ROME IS BURNING
I remember, 2008, as if it was yesterday; President Obama, his wife and children walking out on stage after his election. He looked like a deer in the headlights. The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Oprah, Al Sharpton and many other African-American notables looked on with tears in their eyes. I believed, in that moment, that the tears were tears of joy, of “lifted oppression” and of hope.
Sitting here, nearly eight years later I wonder what the hell happened. Obama, the first African-American President was, in that moment, given everything he needed to attain the elusive goal of healing racism in the United States. You would think that would have been the uppermost thought in his mind as he strolled out on the stage, waving, smiling and posing. What a legacy that would have been; equal to our 14th President.
“He could have been my son”(BO on Trayvon Martin); “For the first time in my life I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is making a comeback”(MO 2/18/2008); “She’s a typical white person” (BO referring to his grandmother); “The motivations of the shooter remind us that racism remains a blight that we have to combat together”(BO on the Charleston Shootings); “The situation in Ferguson speaks to broader challenges we still face as a nation including the mistrust between law enforcement and communities of color”(BO on Ferguson). He speaks of combat, challenge and hope, but does nothing.
I waited, with the rest of America, for Obama to roll up his sleeves and end racism once and for all, and instead he issues statement after statement pushing the divide further and further apart. Why did Obama allow a decorated police officer in Ferguson to lose his career to a 400LB bully who obviously was out of control and a threat. Why did he go to Charleston and condole the suffering in complete privacy; did he not think that the rest of us, white, yellow and brown might want him; as our leader’ to comiserate for us as well.
He has never understood that he is the President of all of us, the hope of all of us, the strength of all of us. Instead he chose to polarize, politicize, and intellectualize. I have never really understood why, and he continues til today. Rome is burning.