Not all black #Democrats subscribe to ‘but he’s the first black president’

L.A.’s Congresswoman Maxine Waters has started a firestorm after her comments yesterday at Wayne State Community College in Detroit regarding President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus, and Blacks.

When asked why the Black members of Congress don’t pressure the president she replied, “We don’t put pressure on the president because ya’ll love the president. You love the president. You’re very proud to have a black man — first time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the president too hard, you’re going after us.”

I almost fell out of my chair.  While what she said is absolutely true, I was just shocked to actually hear a Black member of congress say it publicly.

I don’t think it’s a secret that the majority of Black people are still celebrating the election of “the first Black president”—whether they voted for him or not.  With us, because he’s Black, we feel some since of ownership and kinship when it comes to the President.

However, I can’t say that it’s a mutual adoration—in fact, these days I’d go as far as to say it feels like “the first Black president” might even be shuckin’ and jivin’ when it comes to us with no shows at the NAACP (2009), Urban League (2010), and National Action Network’s (2011) conferences—but time enough to speak to Latino’s with the DREAM Act and gays about DOMA and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  Black people—well all we get is “a rising tide lifts all boats” speech, and tell your kids to stop eating Popeye’s for breakfast and to turn the TV off.

Me–I long fell out of love with the President.  I don’t talk about it much because doing so can be a detriment to your well-being in certain company.

To be honest, I’m just not that impressed with his policies regarding poverty and more importantly on Black issues.  And while the two issues are not synonymous, there are a lot of poor Black unemployed people.

I’ll admit, I expected more. I hate to think that a white woman would have done more for the poor and for Blacks than “the first Black president.”  Or that a cheating philandering white man would have made sure that my grandmother’s other senior’s Social Security checks weren’t less $200 every month now.

But that’s me and just framing your mouth to say anything negative about “the first Black president” around the wrong people could result in exerting the kind of energy I really don’t have to waste in arguing with people—who while they love their “first Black president” haven’t voted since 2008, won’t vote again until November 2012, and couldn’t tell me who their councilmember, Assemblymember, or State Senator is to save their life—but will fight to the death over “the first Black president.”

And no—I am not a Republican, but at the same time, I’m not and haven’t been feeling the Democrats either–who have a tendency to be just as racist as their counterparts—they just hide it better.

In continuing her comments on the president and Black people Rep. Waters said, “all I’m saying to you is, we’re politicians. We’re elected officials. We are trying to do the right thing and the best thing. When you let us know it is time to let go, we’ll let go.”

Now keep in mind that members of the Congressional Black Caucus are themselves member of Congress, i.e. politicians, who like any other politician are concerned with staying in office.  Waters herself knows that as long as Black people continue in this love affair with “the first Black president,” while she might want to say something against the president’s policies, it might not be in her best interest if he wants to get re-elected.  Although with Congresswoman Waters—if anyone is safe in doing so and retaining their seat in Congress, she is.  Black people love her as much or more than the President himself.

So even while in Rep. Waters words, “ our people are hurting” and “the unemployment is unconscionable,” I truly believe that Black people’s love infatuation with “the first Black president” is what keeps them blind to all this or at least the president’s role in it.  We like to rationalize all of the president’s actions or inaction with six simple words, “but he’s the first Black president.”

But the plot thickens.

Now, whenever challenged on what the president has or hasn’t done for Black people the message has been drilled into our heads to blindly and without much thought repeat something to the tune of “let’s just him re-elected.  Once he’s safe and in office for another four years, he’s going to look out for Black people.”

As if.

If he hasn’t shown up for us now, I have little—make that no faith—that another four years will do the trick.

And no—I am not of the mindset that the Black president has to be the president for Black people.  I’ve spent enough time working in politics to know that’s of the question.  But what I did expect was that “the first Black president” would do more for Black people in this country than pay us lip service and that for the poor they’d show up in his agenda for America not just as an afterthought or third in line to middle class and corporate America.

To be fair, the president isn’t alone my disappointment—the whole of Congress can join him in that.  My point is that, since he’s “the first Black president” and it is assumed that the majority of Black people are following blindly behind him like he’s the second coming of Jesus Christ himself here on Earth, I felt it my duty to say something for the few Blacks who don’t subscribe to that train of thought.

The Court of Public Opinion

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  • Michelle

    My questi on is why did black people wait, until the first blk president to start demanding their rights, all blacks have been on cruise control since the civil rights gains and their cozy middle class statuses. Rappers only group highlighting plights of poor black people and they were always belittled and even the rappers have moved on. Blacks have not demaned from any administration since height of civil rights movement, so why do we think the first black president should answer our prayers, since none of the first 43 did not, and yes he is a God send even if it’s not clear to you. The Bushes and Regan’s admin shut evdryone up with fear and no one balked, no if people want

  • Michelle

    Like I was sayin, if everyone want to ride the Obama’s love train, let them, it’s better than being bushwhacked or reaganomics…

  • Queen

    Your posts, like many other posts, still fail to say why you are dissillusioned with pres. Obama. You say that you thought that he would do more for poor people and black people. I totally get that. But if your version of doing more is speaking at a few conferences, i sure as hell don’t want your lame ass version of ‘better’. I am just waiting for a black person to actually say, what it is that Obama is not doing for blacks and not doing for the poor. Let’s stop being vague! I’ll even give you one: privtization of k-12 education through race to the top funding will widen the educational divide between the rich and the poor, and minorities and the dominant culture, because privatization means less access for both of those groups because educational programming tailored after corporate America, with less focus on the unique needs of students, and mass closures of schools in poor communities. He should not have championed this. However, there are so many other things Obama has done for the poor! Including health care reform, protecting higher education grants for the poor, pell grants for example, among a host of others. And I am thankful for it! I agree that we need to be critical of Obama. And I certainly am, as a black American woman who worked hella hard to get him in office. But we should be able to speak intelligently about what he has done, and what he hasnt done. Lets get the stars out our eyes, and the sour tastes out of our mouths, and learn to think critically. Bandwagoning on either side of the divide is unacceptable.

  • Shawn Dyer

    I feel as if I wasted my time reading your piece. I thought you was going to give me something concrete as to why I should reconsider my allegiance with (MY) President Obama but just Like Mr. Smiley or Professor West You gave me nothing but your opinion.. Well let me state facts against your argument; I am living proof, being a student, that President Obama cares. He has given more financial aid to community colleges, and HBCUs’ than any other president before him. When the sitting speaker of the house held unemployment hostage right before Christmas this man complied to make sure funding was not stopped. It was President Obama who signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, restoring basic protections against pay discrimination. All this while he is constantly bombarded with disrespect from all sides. WE failed him by not supporting him after we got him in the white house and not voting in 2010. WE failed him by not having his back at a time when they set him up to fail.. So in saying that, instead of you jumping on the hate Obama train, research your facts first MS. Cannick!!