Issue Of the Week XXX: Should President Obama Take An Active Role In Addressing Race Relations?

April 23, 2012
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Yes, a black man is President, but how can anyone expect one man, President or not, to magically fix the centuries old racial problems of this country in just four years? Photo Credit: eonline.com

Since the election of Barack Obama as the first black President of the United States, the issue about whether he should play a direct role in addressing the race issue in America continues to resurface. Should President Obama take an active role in helping America confront racism? If so, what should that role be? Would doing so put him in a no-win position since he is a black man?


Many would like to think that the mere election of a black man as President is evidence that America had finally overcome its race problem. Unfortunately, a close look at race relations in the country today may show otherwise.


There were those who optimistically believed that America had truly turned a page in history in terms of improving race relations, finally putting to rest many ugly bigoted beliefs, prejudicial practices, and decades of discrimination that had persisted despite the laws and policies that had been passed. But there were also those who were equally determined to hang onto the racial divides and they have played out in one way since President Barack Obama took office.


A new Newsweek poll confirms that since the election of Barack Obama, many people believe that not only has his election not helped race relations, but may have done more to widen the racial divide. According to the poll, “nearly 60 percent of Americans are now convinced that race relations have either deteriorated or stagnated” since President Obama took office.


This opinion is prevalent among whites and blacks.


But, should we be surprised? The vestiges of racism and the conditions that bred and continue to breed its perennial presence were implanted and nurtured in every aspect of American society long before Barack Obama was elected president. One could argue, based upon history and the rancor that has played out during his presidency, that his election was an aberration. That electing a black person will be a “norm” that will continue to elude us for generations to come.


The divides and perceptions of them among blacks and whites run deep.


The poll confirms that given the same scenarios, blacks and whites come away with different conclusions. For example, while both blacks and whites can agree that racial stereotyping still occur, they disagree how it affects black people’s lives. When it comes to affordable housing, 70 percent of whites thinks that blacks have an equal chance of buying one compared to only 35 percent of blacks believing the same. Only 25 percent of blacks believe that they receive equal treatment in the job market compared to 70 percent of whites. And when it comes to police and the court system, 84 percent of whites believe that blacks receive the same treatment as whites compared to 52 percent of blacks.


With such opposite views based upon life experience, how do we hope too ever get to a place where we work together to achieve a meaningful and lasting improvement in relations among the races?


If President Obama is re-elected, should improving race relations be high among his priorities to address during the next four years?


What do you think?
 

Comments

I personally do not believe the president can do anything about racism that is going on today. The average person would think that because we have a black president, it would have the amount of racial slurs be lessened. Clearly this has hurt the nation a little bit. Race is something that not one person can change. This is something that takes time and needs to be done as a nation and not as individuals. Of course it takes individuals to get the ball moving, but the entire nation needs to be on board in order to rid the nation of racism.

If President Barack Obama is re-elected president, as much as I'd love for him to consider solving racial issues as his first priority, it is hard to even determine if that will make a difference. Look at us now, he is President, no matter what or how much of a Black descent he has now, but some people still argue whether his this way or that way culturally or racially. America is not going to change any time soon. It could be lessened, and be more aware of what racially things that are happening, but not to altogether stop it. At least that would be one step in the making, making everyone aware that racism is still among us and hasn't just disappeared.

I think that if Obama was to get re-elected for a 2nd term, he should discretely address the issue of racism. As much as if would be optimal to make racism a first priority issue, it is simply not feasible. The president of the United States has way more crucial issues to address and plan for than the issue of racism. Although, I mentioned that he should discretely address the issue ... as in whenever the opportunity rises or if the issue is brought up, he should then and there at least comment of it. I'm not saying that he should include that as a major component of his campaign, but because he is the first african american president, he is in the best position to make a statement and have people actually listen because he is a figure of authority.

I dont think that President Obama would be able to fully address the racist problems in our country if he is elected next term. I think solving the ever present issues is going to take time and most importantly cooperation from everyone. If President Obama is elected for a second term, I think he could implement strategies to eliminate racism, or raise awareness but I do not think it is something a president will fix, rather every individual needs to be conscious and aware.

Submitted by SBU-4S2012 on

President Obama can't do anything about racial tensions because all the laws are in place and there is nothing politically that can be done. The most he can do, I believe, is set an example for others and try to tend racial relations as just another American citizens. It's important for our country to be led by someone who is seriously concerned with the well-being of society and that is largely dampened by these racial issues. I don't think one more term of presidency will completely change anything because this will take a very long time to overcome.

While I agree that overcoming racial boundaries is an arduous and lengthy process, I feel that President Obama has done a great job proving his capabilities and I am intrigued to see what other things he would get done if reelected. I think it trivializes the capabilities of black men and women to say that Obama is a role model for what 'they' can achieve because it makes it seem as if all black people should live up to his heightened standards. Yes, our society is "largely dampened" by racial issues, and I feel President Obama is doing the best he can to secure racial equality in America.

