Oct 20, 2011

This is a very tricky question. I can see the simplicity in the argument of telling black people to stand in solidarity, but I can also see how this push could backfire on the President. I remember I had a caller on Savvy Talk Radio from Oakland who expressed great frustration about black people who publicly criticize the President. She said she could not understand why we (I totally think she was including me in the argument) couldn't just shut up and go out in the streets and ensure the President was re-elected because he was a black man. Again, I fully understand her argument, but is black support of Obama really that simple?

The Washington Post

For several months, radio host Tom Joyner has pleaded with his 8 million listeners to get in line behind the first black president.

“Stick together, black people,” says Joyner, whose R&B morning show reaches one in four African American adults.

“Let’s not even deal with the facts right now. Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride — and loyalty,” Joyner wrote on his BlackAmericaWeb.com blog. “We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man.”

But the focus on sticking together has prompted criticism from some who call it an overly simplistic view that shuts off dialogue about Obama’s achievements and his failures.

“It truncates vibrant conversation in the black community,” said Eddie Glaude Jr., a professor of religion and African American studies at Princeton University. “What I hear them saying is, ‘Black folk need to get in lock step because we don’t want Republicans to take the White House.’ There is a kind of disciplining of the black polity that doesn’t lend itself to a vibrant and detailed consideration about political issues.”

The message is that criticism of Obama should be treated like a family argument — not to be made public — said Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University.

Sharpton said he learned an important lesson about supporting black politicians in the early 1990s, when David Dinkins, who was New York’s first black mayor, was running for reelection. Sharpton criticized Dinkins’s “deliberative” style and thought his policies were not progressive enough. Dinkins was hurt by the diminished enthusiasm and turnout among black voters.

“We beat up on him. He went down and we ended up with eight years of Rudy Giuliani,” said Sharpton, who has been among Obama’s most aggressive supporters. “I said I’ll never make that mistake again.”

I honestly don't think black people support the President just because he is a black man. Need I give you a history lesson on how few black people supported the President when he initially announced his candidacy back in 2007? President Obama had to prove he was worthy of support before African Americans came out in historical levels to support him. His blackness alone was not what convinced people who never voted before to support him. If blackness was all that was need then surely Uncle Herman would have more African Americans supporting him. The reason, I believe, so many African Americans support the President is because he is the right person for the job. Trust me, it gives me great pride to see that beautiful black family in the White House, but it wasn't that pride alone that made me a supporter of his since 2004. I supported him because he inspired me and I thought that the policies he would try to implement for the country would be the best for the country. Sure, having that beautiful black woman by his side played a part, but it wasn't enough to make me send his campaign my hard earned money nor knocked on strangers doors to talk about him. His blackness wasn't what made me go against the grain in 2007 to support his candidacy in the the beginning. It wasn't the thing that made me disagree with all my family and friends who said it was going to be impossible for him to beat Hillary Clinton. I support him because of a combination of things. His blackness was just icing on and already very impressive cake.

1 comment:

  1. Black support shouldn't be that simple. And I don't like for people to reduce it to that. I disagree with Tom Joyner. He may not have been ashamed to say what he said but I think he is in error big time.

    At the same time, I think there is that element of blind loyalty. We've had black presidential candidates before and they didn't go very far. In my estimation, President Obama got traction with black people once they realized that he could get serious non-black support and having a black president could in fact happen. I also think there is a contingent of voters, both black and non-black, that voted for him simply to make history. Everybody does not vote based on the issues that concern them. So from that angle, it could be that simple. It shouldn't be though.

    Tom Joyner is a smart enough man to have been able to articulate why he thinks the president should be re-elected. I'm disappointed that he is advocating blind loyalty.