Though violence in Black America has reached epidemic levels in our neighborhoods from Los Angeles and Philadelphia, to New York and Detroit, there is something about the tumultuous and dangerous energy blanketing Chicago’s Southside that has the nation fixated on this specific microcosm of urban ills.
The fact that the United States’ first Black Commander-in-Chief, President Barack Obama, hails from what is now commonly called Chi-raq undoubtedly increases attention to one of the most neglected war-zones in the United States; yet, as with other issues specifically impacting Black America, the POTUS remains silent.
Let’s be clear: This is not to bash President Obama. He is an advocate for the restoration of the public school system, which directly — and positively — impact Black children. He has addressed the unfair discrepancies in cocaine and crack sentencing, which directly benefits Black men. First Lady Michelle Obama tackles childhood obesity, champions breastfeeding and healthy food in impoverished neighborhoods, which directly impacts Black families.
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Still, he does these things at arm’s length. He makes sure that it’s known that he would do it for anyone, and the fact that Black people so happen to benefit, well, that’s just the beauty of America.
Does that mean that he’s undeserving of our vote? Of course not. After all, Bill “Slick Willy” Clinton stood up at the DNC as a conquering hero. This, despite Lewinsky-Gate, welfare reform, cuts to Medicare and Wall Street deregulation. With the calm of an elder statesman cloaked in White privilege, he basked in the praise showered upon him by the adoring crowd and rightfully so. His Third Way politics are a study in moderation that has served and will continue to serve this country — and this president — well. President Obama fails only when he oscillates from Clintonian democracy to Bush-esque war-mongering and civil liberty snatching, while attempting to package it in a smooth brother-man persona that doesn’t quite pass the sniff test.
This is never so apparent as in Chicago, Illinois. Newsone has reported on the tragedy that has become the city’s Southside and while a city burns, Obama plays it safe by only venturing into the war-zone for weddings and fundraisers. During the wedding weekend of Valerie Jarrett’s daughter, 35 people were shot and 7 of them died. The youngest victim was a 16-year-old girl who died after she was shot three times in the chest. Apparently though, the death march that was occurring in the hood was no match for the wedding march occurring at the beautifully decorated estate.
For many that stark contrast was the equivalent of Bush 43 looking down on Hurricane Katrina’s devastation from a helicopter while people begged for their lives from the roofs of flooded homes.
This is Obama’s Achilles Heel.
His inability to connect, his avoidance of solidarity outside of Civil Rights photo ops from Rosa Park’s bus and soaring quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream, and his open advocacy of Latinos and Hispanics, the LGBT community, Women, Farmers, the Middle Class and Business Owners, while seemingly assuming that Black America will take the hint and get in where we fit in.
This is not to say that he doesn’t care; his quiet executive chess moves proves that he does care a great deal. The broader issue is that he cares enough to publicly chastise, but does he care enough to publicly empathize?
For unwavering support in the face of disappointment, Black America was rewarded with the “Stop Grumblin’ and Cryin’” address and the “Black men need to be better fathers” sermons. The only time I’ve heard the POTUS call Black men “brother” is when he’s telling them to pull up their pants. Every single one of the president’s grievances hold merit and I agree with him, but the fact that no other voting bloc specifically receives his scorn and patronizing admonitions has been duly noted by many people who expected someone to tell the story of Black America beyond the stereotypes.
It is not insane to expect more from our president concerning the specific ills that plague the Black community, especially behind the battle lines of his own city. He’s our president when he sings Al Green; he’s our president when he kisses his gorgeous Black wife, hugs his adorable Black daughters and rubs the fur of his bouncy little Black dog named Bo. He’s our president when he shows off his “swag,” but when it comes time to specifically address issues that disproportionately affect Black America, he suddenly becomes the president for “all” Americans and we should expect no more than that.
I call bulls***.
I was on the phone at 6:00 a.m. with the Chicago Police Department with possible information about the laundromat murder of Jalen Stogner in front of his mother. I have watched video of slain teen rapper Lil’ JoJo and shed tears over the ignorant violence that has been on full display as young mothers excuse their sons’ behavior and fathers aren’t mentioned.
Is this senseless fratricide not as urgent as the D.R.E.A.M. Act or Lily Ledbetter Act or the eradication of the Defense of Marriage Act?
Is it not?
I would offer this to President Barack Obama:
Mr. President, you stood before the world and said these words:
“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon [Martin].”
Sir, your son wouldn’t just look like Trayvon Martin. He’d look like Joseph Coleman and Jalen Stogner. Your son would look like Tyquan Tyler and Antonio Davis. Your daughters look like 7-year-old Heaven Sutton.
This is not to say that you need to be the one to “fix” anything in our communities; clearly, we must do that for ourselves. What I am saying is that everyone, of every hue, deserves to know that their so-called leaders care if they live or die.
Even if the murders happen in the wretched slums of Chicago.
Even if that leader is you, Mr. President.