by Dr. Boyce Watkins
Minister Louis Farrakhan, in a compelling address to President Barack Obama, made a plea to the president to consider coming to Chicago to see about the families of those who’ve been victimized by the astonishing epidemic of gun violence in the city over the past several years. Farrakhan, who lives in the same south side neighborhood as Obama, asked the president to do the same for the victims of Chicago that he did for the families in Newtown, Connecticut who were struck by the horribly unfortunate Sandy Hook School shooting.
The video, which is below, is a respectful one. Farrakhan is not yelling at President Obama or attacking him. In this plea, Farrakhan is simply doing what we should all be doing: Making it clear that our dead children are just as valuable as the children who die in the suburbs. It’s hard to look past a president who flies to Colorado when people are shot in a suburban movie theater, cries publicly when other children are killed in an affluent part of Connecticut, yet simultaneously considers the death of black children in his own neighborhood to be nothing more than business as usual.
Although Farrakhan’s remarks are gracious and his request beyond reasonable, he is sure to be met with opposition from those who feel that every black leader in America should be publicly dismantled for having the audacity to question the new American aristocracy. Some of “us” foolishly believe that we no longer need black leadership since we can now spend our days marveling over Michelle Obama’s sense of fashion. The saddest part of it all is that when President Obama leaves office in 2016, he won’t be doing much work with the black community. However, we will still be sitting in the same socioeconomic mess that has only gotten worse over the last four years.
Some like to say that it’s not the president’s job to fix the problem when black people are being shot by black men. The most interesting thing about this argument is that it also says that the president has no obligation to help fix the problem when white people are being shot by white men. It is only in the black community that we’ve become convinced that the justification for ignoring victims of violence leans on the fact that they have the misfortune of being the same race as the perpetrators. This argument would never fly in white America, and every unconditional apologist in the Barack Obama fan club knows it. In many ways, by reminding the president that white people are more important than us, we are both excusing and encouraging his disrespect for black people in general.
What I’m learning is that the Great Obama Divide occurring in the black community is quite simple: There are those of us who care deeply about poor black people and those of us who don’t. Far too many black Americans have begun to confuse the symbolic fortunes of the Obama family with the success of the black community. Michelle and Barack have become our king and queen, and in such a society, the well-being of the royal family is well-worth the oppression, marginalization, incarceration and economic demise of a million “meaningless” peasants.
The bottom line on President Obama is this: Anyone who responds to critiques of Obama with anger are a danger to the progress of the black community. The success of any one politician should never be more important than the condition of millions of people. Also, anyone who voted for Obama and challenges him to do his job could never been defined as an enemy to the Obama presidency. If they were true enemies of Obama, they would have voted for someone else.
The video is below:
Dr. Boyce Watkins is a professor at Syracuse University and author of the book, “Commercialized Hip-Hop: The Gospel of Self Destruction.” To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.