home Commentary, Current Affairs, Economy, Education, GLBTQI, Politics, Racism On Obama’s “failed celebrity” and accountability

On Obama’s “failed celebrity” and accountability

During the election of 2008, the McCain campaign portrayed Barack Obama as a celebrity with very little substance. The liberal left fought against this stereotype. Now that he has been elected, the various groups that threw their support directly behind him have arrived at the White House door, hat in hand, demanding that the debt be repaid.

When Obama was sworn in he was charged to rectify the worst Depression since the Great Depression. Banks and entire industries were and are failing. The infrastructure is in need of a complete overhaul and American children are increasingly falling behind in education. No national health care plan exists, causing many Americans to die an early death. Proving that no lessons were learned from Katrina, racism and violence continues to escalate. Obama inherited a country that’s a shadow of its former self, due to the efforts of the Bush administration.

In the words of Tavis Smiley, members of the Black Intelligentsia have become quick to hold Barack Obama “accountable.” Dr. Michael Eric Dyson has already been vocal about not being invited to the White House despite being one of the first to publicly support Barack in the election. Dr. Cornel West has stated emphatically that he would rather “visit a crack house than the White House.” According to the self-appointed leaders of the Black community, Barack is failing in his efforts to advance the issues of African Americans.

The GLBT community has been very vocal about the fact that Obama has failed to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Iraq war vet LT. Dan Choi was dismissed from the military after coming out on the Rachel Maddow show. He, along with several other members of the GLBT community have taken the step of publicly declaring their sexuality as a means of challenging Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. At a time when troop levels are a state of concern, the military can scarcely afford to lose experienced and educated members due to homophobia. The continuation of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is also the legalization of overt homophobia, as it clearly positions GLBT members as less valuable. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell literally forces them to live a lie.

The Defense of Marriage Act has also come into play. Same sex marriage has been a rallying point for the GLBT community for some time now and the promise to repeal DOMA helped turn many Clinton supporters to Obama supporters. Not only has Obama not repealed DOMA, he has only offered limited benefits to GLB Tfederal employees.

In less than six months, Barack Obama has not moved quickly enough to alter the hierarchal imbalance that exists in the US and minority groups seem intent on holding his feet to the fire. Their requests for Obama to keep his election promises are reasonable; however the time period in which they have asked is not. Unlike his predecessor, he has not knowingly lied to the populace, he simply has been focusing on matters that will most broadly benefit all of society.

Single-payer health care is an African American issue, and an issue for the GLBT community – it’s essentially an issue for all of us. If single-payer health care were passed it would effectively end the issue of benefits for same sex couples because everyone would be entitled to care. Many in the African American community are either under-insured or have no health insurance whatsoever. Blacks also die sooner than Whites from a lack of care, as well as the stress of living in a White supremacist state. It cannot be argued that this policy will not have the greatest impact upon bodies that are marginalized.

The other major focus of Obama’s first five months has been reinvigorating the slumping American economy. Blacks have an unemployment rate of 13%, which is higher than the national average. The GLBT community has faced and continues to face discrimination in employment. However, both of these marginalized groups have yet to publicly recognize the importance of ensuring that there are good paying jobs available. They want programs directly aimed at them, rather than focusing on achieving the greatest good for the largest number of people.

Not all of the members of the GLBT communities live in the Castro and are leading an affluent lifestyle despite the media depiction of this as an absolute truth. Many are struggling with poverty.

Meanwhile, despite the vocal complaints from Smiley et al, the Black Intelligentsia are not standing at soup kitchens or awaiting food stamps to feed their families. They are not out in the trenches feeding the hungry or housing the poor, though the rhetoric of “accountability” would lead one to think differently. In fact, the State of the Black Union was funded by none other than Wells Fargo, the bank that made the news for issuing what where termed “ghetto loans” to Blacks. How is that for “accountability”?

Obama’s first six months are not the reflection of a fear of wasting political capital on marginalized bodies as much as it is a reflection of the need to help as many segments of the population as possible. While fighting for socialized health care and fixing the economy may not immediately seem like issues affecting African Americans and the GLBT community, resolution of these problems will vastly increase the life chances of both parties.

Problem is – we have rather narrowly defined what a GLBT issue is and what an African American issue is.

5 thoughts on “On Obama’s “failed celebrity” and accountability

  1. I agree with this blog for the most part. As a member of the both the LGBT and Black communities, while I’m frustrated with the lack of progress on minority specific issues, I’m confident that he’ll follow through and I am appreciative of the strides he’s made toward a better health care system and getting us out of economic turmoil.

