President Obama is in the legacy-building portion of his administration. He wants to be seen as the cool guy who inhabited the White House for eight years. Among his “successes” is the failure known as Obamacare, foreign policy blunders, economic stagnation, and an increase in racial tension.
But he wants you to know – after the fact – that last one wasn’t going to change anyway.
The president gave a commencement speech at Howard University on Saturday, a historically black college in Washington, D.C. Some of his remarks, as reported by Reuters:
Obama, the son of a white mother and African father, told the graduates to embrace their racial identity.
He added that “my election did not create a post-racial society,” but was one example of how attitudes have changed.
“You need a strategy,” Obama said, adding passion and anger are not enough to effect political change and encouraging them to embrace compromise. “Not just hashtags but votes.”
Where to begin? Liberals absolutely drooled over Obama’s election. They dared to ask, “is America post-racial?” The charismatic black man had been elected president, and now things would be oh so different, right? Furthermore, Obama’s administration has greatly contributed to hashtag activism in the form of #BlackLivesMatter. The president himself has partly fueled these campaigns by interjecting himself into the narrative with late night Oval Office statements after incidents involving blacks and police. Yet on Saturday, Obama essentially admitted hashtags are not a strategy.
As seen by these excerpts following his 2008 win, the idea was that Obama’s blackness would change the course of race relations in the years to come.
U.S. News & World Report reported in early November 2008, not long after he had been elected:
For the first time in 200 years, the president of the United States and first lady will not be white. But what does it mean? Many see Obama’s victory as evidence that America has finally transcended race.
Even more telling is this excerpt from a Forbes article published in December 2008:
The question someone like me has been asked to answer several times a week since Nov. 5 has been, “Are we now in a post-racial America?”
So, in answer to the question, “Is America past racism against black people,” I say the answer is yes.
…our proper concern is not whether racism still exists, but whether it remains a serious problem. The election of Obama proved, as nothing else could have, that it no longer does.
We are acutely aware that nothing has changed. In fact, racial tensions among blacks, whites, and police forces across the country are obviously worse. We viewed the Ferguson protests following Michael Brown’s death in Missouri. We witnessed the unrest in New York City following the legal decision in the Eric Garner case. We’ve heard too often of police officers being gunned down in retribution simply for their career choice. Regardless of the details involved in each case, we realize racial tensions have only increased in Obama’s America.
As Obama nears the twilight of his time in the White House, statements such as these, meant to neatly wrap things up, will only increase. It says much about his inability to honestly reflect upon his tenure there, and everything about his desire to avoid blame.