To Michael Dyson, Cornel West, Shelby Steele, and all the other highly educated African Americans who want to be in charge of the conversation in the black community -- Barack Obama is not Captain Save-A-Negro -- he is the president of the entire United States.
“The president runs from race like a black man runs from the police” might as well have been written by one of the Obama haters who want to equate him with Hitler. If Harry Reid’s choice was awkward, then this ghastly analogy by "Open Mike" Dyson was just plain ugly.
The Right Reverend Michael Dyson needs to stay in the pulpit. His ability to analyze political events MIGHT improve if he could divorce himself from his love of hip hop culture and figure out how to have some relevance to the majority of African Americans who are hard working, law abiding citizens with no illusions about their identity or purpose in life.
Cornel West hasn't weighed in on this yet, but when he does, you can bet it will be a polysyllabic rant, delivered in his trademark sing-song cadence, as if he is one of the Last Poets instead of a college professor, that informs his listeners just how much he thinks Barack Obama is not doing for African Americans, as if the president is supposed to wink his eye at the TV camera and whisper, "I'll get that hook up for y'all when I get done with this announcement."
Of these three, only Shelby Steele has sense enough not to put on an exaggerated version of "Negro dialect" when he's talking - his version of nonsense, delivered in standard English, begins and ends with "Obama is a failure."
The thing about the Obama presidency that has become apparent to me over the last year is the way it has shown how much we as African Americans have to widen our bandwidth, which is often so narrowly constricted by the boundaries of days gone by that we end up excluding ourselves from participating fully in society.
We have beat the drum of racial reconciliation for so long that most Americans have actually learned to follow the rhythm – last week when the Obama administration appointed a transgendered person to a government post, conservative protesters interviewed by a news organization stated that being transgendered wasn’t "like appointing an African American."
Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, a "national organization devoted exclusively to exposing and countering the homosexual activist agenda," is wondering if there is some sort of "transgender quota" in the Barack Obama administration. "This isn't like appointing an African-American in order to try to provide diversity and right some kind of discriminatory wrong," LaBarbera said.
The inequities that persist between our community and mainstream America are as real today as they were last year, and the year before that. But continuing to promote an adversarial relationship between us and the government, or the rest of America, is like insisting that a dial-up internet connection is better than broadband.
For these black academic rockstars, I imagine it’s hard to change, and for Dyson and West, hard to not automatically blame "the man" for what ails us. But if Dyson, West and Steele insist on using the same old tired rhetoric, if they insist on throwing punches before they are even sure if they are in fight, they are about to find that the rest of Afro America will be leaving them and their well educated, well articulated Negro madness behind.