Whose Job Is It to End Racism?

If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll find some time to watch or read President Obama’s remarks at the memorial for the five slain officers in Dallas yesterday. I’ve spent some time this morning perusing what various pundits are saying about it. To give you some context, here are a few:

Dallas Morning News Editors: “President Obama’s powerful speech was full of truth, pain and hope”

Mike Barnicle: “In Dallas, Our President Meets the Moment”

John Podhoretz: “How Obama ruined his Dallas memorial speech”

Charles Hurt: “Obama tramples on high ideals of America, fuels Black Lives Matter racism”

I guess beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. That isn’t anything new to our politics today. People hear what they want to hear and their opinions are reinforced by news outlets that cater to the divide.

That last article by Charles Hurt wasn’t simply about the President’s speech yesterday.

Again and again and again, this president, who was so uniquely positioned with the credibility to do more than any president in history to quell the discord and unify America, has done the exact opposite.

Instead of waiting for blind justice to work, he repeatedly jumps to prejudicial — and usually wrong — conclusions.

Police are stupid; somebody looks like him; things were racially motivated; let’s go after guns. Every opportunity he has had to be the honest broker and reach for the great principles and high ideals that unite America, Mr. Obama has instead chosen partisan divisiveness.

If he were a real man, if he were a leader or statesman or one ounce of the constitutional scholar he claims to be, Mr. Obama would have already hotly condemned and denounced the Black Lives Matter movement as the racist and anti-American thing that it is…

Instead, Mr. Obama chickened out. He scrambled for the easy way out. Shirked his duties. He blew his moment to defend the constitution and stand with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr.

Of course, that’s nothing new. We’ve been hearing that kind of nonsense for the last 7 years. But that critique has been mirrored on the left from people like Michael Eric Dyson, Tavis Smiley and Cornel West – who actually said that Obama was the first n*ggerized president.

All of that is why I was immediately drawn to an article by Michael Arceneaux titled: It’s Not Now, nor Was It Ever, President Obama’s Job to Cure Racism.

If you remember correctly, Obama’s historic presidential campaign was marked as the launch of post-racial America. White people predominantly said this while the black people they don’t speak to regularly, or ever, rolled their eyes and went about their days. It’s clear now which party won that argument…

Perhaps it’s films like The Help that have convinced some that black people can magically say a few nice words and help some well-meaning white person see the error of his or her ways in 90 minutes, but that’s not how racism works in reality. President Obama cannot simply greet angry white men who harbor deep racial resentment toward him and all those who look like him and dramatically alter their state of mind with a conversation.

That reminded me of something a friend of mine wrote years ago titled: We Can’t Fix Ya!

I have come to one conclusion.

Race is a problem for white people to solve. If black people or brown people could have made racism go away it would have long since disappeared back into the nothing-ness from which it came…

White people have to come up with the solution to racism. Some of these folk are family. Some are neighbors. Some are friends. Talk to them. Don’t let them get away with the stereotypes. Challenge them on privilege. Point out that as long as this privilege exists, racism has a home.

If all else fails, remind them that they are soon to be the minority and that karma is a bitch.

In other words, while black and brown people feel the effects of racism – it is actually a white people problem. As Arceneaux says, “Victims are not responsible for the acts of their perpetrators,” – not even if they happen to be POTUS. It is interesting to me that we tend to place that extra burden uniquely on the shoulders of our first African American president. As the man has said on more than one occasion, he was elected to be President of the United States of America – not President of Black America. In his speech yesterday, he did a magnificent job of speaking to us all – exactly what we should expect from someone in his position.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.