A Dream Deferred

Reflections on President Obama’sPresidency and Whether or Not   Hillary or Trump Will be the Cure for What Ails Black Folks

by Ted Kirkland

           Ted Kirkland

           Ted Kirkland

Barrack Obama’s eight years in office as President of the United State is in its final six months, and Blacks nationwide can rejoice that a Black man has held the most powerful position of the richest county in the world. Now as we approach the end of his presidency, contrary to how painful it may feel or sound, we must admit that his presidency brought no real substance for Blacks.  For the most part, Blacks have thrived from his physical attraction, his use of the Kings English, his beautiful family, and most of all because Whites chose him to be President.  And this means, even in today’s world, more acceptable that most may realize or admit.          

I recently heard a Black reporter ask President Obama during a press conference, what he had done for Blacks during his term in office. The President answered that he represented more than just Black people, which was correct. Out of what may have been respect for the President, the reporter had no follow up question.  As I sat in the comfort of my home watching this on television, I could not help but think of several follow up questions that I would have asked, had I been in that reporter’s position. 

In my lifetime I have heard the “I represent more than just Black people” justification many times, and not just from the President or his surrogates; but also from those who defend him, those common Black folks, out do so out of pride to have this Black face in the President’s chair. Yet by echoing this factual truth, a truth that if thought out, becomes an interesting commentary.  

When the auto and banking industry reached out with those greedy White capitalist hands for so called bail out money to prevent bankruptcy, the response from the President wasn’t one of denial saying that he represented more than the auto and banking industry. No! He reacted by giving them the billions they wanted, to save them, he said, from bankruptcy. 

Then the issue of men marrying men and women marrying women took center stage in America during his administration, better known as same sex marriage.  I must admit, that in this situation Obama surprised me. No, I take that back. Americans surprised me. I would have wagered that the United States wasn’t ready for this; that those religious institutions, Bible carrying Blacks, Whites, Hispanics, and Jesus loving people in America would skin him alive for going against nature. But they didn’t; instead they appeared to have fallen in line without even a good national conversation or debate concerning the subject in hopes of educating the people to better understand the President’s reasoning. I am not criticizing Obama’s decisions in these three cases, I am merely pointing out the perpetual injustice to Black people in America.  

But the issue here is not whether one agrees or disagrees with same sex marriage; nor is it meant to slander or misrepresent this group; the issue here is that President Obama didn’t say that he represented more than those who want same sex marriage.  As a matter of fact, I have not heard this reason used against anything Whites wanted or needed. In getting the country to accept same sex marriage, the President was magnificent. There was no national conversation to amount to anything.  Now this issue has moved to which toilet one should use.  But this is not an indictment about what others received, God bless them. The issue here is that Blacks received nothing more than his presence in the White House.  

Having a Black president should mean more to Blacks than just having a Black face in a new place. That holds true nationwide and on local levels as well. For example,  Blacks in Buffalo have held every political position of so called influence except City Comptroller: this includes mayor, four different Common Council Presidents, a majority common council, majority leaders, Deputy Speaker of the State Assembly, chairman of the county legislature by four different legislators, presidents of the school board, and a Black majority school board. But none of this has equaled a higher level of power for Blacks in this city. And as with the President, Whites appear to have gotten what they wanted from Black local authorities as well. One need only look at the local deal brokered by those in the Fruit Belt regarding parking. Why is it always Blacks that do the sacrificing by giving up something? .    

The Hilllary-Trump Factor

As this campaign season for President of the United States intensifies between Hillary R. Clinton and Donald Trump, what becomes rather clear is that Blacks appear to gravitate to Hillary as being the lesser of the two evils. But this leaves me to think of something comedian Dick Gregory said around 60 years ago regarding an election; which election I do not remember although I do remember this remark:  “If we keep voting for the lesser of two evils, soon we will have nothing left but the evil of the evil.”

Personally, I find little difference between Hillary and Donald, other than their political rhetoric. They play the good and bad slave masters well; they are both slick. But I have always been leery of those that play the role of the good slave master, for they appear to have the uncanny ability to make Blacks feel comfortable, and stay on the plantation too long,  usurping one’s manhood and womanhood. 

The question of whether Hillary or Donald can cure what ails Blacks still must be answered. 

Our association with Hillary and Donald as Black people should have one clear objective, which is the survival of the race in high supremacy America.  It appears that we have not been successful in this matter under President Obama, nor under our present Black elected officials in Buffalo.  Whatever happened to the pride and shame in the race that got us this far?         

Today there are four Black females on the Buffalo school board; three Black males on the Buffalo common council; one female state legislator; and two Black female county legislators for a total of 10 elected officials, 7 women and 3 men. But most important is that each functions independently of the other and not as a unified force, although the problems of Blacks have no political boundaries…Yet, these 10 Black representatives have failed to sit at a table in harmony, to tackle the problems that confront their Black constitutes; problems such as Black children being prepared for prisons and service jobs instead of being builders and leaders of tomorrow. But how can we accomplish anything if those elected to represent their constituents don’t collaborate. 

What happened to the pride and shame that Dr. Lydia Wright and Dr. George Blackman   stood for on the school board as the first Black members more than 50 years ago?   What happened to that spirit that Mary Chappell, and other Black teachers of yesterday brought to the class rooms during their generation? 

It seems that most of these present day school board members are doing their own thing with the teacher’s union, while cutting their own little selfish deals as they watch the city being rebuilt by Whites as Blacks stand on the sidelines quietly waiting for poverty programs. They seem not to realize, or take note that they, along with those being ill prepared for today’s challenges are the program. What ever happened to the pride and shame in the race?

Bankers, the auto industry, and the Gays got what they wanted from President Obama and   still getting because American politics were created by Whites, for hites.  And regardless to the 1964 and 1965 Civil Rights Bills which eliminated many barriers to give Blacks the right to vote, there still remains barriers that prevent Blacks from having voting power; voting power is different from voting rights. One may have the right to fly to Africa, but lack the power of a ticket. 

In order for votes to represent power, they must be used together in conjunction with other votes for specific cause or causes.  Those who wanted a same sex marriage law consolidated their power for that cause which included mobilizing voters for Obama, as well as making large financial contributions to his campaign.  It becomes a case of tit for tat or in the political vernacular, you scratch my back and I scratch yours.  This was power in action. 

Blacks not only appear to be left out, they are left out, although they are the largest single political voting group in the city. It appears that something has happened that Blacks are unaware of. It appears that the Italians, Irish and Jews that came to the United States long after Blacks, have learned the game and now control the construction in Buffalo as well as the power associated with banks and the auto industry.  In doing so, they maintain control of the Black elected officials via being their financial backers, their godfathers, and their slave masters at the expense of Black lives.