Obama’s election was an apparent milestone in American race relations. Less than one hundred and fifty years after most black people in the U.S. had been enslaved, a “black man” became president. I know many black and white people voted for him largely because of the opportunity to contribute to something of great historic significance.
I didn’t and wouldn’t have voted for Obama. It doesn’t matter much to me what his color is. His political views are diametrically opposed to mine in pretty much every area, and I think he has been one of the worst presidents in American history.
But I had hoped that at least one of the consequences of Obama’s election would be a healing of racial tensions and an improvement of race relations in America. Recent polls indicate that the opposite has happened. Obama’s policies and speeches have soured, rather than improved, race relations.
Only 52 percent of whites and 38 percent of blacks have a favorable opinion of race relations in the country, according to the poll, which has tracked race relations since 1994 and was conducted in mid-July by Hart Research Associations and Public Opinion Strategies. That’s a sharp drop from the beginning of Obama’s first term, when 79 percent of whites and 63 percent of blacks held a favorable view of American race relations.
As you would expect, much of this decline has occurred parallel to the Zimmerman/Martin media “horse and pony show” extravaganza. But Obama has done very little to alleviate this. His public responses to the trial have been inflammatory and unhelpful. This is just unprofessional at best.
Obama is not a black president. He is not a white president.1 He is just our president. I don’t think he’s a good president. But I wish he saw it as his responsibility to represent me in office as much as my neighbor.
- Though if Zimmerman is “white Hispanic” for having one white parent, it seems the same would hold for Obama. Should we call him “white black”? [↩]