Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama Should Speak out on Race Must We Wait for a White President to Address Black Grievances?

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama Should Speak out on Race Must We Wait for a White President to Address Black Grievances?

Article excerpt

In the wake of the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, President Barack Obama has called on the American people to engage in calm reflection. Few expected the president to denounce the verdict or call upon people to take to the streets in protest, but we did expect him to speak in a way that touched the heartbreak, despair and quiet rage that so many of us feel at this moment.

On multiple occasions, Mr. Obama has asked blacks to understand the high wire he is forced to walk on the subject of race. He has pleaded that we cut him some slack. Most have done so even as conditions in the black community have become more desperate.

We have waited and watched the president address issues of importance to women, gays and lesbians, Latinos and the security of our allies. We praised his boldness in speaking to the issue of sexual orientation during his visit to Africa.

For the past four years, we have remained silent; some have been satisfied that Mr. Obama being the first black president was reason enough to seal our lips and muffle our voices. But most were convinced that, once he entered his second term, Mr. Obama would be liberated from the racial harness that politics forced him to wear.

During this period of self-imposed silence, we have watched our criminal laws become racialized and our race criminalized. Blacks continue to be faced with punishing unfairness and inequalities. Soaring rates of unemployment, discriminatory drug laws, disproportionate prison sentences, unequal access to health care and healthy food, unfair stop-and-frisk policies and "accidental" shootings of unarmed black men by the police -- these and more are treated with indifference or contempt. We're told to stop complaining, to get over it. No one cares.

But that's just the point of living in the United States. Somebody is supposed to care. Our elected officials, beginning with the president, are charged with the responsibility of listening to the needs, the grievances, the voices of the people -- including people of color.

It's the reason why every black leader from Frederick Douglass to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.