There are other social problems out there to deal with such as sex discrimination and hate for LGBT. As I mentioned, those are social problems we have in America and they cannot be easily changed. Using broadcast media, in a sense controlling it in a positive way may help solving problems like racism. But playing an active role will not change anything in 5 years. President cannot make drastic changes, pass laws regarding such a critical issue; that would create some sort of a chaos. However, playing an active role in long-term plans could be very beneficial.

I think that race is still an issue in our society. I think that electing a president that wasn't white is definitely a step in a new direction for the people of the United States. We went in a direction that we never thought of doing before. Even though race and racism is still a problem in our current world, I think that there are other problems in our society that need to be addressed. I'm not sure if addressing this issue should be high among his priorities, I think there are other things we need to fix first. However, knowing that racism is still an issue I would respect the fact if racism was addressed. I think we don't realize that racism isn't just a one way street, it's many races being racist towards others. As one of the other respondents said that one term of presidency can't change everything, I agree with that. We can start making steps in the right direction but I don't think that we could make a huge difference in one term, even if it were to be high on his list of priorities. Racism still affects many of us, if not all of us, today, whether or not we choose to acknowledge it. We have come a long way, and we still have a long way to go.

I think race is such an important issue that many times it getting shadowed away since it is such a controversial topic. Since president Obama is a man of color i defintly think he should directly address the race problem . As I learned in my interculural class unless we talk about race and hear how people are affected by it there will never be a soultion. I believe this topic should be incorporated into the educational system because problems of violance due to race can start in young children . If they are taught at a young age about it then when they grow up they will be accepting to other races.

I think it is somewhat racist to believe that because a black man is elected to the highest office in the United States all racial borders will be torn down. How can one believe that just because he is black, he could find a solution to all issues involving race? People didn't expect Bill Clinton, for example, to end white privilege, so why would Obama be tasked with ending racial divides? The Newsweek statistics were shocking to me. I couldn't believe that Obama's election has actually impeded the quality of race relations in the United States. The other statistics were equally shocking. It's hard for me, as a white man, to understand the pain and oppression felt by African Americans simply because I never have, or will, experience it because of the color of my skin. I think any president is in a position to help race relations, but I don't think the color of the commander-in-chief's skin should justify his motives for doing so.

The president regardless of race is held by duty to address pressing issues that face the citizens of the US with an unbiased approach in either direction. One of the obligations of the head of state is to make the honest attempt to better society with motivations that can only be described as the earnest desire for the betterment of the people. This means that he shouldn’t tackle the issue of race simply because he is of a minority group, but because it’s one of the most pressing issues facing America today. Now we cant expect him to succeed simply because he’s of a different race, and I think we need to remember he still has other obligations such as dealing with the economic crisis. Unfortunately, the issues of race may never truly dissipate, even with the assistance of a colored president, the best we can do is hope that each generation that precedes us will take steps foreword in minimizing the problem. The president, regardless of his color is capable of helping, but in the end, its not up to him alone to solve the problem, its up to the general population.

I personally believe that racism is going on today. Yes, President Obama should address this issue but I don't think it should be his high priorities because there are other serious issue he can address. Just because President Obama is our first African American president, it is not going to have a major changes if he speaks about racism. It doesn't take our President to make the changes. We as a nation, should work together by passing the messages out and set good examples for the future kids.

I think that it would be racist to think that just because Obama is the first black President, he can immediately solve all racial problems. It takes more than just him trying to stop it, to actually make it happen. It will involve the majority of the population attempting to put a stop to racial problems. Obama might be able to get it started, but it won't be only him stopping it. He should try to get something started, not just because he is a black President, but because it is the right thing to do.

I do believe that President Obama has a great opportunity if he is re-elected to improve race relations. I understand that during his first term Obama did not make race relations as his priority, because he is up for another 4 years. Now, is the perfect time without anything to lose; to be open about this problem that is still present. I mean the Travon Martin case cannot be ignore. I do not hold all the blame to the man who shoot him, because this society has taught him to think the way he did when he decided to shoot him. We need to work on reeducating ourself about the way we think about people. Obama has the chance to start a movement that can be potentially fix the deep running racist views that this country still has.

Definitely improving race relations should be addressed if he were to be reelected. I remember that the middle east and the US didn't communicate for like over 27 years and there most current formal communication was when Ahmadinejad had written to Bush. I think race needs to be talked about because people need to realize that being a part of the same human race is what matters and not the races of our skin color. Furthermore, during his campaign to get elected the first time his motto was change and he should abide by change at higher levels and dimensions and that encompasses talking about race. For he was able to show America that things are not static and change is possible and if he can channel that much optimism in people; I'm sure he can channel optimism about viewing all races as equals if really tries hard enough to do so.