Sen. Barack Obama attended the 2008 NAACP Conference in Cincinatti, OH last night. He went into detail about issues like personal responsibility, MLK, social/economic justice, opportunity, the American Dream, etc. He talked about opportunity and how that relates to the American Dream, health care, decent wages (how black women make only $0.62 of what their male counterparts make), how he worked towards all his life to help provide more opportunity because of his inspiration from the civil rights movement, and his bipartisan initiatives. He explained how there is more work to be done in general, how schools are failing our children, especially those who are poor, how there needs to be affordable health care and more accessible education, we need a system that supports the needs of our teachers, how CEOs are making more in ten minutes than average workers make in a year, about how families are losing their homes due to predatory lending, social mobility becoming increasingly unattainable for our young people, how personal responsibility is a collective responsibility, how workers need to be rewarded for helping in the accruing of wealth, and how there needs to be a refocus on rebuilding America’s infrastructure. The Illinois senator mentioned that the collective effort INCLUDES parental responsibility. He knows that most of the African American community has been doing the right thing, but we all have to work together, with more resiliency and collectively as a community, in keeping ourselves stronger together ny working for more of a common goal. Simply, we need to start caring a little bit more about ourselves as well as about each other with love. This will keep us stronger and more able to push for change more consistently and effectively than just waiting for government to take back up its role in keeping our infrastructure together. We need to be more active.
There is a concern in the African American community that Sen. Obama’s talk about personal responsibility may be another situation at throwing the black community in a negative light in the predominately white and denotative-biased media. Dr. Boyce Watkins, of the informative and very poignant African American issues info sites YourBlackWorld.com/boycewatkins.net, explained this concern stating, “I support Sen. Obama and endorse him completely and want him to be our president..but I think there is a huge concern in the black community…having a feeling like Sen. Obama is selling the wrench in order to get in the White House….how far do we go [in] denouncing our own people, in terms of embarrassing ourselves, engaging in humiliation, treating blackness as a form of criminality…how far do we go in order to get into the White House…the reality is that all human beings are fundamentally equal, that’s a fact…if you are somehow at any point implying that black males are somehow more morally deficient relative to everyone else, that we are somehow lazier than everyone else, or we are somehow more criminal than everyone else, or we are somehow more willing to engage in some form of delinquency than everyone else, that is wrong…he wants to be president of America, not black America..Why is he not giving equally condemning speeches in other venues? [African Americans are not the only group that should be criticized by our President]…There is a clear double standard…if you could go into one, tiny ethnic group and make those blanket condemnations and stereotypes and everything else, you should be able to go into any other group in America and make those same judgments….Rev. Jackson’s sentiment is not uncommon..with black leadership who truly care about the black community…let’s all make a personal decision, how far are we willing to go to get into that White House..nothing is worth sacrificing everything when you’re talking about your culture, and your love for your own people and your love for yourself.”
While I respect Dr. Boyce Watkins, who is an esteemed, great black speaker, whose extensively experienced in providing great information about the state of black progress has kept many focused and thoughtful and always spoke truth to power, I do not really support everything he’s saying. I see no wrong in mentioning that there is more work to do. It’s not like Sen. Obama is actively talking about it on FOX News and blasting black people like the Uncle Toms, Juan Williams and Jesse Lee Peterson, do often. I do believe that the Honorable and the long-serving Reverend Jesse Jackson got angry way too quickly at the mentioning of the word, ‘personal responsibility.’
Sen. Obama explained in graphic detail that personal responsibility means the community as a whole, in a bipartisan effort, has to work towards this cause of rebuilding our country in a more collective effort- not to “throw our hands up in frustration.” Many African Americans agree with the senator, unfortunately, the corporate media did not cover ANY of these issues or the conference at all. I mean, can we not talk about the problems that we have that aren’t helping us? What if we see apathy out there, can we not address it without having to go out of our way to include every other group just to be able to talk about it? Is there anything really wrong with that? I don’t think he’s alienating the black community and painting us in a derogatory light in front of whites in public. No, he’s not throwing black people “under a bus.” I mean, what’s wrong with saying that society, as a whole, has to start caring about each other a little more. That’s how we show that we really love our community and our country; by trying to change it through improving it by caring to point it out and work on it. He cannot go to every single place and do the same thing.
You have got to realize that he’s got a big task at hand and we have to be more patient with him. As progressives and as a diverse community, we not only trying to get him through a harsh and racist climate in a presidential general election and show solidarity and unity in front of a Far-Right adversity that basks and revels in the prospect of our social destruction. We have to defeat John McBush, and keep him from suppressing American progress. We, as a people, are not always going to hear what we want to hear from Barack and in the general election period things are way too fragile to care this much about this. He’s being attacked, like a circular firing squad, for everything he says and doesn’t say. Let’s relax a little right now and show solidarity. When he becomes president, that’s when we should ‘hold his clay feet to the fire.’