The season finale of season one of the most intriguing political show—the Trump Phenomenon—will be aired on Friday, January 20, 2017. The season that began with uncertainties will end with uncertainties on what to expect from the narcissistic star of the show, Donald J. Trump.
I’ve also been informed by a reliable source (Kremlin connection) that the season finale will be titled The Trump Phenomenon—UNBELIEVABLE.
This season finale also means the end of an era: With the end of an era—the Obama presidency—a political (and historical) postmortem becomes necessary.
Now, read this:
From this writer’s view, President (Brother) Barack H. Obama was bad for the black people.
The so called Black leaders (Congressional Black Caucus, Reverend Al Sharpton, and Reverend Jesse Jackson, to name a few) went dead silent throughout the Obama presidency. Now, after the election of Donald J. Trump, they’ve undeniably awoken like a pilot that is ready to take off. Why did they abandon their brothers’ (and sisters’) struggles in order not to appear as criticizing their fellow black brother, Barack Obama, who was cheerfully pursuing an elitist’s agenda (Is the threat of climate change an imminent threat to a poor brother (or sister) in the treacherous street of south-side Chicago?
Where was the outrage when brother Obama was cheerfully saving “Wall Street” while the “Main Street” (especially black businesses) were unsuccessfully pleading with the Obama administration to bail them out, too?
In an article entitled “Should Black Americans Expect More From Obama Than Any President, dated January, 24, 2012, Professor Boyce Watkins, a Scholar in Residence in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Syracuse University, admonished that we [must] focus on tangible results and not symbolism [of the Obama presidency]. [Brother Obama singing Al Green songs might seem pretty cool, but it is not so cool when black Americans are singing the blues in the midst of foreclosure, poverty and unemployment unlike anything we’ve seen in the last 25 years.”
I’m a political scientist, please, don’t attempt to defend brother Obama by pointing to Congress: Brother Obama did not need the Congressional approval to spend the discretionary fund already appropriated by the Congress: Brother Obama did spend $527 million to subsidize the failed Solyndra, the now bankrupt solar panel company, while refusing to revitalize the black community.
Why? Brother Obama didn’t want to be seen as racializing his policies (even though he could have used race as a “factor of factors”); Brother Obama forgot that all past presidents technically did the same thing—which is why White Americans are, to this day, better off than their Black counterparts. Should we have to remind Brother Obama that the term “Welfare Queen” was used by President Reagan to whistle to his voters that he was going to take away the legitimate social entitlement of poor black mothers to fix the suburbs?
Apparently, Brother Obama didn’t want to upset the system.
According to Professor Boyce Watkins, “the Obama Administration made it clear that they would not have a targeted policy to deal with racial inequality in wealth or unemployment. Brother Obama said that the rising tide will lift all boats, which Professor Watkins termed a racialized-version of trickle-down economics, another failed policy of the Reagan administration.”
Pressing further, Brother Watkins, who got his PhD in Finance at Ohio State University, said: “the notion that racial inequality will simply fix itself is socially lazy, naïve and counterproductive. The same government that played a role in solidifying inequality in our society must also play a part in correcting that inequality—we didn’t get to this place by ourselves.”
What Brother Obama failed to do, as you can tell, was exactly what Donald Trump covertly promised his voters during the campaign: Using the U.S. industrial complex that has historically favor one race, and prejudice another race (Black people) to further his agenda.
As a black man, you can fold your arms and be forming “White Coolness,” or you can come to terms with the bitter history of systemic social and economic racism that Dr. Martin Luther King, W.E.B. Dubois, and our past revered leaders, said "We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience." The disgraceful police brutality under the Obama Administration undermines that creed.
Gentility, in the era of Donald Trump, is not a virtue but an act of cowardice: If you can write, get your pen out. If you’ve strong followers, repost pertinent articles on your page. Don’t fold your arms and say: Until it happens to me.
Brother Obama, with his powerful position, did not significantly further the “dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, who did all he did from the streets of America, not the White House. Truth be told, the current political climate, I submit, has shaken the residual of hopes in the heart of every Black America. For some people saying “He’s president of all of America, not just black America; but we seem to become pretty important to the White House around election time,” Don’t we? Brother Obama said that it would be a “personal insult if black voters don’t vote Clinton.”. Brother Obama, having been abandoned by your administration, your quip was contemptuous and condescending, to say the least.
For me, politics is about the furtherance of one’s self-interest. President Obama did further the elites’ interests and they are better off. The cultural heterogeneity of our society, I argue, makes it difficult to show allegiance to one group.
