Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Why a Black President made race relations worse (and why he didn’t have to)

 

At the end of the Obama Presidency, we have to ask ourselves how electing a black man made race-relations worse? Even conservatives like myself who voted for John McCain were happy that America had a black man as President and we could move beyond this whole silly race thing and just be normal Americans. Obviously, that didn’t happen. I theorize that the dynamic of electing a black man had the same radicalizing dynamic of the 1960s civil rights laws. Something that should have been a wholly positive and helpful thing carried within it seeds of discord.

After the landmark 1960s Civil Rights laws were passed and the South desegregated, the Civil Rights movement became more leftist and more extremist. The Civil Rights movement started with the idea of individual rights and equality of opportunity but then it morphed into equality of outcomes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VKB3v5hWvs

One of the most easily observable manifestations of is the adoption of Muslim names in the black community starting around 1968. 

People don’t really remember this, but if you go back to the 1960s, blacks and whites basically were giving their kids pretty much the same sets of names, not really very different, a lot of overlap. But within about a seven-year period in the 1970s, names just completely diverged. And among most African Americans now are giving names that virtually no whites have. So what we saw was in a period that really coincides with the Black Power movement and a very strong move away from the initial Civil Rights movement was that names changed completely, and many black parents decided I think that the identity they wanted for their children was one that was distinct from white culture.

 

Much of the black community felt alienated from mainstream white society. Now why in the world would blacks feel more alienated in 1968 rather than 1958?

Shelby Steele described this odd dynamic perfectly in one of his many brilliant speeches. I paraphrase,

“If you are janitor before the Civil Rights bills, after the Civil Rights movement you are still a janitor. All the desegregation in the world doesn’t change your position. You still have to endure the indignity of being in a low place.”

Psychologically, this is harder than enduring all the evils of Jim Crow.* If you are behind because you are treated unfairly, it makes you angry but you can still feel good about yourself. If you are given the same opportunities as everybody else but you can’t make use of them, two options immediately spring to mind. One is that you are inferior and the other is that things are still unfair. He further explains in the video below. 

The whole speech is great but I’m referencing about five minutes from the starting point from the link. It is totally worth your time.

Once Obama got elected, it symbolized how black people could succeed in America. But for the most part, black culture didn’t change.

The high rates of violence, drug use and family dysfunction were consciously and unconsciously ignored. Thusly, many blacks continued to fail but it hurt more because Obama did and does represent the reality that mainstream white America will accept a black man as the leader of the free world. The whole black lives matter movement is pretty much a primal scream at the fact that under a liberal black President blacks still lag behind whites. If the President was white, it wouldn’t hurt as much.

I think Obama, more than any white guy or any other President could have mitigated this effect. But it would have been hard. He would have to give several speeches to black audiences like the one I wrote below.

Our culture needs to improve. We need to hit the books. We need to totally destroy the idea that studying and working hard means acting white and we need our young men to take responsibility for the children they create and we need our young women to demand that their children’s fathers act like fathers.

I will try my hardest to make the American economy fairer and I will do everything to make college and healthcare more affordable and to give everyone who is behind a leg up. But no matter what I do, black Americans will still disproportionally end up in jail, unemployed or on drugs unless we as a community address our problems.

Now I know that that sounds uncaring. Believe me, I understand. I myself didn’t have a Dad, I had only Dreams of my father, not the physical thing. My life had and has a Father shaped hole in it that I have to struggle with. I wrote a whole book about what it was like to be abandoned by my father. So when someone says, I don’t have a Dad and it makes everything harder, it’s not an abstraction to me; it’s absence is as apparent as a hole in the head. But when Malia was born, (pause for dramatic effect) I knew that I had to figure out how to be a Dad no matter what.

I want this generation of black Americans to be the generation that stands by their children no matter what. I will do all I can to improve our society but even if I can get everything I want, even if I get all the best improvements in healthcare and in education and in job training, black children will still not be able to take advantage of those opportunities if they don’t have Dad telling them to succeed. In addition to creating a fairer and more equal opportunity that distributes opportunities to the poorest Americans, I want my legacy to be the unwavering insistence that African-American raise their children to thrive in the greatest country in the world.

Thankyou and G-d bless America.”

 

Obama has given lip service to the importance of black fatherhood. Basically, he gets a nice headline in both the MSM and the conservative media and then he doesn’t talk about it for years. When push comes to shove, Obama blames white racism for black Americans failing and he has helped cement that poisonous idea in that community.* Blacks that dramatically succeed are merely symbols of white racism. 

