10 Thoughts On President Obama’s Town Hall On Race Relations and Policing » VSB

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10 Thoughts On President Obama’s Town Hall On Race Relations and Policing

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  1. I’m not a huge fan of these types of town halls, not for their intentions, but for their execution and results. I have every belief that going into it, Obama and his staff, and David Muir and Jemele Hill had every intention of it being a real dialogue about hard truths. Or at least that’s what it was billed as. But the truth is, none of that ever happens. The President, who I’m almost positive is tired of these things as well, has to speak in guarded language while straddling the fence and trying to not to offend. And that’s his job; be a president to all. But there’s nothing that was said, either via question or answer, that we haven’t heard before. It felt more like, “let’s let some of the direct victims of these tragedies get a little time nationally.”
  2. At the same time, I understand why these town halls on race and what not end up like this. The people in attendance seemed largely to be those immediately affected by the tragedies. You had families of victims, of police officers, activists, etc. You know who we need to hear from? The random individuals in the nation who aren’t on the front lines of either of these movement. The person who just tries to live their everyday life by making it home after work. The nation’s temperature on these things that comes out in data and polls are the folks I’m most interested in hearing. Those are the voters and the people who are either apathetic to the plights of communities unlike their own and just flat out don’t care, or folks who do care but aren’t willing to get actively involved for various reasons. I’d have rather they just knocked on folks doors at random and said, “hey, you have no choice, you’re coming to speak with the President. Grab your toothbrush, do not check your racism at the door (if it exists), and please, leave your guns.”
  3. At the samer time, it IS good that these town halls happen because it raises the discussions to the national level even if lots of people maybe don’t know, don’t show, or just don’t care about what’s going on in the hood (that’s not their own). While there is only so much that can be accomplished, SOMETHING is better than nothing and its likely that these things do cause more conversations, which is truly the only way to get to a more perfect union in 2764, assuming we haven’t blown up the planet by then or global warming hasn’t turned all of us into pieces of friend chicken by then.
  4. Obama is longwinded. As fuck. That’s another reason I don’t love these things. He talks too much and too long. Which limits the instances of other people getting a chance to ask questions because we all know people suck at asking questions, especially when you get one shot to ask the President something. You’re likely to weave a paragraph long narrative to frame your question which is more of a statement while you double back trying to add a question mark to the end of the statement. Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, apparently felt a way about the whole thing and had to devolve into an angry outburst after the talk in order to get a moment to speak with the President. If Obama wasn’t so long-winded, I’m sure at least five or six more people could have got some questions off. Just an observation and constructive criticism.
  5. I’m sure Obama has to be ABSOLUTELY over having to explain #BlackLivesMatter to people. At this point, you almost have to be intentionally REFUSING to accept that there’s an invisible “too” after the statement. I almost wonder if the folks who started the hashtag don’t wish they hadn’t made it #BlackLivesMatterToo instead. Obviously, there are people who wouldn’t care one way or another and only view – as white America has historically done – support for your community as an automatic lack of support for another. I will never understand why white people (as an institution) are so afraid of Black people caring about ourselves to the point where the assumption is that if we love ourselves, we hate them. Shit, we love lots of white people. Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, any number of abolitionists, Mark Zuckerberg, Bono, Bette Midler, etc. Honestly, I’m over having to explain it to anybody as well. If they don’t get it by now, it’s because they don’t want to get it. That Police Chief who spoke towards the end – I forget his name – gets it. In fact that guy seems to get the whole shit. Which reminds me…
  6. You know who I’d like to really hear talk? Police officers. Before you throw tomatoes, hear me out. These are the people who we view negatively in our community. They’re also not going anywhere. Cops have a shitty job, but its a necessary one. But they’re the ones in our community. We need to hear from them why the hell they feel how they do. I’m not saying we’ll like it, I’m just saying its important to get them into these conversations. What do they think the problem is? It can’t be all our “failure to comply”. People who are complying are being killed, on camera. They have to realize that the veil they’ve been living under is coming up, and they still have to police the streets. I’m not offering sympathy, but I’m asking for some reasonable individuals to speak on it all too. I think they’re all power-hungry assholes for the most part, but the truth is, that’s not true. Many probably just want to keep the streets safe and go home. Black and Latino communities have significant issues with the police obviously, and we are airing those and non-conservative media outlets are helping. But it might be helpful to let them talk without immediately calling for their heads.
  7. Hearing police advocates be on this, “Obama we don’t know that you support the police” is some of the most irresponsible rhetoric ever. And patently false. Obama has gone out of his way to show support, often to the point of pissing off those on the victim end of cops. It’s annoying. I wish they’d stop it. People, especially those in power, SUCK in this nation. We need new leaders. Shit, at this point, I almost think we’d be just as well off letting Mona Scott-Young create a reality show competition for each Congressional office.
  8. One of the sad things about Obama nearing the end of his time in office is that national town halls on race…yeah, that’s pfffffffffft. Donald Trump for damn sure wouldn’t and it’s not like Hillary Clinton could pull this off. These national conversations only work – so much as they do work – because the President is a Black man. Sure the convos will continue at local levels, which is honestly where most of the work needs to be done, but putting a national spotlight on these issues acknowledges that there’s a problem, and for the Black community at least it gives us some hope that a change is gon’ come. Thing is, change is coming…in a few months. And the Black community won’t have the same advocate we’ve had in the White House. I realize many people aren’t up on Obama, but hate him or love him, he addressed these things from a reasonable and personal angle. What other president could do that?
  9. I’m still pissed the NRA hasn’t said shit about Philando Castile. I have a lot more to say about this from a personal angle and I intend to, but its amazing to me how the one thing white folks cherish above all else is their rights and infringing on their rights is like sleeping with their spouses. Yet, a Black man exercises his rights and dies because of it, and the ONE body whose entire mission is to ensure that right is protected has gone radio silent. The NRA is a whole bitch.
  10. In a macro sense, and speaking about rights, it’s amazing to me how much white people don’t just understand, fundamentally, that Black folks want our rights recognized. Like, we have entire town halls to talk about race relations but mostly how the rights of Black Americans get trampled on by American institutions and its a fucking debate. We know that rights for Black people are more privileges in the eyes of White America, but its ultimately frustrating that these things have to be outlined anywhere. That’s why I’m not a fan of these town halls, they’re discussions that we have to have because America ultimately still struggles with all of its citizens having equal rights and ignorantly pretends like they don’t understand. Oh, America, you card.
Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • NonyaB

