Just Out Of Curiosity, Are You Over President Obama?
Yesterday I came across an article on NewsOne that I knew was going to dish out some hard truths just by looking at the headline. The title was, “Face it, Black American Enthusiasm for President Obama is Dead,” and in the piece, Dr. Boyce Watkins talks about the stark contrast between the zealous support African Americans had for Barack Obama in 2008 and the indifference most black voters have toward him today. At one point he writes:
“The Obama enthusiast is virtually dead. The number of black people running around with Obama t-shirts, putting signs in their front yard, and putting his picture on the wall next to Martin Luther King and Jesus has plummeted. Obama is not the iconic figure that he once was, no longer a rock star. Far fewer African Americans are begging the Obama campaign to let them join the team and we’re all too broke to give money. People like Obama, they respect him, and they are damn sure that he’s better than the Republicans. That’s about all they can say at this point.”
It’s true. If it weren’t for reminders from news outlets I would hardly remember that this is an election year and that we’re just about five months from needing to cast our votes and seal our American fate for the next for years. The excitement over Obama in 2008 was understandably different and far greater because we were all on pins and needles over whether we would truly see the first black president of the United States in our lifetime. Obama’s campaign’s hinged on the words hope and change for all Americans but as black people we had a special sense of expectation that surely with one of us in office, he’d have our back. But as soon as those thoughts left our minds and escaped our lips, we were chastised for expecting President Obama to look out for us when he had an entire nation to take care of, and quickly those hopes and dreams of change faded as we celebrated broader victories like the end of the war and the establishment of Obamacare. Yet, as Dr. Watkins points out, the feeling that Obama has looked out for everyone but us still lingers somewhat.
“Policies and action that have come forth to help the gay community, women, immigrants and other groups have flown over the head of black America, like Jay-Z performing in a city where black people can’t afford to buy tickets. But similar to the Jay-Z concert, some of us love Obama anyway, standing outside the arena hoping to catch a glimpse of our hero as he gets inside his limousine. Our job is to lift the throne and watch it, but we dare not ask the throne to give anything back to us.”
In some ways all of our “I voted for Obama because he’s black” talk has left us in a compromised position. Our support of the president is expected. He doesn’t have to work for it. He may have a few wounds to heal with segments of the community who are against his stance on gay marriage, but for the most part, black people who are not republicans will be voting for President Obama again, just not with the same enthusiasm as before perhaps. This time I get the feeling that the choice is more like, well, he’s better than Romney. And if you’re a woman who values your reproductive rights, this is the common sense choice.
To be fair, it would take a lot more to appease or aid the black community than a simple endorsement of an ideal, like Barack Obama’s declaration of support for gay marriage. I’m not even sure what policy or policies he could put in place to get our community back on it’s feet, and anything he did come up with would surely take more than four, eight, and probably twelve years to take root. What some in our community need is a paradigm shift, and that’s something that comes from within. It’s taught at home, somewhat learned in school, not handed down through legislature. But it wouldn’t hurt every now and then for a head nod or some acknowledgement that we’ve got a pretty tough plight and if anyone should be able to identify with that it should be Obama. But when you look at the racist situations he’s experienced and overlooked while in office, you can see why he’s made no such effort, and I don’t think it’s because he’s oblivious to it or unaffected by it. His plan of attack has always been to be the stand-up guy and let his character speak for itself as the baseless accusations fall by the wayside. And in that sense, he’s contributing something very valuable to the black community by being a leader who’s presidency hasn’t been wrought with scandal, thus far, and who hasn’t resorted to cheap tricks to stay in office or pass certain bills. By all means, he’s still an exemplary representation of a black man and that’s something we ought to always be excited about. If he gives us nothing else, he’s doing his job as the leader of a nation against tremendous odds and we may just have to accept that that’s all he has to offer us as black people in particular.
Are you less enthusiastic about President Obama this election season?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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