Friday, November 25, 2011

"We've done it for 400 years"

The other day Andrew Sullivan wrote an excellent column titled Why Obama still matters. Apparently he got lots of reactions. But this one by a black attorney in his 20's knocked it out of the park.

...not to be too racial about this, but myself and a lot of my minority friends sense that white liberals' disappointment from Obama comes from a sense of entitlement.

Unlike affluent white liberals, minorities in this country seem to have a better grasp of a key truth in life: you don't always get everything you want. We know, if not firsthand then from the stories of our parents, that America isn't always a nice place, and all you can hope for is incremental change. Unlike a lot of our affluent white liberal friends, we are used to not getting it all and have learned to live with it.

To the second point, the way Obama is attacked hurts us personally because so many of us see ourselves in the president. We are middle-class black and Hispanic kids who did all the right things. Worked hard. Went to elite schools. Got the right jobs. We did what conservatives often accuse blacks of not doing. We pulled ourselves up.

And then what? We are torn down, doubted by our white coworkers and called affirmative action phonies by our white supervisors. We see it in the workplace in a thousand different subtle ways. We are held to a different standard. So when we see the best of us, a man who has independently climbed to the top of the American meritocracy, be attacked in such unreasonable and personal ways, we take it hard. If the editor of the Harvard Law Review can't be accepted as competent in this country, then how can we?

But again, we still 'know hope' because we know how the world works. We know how America is. We hold onto incremental progress and don't fixate on what hasn't been achieved. We've done it for 400 years. We'll keep doing it because this is home and we don't have any other choice.

If these are the kinds of young people who hold our future in their hands...we're going to be ok.


  1. I saved that article for posterity. It was absolutely spectacular that a 20-something had captured all of my 65 year old thoughts in one, succinct, beautifully written article.

  2. This young man captured my feelings and thoughts (as well as the many black folks that I have spoken to about this matter, over the last few years), and put them into words that make a whole lot of sense.

  3. Thank you young man for putting this into the written word.

  4. by these standards even President Obama's parents would be suspect! what exactly do POC want white liberals to do? aplogise? sit out the elections? If this meme continues to be circulated by those who resent what they view as 'white privilege' you are seriously going to hurt President Obama's chances of re-election. Is that what you want? Go for it then.

  5. It is beginnoing to occur to em that some POC actually want President Obama to lose the election so thay can blame it on white male privilgee, white liberals, white hippies and the so-callled professional Left, that way thsay can continue their enlistments and start a race war and blame it on I hope not and I sincerely hope that President Obama and this campaign team are making notes of some of the memes that being c circulated in so-called progressive blogs. With friends like this the President sure does not need any right wing enemies.

    It is a very dangerous game you are playing here, spreading this divisive message..

  6. Anonymous - what you are displaying is the privilege of thinking someone is attacking white people when they are simply expressing the reality of their own experience. It helps if you just calm down and listen.

  7. This young man has simply stated the difference between what some white liberals vs. POC expect from PBO. For those commenting that he was trying to start "something," you couldn't be more wrong. Our experiences and history shape our perceptions, and few would say that we have all shared the same experiences/histories. It's a fact that POC, gays, atheists, Muslims, and others have to deal with a double standard in this country, and it would be great if those taking offense would be willing to listen with an open mind before jumping to a defensive conclusion.

    I am a retired teacher who graduated from UGA back in 1971. Many of my colleagues also graduated from UGA, but they never acknowledged that I earned my degree the same way that they did, or that I was one of the more successful members of the faculty in the area of student achievement. The only difference between them and myself was that I am black. This is what this young lawyer was referring to in his comment. No matter how hard POC and others work and attain the expectations this society has established for all of its citizens, we're still labeled failures in one way or another by some. One would have to live a life of this sort to understand how others could continue to forge ahead in the face of conflicting expectations/standards. This is a way of life that some white liberals have never had to deal with, and it may be causing them to express "disappointment" in PBO. I would only ask that they look at the entire picture before reaching this conclusion--the way our government is structured, the total opposition the GOPers in Congress have to anything PBO has attempted to do, and our sorry MSM which won't tell the American public which party is the cause of our prolonged economic stagnation. It has always been impossible for one person to change anything in the U.S. government, and to expect BO to do this is unrealistic, unreasonable and illogical.

  8. **graduated from UGA in 1974