I have long since tuned out the Sunday talk shows. But yesterday I tuned in to “Meet the Press” because my friend, Harvard Law Prof. Charles Ogletree, was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion on “Race and Justice in America.”
With all due respect to Ogletree, black folks know Obama is not “the black president.” That said, African American voters did not turn out in record numbers in 2008 and 2012 to vote for a candidate who “happens to be black.” While they don’t want Obama to “simply focus on one issue,” they do want him to focus on issues that disproportionately impact them.
As they say, a broken clock is right twice a day. Smiley rightly noted that Presidents Lincoln, Truman and Johnson addressed the issue of race. He also noted that Obama has addressed gay marriage, an issue of importance to the LGBT community.
I think Obama should be held to the same standard of accountability as previous occupants of the Oval Office. But Smiley’s criticism that Obama “was pushed” is mindless:
He did not walk to the podium for an impromptu address to the nation; he was pushed to that podium. A week of protest outside the White House, pressure building on him inside the White House pushed him to that podium. So I’m glad he finally arrived.
Smiley fancies himself a student of history so he should be mindful of President Roosevelt’s call to action:
I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.
Gays, Hispanics, Jewish Americans and other groups “made” Obama address their concerns by staying engaged beyond Election Day. They embraced the lessons of our history and continued to “agitate, agitate.”
As for Tavis, history tells us that “smiling faces sometimes they don’t tell the truth.”