Best-selling author Michael Eric Dyson’s new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama & the Politics of Race in America, explores the powerful, surprising way the politics of race have shaped Pres. Obama’s identity and seemingly cemented the nation’s first Black president’s legacy during his groundbreaking tenure in office.
From Amazon.com about “The Black Presidency:”
Dyson explores whether Obama’s use of his own biracialism as a radiant symbol has been driven by the president’s desire to avoid a painful moral reckoning on race. And he sheds light on identity issues within the black power structure, telling the fascinating story of how Obama has spurned traditional black power brokers, significantly reducing their leverage.
Dyson joined guest host Derek McGinty on NewsOne Now to talk about his new book and discuss how Mr. Obama has acted on behalf of the nation’s African-American community by way of improving things for all.
Prior to their discussion, Dyson addressed Comedy Central host Larry Wilmore’s use of the n-word during Mr. Obama’s final White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Dyson replied, “He was going back to his youth when he was the pot smoking Barry, not the President of the United States of America.”
Wilmore attempted to establish a “racial intimacy between he and the president,” he continued. “Obama has said some stuff that supposedly only happens amongst Black people in the barbershop — he has taken Black people publicly to the woodshed, so it seems to me turnabout is fair play.”
Dyson then explained Mr. Obama didn’t want to be “Blackened” or “ghettoized,” so he chose to be “universal.” He “may not be the president of Black America, but you are the president of Black Americans.”
“We are still citizens of the United States of America, so our stuff counts too. Gay, lesbian, transgendered, bi-sexual people count, the environmentalists count, and guess what? All of them asked the president for something,” Dyson said. “Black people didn’t ask because we were loath to put him on the spot and as a result of that, we ain’t got much.”
In his book, Dyson explains President Obama benefitted from “Black protectionism,” where “Black people in advance forgave him for the stuff he had to do in order to get over.”
“I’m suggesting that we are citizens of the United States of America and as a result of that, Black unemployment should be addressed, over-incarceration … has to be addressed…Our issues are American issues that need to be addressed by this brilliant beautiful president,” said Dyson.
President Obama often times used the old adage ‘a rising tide lifts all boats,’ but according to Dyson, “A lot of stuff that benefits all Americans does not benefit Black Americans.” President Obama “got it wrong — If you help Black America, you help the rest of America.”
In talking about the harsh criticism Pres. Obama has received, Dyson explained Cornel West’s attacks on the president were “vitriolic, nasty, vituperative, ad hominem and every other big word you can use to say he was a hater.” Even if West had a “legitimate and insightful criticism, it was obscured by the personal tone of his nastiness.”
In contrast to these sorts of attacks on the nation’s first Black president, Dyson said, “We must still hold him accountable and give him some insightful criticism.”
Watch Michael Eric Dyson discuss his new book in the video clip above.
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