If I have kids, there will still be the same old dynamic of inner-city blacks failing and blaming it on the larger society. Before Obama I thought that the black community would start improving itself and they would rise out of their poverty and join mainstream America like other ethnic groups have done. Obama has helped to prevent that success. Maybe he believes in the victimhood narrative or he lacks the courage to speak unpleasant truths but his legacy is one of giving an excuse to blacks to fail.

 

 

*Though I doubt I need to clarify this to the Ricochetti. Jim Crow was incredibly evil. It’s very hard to imagine such cruelty was normal but a few generations ago.

*Blacks who have recently arrived from Africa tend not to have a victim mentality and tend to integrate much quicker into American society.

There are 26 comments.

  1. billy Inactive

    Thomas Sowell once made the point that as a black man he was born at just the right time. The barriers of segregation were being lifted, the Federal programs designed to “help” blacks achieve equality had not taken effect.

    • #1
    • January 6, 2017, at 1:38 PM PST
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  2. Guruforhire Member

    White people with nonstandard names also experience suboptimal life outcomes as well. Not saying its the same thing, but an interesting observation.

    • #2
    • January 6, 2017, at 2:09 PM PST
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  3. ctlaw Coolidge

    There is a huge question of the particular black man.

    This is not an inspirational man like Clarence Thomas.

    This is a half-African man raised by self-hating white leftists in one of the least black states in the union and a foreign country.

    As an adult, he found himself in Chicago where the path to success figuratively, if not literally, involved yelling “kill whitey” loud enough to make people forget your real background. This was a recipe for a divider, not a uniter.

    • #3
    • January 6, 2017, at 2:13 PM PST
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  4. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    I always thought that black people who named their kids “black” names were almost daring society to discriminate against them. They would have cause for a lawsuit if they applied for that job and didn’t get an interview-Racial Discrimination! They saw my “black” name and threw out my application!

    @ctlaw, do you know of any such cases?

    • #4
    • January 6, 2017, at 2:54 PM PST
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  5. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Henry Castaigne: *Blacks who have recently arrived from Africa tend not to have a victim mentality and tend to integrate much quicker into American society.

    In the early 80’s, I worked with a woman who had fairly recently graduated from Spelman College (a black woman’s college, which along with Clark, Morehouse, and Morris Brown were the historic black colleges in Atlanta). There was an article in the Atlanta Journal about African students attending these colleges. It mentioned that there was not a lot of collegiality between the African students and the African-American students.

    I asked my collegue if she had known any of the African students while she was in school. She sniffed and said that they were “snooty” and “acted like they were white.”

    • #5
    • January 6, 2017, at 2:58 PM PST
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  6. ctlaw Coolidge

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    I always thought that black people who named their kids “black” names were almost daring society to discriminate against them. They would have cause for a lawsuit if they applied for that job and didn’t get an interview-Racial Discrimination! They saw my “black” name and threw out my application!

    @ctlaw, do you know of any such cases?

    Just google “name discrimination in hiring”.

    • #6
    • January 6, 2017, at 3:00 PM PST
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  7. TheRightNurse Member

    I think the biggest sadness is that he had the ability to unify the country not as a black president, but as a mixed-race president in an era where this was becoming the norm. He could have addressed this and continued in the vein that it was normal and that a child of a mixed-marriage and a single mother could still become POTUS, but he didn’t. He chose to self-identify with only one heritage and to push that narrative because that was the narrative that got him elected.

    It was divisive because it was always meant to be and it was the way he was going to get ahead.

    • #7
    • January 6, 2017, at 3:04 PM PST
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  8. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    I always thought that black people who named their kids “black” names were almost daring society to discriminate against them. They would have cause for a lawsuit if they applied for that job and didn’t get an interview-Racial Discrimination! They saw my “black” name and threw out my application!

    @ctlaw, do you know of any such cases?

    Just google “name discrimination in hiring”.

    Much to my surprise, name discrimination shows up with Asian names as well.

    • #8
    • January 6, 2017, at 3:24 PM PST
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  9. DocJay Inactive

    So I guess when my wife and I decided on Lila Jayne it was a better choice than Noxema Deshaundre ?

    • #9
    • January 6, 2017, at 4:52 PM PST
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  10. DocJay Inactive

    TheRightNurse (View Comment):
    I think the biggest sadness is that he had the ability to unify the country not as a black president, but as a mixed-race president in an era where this was becoming the norm. He could have addressed this and continued in the vein that it was normal and that a child of a mixed-marriage and a single mother could still become POTUS, but he didn’t. He chose to self-identify with only one heritage and to push that narrative because that was the narrative that got him elected.

    It was divisive because it was always meant to be and it was the way he was going to get ahead.

