rampant black on black crime in Chicago but always see him (and Al Sharpton) in places like Ferguson, his answer was telling. He said he would be soon attending a funeral in Chicago. You see, for black on black inner city stuff, we console the victim’s family and leave it at that. We don’t scream “justice” for the victim and focus on the black thug who killed him. After all, it’s whitey’s fault that our children kill each other right?

I’m sick and tired of it. I’m sick and tired of NEVER hearing the words “responsibility” or “accountability” when discussing black behavior (unless it’s Bill Cosby). I’m sick and tired of being sold a bill of goods about polite good black boys getting imprisoned wrongly or worse shot to death. We ALL know a good kid when we see one, regardless of race. So let’s stop this charade that properly behaved kids are getting gunned down on a regular basis.

But you say it’s not fair that black thugs get treated worse than white thugs. Let’s assume that is true. My momma told me when I was a kid that it was GOOD to be black because you had to hold yourself to a higher standard. I submit nearly every successful black has had someone in their life who told them that. Think how sick the culture must be that our chief complaint is we can’t get away with crime like white folks do.

Contrary to what the liberal media are telling you, there is no war on young black men. There is a war on young black thugs. We need to wake up and demand better from our children.

Once and for all, more than 100 years after the end of slavery, white people are NOT going to save us. We need to save ourselves.

And one more thing. Notice how much more anger and violence was stoked by the Brown shooting vs the wrongful death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, a black man choked to death by a cop over a truly frivolous crime. DAMN! Black folk don’t even know who their true martyrs are.

Next time, talk to me when a truly sweet polite law abiding black kid gets killed by THE MAN. Until then, you can talk to the hand.

Repectfully,
Rutherford