When President Barack Obama goes on tours of Asia or parts of Europe, even trips to less affluent countries that suffered as a consequence of the Cold War, you’ll never hear him finger wag at leaders or imply that they’re responsible for their owncondition. But when Pres. Obama heads to the continent of Africa (it really doesn’t matter which country), or when hespeaks to large crowds of African-Americans, you can bet that he will, at some point, diminish us.
Pres. Obama told African leaders on Tuesday to stop making “excuses” and fix their country’s problems. If this sounds familiar, then that’s probably because it sounds a lot like what Obama said to Morehouse graduates or what he said to members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Yes, colonization was a thing that happened, and in America, Jim Crow, redlining, slavery, and all of that was real. And yes, mass incarceration is real and blacks are still discriminated against in the job market, and no Obama isn’t going to do anything about it, but he does want black folks to get over it. That’s the real problem; that blacks are still talking about how they’ve been systemically oppressed. Let’s fix that.
“At some point, we have to stop looking somewhere else for solutions, and you have to start looking for solutions internally,” Obama said on Tuesday. “And as powerful as history is, and you need to know that history, at some point, you have to look to the future and say, ‘OK, we didn’t get a good deal then, but let’s make sure that we’re not making excuses for not going forward.’”
Are all African leaders making excuses? Who knows? Who cares? Obama isn’t naming names or pointing out specific instances, because ‘get over it’ is just what the first black president says to black people; it’s his canned response.
The Guardian, however, speculates that Obama’s comments were directed at an African leader’s recent remarks:
Obama’s remarks amounted to a rejection of comments last month from the president of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who said western neocolonial domination of Africa had impeded development. At a summit of the 54-nation African Union, Mbasogo also blasted what he said were excessively low exchange rates, problems with the pricing of natural resources, and western-imposed barriers to international trade.
If a white leader brings up an issue, it’s addressed as a legitimate concern. When an African leader does the very same thing, it’s regarded as excuse making…. by the first black president. Go figure.
And what does it say about black people that even though Obama diminishes us at every turn, we’re still among this president’s most loyal constituency? Guess we’re just gluttons for punishment.