    Tough to acknowledge mixed race heritage when you hate one half of it. His writings allude to this. His divisive actions are so incredibly saddening. His legacy will be that of the anti-white movement on one hand and destroyed inner cities on the other.

    • #10
    • January 6, 2017, at 4:55 PM PST
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  11. I. M. Fine Lincoln

    I recently retired from a 35-year career in higher education. On average, 40% of my students were African-American. Over the eight years of the Obama administration, I watched their reaction move from elation to hope to caution to confusion to profound disappointment. And the most frequent comment I heard?

    “He doesn’t talk to us.”

    (And they did not mean his choice of vocabulary and syntax; my students are way smarter than that.) They were referring to what this post so passionately addresses. Thank you for giving this public voice to an ongoing struggle.

    • #11
    • January 6, 2017, at 4:59 PM PST
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  12. Rodin Member

    Such a wasted opportunity. Of the many disagreements I have with Obama, the most profound was not only his failure to promote racial harmony but his insistence that America was failing African-Americans because unequal outcomes remained. Unequal outcomes remain for all persons and races. My brother is 6’4″ and I am 5’10” — talk about an unequal outcome! But each of us could carve out lives of modest success through discipline, persistence, and personal accountability.

    • #12
    • January 6, 2017, at 5:46 PM PST
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  13. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    Over the eight years of the Obama administration, I watched their reaction move from elation to hope to caution to confusion to profound disappointment. And the most frequent comment I heard?

    “He doesn’t talk to us.”

    Please talk about this more. I don’t quite understand what your students meant. Did they feel that he was distant and uncaring? That he didn’t get their struggles? I am really curious.

    • #13
    • January 6, 2017, at 6:47 PM PST
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  14. Robert McReynolds Inactive

    I think freactlaw (View Comment):

    RushBabe49 (View Comment):
    I always thought that black people who named their kids “black” names were almost daring society to discriminate against them. They would have cause for a lawsuit if they applied for that job and didn’t get an interview-Racial Discrimination! They saw my “black” name and threw out my application!

    @ctlaw, do you know of any such cases?

    Just google “name discrimination in hiring”.

    I think freakonomics did a podcast on this once. You might start there.

    • #14
    • January 6, 2017, at 7:03 PM PST
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  15. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    DocJay (View Comment):
    His legacy will be that of the anti-white movement on one hand and destroyed inner cities on the other.

    Let’s not go crazy. Inner cities were destroyed long before Obama came along.

    • #15
    • January 7, 2017, at 6:41 AM PST
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  16. I. M. Fine Lincoln

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    Over the eight years of the Obama administration, I watched their reaction move from elation to hope to caution to confusion to profound disappointment. And the most frequent comment I heard?

    “He doesn’t talk to us.”

    Please talk about this more. I don’t quite understand what your students meant. Did they feel that he was distant and uncaring? That he didn’t get their struggles? I am really curious.

    I’m sure I am grossly oversimplifying my students’ feelings, but I believe they were saying that Obama never directly addressed them as Black Americans. They couldn’t tell if he understood their struggles because he virtually never talked about these issues in the context of their community. The comments on this thread seem to get to the heart of possible reasons why; and I can tell you that my students were waiting for eight years to hear the kind of speech you outlined, Henry. Thank you for a most illuminating post.

    • #16
    • January 7, 2017, at 7:55 AM PST
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  17. Rodin Member

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    They couldn’t tell if he understood their struggles because he virtually never talked about these issues in the context of their community.

    Let’s face it to the extent anyone is an exemplar of any “community”, Obama was not it for many African Americans. He was raised by his white mother and grandparents. He spent his early youth in Indonesia and he teenage years in Hawaii. He started college at Occidental because that was where a lot of Hawaii kids go. He then lived in an academic bubble at Columbia and Harvard completing his marination in Marxist-Socialism with an Alinsky twist. He then got his first real experience with urban blacks as a community organizer wherein he was bringing his perspective to them rather than learning from them and independently and dispassionately considering their needs. He was then fast-tracked on a political career in which his only exposure to African Americans was back in the bubble he had been in higher education with a frisson of black celebrities.

    Contrast that path with Thomas Sewell, Ben Carson, and Justice Thomas.

    • #17
    • January 7, 2017, at 9:18 AM PST
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  18. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    I’m sure I am grossly oversimplifying my students’ feelings, but I believe they were saying that Obama never directly addressed them as Black Americans. They couldn’t tell if he understood their struggles because he virtually never talked about these issues in the context of their community. The comments on this thread seem to get to the heart of possible reasons why; and I can tell you that my students were waiting for eight years to hear the kind of speech you outlined, Henry.

