At a rodeo in Missouri in early August, a clown in an Obama mask encouraged the crowd to cheer for a bull to run him over. And cheer they did in an embarrassing display of bloodlust toward a sitting president.
Earlier this summer in Phoenix, protesters greeted Obama by singing “Bye, Bye Black Sheep” and brandishing signs that said “Impeach the Half-White Muslim.” Ted Nugent, a rocker and a board member of the National Rifle Association, has made wild and ugly accusations against Obama and has followed those up with veiled threats.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, claimed in a radio appearance on Aug. 12 that “this president, this administration has done more to stir up racial tension and violence than any administration since, you know, the ’60s.” And the “birther movement” is not dead, even though Obama has been elected twice and proven that he is a citizen of the United States.
There are not many times when Obama has used his position as president to talk about the racism he faced as a black man, as he did in his recent statements about racial profiling.
When he does talk about race, people of color are heartened that the man at the top understands them as no president has before. We recognize the racism he faces for what it is. Conservatives decry discussing race and tell you they refuse to engage in “identity politics” as if they are being noble and above it all.
It is time for an honest dialogue on race that doesn’t look the other way at racist statements, notions, and overt activities. With all the legitimate issues we face, we shouldn’t be held hostage by racism.
Starita Smith is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues.