By William Johnson
In the weeks following the Sherry Sherrod Department of Agriculture debacle, news outlets have begun to question the non involvement approach President Obama has taken when presented with race relation issues.
In the week following the incident, the President saw his lowest approval ratings from the African-American public at 85%. General approval ratings, however, remained constant for other key demographics. While most blacks stand behind the president, black leaders like Jesse Jackson offer constant criticism of his performance when addressing race issues.
Even before taking office, the President began to receive criticism as a member of the black elite who was talking down to black people by Jackson and other black leaders. In a July 2008 interview with Fox News, the civil rights leader was heard stating that he wanted to “rip Obama’s nuts off”. As if terrorist allegations weren’t enough of a deterrent, Obama is taking fire from both end of the political and racial spectrum.
Fewer black Americans are seeing President Obama as a black president and more as a president who just happens to be black. In my opinion, this is better for the leader of our country.
The president is a symbol of the people. He is a representation of the entire country, not just one race or group. The power of the American president is measured by the support of the American people. When our leader begins to neglect the needs of one group in favor of another, that’s when he begins to lose that power.
While I do believe that President Obama should involve himself more with race relations, I think he should try to do so objectively. Not as a black crusader, but as an equal mediator. I would rather see the president present a comprise that upsets all parties, than a decision that favors one race over another.
A good example of the above mentioned proposition in the past month is when the Obama Administration encouraged Arizona lawmakers to contest certain sections of the state’s new immigration law. Articles that required immigrants to carry their papers and required police to determine the immigration status of persons they believe to be illegal were blocked. While the law itself was not reversed, these key portions were ruled unconstitutional. Among the articles that went into effect is one that makes it illegal for employers to pick up day workers off of the street.
Even after this attempted compromise, conservative leaders of Arizona are unhappy with the blocked provisions while members of the opposing side still protest over the rest of the law. This case will likely go on to the Supreme Court, where a final decsion will be made.
This is how the Obama Administration should intervene in race related issues. Not with a crusading sense of right and wrong, but with the strength to meet in the middle of polarizing opinions of the two.