“We have more work to do when more young black men languish in prison than attend colleges and universities across America.”
— Barack Obama, campaigning for president in 2007
As a member of the right, I voted against President Obama twice because for me he is too far left. But this column is not about right and left. It’s about right and wrong, and Obama’s mixed message to black America about that.
Back when Obama was elected eight years ago, I was pessimistic about his liberal presidency, but I was optimistic about race relations in America. We had journeyed far toward the dream. Electing a black president seemed like the final leg of that journey.
I thought, “What a man, and what a country. No one but Obama could have achieved this, and in no country but America.”
Obama was born to a white mother and raised by her and his white grandmother after his black Kenyan father abandoned them. He was raised not in a failing inner city, but in the prosperous melting pot of Hawaii. He attended prestige universities, including Harvard Law School. He married a beautiful and smart black woman, and they have two lovely daughters.
Surely, I thought, this complicated man with a foot in black America and a foot in white America could bridge the two.
And he did. But it was not by anything he said. It was by who he is. Everyone with open eyes could see that he is smart, articulate and accomplished, but moreover he is by all accounts a loyal husband and a devoted father. He’s a good man.
But politics are complicated and cruel. Continue reading