    Yeah, what ABC did was fxcked up; lying by promising Erica Garner audience with Obama then seating her next to the widow of the NYPD officer whose death they cast as retaliation for her dad’s death? All for what, ratings shenanigans? Glad she called them out so vocally. She explains herself in this video:

    • Mortal Man

      This is what happens when a news network believes #alllivesmatter. They’ll sit people down next to each other for optics instead of contemplating the tragedies that demand they be treated separately.


      • Nik White

        Found it! Too many hhhs.
        Good for you!

    • “ABC..Fukk you” the realest shyt of 2016.

      Was anybody else agitated by The President saying that protesters should be peaceful?

      When we’re they NOT? EVEN when there were guns and riot gear in front of them, they didn’t invite shyt. AND MOST WERE KIDS OR YOUNG ADULTS.

      • NonyaB

        Didn’t watch the town hall farce but given his position, can’t expect anything that isn’t diluted and super-conciliatory from him.

  • Negro Libre

    I don’t like these faux town halls. Real life town halls, have something at stake, people are arguing or debating “for an action.” We in America, no longer believe that “debate” and “argument” have value, because we don’t want our opinions to be exposed or challenged as being stupid or dumb or illegitimate. Thus we have “conversations” which aim to promote understanding, but of course, put nothing at risk, and are by their nature, useless.

    I’d like to see an Intelligence Squared debate on whether AllLivesMatter and BlueLivesMatter are legitimate movements or are nothing but passive aggressive dismissals for addressing black people issues. Let the sides come together, battle out with their intellect, and let the public decide. But nah, these town hall stuff, outside of ratings and social media activity are futile.

    • Bah Debo

      we already know the answer to that Intelligence Squared debate…..and they all know it too.
      I have a friend/teammate that asked some questions about the BLM movement and made some statements about why he doesn’t support it. I’m taking a couple days to collect my thoughts and put together a cogent response because I appreciate him actually willing to converse about his perceived views. As I’m going through this prep, I’m also just getting more and more frustrated with this process of “education”. I understand that he sees my perspective as a resource, but in the end it all comes down to two things: (1)Actual acknowledgement of the racial history within this country and the impacts that hundreds of years of racial disparity would have on ALL communities and legal institutions; and (2)….some gawdamn simple as f*ck empathy for you fellow man.
      Why the F*CK is this so hard???

