Are Blacks Better Off After Obama’s Presidency?

On Wednesday, President Obama took to the podium for his highly anticipated speech in support of the woman who just a few years ago was his Secretary of State, and prior to that was supposed to be the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States if not for Obama’s meteoric rise.

What happens to a dream deferred?

In the case of Hillary R. Clinton, it appears that said dream will blossom into a tangible reality, and at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, President Barack H. Obama sprinkled a great deal of Miracle Gro and fertilizer on the growing seeds of Hillary’s almost certain presidency. During his 45 minute oratory, Mr. Obama moved meticulously and purposefully through his presidency and accomplishments while in office, praising the country that elected him, making a case for why Clinton should be the Democratic nominee for president, and why voters should turn up to vote for her.

He started out by giving props to his daughters Sasha and Malia, to First Lady Michelle Obama, and expressing faith in the American experiment that saw him rise to the presidency nearly a decade ago with a tone of optimism filled with self-congratulatory musings in the guise of American uplifting.

Barack Obama came into office on a promise of hope and much of the earlier part of his speech was little more than an inventory of what changes he was able to garner while in office.

There were several moments during his lengthy diatribe in which he simply mentioned his accomplishments; the Iran nuclear deal, the economy, the recession recovery, etc. It wasn’t until a quarter of the way through that he actually mentioned Hillary Rodham Clinton. The irony of him playing up and celebrating a woman he once called a liar and opportunist just eight years ago during their clash in the Democratic primaries was not lost on me.

Mentioning Donald Trump at around the 18:00 minute mark drew a chorus of “Boos” from the audience, to which Obama responded ‘Don’t Boo, vote’. With Gallup Polls showing that Americans favor Clinton and Trump more or less equally, the Clinton talking points were apropos. That could be why much of the President’s speech read like a resume and cover letter, and a flowing admonishment of Donald Trump’s capabilities and qualifications as would-be commander-in-chief.

When speaking of America being ‘the light of freedom, dignity and human rights’ in light of all of the highly publicized instances of police involved killings of unarmed and helpless suspects, my stomach churned. Mentioning how people overseas look to America when these days more and more Americans are feeling disenfranchised feels a bit out of touch and fell off base.

Another stomach-churner was his comparing the worry of black families for their young boys and men being equal to that of that of police officers’ families as they leave for duty.  If that were true nobody would ever have to say Black Lives Matter. Officers are armed, trained, paid and supported while young Black men have been the historic target of a multitude of policies since the dawn of this country.  A false equivalency if there ever was one. 

However, Obama’s insistence that voting Democrats turn out in numbers in local elections is an angle that is understated by many self-important Beltway regulars. When he spoke of the lessons taught to him by his grandparents, and the attributes of his ancestors who settled Kansas, it was difficult for me to fathom why he didn’t mention anything at all about his father’s side of the family. Not even in passing.

On its face, Obama’s DNC speech was very good. However, it was substantively indicative of his entire presidency in that it was more middle of the road politicking that only mentioned Black people in passing. Is America better off after an Obama presidency? Yes, but Black people are worse off economically than they have been since before George W. Bush was elected.

Hip-Hop Hooray…I guess. 

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