@whisperwatch – On MSNBC years ago, a very interesting conversation happened without warning between Al Sharpton and Cornel West. Each man had his own opinions about the future direction of the African-American community at the time. But Sharpton and West started to argue over whether criticisms for “the state of the black community” should be leveled against President Barack Obama or whether the finger should be pointed at Democrats who’ve been in Congress — some of them for decades.
Well goddamn! But my question is why does it have to be either/or? I actually agree somewhat with both Sharpton and West.
Fck how you feel about Sharpton allegedly ‘selling out for a check’. Fck how you feel about some of West’s ridiculously hyperbolic language against Obama in recent times. Pay attention to the points being made.
To Sharpton’s point, WHY were these black elected officials so powerless and ineffective when it came to dealing with the GOP and protecting “black America” from the GOP’s sh!t (voter suppression, etc)? Why all of a sudden does an Obama Presidency make these people jump up and start running off at the mouth about the many unaddressed and unsolved issues among “the black community”?
Some of these black elected officials seemed to be cowed by the Bush administration before Obama became President, but what? They see a black man and suddenly, subconsciously, it became okay to challenge the presidency? It’s okay to put all of the things they couldn’t do… didn’t know how to do… and couldn’t figure out how to do onto Obama’s shoulders? WTF?
To West’s point, WHY the fck can’t President Obama be criticized about not uniting with and leading black elected officials to push policies which would directly benefit “black America”? Having the power of the Presidency, while not unlimited, is certainly nothing to sneeze at. I’ve heard repeatedly about what this particular President can’t do…isn’t supposed to do… isn’t allowed to do… and shouldn’t do. None of those words seemed to mean anything to his predecessor.
Everyone else gets direct benefit/protections from the government. Big Agro businesses get subsidies. Multinational corporations get tax breaks. Big Banks and financial institutions get laws specifically designed to protect their interests. Cubans step foot on American soil and they get to stay because of their lobbying prowess. The LGBT community pushed for gay marriage and got it. The Latino community, which includes the Dreamers, are seeking redress of their grievances and are being taken seriously politically because of population growth.
Every goddamn group — from the richest companies down to individual organizations of people — routinely petition their government for redress and no one says a peep. But black people are just supposed to shut the fck up because President Obama managed to win the White House, so everything should be good right? Hell no.
So while I may be leaning towards one argument or another at any given time depending on the situation, I do somewhat understand the overall points that both gentlemen made.
As time has passed, my view on Sharpton and the ‘let’s not criticize Obama’ stance has changed. Yes, President Obama should be criticized. It’s his administration which has overseen the last 7 years of life in this nation.
Even as Sharpton’s been downsized at MSNBC, he’s been around long enough to know who’s been doing what (or not doing anything). President Obama hasn’t been in power for nearly as long as some others. Some black people with a certain amount of notoriety in Washington have preferred to protect their power instead of challenge the system all this time. And after Obama became President, all of a sudden all the things they didn’t push for, couldn’t push for, and didn’t know how to push for became Obama’s problem.
Over that same period of time, my stance on West has softened greatly because I’ve found myself in exasperating disagreement with some of the things President Obama supports. Obama’s stance on pushing that ridiculous TPP “trade” deal, choosing Merrick Garland, allowing drilling in the Arctic before that went sour, not having an overall plan for economic investment in black/poor neighborhoods, and pushing the Affordable Care Act instead of Medicare-for-All are all things I have a gigantic problem with.
I also have a big problem with what appears to be the Obama administration’s stance of addressing a black community — who’s seeking redress of their grievances just like everyone else — as if they’re beggars whose problems can be fixed by pulling up their pants, studying more and waiting for the mythical “rising tide” to lift their boat. AND seeming to take it as a personal affront to him if black people ask him to address those issues!
This discussion will go on for years into the future, with both views being necessary in understanding the issues affecting people in this country.
Check it out: