Grading Obama: Katherine Tate

The UC Irvine professor argues that President Obama has been responsive to blacks.

Posted:
 
katherine20tate1400

Whether or not President Barack Obama's first term embodies the idealism of the 2008 campaign is debatable, according to interviews with nine prominent black academics in the run-up to next year's presidential election.

For the second in the series, The Root interviewed Katherine Tate, professor of African-American studies at the University of California, Irvine's School of Humanities. Read the other interviews here.

The Root: What were your expectations of President Obama's administration as that of the nation's first black commander-in-chief? Does he embody today whatever you saw in him during the campaign?

KT: I think this was an important moment for America. Africans were brought to this nation as slaves, and although some vehemently disagreed with this perspective, some white leaders felt that blacks were never considered to be equal to whites and should not have political equality with whites. Obama won a Nobel Prize in 2009. I believe the world welcomed his election as a sign that nations can overcome racial hatreds and exploitation.

TR: Do you believe that Obama has adequately fought for the nation's black communities?

KT: I believe that he has not fought adequately, but he has done more than the last men serving in the White House. Presidents never have, except perhaps for Truman, stood up for blacks. His administration, however, is more responsive to blacks. Attorney General [Eric] Holder has settled important discrimination lawsuits against the government. The political system is more responsive, and so Obama is part of a process of change.

TR: What was your reaction to Obama's rousing "stop crying" speech to the Congressional Black Caucus?

 

KT: I think the CBC is changing ... and is unable to fight back in a satisfactory way. When President Clinton signed into law welfare reform in 1996, there was a big silence from the CBC, even though only one member voted for it. Politically, white America will never accept [a] "righteous-justice campaign" from black Americans. I think we need black interest groups, including the black church, to stand up and respond to political leadership that wrongly implies that black Americans are wrong in seeking redress for the problems that are rooted in America's racism toward blacks. I think the CBC should stand down and let other civil rights and religious leaders make this case.  

TR: Do you believe that Obama has made marked strides toward a "postracial" America?

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.
Must-See Family Attractions
July 29 2014 2:13 PM