Obama Rediscovers his Race

Image: Obama Rediscovers his Race Jay-Z attends a rally in support of Trayvon Martin that was organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton (Getty Images).

Monday, 22 Jul 2013 08:44 PM

By Clarence McKee

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“Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

This was the headline-grabbing quote from President Obama last week when he spoke on race and the Zimmerman verdict as he tried to explain black America’s reaction to white America.

His subtle message, especially to blacks, was that: I too am black with shared experiences and I understand and feel your pain.

He went a long way toward getting his Black Mojo back and showing his black critics that he cares about and feels the pain of black Americans on the issues surrounding Trayvon Martin’s shooting death.

He discussed racial profiling and his own experiences as a black man. He hit all the right racial notes:
  • Racial disparities in our criminal laws.
  • Disproportionate involvement of black youth in the criminal justice system.
  • Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer.
  • The need to spend time thinking about how to bolster and reinforce young black boys who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.
  • Bringing business leaders, clergy, celebrities, and others together to determine how to do a better job helping young black men feel that they have pathways and avenues to succeed.
Where has he been?

He has had five years to discuss these and other issues facing blacks: higher incarceration and sentencing rates, double-digit unemployment and black-on-black crime to name a few but has avoided anything dealing with an “urban” agenda.

Millions for Obamacare but no agenda to attack these problems.

Why?

He told us in May “. . . the middle class will always be my number one focus. Period.”
And what about the poor and the problems facing blacks that he so eloquently voiced in his remarks?

A new study by Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research shows that Obama ranks dead last with his oval office predecessors in making references to the “poor” — only 26 percent!

This compares to George W. Bush’s 67 percent, Bill Clinton’s 61 percent and Ronald Reagan’s 65 percent.

Will he change this pattern in his upcoming speeches on the economy?

Probably not.

That’s one reason he has been accused of avoiding black issues.

Writing in this space in February I quoted noteworthy blacks who were “speaking out against the president’s benign neglect” of black people:
  • Former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young who told Newsmax TV that criticisms of Obama for not dealing with issues facing black Americans were “warranted and necessary.”
  • Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. who wrote that Obama had “assiduously ignored” race and described him as being “mute” on the subject . . .”

More recently, Tampa Bay Times columnist Bill Maxwell wrote:

“Well into Obama's second term . . . many who worked tirelessly and donated money to get the then-Illinois senator elected are quietly voicing their disappointment. A rare few are publicly acknowledging the growing perception that Obama lacks genuine interest in their issues.”

Perhaps Obama’s “I feel your pain” remarks will let him off the hook as far as doing anything regarding black issues. All is forgiven — even his “"shake it off. Stop complainin” message to the Congressional Black Caucus.

As to “entertainers," who is he referring to?

His good friend, text buddy, White House guest and foul mouth rapper Jay-Z who is notorious for lyrics filled with the “N” word and other disgusting language?

If so, will he tell Jay-Z and other black rappers to knock off the gutter stereotypical minstrel show caricatures of black men and references to “hoe’s”, “glocks on the hip and “N-----s?"

Will he tell his friends and donors in the entertainment industry that much of their music and images add to the “negative reinforcement” he mentioned in his remarks?

Fox Sports columnist Jason Whitlock recently wrote:

“Thug rappers and their employers are partially to blame for Zimmerman seeing a black kid in a hoodie and immediately thinking ‘punk criminal.’ The same group is also partially responsible for making young people think its cooler to pose as a wannabe thug than a wannabe scholar . . .  the rap industry, the record labels and the commercial artists preach a message to young black people expressing “the most unethical, intimidating, violent, divisive and classless behavior . . . ”

Don’t expect the Revs. Sharpton and Jackson, NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus, or Attorney General Eric Holder to speak out against the entertainment industry’s glorification of the thug image of black youth that often leads to racial profiling or black-on-black crime.

Marches in 100 cities against black-on-black crime, gang violence or protests outside major entertainment companies objecting to Jay-Z type lyrics?

Don’t bet on it.

Will they heed the advice of Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick?

“. . . No one is speaking about black-on-black crime, and that's the problem in our community . . . We need to make some changes, and I hope we start soon."

Regarding any effort to repeal Stand Your Ground laws in the states that have adopted them, marchers, Obama, and Holder are all wasting their time.

Republicans outnumber Democrats in state legislatures and control both chambers and the governors’ offices in 23 states. Black legislators, who are mostly Democrats, really have no power in those states to change anything without GOP support.

In Florida, for example, the GOP has the governor’s office, a 26-14 majority in the Senate and a 76-44 majority in the House.

Good luck!

Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as the Reagan presidential campaigns and has appeared on many national and local media outlets. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee — Click Here Now.

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