Filed Under:  OpEd, Opinion

The disrespect for Obama continues

8th August 2011   ·   3 Comments

By Tonyaa Weathersbee
Guest Columnist

I’m guessing that it’ll only be a matter of time before a member of the neo-Confederate wing of Congress will slip up and call President Obama the N-word.

By calling the president a “tar baby,” Rep. Doug Lamborn came precariously close.

“Even if some people say, well, the Republicans should have done this and should have done that, they will hold the president responsible,” Lamborn, a Colorado Republican and member of the Tea Party Caucus, told a radio station recently. “Now I don’t even want to even have to be associated with him. It’s like touching a tar baby, and you get, you know, you are stuck, and you are part of the problem, and you can’t get away.”

Yet, the most insulting part of Lamborn’s comment wasn’t the tar baby remark, but the insinuation that he could get cooties or some infestation by associating with Obama. It’s the same kind of thinking that once gave rise to separate water fountains and restrooms.

That’s racist code if I ever heard it.

Then again, it’s not surprising that Lamborn doesn’t want to be associated with Obama. In fact, one of the reasons why he and the rest of his Tea Party ilk hurl so much disrespect toward him is because they long for a time when white people didn’t have to associate with Black people at all — much less address one as Mr. President.

Which, by the way, most of them don’t.

And their racism and intransigence towards Obama magnifies what many average Black men endure every day in America. It provides clues as to why so many wind up succumbing to pessimism or poor health or any number of things that come as a result of them being constantly devalued – of them constantly being treated as threats rather than assets.

I mean, if a Black man like Obama, with an Ivy League pedigree and reams of academic and legislative accomplishments, has to constantly peel his eyes for land mines set by bigots who are bent on his destruction instead of his success, imagine what life is like for those brothers who are battling those forces every day.

It’s hard.

Back in 2006, before anyone ima­gined that Obama would outmaneuver Hillary Clinton and later, John McCain, to become the nation’s first Black president, The Washington Post did a series on Black men in America. While it found that eight in 10 brothers said they were satisfied with their lives, it also found that six in 10 said they were often the target of racial insults or slights.

Like our president.

The survey also found that while Black men tended to be optimistic about the future and their prospects, their lives were fraught with worry. Four in 10 Black men said they feared losing their jobs – almost double the proportion of white men – while six in 10 worried that they’d be treated unfairly by the police.

And the suicide rate among young Black men has doubled since 1980.

Unfortunately, a lot of those fears have been realized. Among other things, unemployment among young Black males has reached Depression-era levels. Yet, while Obama’s victory in 2008 may have given many Black men reason to hope, it has also given them reason to despair.

They’re seeing how his success hasn’t rendered him immune to the racism and the marginalization that they experience in their own lives. It also begs the question: If a Black man can rise to the office of president and still can’t escape that kind of disrespect, then who can?

Maybe the answer doesn’t lie in escape, but in survival.

So, I’m hoping the decisions that Obama makes turn out to be cagier than most people think. I hope that in spite of the racist insults and name-calling, the president’s smarts help him to live to fight another day. And show that, in the end, brains are still the best weapon against bigotry.

This article was originally published in the August 8, 2011 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper

Readers Comments (3)

  1. David Gordon says:

    I find your column to not only be biased towards against the Tea Party, but as well against the Republicans and the South. If you will check the facts one of the leading Tea Party candidates for President is none other than Herman Cain, a black man from Atlanta with a wealth of experience and success in business. There have been other black figures who have been courted by the Republican party to run for President, including Colon Powell and most recently Congressman Alan West from Florida. Bear in mind if you will these men have tremendous experience in government and business, and are proven leaders. The reason President Obama has been attacked is his unwillingness to listen to reason, to act responsibly, and to connect with the real middle class of America. This Nation sent a message in November of 2010 that was not adhered to by President Obama, Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi. It is articles like this one that stirs the pot between classes in this country and causes the very disrespect you accuse Tea Partiers and Republicans of.
    David Gordon
    Atlanta, GA

