Jan Brewer, the governor of Arizona, just did what President Obama could not do. She just fired up black America and ensured that African Americans will vote in record numbers in this fall's presidential election.
Brewer met Obama on the tarmac as he got off Air Force One for a visit to Arizona this week. She became agitated when Obama chided her characterization of a meeting he had with her in 2010. So she pointed her finger in the president's face while giving him a piece of her mind.
Although Obama has downplayed the significance of Brewer's public display of disrespect, Brewer has issued a letter explaining how she came to point her finger during their meet and greet on the tarmac.
Throughout his administration, many in the black community grew soft in their support of Obama because it was believed he had not done enough to shed light on issues peculiar to African Americans.
The scholar Cornel West teamed with journalist Tavis Smiley and conducted a bus tour of America last year to point out the condition of black America. Their bus tour stops were often critical of Obama's handling of the economy and on social issues including housing and homelessness in America.
Although their attacks on the White House drew some critics, many in the black community applauded West and Smiley.
Also, there had always been a nagging question in black America that given the nature of Obama's heritage, he did not have a slave past; therefore he was "not black enough" and therefore unable to relate to the average African American.
Last year Obama addressed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and suggested to its members that it was time for black people to stop crying and to put on their marching shoes for the 2012 general election. He was largely criticized for these remarks and did not get the expected bounce of support from the black community.
But this week, when photographs of Brewer's pointed finger in the face of President Obama began to circulate around the Internet, the black community came alive. Entertainers, along with church and political leaders, are calling for an end to the disrespect shown to the 44th president.
Yesterday comedian Rickey Smiley, who has lampooned the president in the past, called upon all urban radio stations to rally their listeners to put an end to the disrespect and put on "those marching shoes."
In barber shops, beauty salons, commuter trains in Atlanta, the community is abuzz and all generations can be seen rising up to support Obama. The battle cry, to paraphrase the Tuskegee Airmen in the movie Red Tails: "To the last insult, to the last pointed finger, to the last ballot, we fight, we fight, we fight!"
One African American woman who did not want her identity disclosed in this report said, "It is axiomatic in the black community that you don't point your finger in a black person's face."
She went on to say that finger-pointing is tantamount to the ultimate disrespect you can show an individual. She then added, "...it's worst to us than giving a person the three-finger salute."
When the votes are counted in November, Obama would be wise to send a letter of thanks to Brewer.
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