Not All Black Democrats Subscribe to ‘But He’s the First Black President’

Maxine Waters

African-Americans Unhappy

L.A.’s Congresswoman Maxine Waters has started a firestorm after her comments yesterday at Wayne County Community College in Detroit regarding President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus, and Blacks.

When asked why the Black members of Congress don’t pressure the president she replied, “We don’t put pressure on the president because ya’ll love the president. You love the president. You’re very proud to have a black man — first time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the president too hard, you’re going after us.”

I almost fell out of my chair. While what she said is absolutely true, I was just shocked to actually hear a Black member of Congress say it publicly.

I don’t think it’s a secret that the majority of Black people are still celebrating the election of “the first Black president”—whether they voted for him or not. Black people feel some since of ownership and kinship with the Obamas.

Me — I long fell out of love with the President. I don’t talk about it much because doing so can be a detriment to your well-being in certain company.

To be honest, I’m just not that impressed with his policies regarding the poor and more importantly on Black issues. I’ll admit, I expected more. I hate to think that a white woman would have done more for the poor and for Blacks than “the first Black president.” Or that a cheating philandering white man would have made sure that my grandmother’s and other senior’s Social Security checks weren’t less $200 every month now.

But that’s me and just framing your mouth to say anything negative about “the first Black president” around the wrong people could result in exerting the kind of energy I really don’t have to waste in arguing with people—who while they love their “first Black president” haven’t voted since 2008, won’t vote again until November 2012, and couldn’t tell me who their Councilmember, Assemblymember, or State Senator is to save their life—but will fight to the death over “the first Black president.”

And no—I am not a Republican, but at the same time, I’m not and haven’t been feeling the Democrats either–who have a tendency to be just as racist as their counterparts—they just hide it better.

In continuing her comments on the president and Black people Rep. Waters said, “all I’m saying to you is, we’re politicians. We’re elected officials. We are trying to do the right thing and the best thing. When you let us know it is time to let go, we’ll let go.”

Now keep in mind that members of the Congressional Black Caucus are themselves members of Congress, i.e. politicians, who like any other politician are concerned with staying in office. Waters herself knows that as long as Black people continue in this love affair with “the first Black president,” while she might want to say something against the president’s policies, it might not be in her best interest if she wants to get re-elected. Although with Congresswoman Waters—if anyone is safe in doing so and retaining their seat in Congress, she is. Black people love her as much or more than the President himself.

So even while in Rep. Waters words, “our people are hurting” and “the unemployment is unconscionable,” I truly believe that Black people’s love infatuation with “the first Black president” is what keeps them blind to all this or at least the president’s role in it. We like to rationalize all of the president’s actions or inaction with six simple words, “but he’s the first Black president.”

But the plot thickens.

Now, whenever challenged on what the president has or hasn’t done for Black people the message has been drilled into our heads to blindly and without much thought repeat something to the tune of “let’s just get him re-elected. Once he’s safe and in office for another four years, he’s going to look out for Black people.”

As if.

If he hasn’t shown up for us now, I have little—make that no faith—that another four years will do the trick.

And no—I am not of the mindset that the Black president has to be the president for Black people. I’ve spent enough time working in politics to know that’s out of the question. But what I did expect was that “the first Black president” would do more for Black people and the poor in this country than pay us lip service and that they’d show up in his agenda for America not just as an afterthought or third in line to middle class and corporate America.

jasmyne cannickTo be fair, the president isn’t alone in my disappointment—the whole of Congress can join him in that. My point is that, since he’s “the first Black president” and it is assumed that the majority of Black people are following blindly behind him like he’s the second coming of Jesus Christ himself here on Earth, I felt it my duty to say something for the few Blacks who don’t subscribe to that train of thought.

Jasmyne Cannick

A former press secretary in California State Assembly and U.S. House of Representatives, Jasmyne A. Cannick writes about the intersection race, sex, politics, and pop culture from an unapologetically Black point of view. Online at


  1. Richard Orta says

    Obama is the illegal’s robin hood, taking from citizens and giving to people who shouldn’t even be here.

    He used the IRS to target those who spoke out against him and the IRS suddenly gives billions to illegals. He’s not for america and he should be impeached, no matter the color of his skin.

    The only color an American should have to worry about is the red white and blue on OUR flag! OUR enemies don’t care about the color of our skin!, why should we?

    More people need to speak out!!!

    send and email to with the subject “I AM AMERICAN” if you agree.
    I’m starting a petition to get OUR country back. revoke amnesty and give americans their jobs back!!! FOR THE CITIZENS, born here and who took the test.

    My family covers the rainbow, my family is America!

  2. Truth says

    Well of course they are. Obama didn’t steal ALL of whitey’s money and fork it over to them. But the truth is they will ALWAYS vote for a candidate based on the color of their skin ANYWAYS. If it’s black, every black will vote for it. Votes are cast based on race first in the “African” community and that’s a fact.

  3. Mj says

    Obama has done a lot to help black people who are trying to help themselves. For example Pale grants, healthcare, overdraft reform, equal pay for women , unemployment extensions ect. Why is it that whenever a black person earns a position of authority they are challenged the most by other blacks? What did you want, 40 acres and a Cadillac? This is shameful yet typical. If you don’t like what he done for black people then you do it. Or just vote with Limbaugh, Trump, Palin and all those who want to support all your needs. What fools some of us are.

