Dr. Cornel West is consistent, if nothing else. But, that’s a good thing, I think, especially if one “professes” to be a truth seeker and truth teller.
On a recent episode of "The Smiley & West Show" the Princeton professor berated President Obama for his apparently heartfelt, tearful response to the mass shooting and bloodbath at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., while virtually downplaying and, indeed, ignoring the now routine killings of just as many, and more, children just blocks from Obama’s own doorstep in Chicago.
Professor West went further than ever before this time in his criticism of the president. He called Obama an out-and-out "coward" for his quick and unsolicited response to the dramatic and traumatic murders of "vanilla" children (both in Connecticut and elsewhere), while refusing to even acknowledge, let alone address, the relentless gun violence that has been claiming the lives of just-as-innocent “chocolate” children in Chicago for years on end.
“Not a peep; not a mumblin’ word when the black folk getting shot,” he said. ”But now Newtown (Connecticut), vanilla side, low in behold we got a major conversation.”
This assessment of the president by Dr. West follows his recent labeling of Obama as a "Republican in blackface."
Does Dr. West have a point? If you are an African American in this nation-state, you must by now at least begin to ask yourself this question: When is this First Black President going to address the issues, problems and concerns of his most loyal and committed constituency, his fellow black citizens?
My heart bleeds for the kids and teachers of Newtown. We all feel for them and their families. It is impossible even to imagine such an horrific tragedy occurring at any high school, college, or, especially, an elementary school – unless you live in Chicago. Such events are practically a daily occurrence here. These killings no longer even garner the banner headlines they once did. Again, the killing of black children is quickly approaching a "normal" state of affairs in Chicago.
Yet, there is no “national conversation,” no deep soul searching going on, no presidential task forces being formed, no "official" notice given by any government muckety-mucks beyond a few tut-tut-tuts and pointed fingers. Still, this situation is as equally horrendous as any "mass" shooting we've witnessed. It is a veritable ongoing holocaust right here in the president's “hometown.”
During his first term, Obama was basically given a pass by “the black community.” We understood that an inordinate amount of attention to “our” issues would surely turn off many white potential supporters who from jump street misperceived him only as that “black guy” in their “White” House. So, cool. Do what you gotta do to get where you want to go, to where we need you to go, we said. But now?
Now, (and then, too) according to Dr. West, Obama has never really taken “black” issues and concerns seriously. Instead, indeed…he has from Day One taken the black community for granted, as a given, as his rock solid, immovable “base.” What choice did we have, he reasoned.
And, of course, we made no real demands on him in return for our unwavering support. There has never been a “down side” to his dissing of black folks as there always is when he crosses his gay, or Hispanic, or white female constituents and supporters.
Finally, although I do not always agree with Dr. West, he is right again. The proof of his “rightness” will be obvious to all when Obama leaves office. At that time, black unemployment numbers and poverty rates will be as high or higher then as they are now, while everybody else will have “moved on up” into the “middle class” and higher.