You may be familiar with a blog called the Obsidian Files. Its proprietor occasionally comments on this blog. Now he has just posted an excellent column, addressed by one black man to other black men. Link here.
Since I do not fall into the right demographic, I would normally not comment on the post. But, Obsidian was kind enough to provide a link to his essay in the comments section of this blog and to ask for my opinion.
So, I am going to offer it. The task is made easier by the fact that I agree wholeheartedly with his point of view.
Obsidian asks the right questions and offers very cogent answers.
Obsidian asks black men two basic questions: Why did you vote for Obama? And, what has he done for you lately?
Why, he asks, did black men rally to support a candidate who used Father’s Day, 2008, to denounce them in particular as unfit fathers and inadequate providers?
No other political candidate, Obsidian writes, has ever attacked his own community. No one else has ever turned on his own people to advance his self-interest. No one else has ever told the electorate that if it voted for him it would NOT be voting for the rest of his community.
If you are thinking of Bill Clinton’s attack on Sister Souljah, you have understood his point.
And yet, Obsidian says, black men did not notice or did not care. They voted for Obama anyway, even as he used them to make himself look good at their expense.
Does it matter that Obama was merely saying something that Bill Cosby had been saying for some time?
Not as much as one might think. Bill Cosby was not running for office. He was not deriding his own community to distinguish himself from it.
So I agree with Obsidian that Obama’s mistake was in finding fault, and in implying that he did not share those faults, ergo, he was not like the rest of his community.
Next, Obsidian wants black men to ask themselves what Obama has done for them. All Americans should be asking the same question, but since the African-American community offered such strong support for Obama, it has every right to question what he has done for them.
After all, Obama took care of the unions and the trial lawyers, and, some might say, the financial community It is reasonable to ask what he has done for the black community.
Many black men and women believed that an Obama presidency would work to their advantage. But. has the hope and the hype translated into new job opportunities, better race relations, and stronger communities?
And, if not, will black men hold Obama accountable for his broken promises?
Obsidian doesn’t quite say it, but the Obama presidency seems to be a time when there are greater, not lesser, disparities between white and black unemployment. One would almost say that it has aggravated the problem?
If the black youth unemployment rate is over 40%, can the black community say that Obama has lived up to his promises?
Finally, when pollsters ask whether the ascent of Barack Obama has improved race relations in the country, most people lately have answered in the negative.
A candidate can only bring real pride to his community if he succeeds. If he fails, he will take away a community’s pride.
But a community cannot expect to gain lasting pride just by seeing one of its members elevated to higher office.
First, the person who is elected has to succeed at the job. Second, individual pride does not come from seeing one of our own on a pedestal, but from the inspiration we gain from him.
If a black president inspires other black men to work harder, to earn greater success, to become more accomplished, and better men, then he will have served them well. But it’s not so easy to inspire them, when, as Obsidian points out, Obama has announced to the world that he is not like them.