  4. Layla says

    I agree totally with Jasmyne! Not to mention, she is totally right! Evidence? Have you been living under a rock or simply hear what you want to hear see what you want to see? Either way she is right and that is the Truth-which is hard for many to ACCEPT.

  5. Robert821 says

    Don’t agree with Jasmyne at all. She supplies zero evidence for her claim that he is not looking out for black people. On what issue or policy is she basing this? She doesn’t say. The fact is that Obama has been blocked by conservatives in every area he could have made a difference. Public option in healthcare would have helped blacks greatly, Tea Party Republicans thwarted that successfully. Citizens United case which empowers racist corporations and white supremacists like Limbaugh, Rove, et al, decided by conservative Supreme Court. Stimulus Jobs bill was slashed down to only 25% of what economists were saying was required to quickly jump start the economy. Employee Free Choice Act which would increase Union membership, wages, benefits, and membership in a secure middle class for blacks, a total non-starter because of Tea Party Congress. If you are disappointed in Obama but ignore the racism, obstruction, and hatred of the poor coming from the Republican majorities on the Supreme Court and the House of Representatives, then you are living in an ahistorical delusion. Stop blaming Obama for the actions and treachery of his enemies in the Republican Party. 

  6. Nusun Singleton says

    I can’t help but feel saddened that so many African Americans really thought that having a black president would amount to more than a hill of beans. If I only wear purple underwear, just because I put on blue jeans, it doesn’t change the color of my underwear. Wake up people a politician is a politician, and in the case of our President for whom I hold in high regard, not because he is black, but because he became the President while being black, a move carefully orchestrated with the utmost stealth and cunning. It gave me such great pleasure to see the looks on all those closet bigoted Democrats faces when they finally learned that the guy they would be backing for president was Barack Obama, that black guy (Priceless). Senator Kennedy knew his party well, and he helped reveal the cockroaches. Believe me when I tell you, Obama knew that he could speak to a large number of causcasian voters, and that most African Americans would vote for no one else.

  7. Marta says

    I’m with you, Jasmyne. And so is every progressive I know. And we are a motley group — Latino, Black, Asian, White, Christian, Jewish, Atheist, and Buddhist.

    We all voted enthusiastically for Obama, not because of his skin (though it was pretty cool at the time to be able vote for a Black person for the first time in the history of the US) but because of his intelligence, what he claimed he would do, and yes, admittedly, his charm and speaking ability. After 8 years of the blithering graceless Bush, we were starving for elocution….

    I was troubled when I read up on Rahm Emanuel and found out he was a war hawk specially on Israel. Then Obama appointed Geithner to guard the Wall Street henhouse, and Geithner gave away the farm. It was downhill from there.

    Instead of REALLY phasing out in Iraq as he’d promised, he replaced every soldier that left with a Mercenary that answers to no law –at 6 times the cost.

    Closing Guantanamo? That never happened.

    He escalated the war in Afghanistan, bombed Pakistan, Libya, and now threatening to “intervene” in Syria.

    According to Rep Conyers, a formerly enthusiastic Obama supporter (who happens to be Black) it was OBAMA– not the GOP– who offered up the cuts in Social Security & Medicare.

    Obama took off his mask. He’s a Republican, like Steele. Should we also support Steele if he runs for president? I think not. That’s just plain silly, and racist.

    Obama talks a good game, but he doesn’t care a whit about progressive causes any more than Bush. As Rahm Emanuel infamously said while working for Obama: :F**k the liberals.” He was not just speaking for himself.

    • says

      From an unapologetically objective (regardless of race or ethnicity) and progressive point of view, I was happy to see your response. President Obama is only a progressive when on the campaign trail: “He’s a Republican, like Steele. Should we also support Steele if he runs for president? I think not. That’s just plain silly, and racist.” Totally agreed.

      • Vance Fort says

        Progressives of all stripes should focus their attention on on re-taking the House of Representatives and insuring a filibuster-proof Senate. If these two objectives can be accomplished, and Obama wins reelection, he will be a lame duck and can be forced by the Democratic Congress to be a good steward of Democratic principles, policies and programs. If a Republican President wins the presidency in 2012, he or she can be kept in check by the strengthened Democratic Congress.

        I too have given up on the President. But the important thing is to turn the negative energy he engenders into a positive program of action. We cannot change the minds of those Blacks who love the President. I’ve tried. Better to put our time, money and energy to trying to accomplish something that will make a difference.

        • says

          Thank you for your positive response. While there is next to no chance whatsoever of a Democratic Congress standing up or fighting for Democratic principles (see the last Majority and the Public Option/Bush Tax Cuts/Torture/Military, etc./the current sellouts on Social Security), I agree that “re-taking the House of Representatives and insuring a filibuster-proof Senate” would work toward “making a difference” — if (and only if) it was a Progressive Majority.

    • Clara says

      As head of my bi-racial family, I was as overjoyed as anyone else to see Obama run for President. I listened to Michelle’s early speeches and she really sold that man of hers to the American public…And to see none of the changes that were hinted at, to see none of the promises kept, to have people dare to put Obama’s face next to Dr. Rev. Kings on a T-shirt… it’s just wrong, wrong, wrong!

      He allows the most blatant racist, war-mongering,destructive policies to go on, and not a peep out of his very eloquent and educated mouth! The Right is trying to frighten the Democratic Party into begging it’s supporters to re-elect this man, but why? So we can continue to pretend he’s good for someone other than the Wall Street gangs? ENOUGH ALREADY.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *