Archive for July, 2009

Audacity still intact, but my hope is fading fast — July 2009

Articles | Posted by Jim Clingman July 1st, 2009

I don’t think anyone who knows me would say I am cowardly or reticent when it comes to speaking the truth, not only on economic issues but also on political issues; my middle name could be “audacious.” Well, as I have grown older and wiser, my willingness to take the risk of telling the truth, no matter who is listening (or reading), is even stronger. But, like many of my friends and associates have expressed, my hope for significant change continues to diminish.

I am not condemning the future of our children, however. The hope to which I am referring is now – during my lifetime. There are things I would like to see before I make my transition, but based on what I see these days, both economically and politically, my cynicism increases daily.

Our President, whose book is titled, The Audacity of Hope, taken from a sermon he heard by Dr. Jeremiah Wright, interestingly enough, stirred hope in millions of people when he demonstrated his audacity to confidently run for the highest office in the land. His victory buoyed Black folks to heights we had never experienced; we were bold, no longer timid and willing to take a backseat in politics; we had won! Our hope was sky-high, and it still is among some of us.

That was then, albeit, not too long ago, but this is now. For me, it all started with a debate between Hillary and Barack when someone in the audience asked candidate Obama about the negative effects of illegal immigration on “African Americans.” Barack Obama started answering the question in relationship to whites, Hispanics, Asians, minorities, and then African Americans. He emphasized the other groups and de-emphasized Black people. A slowly pitched softball was lobbed at him and he chose not to swing on behalf of Black people.

Next we had a series of speeches given to Jewish people, Gay and Lesbian people, and Hispanic people, which were uplifting, hopeful, and supportive. In some cases concessions were made. Then, in speeches to Black people, the latest of which was to the NAACP, President Obama continued his assault, as he said he would, against the wrongdoings and irresponsibility of Black men especially. No concessions, just “tough love,” as some have deemed it.

Even on his walk through the slave dungeons of Cape Coast, and standing at the Door of No Return with Anderson Cooper, when questioned about the effect of slavery on African Americans, Obama immediately included his assertion that it not only affected Blacks but whites as well. I am sure Anderson Cooper was comfortable with that answer.

Now, with the Henry Louis Gates situation, we see our President speaking in support of Gates’ rights and then doing a Michael Jackson moonwalk in response to the outrage voiced by the FOP, news commentators, et al. Is it just me, or is there a leaning by our President to always accommodate the white psyche while ignoring the Black psyche?

Selective outrage on Obama’s part? There are many Black men who have experienced similar and worse treatment than Professor Gates. It is happening everyday. Is our President mimicking the pig in George Orwell’s Animal Farm by placing so much emphasis on the Gates incident and implying that, “We are all equal, but some of us are more equal than others”?

I know, I know, “he has to do what he has to do” because he is the “President of all the people.” But, aren’t Black people included in “all the people”? Clarence Thomas is Justice for all the people too, right? As I said, my audacity is strong, but my hope is fading.

Obama’s “audacity of hope,” is not enough for Black people to make the progress necessary to secure a bright future for our children. Our President must have the audacity of reciprocal support for the millions of Black people who so enthusiastically rallied around him. He must have the audacity of courage and strength to speak up for us too, and stand on what he says. Under-girded by the audacity of a Black consciousness, our President could set the stage for beneficial change for Black people in this country.

It’s all right to scold us every now and then; surely we deserve it sometimes. But be an equal opportunity scolder-in-chief, without equivocation. White folks and others have a lot of “splainin’” to do too. To chide Africans for their “victim mentality” and devalue the devastating effects of enslavement on African Americans, in a seeming effort to make others more comfortable is, at best, disingenuous. We look to our President to at least acknowledge our problem rather than spend so much time pointing out the symptoms of our problem.

Memo to the President: After your visit with Officer Crowley and Henry Louis Gates, please keep the invitation to the White House open for all the other brothers and sisters who are profiled, abused, insulted, assaulted, and mistreated by the police. You’re gonna need a whole lot of beer and chips, so stock up now, sir.

Better still, Amefika Geuka is walking from Florida to Washington, D.C. on behalf of African centered education. He would love to visit with you, Mr. President. How about asking inviting him to the White House to rest his feet, sip on some lemonade, and have a conversation about the education of our children? Maybe you could walk the last mile with him; maybe he could even spend the night at “our” White House.

See: www.jlnscs.org for more information.