  2. Hal Green says:

    This is what I got from the David Gordon Comment,
    a very Southern and T.E.A. Party/ NEocon Atlanta, Ga. comment.
    btw, The T.E.A. Party ia a southern Party, having
    over 60% of membership in the congress from the
    south, and the majority of those who identify
    themselves as so- called T.E.A. from the south.
    This party is not an officially recognised party as most commoners believe. Remember, the Civil War Confederacy wasn’t official either, THEY WERE
    deserved to be officially and U.S. Constitutionally
    HUNG! They were pardoned by Andrew Johnson.
    Oh well…, never confuse idiots with facts, especially,
    … sorry, I should say, the mentally challenged and insane are always baffled by facts, which is exactly
    why they retreat to their etherial states.
    Finally, this is for all of racist America…

  3. Jonathan Dough says:

    Hal, it is to no surprise that the only thing you “got” from Mr. Gordon’s comment is that it is a “very Southern and T.E.A. Party/ Neocon comment from someone from Atlanta, GA.”

    The irony of you making a harsh and unwarranted generalization about Southerners, Tea Party members, and people from Georgia as a means to defend Tonyaa’s proposition is absurd.

    Mr. Gordon presented 2 instances in which the Tea Party (by your definition a bunch of neocon, racist, and conservative-southerners) has strongly supported African-American candidates.

    It appears to me, Mr. Green, that you are not so angered by the “retreat into ETHEREAL states,” but more by the political and social ideology, which appears in opposition to yours, of these groups. President Obama’s election was of great significance to the US, especially to the African-American community within it; but, historical significance does not mean that his election was automatically “good” for the US.

    You have screamed the mantra of “BOTTOM ON TOP NOW.” I can understand your exuberance. It must have been a good feeling to see the fruit of all the labors of those civil rights leaders who have come before be realized in the election of our current President. However, I challenge you by asking simply, “Would you have felt that way if Herman Cain, Michael Steele, or Alan West were our President today instead of President Obama?”

    The fact of the matter is that for people to scream that the black community is now on top because they have a black (technically half-black, but that’s a separate argument…) President is completely illogical and what is wrong with America today.

    Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of “judging a man, not but the color of his skin; but, by the content of his character.” Now, I am white, and although I don’t understand why white people are often attacked for quoting him, because while although he was black, his message speaks to bigger ideals that are applicable to all of humanity rather than only once race. President Obama’s character and record are what is being judged by these groups, not merely the color of his half-black skin.

    More pressing is the historical significance of being the 1st President to have our credit rating downgraded. I know your argument will be the talking points heard recently that, “it’s the Tea-Party downgrade.” But that, my friend, is the dumbest argument that the Democrats could possibly submit. This problem did not happen 2 months ago when the Tea Party caucuses pushed for budget cuts in the debt ceiling debate. They did not get the cuts they wanted and should have made. Instead, they did influence the debate on whether or not it was acceptable to give a President, who has already spent more than any other past-President, a blank check to throw more money at ill-conceived plans and entitlement and utopian ideals that will never perform the way that they are “sold to the public.”

    Finally, you are correct about the Tea-Party not being an officially recognized party, but I don’t believe that most “commoners” even misconstrue that fact as you say. Somehow, you linked the fact of not being an official party to The Confederacy and then official traitors to the Union. That is preposterous and if that is what you call “reason,” than we have larger problems on our hands. That is like saying the “black people of the United States” are not an officially recognized party of the US just like The Confederacy. Just as not all blacks are Democrats (see above argument), Tea-partiers are not all Republican/Conservative/ Southern. They just happen to make up a portion.

    Perhaps you should educate yourself about the Tea-party before throwing out rash and false accusations. To vilify a group that is trying to hold the nation to the laws laid out within the US Constitution and the principles set forth in Declaration of Independence is not something I will ever understand. Who would be more likely to be the “traitor” – The group pushing to stick to our principles or the group trying to change those principles?

    If nothing else, when will the black people of America realize that the Democratic Party is not the answer to their plight? FYI: Lincoln was Republican. The fact of the matter is that the Democrats have figured out a great way to control the black population by keeping them “comfortable in poverty” while gladly giving them entitlements and handouts, that do NOTHING to help the race scale the rankings, and meanwhile enjoying their support come election day. I would be insulted.

    Things should be equal OPPORTUNITY, not equal RESULTS. Nobody should be held down, or conversely propped up, simply because of their membership in some group.

Comments are closed.