On June 3, Outlook published a piece by Columbia University political scientist Fredrick Harris arguing that African Americans are “still waiting for our first black president.” One particularly compelling reader response came from Ronald R. Hanna, a novelist who lives in Southeast Washington:
Four years ago November, with eyes full of pride and tears, I looked at the line of voters arcing from my polling place in Southeast Washington. They were predominantly black, and they had hope in this man, Barack Obama.
Three and a half years later, the hopes have for the most part been dashed. It seems to many in my neighborhood and in the national black community that Obama has apparently felt the need to overcompensate for his blackness by proving that he is the president of “all people.” But I live in the black community, always have. And I see torturous ills affecting my community that need attention. Our communities have always been flooded with drugs and guns, yet more attention is being paid to gun and drug trafficking to and from Mexico.
From my perspective, the election of Barack Obama has been of no help to the nation’s African American communities and might have even been detrimental. With a black man in the White House, some can even say that “we” have achieved the highest office in the land and should not expect any more progress in the way of social or civil rights.
We’ve been staunch Democrats for generations, and I personally remain so. Yet as the November election approaches, I’ve been studying the Republican candidate. I don’t think that Mitt Romney would make a better president. But as happened with Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and some of our preceding Republican commanders in chief, blacks expected nothing from these politicians, so we were not disappointed or surprised when they did nothing for us.
Maybe with a President Romney, blacks will again realize that nothing is given to us — on either end of the political spectrum. Barack Obama talked a good game to get our overwhelming support the last time. I don’t hear his calling this coming November. Although I’ve not missed voting since 1974, I’m considering a non-vote this year.
Read more from Outlook:
Still waiting for our first black president
Five myths about Barack Obama
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