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African-American Debate on Obama

Our Readers Who Comment are having an impassioned and sometimes difficult conversation today about Krissah Thompson's article reporting that "a division is deepening" between African-Americans who praise President Obama and his election and those who question what he is doing to address black issues.

There are several complaints about the headline using the word blacks instead of African-Americans. There are several who ask Why Is This a Story? There are many who defend Obama, others who say it's way too early to make an assessment. There is a repeat of comments that accompanied almost every presidential campaign story wondering why Obama is referred to as black instead of biracial.

Underlying this conversation is a strong reminder that we all have opinions that do not necessarily correlate with a stereotypical template of what we're supposed to think because of the color of our skin.

We'll start with mjohnso2, who wrote, "...People in the black community are politically astute and are perfectly able to set aside any pride in "the history" of Mr. Obama's election, and make clear-eyed assessments of the efficacy of his policies... Black folks are extremely pragmatic people who are not easily fooled by political chicanery, or mere racial symbolism..."

FauxReal asked, "What is the purpose of this story? To help Tavis Smiley sell books?...We all have to be cautious about ensuring we fairly assess the President's performance."

And nsu1203 said, "I think as black people, we have to realize that there will be those who agree with Obama and those that disagree with him, just like any other president. We also have to realize that Obama wasn't elected to save the black community, black people alone didn't get Obama elected and we won't get him reelected if his plans don't work."

mia_101mail wrote one of several complaints about the use of the word blacks in the headline, writing, "What are blacks, can you say black people, black folks or even better be really clear what you are talking about - African-Americans. You see how divisive and insulting this headline is, black what (are we not even people now)?..."

And RadPost said, "...America is melting pot of the masses,.. do NOT report what race a person is, such as 91 percent black favor whereas 56 percent of the population favor, we don't care anymore about race... We are NOT "-" african-american, mexican-american, american-american,.. take the dash out of the name calling. We are all Americans."

paulstewart asked, "Why is this news? I mean, why would anyone want to start criticizing Obama when he is just getting his feet wet on the issues. What is more, he is following through on what he said he would do by doing what he said he would..."

jcline1 wrote, "The population that Tavis Smiley and his ideological brethren want Obama to be accountable is not an inclusive one. Smiley wants Obama to be The Black President, not just president... Obama must be president to all of us, not just blacks, and that means the Black Left doesn't always get what it wants."

ludovicspeaks wrote, "Wow, and here i was thinking only whites disagreed on politics. Has there ever been a WashPo story 'Whites disagree on (insert white president's name here)'s policies?' Stories like this make me less sad that newspapers are going out of business."

Emma3 said, "Oh, I get it now!!! I'm not supposed to think of Barack Obama as a strong-willed executive with whom I have very serious policy differences. Apparently I'm supposed to see him as someone who should not be challenged too much because he's a black guy. Thanks, Washington Post, for clearing that up for me."

jhough1 wrote, "...This article gets at another of the factors that fills so many of us with such unease... If Obama starts to collapse politically, he will go fast. If his ratings go to 20-30% among whites in the fall... and stay very high among blacks, that is just one more of the political disasters that will occur..."

alsacecypr said, "This article seems to seriously confuse two concepts which are radically different... celebration and support. It certainly doesn't analyze the differences between them (nor do its limited number of sources). There may be uncritical celebration among some sectors of the black electorate. But you can be sure that black support for Obama, which has led to opposition to Smiley and others, is quite critical and strategic indeed."

billisnice wrote, "Being Black, i feel Obama has done nothing for health care, nonthing for foreclosures, spends like a drunk sailor, destroyed SS funds, and give our tax money as bonuses to the folks who cause the problem as many whites and blacks are laid off. He has forsaken the working class."

To which pali2600 responded, "You may not noticed but President Obama has been somewhat busy since January 20th trying to stop America from falling over a financial precipice. Until and unless he pulls America back from the precipice little else can be done. You suffered the predations of Bush for eight years. President Obama deserves more than two months before you rush to judgement."

keedrow wrote, "I think we should get a pass on voting because of race THIS TIME because this was a dream for us and it came true. And there is nothing wrong with tracking President Obama's promises, but it's WAY TOO SOON to pass judgement on this man..."

hipshot suggested, "We set a really good example for young people if we point out what we think he is doing right and what he is doing wrong."

ronnie_gverizonnet added, "we need to lighten up on many accounts. First of all, Whites as well as Blacks voted for president Obama. I hope we did not think that he was going to fly into the White House and start doing things just for us? As far as Tavis and Jeff goes, they have a right to their opinion and should not be hung for them. I voted for Obama and believe and him,but i do not see a problem is challenging him on some issues."

We'll close with eaglehawkaroundsince1937, who wrote, "President Obama is my President. He is my Black President,,,,He is my White President. He is Black/White. Now some will love him for that and some will hate him for that. My Father hated Jews and loved my Mother. He died never knowing my Mother was a Jew. Geesch some of you, get the hell over it."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  April 6, 2009; 7:55 AM ET
Categories:  Obama , Racism  | Tags: Obama, Racism  
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Next: Readers Disagree On Gay Marriage


The article didn't deserve to be printed and writing another article still doesn't give the original article any weight. This is sloppy writing. The who, what, where and why are missing and every high school journalism student knows a story should and must have all of these in some detail - quoting two or three people does not a story make. There was no research done to support the story.

Posted by: rlj1 | April 6, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"We'll close with eaglehawkaroundsince1937, who wrote, "President Obama is my President. He is my Black President,,,,He is my White President. He is Black/White. Now some will love him for that and some will hate him for that. My Father hated Jews and loved my Mother. He died never knowing my Mother was a Jew. Geesch some of you, get the hell over it.""

imagine your father knowing his offspring also are jewish...

Posted by: DwightCollins | April 6, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

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