Watching and listening to President Obama now vs. when he first announced his run for the presidency, several things are apparent. He has a lot more gray hair, he has many enemies in Congress and he no longer dances around “the race talk.”
Seven years into his presidency, with little to lose, some of his idealism has faded. He wouldn’t be human if politics hadn’t made him weary. The bruising battles with members of Congress, some of whom show him nothing but disdain, are never-ending.
Despite all that, he is taking a lead role on the issue of race, as he did with health care reform and other issues. The problem is, you can’t legislate decency.
As he did in Ferguson with the death of Michael Brown and in Florida when Trayvon Martin was killed, Obama has taken these acts personally. When Martin died, he said if he’d had a son, he would have looked liked Trayvon. He knows what it’s like to raise two beautiful daughters he and his wife are intent on protecting from hurt, harm and danger. He can relate to the parents’ pain because he is a husband and father. Say what you will about Obama, it is clear he cares deeply about his family and all American families.
To show how serious he is about young black men dying in incidents with police and authority figures, he brought in former Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate claims that Ferguson, Mo. officers were disproportionately ticketing and arresting black people. The results of that investigation showed a widespread pattern of abuse of residents in the suburban St. Louis town and emails from city officials that read like they had been written in the 1950s.
Yesterday, it was announced that the Justice Department will open an investigation into the practices of police officers in Baltimore. That is a good move. The officers charged are black and white, so it will be interesting to see what happens as their cases proceed.
We may have a black president, but I’m still not convinced we are living in post-racial America. If only that were true.