Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Is President Obama Too White?!?

Opinions are like bellybuttons. Everyone, including yours truly, has one. I don't typically blog about the opinions of others here, but today I'm making a special exception to the rule, since I've been bombarded with links to this Maureen Dowd piece over the weekend.

I don't like overly quoting other folks' work, let alone editorials, so I'd suggest you head on over to the NY Times if you need the full context.
The Obama White House is too white.

It has Barack Obama, raised in the Hawaiian hood and Indonesia, and Valerie Jarrett, who spent her early years in Iran.

But unlike Bill Clinton, who never needed help fathoming Southern black culture, Obama lacks advisers who are descended from the central African-American experience, ones who understand “the slave thing,” as a top black Democrat dryly puts it.

The first black president should expand beyond his campaign security blanket, the smug cordon of overprotective white guys surrounding him. Otherwise, this administration will keep tripping over race rather than inspiring on race.

The West Wing white guys who pushed to ditch Shirley Sherrod before Glenn Beck could pounce not only didn’t bother to Google, they weren’t familiar enough with civil rights history to recognize the name Sherrod. And they didn’t return the calls and e-mail of prominent blacks who tried to alert them that something was wrong.

The president shouldn’t give Sherrod her old job back. He should give her a new job: Director of Black Outreach. This White House needs one.
Essentially, Dowd is asserting that Obama, by virtue of not having slavery bloodlines and being surrounded by more white dudes than Eldrick Woods, is tonedeaf on how to handle issues of race.

I'm not sure I disagree with that, although I dislike Dowd's typical Ivory Tower smugness. We've all discussed a need for Obama to Channel His Inner Negro on this blog from time to time. We want him more aggressive. We want him to stop takin' so much sh*t without poppin' back. We want him to morph into some strange, yet brolic combination of Malcolm X, Kimbo Slice, and Plies.

And we all know that will never happen, simply because:

1) Obama ain't built like that. He just doesn't have it in him. Period.

2) White folks, generally speaking, don't wanna hear that race sh*t. Witness his post Gates-Gate approval rating drop among whites. For a situation completely unrelated to legislation, that was a pretty huge "L" to take so early on in his Presidency. And dude, despite what he might say to the contrary, wants to get re-elected in 2012.

Nonetheless, I figure I'll bounce this to ya'll.

Question: Does the President need to act less "white" when it comes to matters of race, or is delving into anything race related a lose-lose proposition?

You’ll Never Believe What This White House Is Missing [NYTimes]

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