President Barack Obama remembers working with the poor on the south side of Chicago, but he has not sought to be an advocate for the alleviation of their plight.  During his campaign for the US presidency Obama refused to state how he would addressed the situation of poverty in this country.  Like many of his contenders, Obama spoke more about seeking to secure and enlarge the middle class than he ever did about helping the working class and eliminating the economic depression plaguing African Americans and other communities.  Recently, when the congressional black caucus pressed him about the staggering unemployment among African Americans (over 16 percent), Obama fundamentally scolded them like children and commanded they stop their grumbling.  No wonder Representative Maxine Waters felt unnecessarily chided, reprimanded, and singled out because of some presumed racial kinship that allows the president to humiliate her and the other caucus members.  The fact of the matter is that Obama deserves criticism for his inattention towards jobs training and creation heretofore.

This convenient amnesia is indicative of his political response to crisis.  It was not long ago that Obama acquiesced to condescending calls that he renounce his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.  An excerpt from Wright’s sermon that condemned America was put on YouTube for all to see and hear.  This land basting of the racial history and ethos of the United States is common fare black churches across the country.  The alarm from many white citizens stem from the fact that worship hour on Sunday mornings is the most racially segregated period in our land.  Consequently, they are not familiar with the rhetorical gymnastics in which African American ministers have routinely engaged.  To the majority of blacks, what Wright said was far from alarming—it was right on!  Obama prevaricated over the type of utterances he had heard from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ, and particularly from its pastor—the man who conducted the wedding of the President and the First Lady!

Obama’s renunciation of Rev. Wright was ludicrous, and the fact that his denials could be deemed a substantive response is downright absurd!  Yet it passed muster so much so that he could be lauded for his “expert” statement on current race relations.  Prior to his alleged debacle, Wright had been celebrated as one of the twentieth century’s greatest preachers.  Had his language deteriorated within a span of eight years that he needed to be denounced in such a manner?  I think not!

It was not long into his administration that some people started murmuring about the note worthy black environmentalist Van Jones.  He was being castigated for claiming that people in the Bush administration knew about the tragedy of 9/11 before it occurred.  This kind of assessment was not new, and it should not have caused much commotion at all.  Obama chose not to address it to the point where Jones felt compelled to resign.  Obama accepted his resignation and went about his own business.  Obama showed no support for Jones and spinelessly claimed that he was busy with more substantive matters.  How dare he!

As Hurricane Irene swept along the eastern seaboard, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial committee elected to postpone the dedication ceremony indefinitely.  Recently, the date of October 16th was approved for it.  That Sunday is also the sixteenth anniversary of the first Million Man March, whose keynote speaker was none other than Mr. Louis Farrakhan, titular head of the Nation of Islam or Black Muslim organization.  Will Pres. Obama transcend political expediency, or cowardice, that day, to pay homage to that controversial leader?  Or will he completely ignore the anniversary of that groundbreaking gathering?  Or, worse still, will he beg off from attending the historic dedication altogether?

Perhaps, Obama would do well to heed the lesson found in the words of James Russell Lowell:

They are slaves who fear to speak

For the fallen and the weak;

They are slaves who will not choose

Hatred, scoffing, and abuse,

Rather than in silence shrink        

From the truth they needs must think;

They are slaves who dare not be

In the right with two or three.

About mdbwell

Pres., Project for the Beloved Community, Inc.; B.A.--Wesleyan University; M.Div.--Yale University; Ph.D.--Boston University; Summer Study--Harvard University; Social ethicist; Ordained minister; Advocate for the poor
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