Thursday, July 8, 2010

Is This in the President's Job Description?

The NAACP is having a big conference in Kansas City this coming weekend and week. It was anticipated that President Barack Obama would be coming to address the group, but the President will not be here to speak to the NAACP. Michelle Obama will be here and will talk to the conference July 12th. President Obama is in Kansas City today. He has already appeared at Smith Electric Vehicle and will stay long enough to fund raise for Democrat senatorial candidate Robin Carnahan. Kansas City Star editorial writer Lewis Diuguid took Obama to task for not coming and speaking to the NAACP and in general for his neglect of issues important to the Black community. This part of his editorial (link) caught my eye:

Black people haven’t demanded much from Obama, and they have been incredibly forgiving of his neglect. But they aren’t blind.The evidence continues to mount. Under Obama, African Americans’ concerns have gone begging, including stifling unemployment; poor housing; unsafe neighborhoods; gun violence; a widening wealth gap; poor, segregated underperforming schools; a high dropout rate; health care disparities; low pay; racial profiling; high incarceration rates; and a high infant mortality.

Obama has said his directive was to benefit all Americans and watch the rising tide lift all boats. That sounds good. But racism and discrimination anchor black communities under a deep sludge, where opportunity dies. Everyone else’s rising tide only leaves blacks more frustrated and under water.

Now, really, Mr. Diugiud, is all of that the President's responsibility? Do you really think that any one occupying the White House can or is the right one to take on these problems? Because it seems to me that the solution to a number of these problems lies right within the very community that has them. That plans to work on these problems are best to come from right inside the group of people who are suffering with the effects of these difficulties and concerns. In addition, while I would never be foolish enough to say that all racism and discrimination has ended, can we have the Black community take some responsibility for their own actions and the results of those actions rather than so frequently pointing the finger back at racism?

I stopped writing this post, and took a walk, because I am almost afraid to write the rest of it. I don't want to appear to blame the Black community for the situation today. The immigrant story of Black Africans to the United States is very different then any other group. While all groups were misunderstood and discriminated against when they first arrived here, no other group was owned as property in the way that Blacks were. That legacy is what we are still fighting against today. It continues to have an influence on Black family structure, power in the Black community, and Black "self esteem." Somehow, instead of taking pride in how they have endured and how they have even prospered, especially once government and systemic discrimination were remedied, Blacks have consented to "play the victim" instead of walking in the power of their achievements. Certainly not all Blacks have voted to play life this way, but it seems as if many have chosen this manner of living. And to me, many Black leaders have chosen to play to this choice. Instead of calling for excellence and achievement, Black leaders have looked for someone to blame. Instead of advocating for opportunity, Black leaders have looked around for give aways.

So, Mr. Diuguid, it is the President's job to lead this country in a direction that lets all groups have an opportunity to prosper. The President, along with the Congress, sets economic policy, sets the tone and helps with resources for local strategies for housing, education, and health care. Government on the local level continues the work to solve problems in these and other areas. However, no president, congressperson, governor, state legislator, mayor or city council person can cause a community to decide that families will be valued and remain intact; that babies will be born to mothers who are prepared to take care of them; that education will be valued and dropping out will not be tolerated; that criminals and their behavior will be shunned rather than glorified; that people will learn to step away from conflict rather than reacting with violence out of a misguided attempt to build themselves up as being tough and "respected"; that people will chose to discipline themselves with regard to lifestyle choices that influence their future health status and that people will understand the need to delay gratification--to say "no" to the wants of today, for the possibilities that rest in the future.

Mr. Diuguid, the Black community needs to stop looking primarily to others to solve its problems and improve its living situation. The Black community needs to start looking within, to see what its resources are, to see what its weaknesses are, what its strengths are. The Black community needs to start becoming intolerant of repeated failures. The Black community needs to see that the Black on Black crime is a form of slow death for itself, especially its young men. The Black community will need help from the culture at large, in the form of resources and of support, and the assurance that systemic discrimination will continued to be pulled out by its sorry roots, but the hand from the greater culture needs to be seen as a hand up, rather than a hand out.

In short, Lewis Diuguid, many of the issues you list should not be on President Obama's agenda at all. I do believe that really he has enough to do without doing things that others should be attending to.


Ann T. said...

Dear The Observer,
Wow, now this is a post. And Mr. Diuguid did have an awfully long list. You are absolutely right to take him on with it!

Second, I empathize with your desire to take a walk in the middle. To clarify thoughts and be sensitive about what you write. It is so anxiety-provoking to write about controversy in a meaningful way.

Third, yes, to getting on with it. Everyone is unfortunately stuck with their problems unless they try to fix them. If I start fixing mine, i may get a helping hand--but if I just sit and wait, I have made no progress in the interim.

Fourth, it's no shame to say it is one's own that is one's biggest problem. Nearly everyone's problems stem from the people closest to them.

We should not wait on anyone, especially an elected official, to get our stuff fixed. That has never worked.

Thanks for a well-crafted post!
Ann T.

the observer said...

Ann T:
Thank you for dropping in and reading and thanks for the kudos. This post was not hard to write, but the subject matter made it feel like wrestling.

Mr. Diuguid is almost always good for annoying the reader in some fashion with his opinions on race.

Have a great weekend!
The Observer

A Note: I was so wrapped up in the post, that I forgot to change the date, and it posted for Tuesday, when I started it, rather than Thursday, when I actually published--so no, don't adjust your feed reader--I corrected it today. I also corrected the name of the company the President visited yesterday.

Bob G. said...

You're not incorrect in ANY of what you've're 100% CORRECT!!!

Our black community (here) is a prime example of "too little - too late" when helping their OWN.

They DO expect others to ante up and kick into their community, but I sure don't see any evidence of THEM helping EACH OTHER (except to each other's stuff during break-ins),

And "nasty whitey" don't know JACK about the problems (really???), but by God, whitey's sure good enough to take money and aid from, right?

'Ya know, when we used to have ITALIAN ghettos...and IRISH ghettos...and GERMAN ghettos (to name a few), THOSE people wound up getting OUT of the WORKING.
Ditto for their kids.

None of this "sit back and wait for the 'gub'ment' to gimme stuff".
And many blacks from MY era did likewise.
If there are any ghettos in America and racism that flies under the radar to be found today, it's in the BLACK community that we unfortunately still see it.

(Heck, I see it all around me every day...and THIS used to be a NICE neighborhood, until the "Entitlements for Lunch Bunch" moved in and devalued everything in the area.

I certainly didn't contribute to ANY of it. Nor will I choose to contribute to it's continuance in ANY way.

But that's the way THESE "playaz" work...and we keep allowing it, instead of demanding they carry their OWN weight like everyone else.

Excllent post!!!

the observer said...

Bob G:
Thank YOU for the kudos. It wasn't a hard post to write--but I worked carefully, and I was very aware of the delicate turf I was on.

I do think that because of the way the Black people came to America as slaves did give them some additional hurdles to overcome, but it did not make it impossible, and the degree of victimhood they've accepted for themselves is a huge hinderance. That has to stop.

One thing everyone has noted and marveled at; many of the new African immigrants--those from Sudan, Somalia, and before those, the groups that came from Nigeria and Kenya--have jumped right in to the fray, learning English if they didn't have it, looking to achieve academically and professionally...not to mention how Asian people have done, and how some Hispanic people are doing. If Blacks aren't careful, they will be left in the dust by the new groups of immigrants.

Hope your weekend and upcoming week are wonderful!