      • Bah Debo

        …and can we talk about this Harvard study (which I’m personally going to go through…because I sense some bs) that everyone is quoting now???
        I especially enjoy how “they” only acknowledge the conclusion that there is no disparity between police killings of whites vs blacks BUT WILLFULLY IGNORE the conclusion within the SAME STUDY that minorities routinely experience higher levels of use of force from police.

        • NonyaB

          As I mentioned on the previous BLM post (where someone was ignorantly brandishing this study), most annoying fact is how most people flaunting studies cite news headlines without reading the article itself, much less the actual study.

          This outlines the flaws in the study:

          • Bah Debo

            Yup….only posts I’ve seen about this study are people posting websites that summarize a SINGLE point from the study, emphasize that he’s black and at Harvard….and then don’t link to or cite a gd thing. Half of them don’t even show the actual numbers from the study…
            The ignorance is so willful it’s heartbreaking.

            • NonyaB

              So ridiculous when people pretend to open arguments or discussions when all they mean to do is hear themselves talking. Don’t expound energy being disappointed, just ignore them or use that as an opportunity to cull your circle (e.g. if such people were your “friends” on FB).

      • NonyaB

        Be sure to slide in a line of “I obviously made an exception but I’m sure you agree my time is better spent acting, not explaining to people like you when Google coulda helped you out”.

      • Negro Libre

        But in general, empathy does not lead to action. In fact this is essentially what all these town halls are: appeals to empathy. I empathize with the people of France and the likely terrorist acts that occurred, however, am I likely to take any significant action to deal with their problem? Honestly…probably not.

        Thus why if we are to have any discussion on this issue, it should be at least the level of an actual real life debate. At least on such a platform, we are allowed not only to point out errors in thinking, but also show why they are foolish in the process.

        • Bah Debo

          In general no…empathy isn’t enough. That’s why it has to be backed up with acknowledgement of the racial reality of this country. A debate, as you noted, would be helpful in pointing out errors in thinking….but only those who are willing to acknowledge the existence of certain aspects of racial disparity (i.e. acknowledgement of racial history and it’s societal symptoms) are going to even be open to having their minds changed.
          A lot of people flat out ignore this country’s history and pretend it never happened. It’s undeniable that legal, systemic racism existed until AT LEAST 1965. The most unforgiving white supremacist couldn’t argue that fact….yet millions of people willfully ignore hundreds of years of this history to believe everything changed over night.
          Look at the massive, worldwide effects of the Holocaust….but slavery, Jim Crow, hundreds of years of oppression…current symptoms are willfully ignored. Just look at the worldwide political support for Israel.

          • Negro Libre

            But this is also why I almost think it’s a mistake to even bring those up, because they substitute narrative for specific issues.

            There’s a tendency for us to focus on the consequences and the results of these things, when we argue from the standpoint of history or systemic racism. For instance, there are laws on the book that say, a police officer can kill you if he “feels” you’re a threat. Rather than argue from the angle that this is unconstitutional, there’s a preference to argue that that the results are racist, because once again, systemic racism, racist history. By focusing on the narrative, we do not attack the actual laws, their unconstitutionality and in many cases we say, that the laws are okay, but we just want different outcomes.

            This is a nation of laws, not of people. If something is justified and institutionalized by law, it doesn’t immediately change if no one is going after the specific laws that justify the institutional racism. Not every white person was a racist in Jim Crow South, I’m sure there weren’t a whole bunch of white business owners who didn’t want black dollars being used to buy their goods, but it didn’t matter, Jim Crow was law. It wasn’t until the laws were taken off the books, that things seriously began to change. Most of these laws nowadays aren’t brought up to public discourse and public debate, rather we are constantly having arguments aimed towards empathy, spitting out numbers etc, but no one is addressing the source of all the problems: the law.

            Change the laws, and then if someone breaks them, you can hold them accountable. But if the laws say they don’t have to be accountable, then they are under no obligation, outside of personal morals to hold themselves accountable.

            • Bah Debo

              I agree with your general premise….but then it comes back to who has the power to change these laws? As a community, we can’t do it by ourselves. We have to rely on allies from a community, that in general, does not hold the perspective that there is an actual issue. We’re getting closer with younger generations, but there are still plenty who hold the views of their forefathers (I’ve been unpleasantly surprised by some of the views of my generational contemporaries, while working in a group largely made up of those from previous generations).
              So the question becomes, how do you build support from the necessary allies to change these laws? Especially those allies willing to make the necessary sacrifices AND who have the necessary power. Many people don’t consider certain levels of police brutality unconstitutional because it just hasn’t effected them or their community. If the media was suddenly inundated with stories and videos of white women experiencing police brutality…the conversation would change IMMEDIATELY.
              Those who we can consider to be allies, acknowledge the racial history of the US. They acknowledge the simple existence of racial disparity. These perspectives allow them to look at these issues from outside the bubble of any perceived privilege.
              I just don’t believe those who ignore the reality of history can understand the symptoms of our present and therefore will willfully ignore unconstitutionalities UNTIL the day it greatly effects their community as well.