But it’s not unreasonable to use the instrument of the state that was once malevolently used to destroy the social and economic fabrics of a group (black people), I submit, to now use the same system to benevolently favor the same group.
That didn’t dawn on Brother Obama—a former Constitutional Law Professor—who would have understood that while the “Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, applicable to the federal government through the 5th Amendment, does not allow similarly situated people to be treated differently,” but the Equal Protection doctrine can be narrowly interpreted to wrong past injustices against a group of people (meaning that Brother Obama could have argued that black people require more financial bailout, based on the historical suppression of their fundamental rights, an argument that would’ve survived a “strict scrutiny test.”
However, historically speaking, one’s cultural affiliation tends to manifest naturally in one’s decision-making process. It’s not a manifestation of bias against other groups in the society, but it’s an incurable perpetual psychological burden that one carries. It’s the same psychological burden that makes President Buhari to quickly respond to crisis that closely affects his kinsmen, but notoriously silent to other more serious situations outside of his natural orbit.
Brother Obama just consciously (or subconsciously) suppressed his affiliation to black people, and he expected us to have his back (His charming “gambler’s fallacy—when you expect past events to influence the future”— didn't repeat itself in the 2016 election. Consider this, black people gave him the benefit of the doubt twice (2008 and 2012), but it was a bitter pill to swallow when Brother Obama asked us to vote for Clinton. Brother Obama, what have you done for us?
Mr. Obama was just too cool; Mr. Trump is about to become the opposite of our professorial brother. President Obama was being too politically correct; President Obama’s legacy (his better-late-than-never attempt to enforce Fed oversight on police departments) will probably be dismantled by Donald who loathes the damn political correctness, an irrational encumbrance that was popularized by the beltway media (Brother Obama’s out of touch friends).
I voted for Hilary Clinton but, in retrospect, I would’ve given it a second thought: I’m beginning to think that Donald Trump, forget about how he was mischaracterized by the beltway media, might be good for the Democratic party and black people.
It’s an illusion to think that the candidate for the White House will be a moralist: As much as President Obama appears to be a good man, I can authoritatively tell you that he must have unwillingly exercised the “sword” of the most powerful nation on earth to sanction some necessary immoral activities, which will forever remain “classified.”
On the surface, citizens like to have the illusion that their president should (and must) be a decent individual: The position they are vying for, realistically, demands a Machiavellian persona: You can put Angel Gabriel in the White House but, after four years, he will come out as Lucifer.
As someone privileged to have twice participated in a war simulation (and “crisis management in complex emergencies”) I can tell you that we live in a nasty world—a world where a good man will, in the interest of self-preservation, become a bad man. For, to remain good, in the face of an enemy sworn to destroy you, is by itself a folly.
President Obama understood these complexities, but he was just too good for the office that he occupied: From day one, his enemies sworn to destroy him, but he took them for granted—Donald Trump, a Machiavellian realist, is not ready to let his enemies bring the war to his turf; Donald will rather be the bully than the victim—a politically strategic position that gets the job done in Washington, a politically notorious city that forever redefined Brother Obama.
Brother Obama shed his tough blackness, to his folly, and embraced the passive Whiteness, also to his folly: At the end of the day, the institutionalized Washington bullies—mostly old White men who actively vowed to undermine Brother Obama—triumphed.
How did a good man, Brother Obama, not able to achieve his agenda? I got the answer from Ta-Nehisi Coates.
Responding to an article entitled
“The Problem With Obama’s Faith in White America, written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a reviewer from the Harvard Crimson, the daily newspaper of Harvard University, paraphrased Coates’ thus: The black president [Brother Obama] that Ta-Nehisi Coates describes is one who thinks he could have ever really embraced or chosen blackness. He [Brother Obama] seems to truly believe that he exercised some great act of charity and agency in adopting black cool.
My first black president seems to think that he can raise his daughters to believe in systemic racism without legitimizing the idea of systemic reparations. He [Brother Obama] thinks that he can be his brother’s keeper without changing the world that keeps his brothers in bad jobs, poor neighborhoods, bad educational options, and at the bottom of the social hierarchy. My first black president seems to think he can have black cool without black burden. For all this intimacies with his white mother and white grandparents, my first black president doesn’t appear to know his whites.”
To which I say this: Does “my first black president” know his blacks?
To the black community, Obama is now the “prodigal son”—even though he squandered a once in a lifetime opportunity to right past injustices against his own people, our brotherhood must still embrace his homecoming.
