Friday, December 3, 2010

President Barack Obama, meet Derrick Bell

Slightly off the core subject of education, but nevertheless focused on educating, we are struck by the tone and tenor of the political climate of the nation. And some comment is in order.

The president is at once being attacked from all sides. A unified front of Republican opposition has resurrected a party, that following the 2008 election, was thought to be on life support.

From inside his own party, a steady drumbeat of criticism. The jabs have ranged from allegations of one testicle (James Carville) to simply having to prove he is not an idiot (Mother Jones).

Through it all the president has remained outwardly calm. He seems to display reliance on an inner power to control his disappointment while keeping focused on a previously charted course.

To borrow from Dr. Charles Stanley in describing a different situation, I believe his words apply to the president. "By showing peace instead of anxiety or practicing patience rather that speaking a sharp word, a Christian bears witness to the beauty of the gospel."

But there is also another reality that the president must have clearly and calmly faced. And that is the fact that he is a black man in the white house.

Here, we introduce the president to Derrick Bell.

Bell says "Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those herculean efforts we hail as successful (becoming president of the United States--my emphasis) will produce no more than temporary "peaks of progress," short-lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways to maintain white dominance (100% of Republican senators and some Democratic senators unite against the president--my emphasis). This is a hard-to-accept fact that all history verifies. We must acknowledge it and move on to adopt policies based on what I call: "Racial Realism." This mind-set or philosophy requires us to acknowledge the permanence of our subordinate status."

Bell goes on to say, "We call ourselves African Americans, but despite centuries of struggle, none of us-no matter our prestige or position-is more than a few steps away from a racially motivated exclusion, restriction or affront."

Now I would not expect that president Obama would be as direct in his assessment of his current situation. After all, he would be accused by that right wing machine of playing the race card.

However, I do not have such restrictions. And, I don't much care what anyone thinks or feels about what I'm saying. For I know, deep inside, it is factual and it is the truth.

This is not in any sense a call for blacks to surrender. It is simply a clear statement of our condition.

It also underscores the need for black folks to wake up to the necessity of an education and a competitive spirit for our survival.

Good luck and best wishes, Mr. President. I admire your courage.

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