In the Washington Post article “Obama is not the black sheep of the family,” columnist Jonathan Capehart responded to criticisms from Jason Johnson and others about President Barack Obama’s advocacy of respectability politics.
But when the nation’s first black president talks about personal responsibility and speaks to the black community as only he can, he is branded “the scold of ‘black America,’” as he was by Ta-Nehisi Coates last year. But if Obama doesn’t address these issues in a way, setting and manner to the liking of some black critics, he is branded an uncaring sell-out.
Hiram College professor Jason Johnson was so unimpressed by the president’s Aug. 14 comments on Brown’s killing that he wrote, “It is painfully apparent, for those who still hold out hope, that President Barack Obama will never use the full power and influence of his office to come to the aid of African Americans while he is president.” Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson was so enraged by the president’s Aug. 18 remarks on the death of Brown that he slammed Obama as a “sometimes unreliable and distant narrator of black life.” Buying into this hysteria, even Maureen Dowd felt compelled to claim that Obama “has muzzled himself on race and made [Rev. Al] Sharpton his chosen instrument.” Hardly.