although president obama’s approval rating has steadied in the past couple of months, between between the beer summit, his seemingly passive role in the health care debate, and his unsuccessful trip to copenhagen, his overwhelmingly strong support in the black community seems to be wavering a bit. while this sentiment won’t be found in any surveys or polls, visit any barbershop, beauty salon, or blog and you’ll see a subtle change from “yes we can” to “i mean, i still think we might, but…”, a feeling which can potentially be the beginning of a slippery slide to “f*ck that n*gga”.
i understand where this is coming from. when you’re part of a group of people who’ve been the returned orphan to america’s anita tedaldi over and over again, its almost impossible to return the skepticism and doubt that comes with that package.
still, i think that we need to put ourselves aside for a minute and give president obama a break, and here’s three reasons why.
1. we’ve never seen him before
for most of us (i’m 30 years old, and i’m assuming that the majority of the people who frequent this site are somewhere between 21 and 35) the black politicians we’ve seen in our lifetimes can easily be split into three catagories
a) “neighborhood”-centric civil rights and injustice hounds with staunch ties to black social networks and zealous support from the black church
b) “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” bon vivants insisting on an eschewing of urban culture and a return to traditional family values
c) kwame kilpatrick
like contemporaries such as newark mayor cory booker, president obama doesn’t fit any of these categories, and the uniqueness of his person and his position has been a tough pill for many of us to swallow.
we’ve been conditioned to expect representatives who’d salivate at the opportunity to rain fire and brimstone on a white cop (from boston!) who publicly disrespected an esteemed black academic, neglecting to remember that such divisive tactics would blatantly contradict the presidents gameplan. we wonder how he could fly to denmark to lobby about some games seven summers away for a city where 36 city students were murdered in one year, not realizing that being awarded that honor would have been a substantial boon for the entire country, not just the city of chicago.
we’re used to seeing the micro acts of a community activist or state representative instead of the excessively macro dance of a black leader of a predominately white country, forgetting that while the president may be one of us…he doesn’t belong to us.
basically, he’s chocolate milk from a community titty, and we need to learn to share the titty.
2. we’ve never been here before, either
i have a friend who just “discovered” the NBA in may of 2008. although he’s a native nigerian whose sports tastes are definitely more pele than chris paul, he became so enthralled with the lakers and kobe bryant last spring that he started writing “deuce cuatro” on the back of his adidas and begin referring to himself as the mamba in the third person. (trust me, you haven’t lived until a 5’7 nigerian tells you that “the mamba got on some tight, tight ass” after you ask him what he did friday night.)
anyway, i remember how frustrated he’d get last year if the lakers seemed disinterested or lost two games in row. at least once every couple of weeks he’d send me some 1000 word nigerian curse filled email cursing phil jackson, luke walton, and luke waltons fro, and i’d calm him, reminding him that the lakers would be fine.
you see, he had never paid attention to the regular season before, and it took him a while to realize that you can’t hem and haw over every minor misstep in an 82 game season unless you wanted to drive yourself crazy.
i’m bringing this up because the situation with my nigerian buddy is parallel to that of much of black america today. before 2008, i suspect that most of you were similar to me: an “appropriate” interest in the country and world affairs mixed with an aggressive apathy towards the day-to-day minutiae of american politics.
basically, we knew just enough to answer any of the potential “so, how do you feel about iraq?” first date vetting questions that are never, ever asked by anyone, anywhere, ever.
now, because we feel more of an emotional tie with washington, more of us are switching between fox, cnn, cspan, and msnbc eight hours a day, peering the president’s every move, minding every mundane bill, and paying attention to every pundit. while an increased interest with and awareness of politics definitely isn’t a bad thing, it would be in everyone’s best to chill with the monday morning quarterbacking. try to remember that barring disaster, obama is going to be in office for eight freakin years, and a mistake or two in the first eight months isn’t going to end the world or repeal our upcoming reparations checks.
3. he’s earned it
admittedly, i’ve had my doubts. in fact, the last entry on my old blog was a 1,000 word tome in 2007 expressing why i thought obama shouldn’t run for president. convinced that he had no chance to beat hilary clinton, i wrote about how quickly and suddenly other high profile presidential losers in my lifetime, from mike dukasis to john kerry, fell off the political map (except for al gore, who merely just turned into a lesbian) and i didn’t want to see him suffer that same fate.
as he’s prone to do, he proved me and millions of other people wrong, and i think he’s done more than enough to earn the benefit of the doubt…for now
hmmm. this was alot, lol.
i’m curious, people of vsb.com.
how do think the pres is doing so far, has he surpassed or fell short of your expectations, and do you think we’re too hypersensitive (or not sensitive enough) to his plight?