I’m not sure what it is, but something is not right. It just feels different and I have a hunch that I’m not the only African American that thinks and feels this way. I’m sure you see what I see: the swagger when he gets off of Air Force One, the look of accomplishment in his eye when he just shot a 3-pointer over the heads of his shorter teammates and the supreme confidence that he exudes because he’s Barack Obama.
He exudes confidence and because he’s the president he should get his due respect. Right?
But there’s something else at play here. And this is what I feel is not right. There are some — Americans — who choose not to accept that Barack Obama is their president. In other words, they don’t give him the respect that he is entitled to as being President of the United States.
It first started when Congressman Joe Wilson, yelled out, “you lie” when the president was addressing the nation during a Joint Session of the Congress two years ago; the second time it happened was when Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was pictured raising her hand and wagging her finger at the president, appearing to lecture him on immigration at a Phoenix airport. Congressman Doug Lamborn called the president’s administration — and by default him — a “tar baby” and most recently we saw Neil Munro, a reporter for the Daily Caller interrupt the president not once, but twice, when the president was announcing his immigration remarks in the Rose Garden a few days ago.
Even during the darkest days of the Clinton presidency, I cannot remember a time where a president has been so marginalized and disrespected. At first I thought it was all about the president being put back into his place politically — which is fair game — and then I thought it was about the president not being tough from a leadership perspective, and quite frankly if that was the case then that would be his fault; but now it is very clear that there are some in this country who will never accept that this president is their president — because he’s Black.
In their eyes and in their minds — he is not legitimate. He is not worthy to be in the White House and he is not worthy to lead this country. In other words, because he’s Black, he does not speak for me, nor represent my values, and is not capable of leading this country. How sad, for it pains me to write this, but I have come to the conclusion — that some — and not all — think this of our president.
Who knows whether or not the people that think this are Republican or Democrat, because in theory does it really matter? Of course not, for what really matters is that 12 years into the 21st century, and despite all of the gains that we have made as a country and as a society, these unprofessional, despicable and, yes, bigoted acts still ring true in many segments of our population, and we must all redouble efforts of calling it out when we see it — but also force a conversation about people’s own bigotry and prejudices regardless of how uncomfortable it may be. I just did, and I still feel uncomfortable writing this column.
For those pundits and academics that thought America was entering a post-racial era with the election of Barack Obama — think again. In many ways we’re back to square one. How sad.