“Ezra,” Dad would say, “work hard, and work to the best of your ability. And be mindful of those who will willfully and intentionally put obstacles in your way. Their intent is your failure, and they will watch you fall then accuse you of being incapable of doing your job. So you must work even harder and you must work smarter, and in the end, the truth will come to light.”
Over the last three years, the election of Barack Obama as the President of the United States has proved many things, some good, some bad. But one thing his presidency will leave in the minds of the world is this: The job of a black man is always hard, but it is even more difficult when obstacles are willfully and intentionally put in his way with one objective in mind – to make sure he fails, then to accuse him of being incapable of doing the job.
My father told this to me on many occasions and at times, I thought he was just rambling off at what he thought was some form of injustice in the world. I heard him say it so many times, I even finished his sentences in my head. I felt as though I heard the same thing one time too many.
Dad wasn’t a radical man, in fact, he was a caring person who gave and gave often. He believed if you have the physical and/or mental capability to work, then you should, and you should do it to the best of your ability. But this is where his skepticism showed, because he would always warn about those forces that will try to undercut your ability, causing you to not be as productive as your true potential would allow.
I never really understood this, or maybe I chose not to. I was young and easily distracted by anything shiny. But as I grew older and matured, and began absorbing and observing the world around me, Dad’s words rang true in my ears, sometimes, too loud. In my own professional life, I can point to many occasions where Dad was right and I could randomly ask any black American and get life stories where they too felt as though their abilities were intentionally crushed and suppressed, far beyond its limit.
But nowhere are Dad’s words more true, than here and now. What we’re witnessing in the American political system, with the election of Mr. Barack Obama as the first black President of this great nation, is the willful and intentional effort by some – particularly those elected officials in the Republican party – to make sure this black President fails.
We’ve heard it all when they talk about Mr. Obama, “he doesn’t love America,” and the infamous, “he’s not one of us.” We’ve heard Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann described Obama’s presidency as “a gangster government.” All these and more are code words meant to portray a certain vision to the average American, but today, Republican Congressman Tom Coburn tossed the code words out the window when he attempted to answer an audience’s question about if he believes Obama wants to destroy America. Coburn answered;
“His intent isn’t to destroy. It’s to create dependency because it worked so well for him. I don’t say that critically. Look at people for what they are. Don’t assume ulterior motives. I don’t think he doesn’t love our country. I think he does.
“As an African American male, coming through the progress of everything he experienced, he got tremendous benefit through a lot of these programs. So he believes in them. I just don’t believe they work overall and in the long run they don’t help our country. But he doesn’t know that because his life experience is something different.
So it’s very important not to get mad at the man. And I understand, his philosophy — there’s nothing wrong with his philosophy other than it’s goofy and wrong [laughter] — but that doesn’t make him a bad person.”
The President has also been referred to as a “tar baby” and “your boy,” in addition to the countless racists emails, one showing the White House lawn filled with watermelons, and another Republican generated email showing a family of apes with Mr. Obama’s face super-imposed on a chimpanzee’s.
Tom Coburn and his fellow Congressional Republican officials have joined together and voted against every policy initiative President Obama tried to implement. They’ve even voted against bills they originally wrote, just because President Obama began supporting those bills. And in the process of creating these obstacles for this particular president, Republicans are successfully dismantling the American economy, and they’re casting blame on the President on a daily basis.
Of course, the opposing party will always strive to gain control of the White House, and they would say and do almost anything to achieve that goal. But when the race of the occupant of the White House plays into your political decision making processes and you willfully and intentionally create unnecessary obstacles with the intent to ensure that the incumbent president’s administration is a failure, then you’ve just proved my Dad was right, and in this case, that’s an unfortunate claim for me to make.