But We Had a Black President, Didn’t We?

April 9, 2018 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


Yes, there was a Black president. And during those eight years Barack Obama consistently and significantly damaged the interests of Black people—and other oppressed people.

Widespread, powerful protests against the ongoing epidemic of the murder of Black and Brown youths rocked the country during Obama’s presidency. For his entire presidency, Obama consistently defended murdering police against the youth who protested them. This is no exaggeration. One example: he called youths protesting the murder of Freddie Gray “thugs,” but spoke nary a word to condemn the cops who killed him. Another: his Department of Justice supported the police in every case of police violence that came before the Supreme Court.

Obama continually chastised Black youth, and Black people generally, and blamed them for the oppression they face under this system. In a time of mass incarceration and criminalization of Black youth, Obama told the youth their problem was they didn’t take “personal responsibility”! Hundreds of thousands of Black youths in New York and other cities were subjected to stop-and-frisk, young people came of age in crumbling communities, police patrolled schools, communities were drained of jobs—and Obama wanted to preach at and mock them for their sagging pants. He told graduates of Morehouse College, an historically Black school, that “We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices.” And “there’s no time for excuses.”

Who better than Barack Obama to get across this poisonous message and blame the youth for the system’s oppression?

When an avowed white supremacist went to a church in Charleston, South Carolina, and murdered nine Black people, Obama went to the church and actually said these murders were part of “God’s plan,” and that people in Charleston needed to learn the “power of forgiving.” In other words, accept and learn to live with the oppression of Black people—when what is needed is determined resistance to it, from all sections of people.

Obama presided over a period of a record number of deportations and a hugely militarized border. He ordered ten times the number of drone bombings that Bush did, hitting weddings and killing children in the name of America’s “war on terror.” The U.S. under Obama waged unjust wars on seven countries, and supported Israel in genocidal, criminal assaults on Palestinian people in Gaza. He promoted the poisonous idea that Black and other oppressed people should join the military and be part of going all over the world to kill other oppressed people in the interests of U.S. imperialism.

This is just a brief outline of some of the ways Obama made things worse for Black people. He benefitted from and promoted the deadly illusion that the United States—a country which has the nightmares of slavery, genocide, and horrific oppression embedded in its history, development, and current reality—had somehow become “color blind,” that “anyone can make it” in this country. This is not just tired, worn-out bullshit. It is deadly poison.

But here’s the worst thing about Obama. He’s serving to normalize Trump, the fascist. Trump, who has openly called for more police brutality, and has pledged his unwavering support for all acts of violence police commit. Trump, the white supremacist, who has stuffed his administration with longtime racists. According to Obama, he’s on the “same team” as Trump.

Look, Trump is deadly serious about accelerating the slow genocide that Black people have been facing. He heads a fascist regime that urgently needs to be driven from power—but Barack Obama says he’s part of Trump’s team. And he wants others to be there too. That’s aiding and abetting attempted genocide. People really need to throw away illusions about Obama. We are living in some seriously heavy times, and this is no time to cling to illusions of any sort.

Yes, we had a Black president. Now is a time to wage a serious fight for an end to the oppression of Black people, as part of the emancipation of all humanity.



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