by Charing Ball
Over this past weekend, President Barack Obama channeled the spirit of an old-timey Baptist preacher during an emotionally-charged speech at the annual Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner in which he spoke about the need for Black Americans to quit “crying,” “stop grumbling,” and “complaining.'” He also said that he wants to see Black Americans “take off the bedroom slippers” and “put on your marching shoes” to help his agenda, more purposely his job package. Then with added emphasis he slapped the podium and swaggered off behind stage.
It was supposed to be the put up or shut up moment for the members of the CBC, as well as other critics, who have been challenging Obama about his lack of attention and virtual silence on all things related to the black community. That night, President Obama just wasn’t mad at the Republicans, who have put every obstacle in front of him to ensure that his first-term would be as difficult as possible, but he was also railing against those in his core base, particularly in the African American community, who have refused to see his accomplishments, have been calling him to task and failed to blindly support him without question.
Yet I imagine that if this had been a Republican such Perry or a Romney, speaking to prospective Black voters to “stop grumbling and complaining” folks would have been pissed. But because this is the first Black president, his fiery rhetoric, which lacked any substantial information on just how his policies will benefit African-American specifically, was met with applause from the mostly African American crowd. Only in the Black community can sentiments like this be expressed and be embraced.
But not all are jumping on the bandwagon or amused. California Rep. Maxine Waters rightly called it on Monday that she didn’t know who President Barack Obama was talking to when he told attendees to stop complaining. Said Waters, “I found that language a bit curious because the president spoke to the Hispanic Caucus and certainly they are pushing him on immigration and despite the fact that he’s appointed [Justice Sonia] Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, he has an office for excellence in Hispanic education right in the White House, they’re still pushing him and he certainly didn’t tell them to stop complaining…”