I'm not going to spend a lot of time telling you how I felt about the way Henry Louis Gates was treated by the police. (Let's just say that I immediately adjusted my Facebook status to reflect my outrage.) However, I do have to make a confession: I think that may have been an inopportune moment for our first Negro president to invite himself into (White) America's homes and call the police stupid.
I know that we need to stand in solidarity behind our leader, especially in his moment of need, particularly when he is defending another brother. I know. I know. I know.
But allow me to make a confession: right now I could really care less about racial profiling. Or what it "means" to be Black in America, as reported by CNN. Or whether X person was hired/fired because he was Black. Or what Reverend Wright said. Or what Reverend Jackson said. Or what Reverend Sharpton said. Or what any other Reverend said.
inordinate sentencing of Black males. Or the merits of reparations for centuries of slavery.
Some of these "Black issues" are worth giving attention to, but the only "Black issue" that's important right now is health care.
If you give me the assurance that all Americans will have access to basic health insurance (and maybe even throw in equal access to education), then you can keep reparations. Even if the government gave us money for slavery, Black people would be spending most of their reparation checks on going to the doctor for diabetes, heart disease, HIV, etc.
If we're going to have a "national conversation" right now, it shouldn't be about whether Black professors should be arrested for loud tawkin' a White man. Of course they shouldn't but I'm sure even Mr. Gates would agree that his case is only really important within the context of a broader conversation about the way Black males are treated in society. The most troubling thought for me is how many brothers have been caught in similar situations and ended up jailed, beaten, and even worse.
he is destined to be deeply unpopular at some point during his presidency. It's bound to happen, but what really matters is how he acts when the heat really gets turned up. That will be his crucible.
But I still believe in him like it's nobody's business. I admire his brilliance and his ability to keep an open heart, even if it makes him vulnerable at times. The difference between him and his predecessor is that Dubya was never made to feel ashamed for being a White man. He wore his cowboy boots and his smirk and his flight suit and ran his mouth whenever he saw fit. When he declared his Whiteness to the world, it was called patriotism.
Obama's showing us how to do this thing, this thing that has never ever ever ever ever been done, but this was a misstep.
I know we were in dangerous water when he joked about getting shot by White House security. Basically the humor of the joke is based in the idea that the security apparatus that is designed to protect White power is so entrenched that it would sacrifice the life of it's own Black president to preserve its symbols of White power. What kind of thing is that to lay on people? That's too heavy. Although there were a lot of criticism you could make about Dubya, that's one thing he did: keep it short (and stupid.)
wise latina judges and overweight Black women Surgeon Generals and White men talking about they were going to "break" him. And he did what a whole lot of brothers would have done a long time ago: let 'em know.
I definitely understand the sentiment, but we can't allow anyone to take their off the ball now. Our people need health care. Now.
*****But, if we're going to have a "national conversation," let's hear what Mr. James has to say: