Who am I to defend Dr. West who is a considerably one of the greatest minds God has blessed humanity with in the 21 century. He is a prophetic voice out of the African American Baptist tradition, a scholar, writer, historian and musicologist. He has been critical of President Obama and because of his criticism he and Tavis Smiley, his partner in criticizing the president have both been accused of profiteering and jealousy. Frankly, I cannot say if that is or is not absolutely false.
However, I do welcome Dr. West’s well placed articulation for the poor and disenfranchised. I applaud his truth telling in season and out of season. I encourage his well aimed perspectives on President Obama’s administration and policies. I disregard the claim that our President cannot be the Black President as a ridiculous comment, which seems only African American make about themselves and accept from others. The President is of African American descent, but he is also from other descents, yet we are not to enthusiastically advocate for ourselves to him?
I also have reflected on President Obama’s successes because I don’t want pundits, or the media, or some misinformed colleague to tell me how to think. I have listed President Obama’s first term achievements from my contextual perspective. Everyone has the right to do so;
consequently here are what the President achieved:
He overcame an intransigent Republican Party led by billionaires like the Koch brothers
and the Tea Party, who spent obscene money to defeat him. He had to deal with Sen. McConnell
and Representative John Boehner who stated their number one focus is to stop President
Obama’s initiatives, and deny him a second term.
He inherited an economy in freefall, after being robbed by Wall Street, by initiating a
stimulus that created 5 million jobs.
During his term Wall Street averages went from 6000 to 13000.
CEO’s of major corporations under Obama’s term increased their profits over 230%
He brought the economy out of a hole.
He initiated the Lilly Ledbetter Act giving women equal pay for equal work.
He saved the United States Auto Industry and thereby saving all of the Great Lakes
He wound down the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He eliminated Osama Bin Laden, after he was considered unable to be brought to justice,
and made America safer. Remember President Bush said he doesn’t even think about Osama Bin
He appointed two women to the Supreme Court and has one more selection to make.
He initiated the Health Care Reform that every President tried to do; but could not do for
over 100 years.
He managed that we did not go over the fiscal cliff and stood up to the Republicans when
they tried to hold America hostage on raising the credit limit.
An outstanding set of presidential accomplishments, but have African Americans gotten their usual short end of the stick? Yes, and Dr. West agrees and it is why I see Dr. West serving a necessary purpose. He is critical of the President and his criticism has been on point. Speaking as a Black American I would give President Obama a B+. Why? This is why. During the first term he never spoke of the poor, just the middle class. I assume his handlers and he felt it would be political expedient to do so. However, it is the poor in this country that have been left out of any economic recovery and the poor that took the gravest economic loss. The poor are still waiting for employment, educational opportunities and gun/violence free communities.
Secondly, the President’s Justice Department gets a “C”. Attorney General Eric Holder has been lackluster and seemingly unaggressive in his prosecutions in the face of a growing number of rogue cops and bigoted white men killing innocent black boys and men. For example, in Mississippi there has been a rash of car accidents, where running over black men as they walk along the streets and country roads is their cause of death at the hands of white male drivers. Young white southern men have stalked unsuspecting random black males to thrill kill.
Never to forget, the shooting of boys like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and others. Very little or to be fair an uninspiring response from the Justice Department has been offered – - no signal or aggressive Federal prosecutions to indicate a perception of safety and protection for people of African American descent.
Also, not one Wall Streeter went to jail for stealing our money and crashing the economy. Yes, we get reports of Wells Fargo, Bank of America and CitiBank paying hundreds of millions in civil case settlements for colluding to foreclose on vulnerable and unsophisticated homeowners. These victim homeowners were predominantly of African American descent, which resulted in the largest transfer of wealth from African Americans. I ponder if the banks are so willing to settle for 100’s of millions in awards, it must mean they stole twice as much.
Thirdly, there are the drone bombings throughout Pakistan that are killing their intended terrorist targets, but the collateral deaths are innocent women and children.
Long Lines at Voting Booths
Fourthly, where in the jobs program? Black folk voted for our President in record number (92%), in spite of misinformation scams, voter intimidation, rigged voting machines, and the reduction of voting hours. The collusion to defeat the Black vote included the Republican Party and Corporate class, who planned, hired operatives and funded illegal and close to illegal scams to thwart the Black voting strengths. Republican lawyers, legislators, elected governors, state attorney generals and even the son of the Republican candidate all have unclean hands in these unscrupulous efforts.
Valiantly African American common folk, in the spirit of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the year – long protest in Montgomery, Alabama, that galvanized the American Civil Rights Movement and led to a 1956 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States declaring segregated seating on buses unconstitutional, stood in the hot sun and long lines to cast their vote; and, seemingly no earnest effort on developing a jobs program is on the horizon.
Fifthly, I appreciate the president’s effort on the gun violence initiatives. I support his advocacy and bold leadership, but where is the focus on urban youth? Forty percent of the deaths from gun violence occur within urban communities across this nation from Oakland, LA, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, New Orleans and Miami. Yet, no specific plan to address the violence that has destroyed communities and a generation of young black males. Jobs and hope are the answer to the nihilism affecting these communities.
Dr. West is advocating for the least of these that seemed to again be left out. Gays got “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” repealed and the right to marry, Hispanics got Supreme Court Justice Soto -Meyer and immigration dialog, Jews got Justice Kagan and an assurance of military protection from Iran. Wall Street bankers received no prosecutions for the theft of our surplus. Women got the Lilly Ledbetter Act that ensures equal pay for equal work and the Presidential defense of Roe vs. Wade. They also received the selection of two female Supreme Court Justices and possibly a third.The middle class received Health Care Reform.
So when the President chooses to get sworn in on MLK’s Bible the President is evoking Dr. King’s values that he has fallen short of. I understand he was trying to get to a second term, but if we do not demand in politics we will not receive anything. Lastly, every King David NEEDS a Nathan. It’s is an inoculation against corruption and apathy. Our President needs someone who will call it like it is and speak for the poor and people of color. Dr. West has done a good job at that and I hope he continues, along with others. Otherwise African Americans poor, elderly and Black middle class will not get their needs addressed.
written by Reginald W Lyles