            • Blueberry01

              Preach, NL!

  • Hugh Akston

    I can’t those discussions seriously

    The same complaint against black folks were being laid out when our ancestors were being lynched. A lot of white folks were mad that they couldn’t do that anymore. A lot of white folks stood up to prevent a black little girl to walk into a school that was all white. A lot of white folks stood there when million of kkk members were marching across the nation. A lot of white folks stayed silent when a white racist walked into a church and gunned 9 of our brothers and sisters. You think most of those folks really care about three letters to a hashtag? Yeah, they don’t. Otherwise you would have seen a plethora of people commenting here and elsewhere of how much they support the movement. Not your lone individuals here.

    Though when you write an article criticizing them or some of their actions you’d see the comment sections filled with their distaste. No sir, I can’t take these people seriously. They don’t care about your pain and suffering. They never did, unless it starts to affect them directly. What are we ought to do? Focus on us.

    • AnswerMe

      As I told a couple women on an IG post about how all lives matters is a way to hush Black Lives Matter, don’t come talk to me. Unless you’re inviting me to a large mostly white discussion about what YOU’RE going to do to be better, I don’t want to hear it. Where are their meetings? Where are their calls for the rest of their race to step up, admit, admonish, and hold themselves accountable? Like you said, they’re silent and they’re silent because they don’t see a problem. And that, is the saddest and most counterproductive aspect to all of this.

    • Question

      Word. Its like the diversity sessions in corporate america that are a) lead by minorities and b) filled with minorities. As long as we’re the only ones doing the talking/town-hall’ing/workshop’ing nothing is going to change.

      I’ll care and get excited when White people have these conversations. Until then, whatever.

  • Rolland Martin summed it up the best that was some ol bullshit and I say this as a black men in Canada, I didn’t watch the whole thing but I couldn’t help shaking my head. Its ok to say Obama let the people down.

    • So he couldn’t edit out that cough at the beginning? (I’m focused on the wrong thing, I know lol)

      • NonyaB

        Me too! #DetailsMatter Pro tip: change video speed to 1.5 or 2 when folks dawdle.

      • Other_guy13

        6 min of foolishness…I almost gave up.

      • He put it out right after the town hall so I guess he didn’t have a chance to edit it

  • NonyaB

    More energy should be spent on moving, not explaining. Scarce energy should be focused on clarifying how to do what locally to effect change. So, no more explainer things like posts or town halls because enough text (articles, studies, etc) and video exist and are easily accessible online for those who truly want to know. When they have caught up, they can join those moving by contributing locally.

  • I had no idea that this had happened and to be frank, I’m glad I didn’t. Ain’t nobody “bout that action” so it’s really just a bunch of people blowing smoke up each other’s behinds. I dislike this current brand of “social justice warrior” because it all seems so half-baked. There was a march in my city that was hastily thrown together last weekend. I won’t front, I had every intention of going but had a prior engagement. That being said, what happens after the march? Do we continue to have more marches? Is someone advocating for the changes we need to see in the Senate? Who is drafting bills that serve our interests? Whose d**k needs to be sucked to push said bills through? I have lots of questions.

    • HouseOfBonnets

      I mean orgs like campaign zero have tried to push towards changes within the white house and congress but if last night was any indication it seems like they’re getting the runaround at this point…witch is sad because i highly doubt things like BLM and police brutality are at the top of either presidential candidates priority list.

      • Your avi is so cute!

        Politics is about power and money, not people. There’s no money involved in racial equality and white people certainly aren’t trying to give any power to black bodies, at least not any real power that matters.

        I haven’t ever been interested in trying to change the hearts/minds of white people as it concerns black bodies. You either get it or you don’t as far as I’m concerned. White people don’t come into those discussions seeking to empathize or change their views as it concerns us. They are so caught up with salivating at the opportunity to paint themselves as the real victims. I’m over it.

        • HouseOfBonnets


          I feel the exact same way over it, I’ve been saying it for a while if they don’t understand it’s because they simply don’t want to and last I checked wasting my energy arguing with people doesn’t benefit me so I washed my hands of it.

