It is amazing how the president of the United States and his team only want to discuss race or issues impacting the nation’s black communities when forced to do so because of some racial incident.
First there was the case of Harvard University Professor Henry Gates who was arrested in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2009 for breaking and entering his own home.
When asked about the incident, Obama responded that the Cambridge police “acted stupidly” and that "there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”
Regarding the shooting of Trayvon Martin by white neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, Obama said that “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
A year later, responding to the not guilty verdict in Zimmerman’s trial, he said Trayvon Martin “could have been me thirty-five years ago” and went on to identify with the experiences of many black men such as being followed in stores.
And in August, there was the shooting of 18 year old Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo.
Once again, Obama put on his racial sensitivity hat saying that ,while the grand jury verdict must be accepted, the situation in Ferguson “speaks to broader challenges that we face as a nation.”
In Chicago the day after the verdict for a speech on immigration, he said that “if any part of the American community doesn’t feel welcomed or treated fairly, that's something that puts all of us at risk and we all have to be concerned about it.”
Of course, there was no mention of his hometown’s tragic record of 331 black-on-black homicides between January and October of this year with nearly half of them between the ages of 17 and 25!
So what does he intend to do about those feelings of unfairness?
Will he be submitting a major legislative initiative to on jobs, reform of the juvenile and criminal justice system, mandatory minimum sentencing and other issues impacting young black and Hispanic males including programs to crack down on gang violence?
Will he, as was suggested in this space in August “convene a White House Summit on the problems and issues related to law enforcement and minority youth to . . . find ways to dissolve the tensions between predominantly white law enforcement and black communities?”
No. He is offering a few photo-op Band-Aids.
He has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to identify “specific steps we can take together to set up a series of regional meetings focused on building trust in our communities.”
He wants to bring together state and local officials, law enforcement, community and other leaders to identify steps that can be taken to make sure that law enforcement is “fair and is being applied equally to every person in this country.”
Sounds nice, Mr. President, but not all of the problems impacting black Americans are caused by unequal and unfair enforcement of the law.
The problem is that Obama has had six years to develop an urban agenda to deal with these and other issues.
He can’t blame Republicans because for his first two years his Democrats were in control — he just never asked! I am not naively suggesting that the president can heal the racial divide and mistrust in the country.
However, it should not take six years to try to address the underlying problems and then only do so when prompted by some race tainted event.
Obama can’t take all of the blame for six years of inaction. Most black political leaders and organizations have given him a total pass. But that didn’t stop some of them from throwing gasoline on the already red hot cinders of inflammatory rhetoric after the verdict.
For example, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, said the decision seemed “to underscore an unwritten rule that Black lives hold no value; that you may kill black men in this country without consequences or repercussions.”
How about “blacks” killed by other “blacks” Madame Chair? Do their lives mean nothing unless taken by a white?
The failure of Fudge and other national black leaders to condemn the looting and arson as strongly as they did the verdict arguably makes them apologists for the looters and arsonists.
Where were Fudge and the Revs. Sharpton and Jackson while businesses were being looted and buildings burned to the ground?
Not in Ferguson!
Will any of them replace the income of those who lost their jobs at the burned down businesses?
Will any of those protesting in cities around the country go to Ferguson and help rebuild?
Finally, will the Holder Justice’s Department’s on-going investigation ask probing questions?
- Why the announcement of the grand jury verdict was at 8 p.m. giving those who wanted to loot and burn the cover of darkness to do so which they did?
- Why, with three months to prepare for the worst after having seen the looters “playbook in August, were state and local authorities so ill prepared to deal with the repetition of violence?
- Why, after a declaration of a state of emergency days in advance and dispatching the National Guard by the Democratic governor, there were no Guard troops to protect the two dozen businesses that were burned to the ground?
- Why, if true, did the same governor not respond to pleas of the Ferguson mayor to send in the Guard in the midst of the mayhem?
Before the president’s racial strategists send him to Ferguson for another “mea culpa" on race where his own Democrat leaders’ incompetence and lack of preparation led to massive violence and destruction, these questions should be answered.
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 in 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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