But, before we lay the red carpet for brother Obama’s homecoming, we must unapologetically discuss his shortcomings because he was not forthcoming when we needed him most: Donald Trump won because President Obama and Democrats subconsciously treated blacks the same way that Nigerian politicians treat their voters—Give inspirational (or unrealistic) speech. Vote for us, and see you in four years.
Every election, Democrats will never stop regurgitating the glorious achievements of President Lyndon Johnson. The party of LBJ and FDR won’t do something monumental for the black people again. To which, I say this: The glory of the past cannot sustain the need of the present—my fellow black people need some serious help. Brother Obama failed them.
How did Brother Obama fail us?
President Obama had his priorities in disarray. President Obama, the man that couldn’t be hamstrung to issue gazillion executive orders on climate change, but he was always supposedly hamstrung by the U.S. Congress on issues relating to the problems plaguing the black community: President Obama even had the time to visit the uninhabited Midway Atoll (part of the uninhabited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), supposedly to protect wild animals.
Meanwhile, in some inhabited black communities, police officers were going wild, engaging in extrajudicial killings of our brothers and sisters. Please, show me a picture of Brother Obama speaking in one of these troubled black neighborhoods.
I lived in Pittsburgh for five years, and President Obama came to Pittsburgh more than five times during that period, but his visit was to the same place—Oakland, a rich, vibrant neighborhood. Homewood, a poor black neighborhood plagued with social and economic degradation, is only two miles away from Oakland, but Obama always sped through the highway to see his privileged friends.
At the time, I didn’t see the so called black leaders scream and yell unfair. It was always the same old cliché about Obama: What a beautiful speech he gave. Excuse me? Brother Obama’s beautiful speeches have led to more black people being condemned to the labyrinth of abject poverty.
Brother Obama’s beautiful speeches have turned more black communities to the set of “the Walking Dead; interestingly, though, someone still cared about the “Walking Dead,” President Obama didn’t seem to care about the state of institutionalized social isolation and organized economic depravity of his fellow brothers and sisters.
Professor Cornel West, the W. E. B. Du Bois of our time and the intellectual giant of our time, had this to say about Brother Obama:
"The great irony of our time is that in the age of Obama the grand black prophetic tradition is weak and feeble. Obama’s black face of the American empire has made it more difficult for black courageous and radical voices to bring critique to bear on the U.S. empire. On the empirical or lived level of black experience, black people have suffered more in this age than in the recent past. Empirical indices of infant mortality rates, mass incarceration rates, mass unemployment and dramatic declines in household wealth reveal this sad reality."
Around 2012, Professor Cornel West, who was once a tenured professor at Harvard, Yale and Princeton, began to systematically take an intellectual approach to demystifying the illusion of the “change” mantra of the Obama presidency.
On August 19, 2015, Professor Cornel West was featured in the “New York Times’ The Stone, a forum for contemporary philosophers and other thinkers on issues both timely and timeless,” as a conscious black man, it was the best article that I had (and have) ever read, which also prompted me to read another of Professor Cornel’s book— “Black Prophetic Fire.” Consider this interesting observation from Professor West:
“Once you occupy the White House, you are head of the empire. Then you have a choice...Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt...pushed the American experiment in a progressive way...And that’s what we thought Obama was going to do...That’s what I mean by, we were looking for a Coltrane and we ended up getting a Kenny G. You can’t help but be profoundly disappointed. But also ready for more fightback in post-Obama America!”
Reading Professor West’s “Black Prophetic Power” was like reading Henry McNeal Turner’s article entitled “God is a negro”: Some people, highly objectionable of history, will pretend that race doesn’t matter in America: In reality, everything is viewed through race.
However, one must make a distinction between race baiters and profiteers from intellectuals who critically look at the influence of race on public policies (Professor Cornel West, an emeritus professor of philosophy and theology. Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University. And, Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates, a prolific writer who just finished a brilliant must read article entitled “My President Was Black,” are good examples of intellectuals examining the intersection of race, politics and public policy.) I’m an adherent follower of these revered intellectuals.
Instead of black leaders to support Professor West, they tongue-lashed him for criticizing our dear Brother Obama: They’ve forgotten history, that blacks do well when we vocally and forcefully challenge the authority for its malign neglect of our human conditions.
There is a reason why black people cannot keep quiet.
The triumph of Brother Obama does not necessarily mean the triumph of all black men. Brother Obama should know better; he had an opportunity to fundamentally bend the arc of history, but he let it stand still. Brother Obama, your election did not invalidate the historical injustice against your people.
