September 8, 2011

Tavis and Cornell Have One Thing Right...Black People Can & Should Criticize Obama

 I voted for Obama, gave money, canvassed my neighborhood. I want him to be a successful president. But he is not the leader we expected him to be. His walk vastly underperforms his talk, routinely. I routinely encounter blacks online and off who contend that as blacks we should support him no matter what because he is black, irrespective of whether he is doing a good job or not. My brothers and sisters, is that really what you mean? I don't think Rosa and King and Malcolm and Medgar and all the other civil rights heroes sacrificed so that we could live in an America where we have to support a brother no matter how he performs. They fought for an America where we CAN be judged on our merits, on our results.  We haven't won anything if we have not won the right as a people to have a black president that's not very good at the job and we can say so.  To be black and fearful of criticizing Obama because he is one of our own is to operate from a poverty mentality about the opportunities we have. To be afraid to criticize him when warranted is to act as though Obama is the only black person who will ever achieve the presidency. He is not. There will be others after him. We don't help him by withholding legitimate criticism of his decisions and policies. If your company hired a black ceo and he made bad decisions that didn't help the company, you wouldn't support his bad performance that might put you out of a job.  I don't advocate hating on Obama, but when he is wrong or going in the wrong direction, if we revere him, if we respect him, then give him the respect of telling him when he is going down the wrong track.  How can he improve if his brothers and sisters in the black community who wish him success more than anybody will not give him our good counsel when he is getting it wrong? More importantly, as president, his job is one of servant leadership. If he does not lead well nor provide good service, it is right and correct to acknowledge it and address it and if needs be, to make a change. The idea that blacks cannot and should not criticize Obama's performance when warranted because he is black is a reflection of a certain level of political immaturity in the black body politic that we simply don't have the luxury of indulging when black folk are catching hell economically like we are. We need an effective president, whether he is black, white or polka dot, and whether we think we like the alternatives on offer to Obama or believe everyone else unfairly blames him does not diminish our obligations as citizens and as Obama's black brothers and sisters to speak truth to him about his performance, the good and the bad.