Slate Writer Jamelle Bouie: ‘Facts On the Ground,’ Not Obama, Hurt Race Relations

July 22nd, 2016 9:01 PM

President Obama isn’t making relations between black and white Americans worse. Reality is making them worse, contends Slate’s Jamelle Bouie, who wrote in an article on July 15, 2016 that “black Americans—and Americans writ large—are reacting to facts on the ground, killings, and other incidents that put racial inequality into stark relief.”

Bouie claimed that on racial matters, Obama has consistently urged “reconciliation and unity,” and that beliefs to the contrary are “nonsense” resulting from “a deliberate miscasting of Obama’s rhetoric.” He stated that even before Obama first ran for president, the effects of Hurricane Katrina had deepened racial pessimism among black Americans, and that while “Obama’s rise and success brought a new period of racial optimism as black Americans found faith and hope in the fact of his elevation...that optimism shook against a fierce—and sometimes racist—backlash to the president, finally tumbling as blacks watched video after video of police violence, with little accountability for the killers and little sympathy for the victims.”

As far as Bouie’s concerned, portraying Obama as racially divisive isn’t merely unfair -- it inverts the truth (bolding added):

To blame Obama for discord—rather than the actual abuses and inequalities that drive the reaction—is a classic example of anti-anti-racism, wherein efforts to address and combat racial bias are reckoned a larger problem than the bias itself. And in the same way, Obama’s willingness to speak to and for black Americans as a black American marks him as the real racist, maligned for acknowledging the reality of racism. It’s a bizarro view of American life where racial discord is caused by speaking out about discrimination, not by discrimination itself.

It’s rich that this argument has currency at the same time that Donald Trump is preparing for his coronation as the presidential nominee of the Republican Party. After years of accusing Obama of fostering racial hatred, of slamming basic empathy as some attack on white Americans, these conservatives…are primed to nominate a man whose political persona is built on actual prejudice and bigotry. A man who casually spreads racist and anti-Semitic propaganda. A man who incites fear and racial hatred for political gain.