One thing is for sure. You’ll never hear President Obama himself say so.
For him to do so would simply feed a frenzied media cycle that would last at least a week. “Obama Plays the Race Card,” the headlines would scream. Yet more and more black folks I talk to are starting to believe a good deal of the opposition to this President is based on the inability of some Americans to get used to a black man in the White House.
People will point to everything from Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You Lie” during Obama’s speech to the joint session of Congress, to likening him to Hitler, to that oft repeated phrase “I want my country back”.
And they have a point. Of course, no one who makes these statements would admit to hating black people. They say they’re judging Obama on his merits (or lack of same).
Still, their language, and the slavish devotion to the agendas of the Glenn Becks of the world give some people pause.
What’s troubling is more black folks want Obama to call out his opponents for their perceived racism. In fact, some are taking him to task for not doing so. And these are not “militant nationalists”, who often get dismissed even inside the black community. No, these are the people in the barber shops, the hair salons, and yes, some folks in the political establishment as well.
However, consider the impact if the President did speak out and call out some of his opposition on racism.
Here in New York, Gov. David Paterson, in a radio interview, hinted that some of the media coverage of his tenure was tinged with racism. The media had a field day. There were more stories using the media’s favorite crutch words, the “race card” than had been written in a year.
All this speaks to the central role race still plays in American political discourse. The election of Barack Obama, post racial though it may have seemed, didn’t change that. President Obama knows this. That’s why his references to race are usually talking to black people about responsibility rather than the nation as a whole about dealing with race prejudice.
Justified or not, it’s not going to happen. That leaves a stark choice for black America. Should we do that heavy lifting for the President? Or should we — of all races — simply keep discussing it among ourselves?
You tell me.