As disappointed as I was in the outcome of the presidential election of 2008, I took some solace in at least one thing, and that was that the nation had turned a corner in its turbulent history on the topic of race. I wrote about that night in my book, SELLOUT: Musings from Uncle Tom’s Porch, recalling how black journalist Juan Williams struggled to contain his emotions once the election was called for Barack Obama. I remember the scene in Grant Park in Chicago, where several thousand people gathered to celebrate Obama’s victory. Oprah Winfrey was there, tears flowing freely. I was most moved, however, to see Jesse Jackson weeping, his entire body heaving with sobs:
I knew these weren’t the normal tears of joy shed by the supporters of a victorious candidate, especially coming from Jackson. You could see in his face the release of decades of pain and struggle, and although I agree with almost nothing the man says or does, I was touched by his emotion.
Despite what he has become, he was there at Selma and marched to Montgomery, and he was in Memphis when Dr. King was gunned down, standing just feet below him in the parking lot. He probably never dreamed a black man would become president in his lifetime, and I’m sure that feeling was reinforced by his own two unsuccessful bids for the office.
President Obama struck a conciliatory tone that night, and while I knew there would be battles to come on issues of policy and the proper role of government, I believed those who said we had now entered into a “post-racial” era, and people who stirred up racial animosity for political gain or from a heart of evil were to be marginalized going forward.
Let’s be frank; while black pride was an indisputable factor in Obama’s electoral victory, so too was the hope by tens of millions of white Americans that their vote for him would put to rest for all time the allegation that America is inherently and irredeemably racist.
More than two years after that historic night, I couldn’t be more disillusioned in where we are as a nation on race. We are more divided than we have been in decades, and I place the blame on the president, members of his administration, and his supporters and surrogates who refuse to let his agenda be measured and critiqued like any other person who occupies the Oval Office, but instead throw up false charges of racism as a shield against dissent.
Just this week, Attorney General Eric Holder, who previously declared us “a nation of cowards” for not engaging in a candid dialogue on race, bristled at the suggestion that he was not pursuing the voter intimidation case from the 2008 election against the New Black Panther Party because of racial bias.
His words, however, betrayed his true feelings when he declared that any comparison between the actions of these black thugs outside a polling place in Philadelphia, and the challenges blacks faced in exercising their right to vote in the 1950s and 1960s “does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for my people.”
He is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States and, under the law, we are all his “people.”
Instead, he promotes comparative justice, and proclaims that his “people” suffered more than the whites who were intimidated by these men in military garb wielding batons and standing at the entrance to the polls.
This isn’t justice – it’s settling scores.
Even President Obama, who once said, “There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America. There's the United States of America,” apparently believes there is a racially based “subterranean agenda” driving the Tea Party movement, this according to an upcoming book on the history of blacks and the White House.
I am angered by the audacity of these statements, since neither of these men would be in positions of such power without white voter support.
Our “post-racial” president is instead revealed as our “most racial”, and with his reckless spending, his ill-conceived government overreach into health care, his enmity toward free enterprise, and his segmentation of Americans by race, class, gender and sexual orientation, our nation is paying a very high price because of black pride and white guilt.