    Would your students be receptive to the tough love message that black Americans need to do more to improve their plight and avoid destructive behavior? Would he (an alternate universe Obama that hired me as a speech writer) be accused of being an Uncle Tom if he did that?

    • #18
    • January 7, 2017, at 2:12 PM PST
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  19. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne

    Rodin (View Comment):
    He then got his first real experience with urban blacks as a community organizer wherein he was bringing his perspective to them rather than learning from them and independently and dispassionately considering their needs. He was then fast-tracked on a political career in which his only exposure to African Americans was back in the bubble he had been in higher education with a frisson of black celebrities.

    Contrast that path with Thomas Sewell, Ben Carson, and Justice Thomas.

    Respectfully, I suggest that a better contrast would be with Trump. Trump has managed to establish a strong connection with working class whites while being a New York billionaire. Culturally, Obama is about as far from being an urban black as Trump is from being working class but their respective groups look up to them. Whether it makes sense or not, Obama held great sway with the black community.

    • #19
    • January 7, 2017, at 2:19 PM PST
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  20. I. M. Fine Lincoln

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):

    I. M. Fine (View Comment):
    I’m sure I am grossly oversimplifying my students’ feelings, but I believe they were saying that Obama never directly addressed them as Black Americans.

    Would your students be receptive to the tough love message that black Americans need to do more to improve their plight and avoid destructive behavior? Would he (an alternate universe Obama that hired me as a speech writer) be accused of being an Uncle Tom if he did that?

    I now wish I could cease speaking for my students and let them speak for themselves. So let me answer your questions with two recollections.

    I’m sure we all remember back in 2004 when Bill Cosby first admonished the black community with a tough love call to personal responsibility. The response was mixed, of course, but I found a greater amount of receptivity among my African American students than I initially expected. A common response was, “Well, at least he cares enough to tell us about ourselves.”

    I also remember talking with three of my brightest students after a public speaking class last year about the President’s speaking skills. I asked them what the most memorable thing was they remember him saying in public. Their response was almost immediate and all three were in agreement: “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

    So yes, they would be receptive – if/when they believe there is genuine empathy…and that he truly cares enough.

    • #20
    • January 7, 2017, at 6:25 PM PST
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  21. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Henry Castaigne: People don’t really remember this, but if you go back to the 1960s, blacks and whites basically were giving their kids pretty much the same sets of names, not really very different, a lot of overlap. But within about a seven-year period in the 1970s, names just completely diverged. And among most African Americans now are giving names that virtually no whites have.

    I know it seems that way, Henry, but I wonder if this is still true. This is completely anecdotal, but we were watching a football game, and as they identified the players on one of the teams, most of them actually had “white” names. Maybe it was a fluke. It would be interesting to investigate. Good post!

    • #21
    • January 8, 2017, at 9:16 AM PST
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  22. JustinMcClinton Inactive

    @eb I graduated from Morehouse in 2013 when Obama gave the commencement speech. Interestingly enough it’s probably one of the closest speeches he actually gave to what the author describes.

    • #22
    • January 8, 2017, at 1:55 PM PST
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  23. Ansonia Member
    Ansonia Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    How is it that electing a black man made race relations worse ? Could it be because the black man we elected was the instrument of leftists—predominantly white leftists, by the way—determined to rekindle the dying embers of racial hostility and resentment; and use the flame to further their agenda ?

    • #23
    • January 8, 2017, at 3:34 PM PST
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  24. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Ansonia (View Comment):
    How is it that electing a black man made race relations worse ? Could it be because the black man we elected was the instrument of leftists—predominantly white leftists, by the way—determined to rekindle the dying embers of racial hostility and resentment; and use the flame to further their agenda ?

    Sounds about right . . .

    • #24
    • January 8, 2017, at 3:40 PM PST
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  25. I. M. Fine Lincoln

    JustinMcClinton (View Comment):
    @eb I graduated from Morehouse in 2013 when Obama gave the commencement speech. Interestingly enough it’s probably one of the closest speeches he actually gave to what the author describes.

    Thank you for this important perspective. Here is a link to the full transcript of this speech:

    https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/19/remarks-president-morehouse-college-commencement-ceremony

    • #25
    • January 8, 2017, at 6:37 PM PST
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  26. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne

    The Morehouse speech is incredibly good and at several points it is uncannily similar to the little passage I wrote. Thank you Justin and I.M. for mentioning it. I admit to being quite tired of Obama’s speeches but I enjoyed reading this one and I would say it’s worth the time to my fellow Ricochetti.

    I find it noticeable that Obama does these kinds of speeches to primarily African-American audiences but not when speaking to a general American audience. I can’t be sure why that is but I think it must mean something.

    • #26
    • January 8, 2017, at 9:12 PM PST
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