It's been in the news alot lately about the rift between Tavis Smiley/Cornell West and President Obama. If you've been under a rock, here is a nice little recap: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/smiley-allergic-to-my-poverty-tour-reaction/2011/03/04/gIQAziPwJJ_blog.html. Did you read it? Ok, let's move on.
Now there are some camps of black folks that think, "You can't say anything bad about my president." Then there is another camp that says, "The President has forgotten about black(or poor) people and should be held accountable for that." And my problem is with both sides of the aisle. Why? President Obama is a man - not, Jesus Christ. President Obama is a politician. That being said he has knowingly opened his life up to being scrutinized and critiqued. But I think it is ridiculous the amount of personal attacks that this President has had to endure. No other president has been disrespected to the extent that he has. From the floor of congress, to attacks on his birthplace (Hello, Hawaii is a state people!), to the fact that the White House has received more threats than ever; this president has been attacke on every side and that is a sad reflection on our country.
But just because the President is a black man, does not mean that every black man has to support him. You can be proud of Obama's accomplishments but totally dislike his policies. That, my friends, is valid. Just make sure when you are talking about policies that you politically disagree with, that it is only about the policy. Don't let emotion and personal feelings get in the way. Unfortuneatly, I believe that both West and Smiley have let ego and emotion get in the way.
And that is where I have a problem. Over the years, West and Smiley have both been of great service to all underserved people. But when Obama came on the scene, many of the "talented tenth" felt that he didn't pay enough of dues. He didn't grovel at the feet of the people that have gone before them. And to be honest, he doesn't have to. The President acknowledges the shoulders on which he stands quite frequently. That doesn't mean that he has to kiss the ass attached to those shoulders.
For West to state that he wasn't acknowledged for all that he did to help the President campaign is ludicrous. My mother and her friends walked door to door campaigning for the President. I am sure in sweat equity she spent more time working on the campaing than West ever did. And so what? She did it because she wanted to see him elected President. And on that night in November, she got her "thank you." She never expected a free night in the Lincoln bedroom, and neither should West.
As for Tavis, I know you are still mad about the alledge snub during the "State of the Black Union." But it is really time to let that go. The President has to be the leader of the free world - not just the Black free world. Haven't we had enough presidents that forget everyone except their friends? Do we really need to pull up Halliburton files to remind you of what happens when only the incrowd gets taken care of? Don't we want any president but especially OUR president to be better than that? I know I do.
And let us not forget the political games that are being played here. Yes, I know that times are hard right now. We can't wait for change. But please understand that this situation wasn't created in 2 years and it will not be fixed in 2 years. To tell the truth it won't be fixed in the first 4 years. Look at previous presidents. Most spend the first term making small changes and getting re-elected. They spend the 2nd term fulfilling their campaign promises - or at least trying to.
So Brother Smiley and Elder West, I need you to understand that and try a little harder too. Try to listen more and talk less. Try to remember that just 50 years ago the thought of having a black man in the People's House was a joke. Try to remember that while we may forever disagree politically, that the President's success or failure reflects on us all - even you.