President Obama’s fiery comments before the Congressional Black Caucus continue to reverberate.
White House spokesman Kevin Lewis told The Huffington Post’s Black Voices Obama was not calling out his critics; rather, his speech was a call to arms:
I think at the end of the day, the president is familiar with criticism. It is nothing new to him. And I think the president’s remarks are being mischaracterized. I think what the president was saying was that he’s fighting for a lot of the folks that were in that room and fighting for the American people and calling on not only the CBC but lawmakers and folks who are in the room and across the country to join him.
Still, PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley is up in arms.
Smiley asked Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee whether Obama would ever say to Hispanics, Wall Street bankers fraudsters, Jews, gays and lesbians, “Stop grumbling, stop complaining, stop crying”:
How does he get away with saying this to black folk when he would never form his lips to ever say that to any other constituency?
Jackson Lee responded:
I think familiarity is the answer to your question. The president came and put on the armor of a brother and sister.
I make no excuse for some of those comments when you look back and wonder whether they were said in love. Whether they were said to your brother who’s sitting next to you who’s been having a hard time and you’re trying to pump up your brother or your sister. And you’re saying, “Come on now. You can do better than this. We’re not complaining.”
The congresswoman made it clear she intends to speak out on behalf of brothers and sisters who are facing hard times:
I will continue to articulate complaint, pain and despair.