Did Barack need more MLK references?
Hey Ta-Nehisi, have you watched Tavis yet tonight? Drs. Julianne Malveaux and Cornell West just unloaded on Barack for not talking about Dr. King enough. Basically dismissed the whole speech for not saying the words: "Dr. Martin Luther King."
I'd like to know what you think. I hate to even think it, but was that jealousy? Pride? Is it something about the talented tenth wanting their props? It sure seems like Barack knows what he's doing, so I'm not going to jump to any conclusions. The name was conspicuously absent, and the journey to this historic moment was not especially built up. Basically, this did sound like a "post-racial" political speech, and ironically a lot of folks might not like that kind of "post-racial" (especially if it means you have to downplay the people that came before you).
I'll leave it there, but it was an interesting moment. I'll continue to think about it, but please let us know what you think after you check it out.
I don't know. We had the John Lewis tribute and the film. I don't see it as particularly postracial. I see it in much more simpler terms--as my buddy Jabari Asim says, Barack Obama is running for president of the United States, not president of the Urban League. But moreover, I just don't have much respect for the "kissing the ring" critique. I think you can hit Obama for not pushing specific issues that are important to the black community--I don't know what they are--but I would at least respect that. The problem with this idea that Barack isn't talking about "black issues" is that the most important issues to black people right now--the war, jobs, the economy, education--are "American Issues." So what then? If black people--your base--mostly want to hear about the same issues that most Americans want to hear about, where is the impetus to not talk about those issues? I don't quite get it...
UPDATE: One other thing. This theme keeps recurring that Obama isn't claiming his blackness like he needs to during this campaign. I just got off the phone with one of my best friends who just basically nailed it--I need Obama's policies to be progressive. I don't need him to be a civil rights leader. Ironically, no one has pushed this angle harder than Al Sharpton. My requirements for Barack Obama--as a black man running for president--are very simple: I need him to publicily be affectionate to his wife and kids, to acknowledge them whenever possible. That, really, is the only extra burden I put on him.