    That said, justice shouldn’t have to wait for a more convenient time. He could issue a stop loss of troops with a stroke of his pen and temporarily fix the DADT situation until congress can make progress but he has chosen not to (and it has been suspected that although its repeal is overwhelmingly supported, it has been put on the back burner, possibly waiting until 2010 or 2012 elections). On top of that he let his justice department file a brief defending DOMA by comparing our relationships to incest and pedophilia and we aren’t supposed to be a little miffed when he said he would be a “fierce advocate” for the LGBT community?

    As for the Black inteligentsia, I’m not entirely sure what’s going on with that. I feel that health care and the economy are big issues for the Black community and that’s real progress. In addition to that, I’ve read about efforts to fix the racist crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing disparity and there was even a formal apology for slavery (which is a good step in the healing process, but there’s still a long way to go and the idea that we’re a post-racial society is complete bull). My Black identity is cheering Obama on but my LGBT identity is only cautiously optimistic at this point.

    While I feel it is problematic to be “single issue voters” in a minority community, it can also be argued that “minority focused” legislation benefits the greater good in the same way that larger issues (like health care and the economy) benefit LGBT and Black people. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Creating jobs is well and good but if I can get fired or not hired for one just because of my sexual orientation or gender identity/presentation, what good does that do me? That’s why we need to keep the pressure on for ENDA. I think giving up on Obama is premature and unwarranted because he’s going to do more for our causes than most Republicans ever would, but holding him to his campaign promises and being narrow minded in our definition of what issues affect us are two different things. He’s doing good for all of us, but he has a responsibility to protect marginalized bodies and we have a responsibility to speak up when that isn’t happening. If the DOJ DOMA brief wasn’t so offensive and he would commit to a stop-loss until DADT was repealed, the LGBT community would still be a little more patient.

  2. KD has a good point. The DOMA brief contradicts the “prioritization” defense. The language in the brief suggests an affirmative desire to maintain DOMA, rather than a lack of time or prioritization. Presidents are not compelled to have their attorneys file briefs in support of legislation they have openly claimed they wish to get rid of.

  3. I think this is an important point. The complaint, from what I’ve seen, isn’t so much “Obama hasn’t repealed DOMA yet!” It’s “Obama’s administration actively defended DOMA, and did so in the most offensive way they possibly could have.” (Also, to the best of my knowledge, Obama has unfortunately not actually shown any support for a single-payer system, just a public insurance option. Which is better than nothing, but not as good as it could be.)

  4. I did not vote for Barack mainly because I took the time to check all his claims/ and remarks. I figured that if he did not have TIME to visit his mother in the year (she returned from Indonesia in ’94 – died in’95) she was suffering/dying he sure as heck wasn’t going to care about us, a bunch of strangers.

    Also – no matter how one feels about abortion – HOW could anyone be for infanticide. He voted 4 times (the only Senator) against giving medical care to BABIES born alive and allowed to DIE in filthy utility rooms. Also his/Micheles support of Planned Parenthood – whose founder had the NEGRO PROJECT!! Sanger hated minorities/ the flawed, retarded etc!!

    NO his mother was NOT on food stamps, NO his mom and dad (?) were nowhere near Selma when he was supposedly thought of (duh) he was born in ’61 – Selma was ’65, His mother was already remarried to Indonesian OIL man (hardly in need of food stamps which didn’t exist in Hawaii at that time). NO his mother didn’t have problem with medical insurance. She had the best of care (her mother – Obama’s Indonesian half sister stayed by her side/ he was too busy on a book tour/running for state senate) as she PhD worked for USAID/FORD FOUNDATION for years.

    They lived in a 1.6 mill mansion – Ayers children went to the same PRIVATE ($$$) school as his girls – he wrote a review for one of Ayers books – Ayers choose him as director of education committee he founded/ No Michele’s family wasn’t poor. Her father made $43,000 as water plant manager, they lived in a neat well tended middle class neighborhood / her mother was a legal secretary at Chicago University – in fact she worked until Barack ran for President!!

    Michele told Ohio women (husbands out of work) in dire need that she could identify with them as she (TRUE) spent $10,000 a year on the kids dance/music lessons (school cost $34,000) plus thousands for summer camp!! Michele got a 263% increase in wages when Barack caught the brass ring/ salary $316,000 –

    The first thing that the President did (to please teachers unions) was to CANCEL VOUCHER programs for D.C. kids ( some attending Sidwell)—on and on. Bottom line/ His chief of staff, Emmanuel, known for his vulgar mouth – tantrums (imagine) keeps everybody from Barack/ He’s just another puppet as is seen by his catering to BANKS – WALL STREET / Ifeel so bad for those (BLACKS) who cried they were so excited. They really believed he cared about them.

    RIGHT – enough to send them off to war again/ killed auto jobs for Black Americans who finally had a chance at the good life – sending their kids to college. I feel sick – I didn’t expect anything from elitist Bush / Barack was supposed to HEAL us from eight years of insanity –

Comments are closed.