Chicago Crusader staff report
Anger is spreading among the nation’s Black clergy, who unleashed some harsh words after President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, instead of a qualified Black woman.
It’s a sharp departure from years past when Black ministers maintained their support to help Obama weather many storms in the Oval office. Now, with the president’s choice of a white candidate with a privileged background, Black clergymen are re-examining Obama’s term as president. Their unfavorable assessment of him is making headlines.
Many of them are part of The National Black Church Initiative (NBCI), a faith-based coalition of 34,000 churches comprised of 15 denominations and 15.7 million Blacks. The organization hoped the president would have nominated the first Black female Supreme Court justice in the U.S. But instead, the president nominated Garland, a Harvard-educated Circuit Court Judge whose moderate values fit well with some conservatives in Congress. Many believe the president picked Garland to appease Republicans who have vowed to block his nomination in another display of partisan politics on Capitol Hill.
Members of the NBCI say they feel betrayed by the nation’s first Black president, whom they have supported and defended when he was criticized for speaking out on the deaths of Michael Brown and the other countless Black youths.
Disappointment in Obama’s choice for Supreme Court justice exposed a growing sentiment that the president has failed people of color during his term in the White House. It’s a belief that has been expressed by some civil rights leaders and Black scholars over the years as Blacks continue to lag behind in education, employment and economic opportunities. Now, one of the largest Black organizations is joining the chorus of dissenters to express their discontent with the commander in chief on a variety of issues.
“He has refused, in most cases, to say anything about – as a Black man was choked to death on videotape,” said Reverend Anthony Evans, president of NBCI. “His justice department that is supposed to protect the lives of all Americans has repeatedly fail-
ed Black Americans. They have refused to bring civil rights charges against any of the racist white cops who have murdered innocent African American youths. Against this backdrop, he expects the Black church and the Black community to defend his choice of another privileged Harvard educated white male in the name of democracy.
“He has treated us like the general society has – as second class. He has done everything in his power not to show any favoritism toward Black Americans. He has done a prefect job of not doing anything for African Americans. African Americans continue to suffer in every catalog in this democracy and there has been no real improvement under his administration. Glaude, in “Democracy in Black,” argues that under Obama, “Black communities have been devastated.”
In his book, “The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and Politics of Race in America,” author Michael Eric Dyson says “President Obama energetically peppers his words to Blacks with talk of responsibility in one public scolding after another. When Obama upbraids Black folk while barely mentioning the flaws of white Americans, he leaves the impression that race is the concern solely of Black people, and that Blackness is full of pathology.”
In his 2012 book “The Price of the Ticket,” Columbia professor Fredrick Harris argued persuasively that Obama felt less compelled to act on behalf of Black Americans in part because African-American leaders were unwilling to apply pressure to the first Black president. In contrast, other liberal-leaning constituencies, particularly gay rights activists, treated Obama like any other president, aggressively pressing him to adopt their policy goals. The Black church feels no such restraints.
Evans said Black women need to be recognized because of struggles to achieve in a country that counts gender and race as two strikes against them.
“We will not. Black women organizations have sold their birthright early in his presidency for an invitation to have tea with the first lady. They have refused to speak with power and wisdom in the spirit of Dorothy Height, Shirley Chisholm and Barbara Jordan of the real needs both economic and health of poor African American girls and women. This is why the Black church is forced to advocate for justice and equality for all Black women.
President Obama continues to show his disdain for Black women while celebrating in their support for him by refusing to nominate any one of them even in the eleventh hour of his presidency. This is why the Black church will stand for the dignity of Black women and refuse to support his nominee to the Supreme Court. After all, he is married (to a Black woman who is a lawyer and fit all the qualifications of a nominee) to the court and has two beautiful Black daughters. This is a moral shame”