In a front-page story in the Washington Post, “Some Black Observers Urge Tough Scrutiny of Obama,” Krissah Thompson captured the challenge facing black folks: how to advance our interests with a black man in the White House.
Like the hundreds of commenters, I dismiss anything Smiley says about holding folks accountable.
Truth is, Smiley needs to be held accountable for his sponsorship by pariah corporations, particularly Wells Fargo, which is being sued by the NAACP for “systematic, institutionalized racism in sub-prime home mortgage lending.” The foreclosure crisis has led to African Americans’ greatest loss of wealth in U.S. history.
OK, back to the story.
As the nation’s first black president settles into the office, a division is deepening between two groups of African Americans: those who want to continue to praise Obama and his historic ascendancy, and those who want to examine him more critically now that the election is over.
Johnson is one of a growing number of black academics, commentators and authors determined to press Obama on issues such as the elimination of racial profiling and the double-digit unemployment rate among blacks.
I’m quoted on the importance of accountability. Let me be clear: It’s not about holding President Barack Obama to a higher standard. Rather, it’s about holding him to the same standard that black leaders have held past occupants of the Oval Office. In doing so, black folks will be applying the standard that Obama applies to himself.
In his Election Night victory speech in Grant Park, then-President-elect Obama noted:
This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.
Back in the day, James Brown sang:
I don’t want nobody to give me nothing
Open up the door, I’ll get it myself
Don’t give me degeneration
Give me true communication
Don’t give me sorrow
I want equal opportunity
To live tomorrow
Obama promised that “help is on the way.” Black folks must hold the President accountable for leveling the playing field and opening the door.
It will then be up to us to make things happen.