I need to write about my perception of how black leadership is received and followed, or should I say, more accurately, not received and not followed. The United States of America is a racist country, in my opinion. Even with the election and re-election of Barack Hussein Obama, neither Washington nor Wall Street, which is still controlled by white men, will cooperate or capitulate in any way, shape or form to black leadership, including Barack Obama.
I have heard many pundits talk about what Obama needs to do in order to get the Republicans to work with him or at least get them to demonstrate some level of rational discourse. All of their suggestions are borne out of white cultural norms. What some people don’t understand about Barack Obama is that although he can be a galvanizing force that brings many different kinds of people together (look at the demographics of his re-election), he leans culturally black, and this influences his governing style.
Each time I hear the word “failure” associated with Barack Obama, I cringe. Then there is the other negativism such as, “leading from behind”. That one has become one of my most hated of slanderous insults hurled at the President. The campaign yielded several gems like, “Food Stamp President”, “incompetent”, “uppity”, “lazy”…the list goes on, but I won’t bore you.
I recall back in the 1990’s, for a brief period, there was more of an emphasis on cultural education. This has gone by the wayside in the 21st century. In fact, there seemed to be notable racial disconnects post Rodney King and O.J. Simpson. Maybe I’m the only one that sensed it, but I think that things changed racially for the worst in the United States, yet again, after those events.
I came of age during the seventies. It was the time of “All in the Family” and “The Jefferson’s” on television where the words “bigot” and “honky” were commonly used without offense. Even the famous comedian Richard Pryor had a short-lived television show during the seventies where he pushed the racial envelope on a weekly basis. The society was a little more open during this brief period regarding matters of race. Today, as a black person I can’t even use the word, “nigger”. There it is. I wrote it.
What I’m saying is that race is still a taboo subject for many. Which means, we are not talking about what I need to talk about at this point, the country’s inability to work with or follow black leaders in business, education or politics, just to name a few. We are still too few and far between. My own experiences in corporate America have solidified in my mind the reluctance, unwillingness or inability of some people to follow black leadership. I can relate all too well to Mr. Obama’s struggle with Congress, in particular with Republicans. They throw up impediments, and then when progress is stymied, they imply, infer or declare that the black leader cannot make progress. It’s an old, ugly game.
Black people do not lead as white people do. The styles are uniquely different, as they should be based upon cultural characteristics and societal influences. Black leaders face unique challenges. As a black person who has held leadership positions, I have been second-guessed, devalued and undermined numerous times. I have also worked under black leaders who were skilled and knowledgeable, and yet they too were unduly vilified and/or devalued. Their primary offense was that they were black and in charge. This too appears to be Mr. Obama’s burden.
Mr. Obama is forced to prove or defend his record in ways that a white president would not have been required to do. Mr. Obama has also been disrespected like no other sitting President before him. He has been heckled in the White House Rose Garden, called a liar before a joint session of Congress and accused of being un-American or a non-citizen of the United States. At times during the 2012 campaign it appeared that some Republicans actually longed for Bill Clinton, or any Democrat other than the black guy.
Although Mr. Obama has proven himself to be quite skillful as a leader, a brilliant campaigner and very successful at governing, it is ridiculous that he is still regularly characterized as a weak leader. I find this curious, and disturbing given his many accomplishments. He was re-elected! We may have elected the first black president twice, but until we get over our collective racial dysfunction, we will not learn anything from having elected this black leader.
L. Jackson/ 12.05.2012