Since the beginning of his presidency, the expectations for President Obama have been astronomical. There was a palpable feeling of hope when he took over the White House. Not only was he going to bring a youthful and meaningful change to the country, he was the first black president and represented the dreams of black America. Things were finally going to be different.
As Obama’s eight-year presidency comes to an end, the haze of progress has dissipated, and the reality that racism has gotten worse during Obama’s reign has frustrated many of his former supporters. One of those supporters is Cornel West.
West has continued to publically criticize Obama for not doing more for inequality and racial injustice. On a recent episode of 60 minutes, West said, “ We acted as if we would evade it and avoid it. That’s what Barack Obama did for the first six years. He held it at arm’s length. And of course what happened? You end up with a Black Lives Matter Movement under a black President.”
Reverend Irene Monroe and Emmett Price joined Boston Public radio to discuss West’s criticism on another edition of All Revved Up.
“His criticism is absolutely wrong,” Price said. Price says it is incorrect to look at Obama as strictly a black president. He reminded listeners that Obama is biracial, and more importantly, should be thought of as just the President of the United States. “I think we set ourselves up for a false expectation of what he’s supposed to be doing,” he said.
Monroe’s views of Obama are closer to those of West’s “Obama does Identify himself as black. He uses his biracialism not to talk about race,” she said. For Monroe, Obama's presidency and blackness have become more about symbolism than substance.
Listen to All Revved up with Reverends Irene Monroe and Emmett price above