Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Barack is not a black American

Published:Sunday | January 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Barack Hussein Obama, elected 44th president of the United States, is putatively the first black president. He came into office in the midst of a rapidly deteriorating economy. He has pulled the economy around to a point of respectability and deserves credit for that.

However, let us focus on the black president's relationship with the black American population. While he was seeking election, he embraced his supposed blackness. However, he leaves behind for the black community a desperate country, once mesmerised by his promises of hope and change, but today, victimised by his failure and indifference. The black President has done nothing for the black community.

Black unemployment is the highest of any subsector. Black education lags. Job opportunities are fewer as he shrinks the size of the US military. He does not reinstate the draft for equal distribution for those being sent to war zones, so the black, brown and the marginalised are disproportionately numbered among the dead.


Plan and pledge


On August 18, 2009, then President Barack Obama reportedly announced his plan and pledge to "strengthen small business administration programmes that provide capital to minority owned, support outreach programmes that help minority business owners apply for loans, and work to encourage the growth and capacity of minority firms". Historically, and still today, minority and women-oriented small businesses have a harder time attracting contracts than their no-better-qualified white, male-owned businesses of the same size.

The black population 10 years and older is only 10 per cent of the American population, yet they are the overwhelming majority of the prison population. Barack Obama frequently speaks of criminal-justice reform, but does nothing. Black unemployment in November 2015 was 9.4%. The US unemployment rate was 5.2%.

In terms of the black president, too many black Americans remain unemployed, undereducated and most frequently incarcerated, not to mention dead by violent means. I have yet to hear the black president make reference to the 'Black Lives Matter' movement. I am of the opinion that his statement about Trayvon Martin came from being the ventriloquist for Michelle Obama, nee Robinson, a true black American from the South Side of Chicago.

While he sought the presidency, his goals were to unify the country to bring hope and change, a transformative president: "You are the change you want, there is no white America, there is no black America, there is only the United States of America." America's mood on race now stands at a 20-year low, with positive views on race relations plummeting 43 per cent since Obama's election. This is a stunning collapse under our first African-American president, an extraordinary tearing asunder of the conscience of America, during the tenure of a man once perceived to have such great gifts to heal.

A 2014 Brookings Institution survey of 162 members of the American Political Science Association's Presidents and Executive Politics section ranked Obama as the 18th greatest. But Brookings points out:

"Beneath the surface of the aggregate figures lurks evidence of significant ambivalence. For example, those who view Obama as one of the worst American presidents outnumber those who view him as one of the best by nearly a 3-1 margin. Similarly, nearly twice as many respondents view Obama as overrated than do those who consider him underrated. One area where there is significant expert consensus about the president, however, concerns how polarising he is viewed as being - only George W. Bush was viewed as more a more polarising president."

Obama ran for president in 2007 and he was successful in pulling off what black Americans call the 'okie doke' (Brer Anancy). He postured as being black, but not, fortunately, black American. The majority bought into it because the reality is, in fact, he is a half-black Kenyan, half-white Kansas, born in Hawaii, with his formative years in Indonesia.

Barack Obama was never educated in the black experience, high school or college, and worked as a community organiser in Chicago, meaning, I go in when I want, and leave when I want. He chose the length of his interaction. Can he run the dozens? Does he know thunderbird wine? Has he ever lived in the projects? Has he ever had a friend who was murdered on the corner?

Does he know what it is like to attend a school where the teachers are demotivated, the facilities decrepit, none of the teachers lived in your neighbourhood, or did not attend your church? Remember Jeremiah Wright? He spoke of the real Barack Obama, so why is black America surprised that this is what his presidency has produced for them?


Obama Fortunate


He is fortunate that a bright, beautiful, accomplished black American woman married him. He was thus exposed to chittlings, collared greens and fat back, turnip greens, grits and black-eyed peas in your refrigerator for New Year's Day. This is the first black American president. Well done, Michelle.

I plead with Michelle: Teach him about the long, lasting scars of shear-cropping and owing your soul to the company store. Teach him about pride in being black, as your parents experienced it while you made it from the South Side to a distinguished law career and how that pride was further enhanced as your brother became a varsity basketball coach at a Division One school.

Barack Obama defines himself as many things, but what he is NOT is a black American. Being black in America can be categorised by skin colour, but being a black American is a defining state, it is a black thing, and Obama is not.

We must embrace the fact that we bought into his bill of goods and lost.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to and