          • Same. I’ve got bills that need paying and I just keep my distance from white folk I don’t know.

  • Cheech

    I really wanted to hear the “mom of the year” from Baltimore say that she dragged her son from the street only for his safety, not his message, and that she agreed with his anger. And that since this, not the street, was the place for the question, to ask directly: why was it ok to kill Freddie Gray, and what are we going to do to stop it from happening again?

  • cakes_and_pies

    “I will never understand why white people (as an institution) are so afraid of Black people caring about ourselves to the point where the assumption is that if we love ourselves, we hate them.”

    That’s how some White people feel though. Caring for themselves means putting a boot on our necks.

    • It’s wild to see how white people can easily justify minorities “deserving” every bad thing that they impose on us but then they see the injustice involved in The Hunger Games (a fictional story).

      Absolutely wild.

      • Buster Cannon

        Yep, same thing with the X-Men.

        Wypipo: Oh look, those poor mutants are being oppressed because they’re born differently than everyone else, regardless of whether they’re good or bad.

        Black folks: AHEM!

        • They’re the most terrible human beings on the face of the planet.

          • Buster Cannon

            Eh, I wouldn’t go that far. I don’t make generalizations about them in the same way that I don’t want them making generalizations about me. “Treat others the way you want to be treated” and all that jazz.

            • I respect your right to view them as decent humans.

              • MyAlterNegro

                He’s not viewing them as decent or not, he’s just not putting ALL of them into one big bucket and making a final decision about them.

            • Bah Debo

              I won’t go that far either…..but they are responsible for some of the most terrible things in the whole of human history. Time to own it.

        • This is still one of the best and enduring fictional analogies for minorities that I’ve ever come across.

          I’m enjoying that the entire subplot of Civil War II is whether or not profiling is right.

          • Buster Cannon

            Huh, I didn’t catch that until you pointed it out. It’s true tho, they’re debating on whether or not it’s ethical to take a preemptive strike when the other side hasn’t even done anything wrong. Granted, cops aren’t having visions of the future, but it still makes for an interesting debate.

            Speaking of Marvel, what’d you think about the new Iron Man (Iron Woman?) and the criticism that’s coming with it?

            • The side stories in the monthly books have given a better look at the profiling angle. Sam Wilson and Misty, Ms. Marvel and Power Man & Iron Fist have mentioned it specifically.

              I don’t have any issues with Riri Williams being in the suit as long as she’s done correctly. (Have you noticed all of the black women in Marvel comics have natural hair?) What did bother me about the announcement was the stories suggesting who should play Riri on screen. The bulk of them just suggested a series of light-skinned actresses.

              • Buster Cannon

                Ah, didn’t catch those. Aside from the main CWII event, the only solo series’ that I’ve been keeping heavy tabs on are Spider-Man (Parker, Morales, and 2099), Old Man Logan, and Steve Rogers. Also, I liked how PM/IF just peaced out of the CW fight altogether:


                My only gripe with Riri is that she just popped out of nowhere when they could have had WM’s niece take the same role, but eh. We’ll see how it turns out.

                • I read that issue of PM/IF last night. Luke and Danny are playing the role that Ben Grimm played last time out.

                  Kamala’s sister-in-law who is black broke it down for her and Sam and Misty came to the same conclusion.

                  The Civil War Choosing sides book dealt with how some of the ethnic characters have been dealing with Rhodey’s death. America Chavez, Misty, Storm, and Monica Rembau were featured.

      • HouseOfBonnets

        Well some said that rue’s death was less heartbreaking since the actress was black sooo… https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e7df0128f71e0a82582a7e9186f30526006f0240d2a6fa25fb1af200709ec63.gif

        • Again, they can easily justify a black body dying. We’re so far from human for them. It’d be like watching a roach die.

      • cakes_and_pies

        We’re simultaneously superhumans who can’t feel pain and subhumans who should be treated like wild animals.

        • Reasons why I feel indifferent to their “supposed” sufferings. I don’t have a tear to shed for them during events where they lean on the world for “support”.

      • L8Comer

        I always wondered if the hunger games was a metaphor for race… Especially with the capital being white everything

  • PinkRose

    Police don’t view our community negatively. Racists do whether they’re a cop, doctor, lawyer, teacher, ect, ect.

    • Blueberry01

      Where do you live?

  • HouseOfBonnets

    I saw the twitter commentary and decided to pass at this point i want to see actions being taken because the discussion has been happening for about 3 years if we’re being honest.

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