As absurd as it may seem, there is much complexity in being both Black and a critic of President Obama. As our nation’s first African American president, Obama carries a historical eminence in the Black community.
For most, he appears to be an untouched, can-do-no-wrong figure that represents the progression of a race. Many Blacks from the 1960s civil rights era never thought they would see the day the White House welcomes a man of color. Obama ran his campaign on change and hope, and many African Americans believed that change had finally arrived.
But behind the foggy mirrors, not much has changed for Black Americans. Ten percent of African American men remain incarcerated, Black youth are far behind their white counterparts in education, and the unemployment rate in the community is at a high of 16.2 percent.
Even with such disheartening numbers, the majority of Black America stands behind their president. In fact, 85 percent of Blacks approve the job performance of the president. While that number has slightly dipped, 85 percent is rather significant.
Of course, not all Blacks are exalting our nation’s president. Black public figures such as Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, and more recently hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco, have publicly denounced the president for his seemingly failed policies.
Oftentimes Black supporters vehemently attack such Obama dissidents, sometimes questioning their level of “Blackness.” It appears that when it comes to lambasting the president, emotions mount. Those emotions stem from the idea that if you do not support the Black president, that somehow you are slamming the Black agenda.
That idea is characterized in Rev. Al Sharpton’s refusal to criticize Obama in fear of aiding the attitudes of the president’s most notable adversaries.
So which stance does Black America take?
In an age of racial bigotry on the right wing, capitalizing Obama’s shortcomings as ammunition to remove him from office, there is much difficulty in taking a critical stance on the president.
Condemning the president does not have to render one to relinquish their allegiance to Obama. One can be both Black, a supporter of Obama, and yet critical of his job performance. That criticism, however, should always be legitimate, honest, and used with discretion.
Tara Wall, a conservative columnist for The Daily Caller recently begged the question, “Why aren’t African Americans outraged at Obama over [the] economy?”
Truth be told, many of us are. But in the midst of the political crusade against Obama, it would behoove us to choose our battles wisely.