Brother Obama, you alluded to this in February 5, 1990, it was the year that you ascended to the editorship of Harvard’s Law Review: “[My election] is encouraging. But it’s important that stories like mine aren’t used to say that everything is O.K. for blacks. You have to remember that for every one of me, there are hundreds of students with at least equal talent who don’t get a chance.”
Brother Obama, my critique is basking in your premise.
Every black activist is still unsure as to what happened to the young Brother Obama who “introduced Bell at a Harvard demonstration in 1991. Young Obama encouraged the crowd to open up their hearts and their minds to the words of Professor Derrick Bell, a professor at Harvard Law School – where Bell had been the first tenured African-American professor and also a founder of critical race theory, which examined the intersection of race, power and law in a harsh portrayal of American society as one dominated by class and racial conflict.”
Professor Bell also authored one of the most detailed book on this topic entitled: “Race, Racism, and American Law.”
Today, Brother Obama is in the habit of lecturing (rather than use the “fired up” strategy of his mentor, Professor Bell) poor black people: The New York Times’ headline, dated April 23, 2016, summed up Brother Obama’s critique of his fellow brothers and sisters: “Obama Says Movements Like Black Lives Matter ‘Can’t Just Keep on Yelling.’ Now, I see where Governor Ajimobi got his inspiration to tongue-lash LAUTECH students.
On a more serious note, though, America still must bear with its “First Sin,” so race guilt is still out there. Race guilt, “a psychosocial costs of racism,” is a generational burden that most Americans (especially some politicians) still unconsciously still bear. While not a good reason to do the right thing, race guilt has always been at the center of addressing past injustices against black people (The Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and the Fifteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution were enacted for the same aforementioned reason. The Civil Rights Act was enacted for the same reason).
So it’s intellectually and historically sound to say this: Under a Republican-led administration, black people can force their agenda on powerful politicians. Why? Because black leaders are more vocal, and the burden of race guilt remains. The fear of being labeled as racist, believe it or not, makes White Republicans to quickly do the right thing when called out by the black leaders: Till this day, President Bush is still emotionally hurt by Kanye West’s critique of him, when Kanye called him out as “not caring about black people.”
Brother Obama did fail both continental and diaspora black people.
Interestingly, President Bush, a Republican, did more for the continent of Africa than your fellow black brother, Obama: President Obama did not covey his first high profile meeting of African leaders until his second term, which later did not materialize into any substantive policy.
Brother Obama’s only visit to Nigeria, given its strategic importance in that continent…oops! Erase that line. Brother Obama never visited Nigeria: And when we needed help to fight Boko Haram, Brother Obama invoked the “Leahy Law,” a polite way of saying NO. However, Israel is violating the rules of the Geneva convention, and Brother Obama gave (not sold) billions of military weapon to Israel.
Brother Obama, I will miss your beautiful speeches, but I won’t miss your awful policies that prioritized climate change over social and economic changes for African Americans: the erosion of the latter is more of an imminent threat to your fellow brothers and sisters. However, the former (climate change) makes your delusional elite friends happy.
While I don’t like a “straw man argument,” I will embrace it here: Brother Obama, your failed policies ushered in the Trump Presidency. Even though I’m uncertain of Trump, I’m certain of one thing: We can shame him to act. For you, Brother Obama, we were afraid to be seen as cowards criticizing one of our own—You. As you gracefully bow out of the White House, know this: The state of the black community is precarious. You failed us, but welcome home, Brother Obama.
For those not familiar with what I’ve done in this article, let me say this: It’s not personal; in fact, far from it. Sociologists have a name for what I’ve carefully done: “structuralism. Structuralists are those who emphasize the role of institutional racism and economic circumstances.”
Although, on a personal note, I partially agree with Harvey Claflin Mansfield’s, the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Government at Harvard University, opinion written in the Harvard Crimson: “What most surprised me is how little he [Brother Obama] has done for the situation and condition of the black citizens of our country.”
I WILL LET BROTHER OBAMA HAVE THE LAST WORD. In an interview granted to the New York Times, published February 6, 1990, entitled “First Black Elected to Head Harvard’s Law Review,” [Brother] Obama said this: “I PERSONALLY AM INTERESTED IN PUSHING A STRONG MINORITY PERSPECTIVE. I’M FAIRLY OPINIONATED ABOUT THIS.
ASK YOURSELF THIS SIMPLE QUESTION: DID BROTHER OBAMA LIVE UP TO HIS OWN EXPECTATIONS? FOR NOW, I REST MY CASE.
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