In a blog entry at ColorLines, editor Kai Wright responds to President Obama’s curious remarks to the Congressional Black Caucus, urging members to take off their “bedroom slippers” and “to put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying. We are going to press on. We’ve got work to do, CBC.” Wright hopes that the rising chorus of black criticism keeps building and demanding the same accountability from him.
The remark was largely understood as a jab at Rep. Maxine Waters and others in the Black Caucus who have grumbled recently that the White House is ignoring the growing gap between black unemployment and that of the rest of the country. Waters responded by calling the president’s comment “curious” and suggesting he “got off script and got a little bit beside himself.” Tavis Smiley, another routine Obama critic, was more blunt. In a conversation with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee after the speech, Smiley argued the president would never say such things to other allied communities that have complained far more vocally about the White House’s policies on gay rights, Israel or immigration.
But President Obama has always enjoyed lecturing black people. Absent his much discussed campaign speech on Jeremiah Wright and his fumbling “beer summit,” the only time he’s been willing to touch race has been to show up at black events and tell us to take more responsibility for ourselves — as fathers, as home owners and now as laggard troops in his war for reelection. The president has also long been dismissive of black criticism, and maintained that posture during a BET interview Monday night, in which he shrugged off the fact that “a handful of African American leaders” have complaints. “They were critical when I was running for president. There’s always going to be someone who is critical of the president of the United States,” he said. “That’s my job.”
Read Kai Wright’s entire blog entry at ColorLines.