President Obama's last State of the Union Address: A final message to America
In a few hours, President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address. There are no reelection worries, no more attempts to reach out to the other side of the aisle when they only leave you hanging...
In a few hours, President Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address.
There are no reelection worries, no more attempts to reach out to the other side of the aisle when they only leave you hanging.
Now, it is all about his legacy:
"Never in our lives again will we have the chance to do as much good as we do right now." —@POTUS #SOTU https://t.co/uwE7JrHrXf
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 11, 2016
This is it. Never in our lives again will we have the chance to do as much good as we do right now. I want to make sure that we maximize it.
We already know that President Obama will deliver a non-traditional State of the Union address. And he should definitely chart where the country was in 2008 when he was elected and where we are now.
Although the president could cover any number of issues, but here are a few that have particular resonance in black and brown communities.
One of those topics includes gun violence and the need for America to take steps to address the carnage. Just days ago, the president made history when he announced his package of executive actions on gun control, restrictions which most Americans support — even Republicans and gun owners. But in reality, he did far more than simply announce some tweaks or changes in policy. What President Obama did is what presidents are supposed to do: have the courage to take things where no one else will. Until recently, politicians on the Democratic side lacked the heart to even mention the subject of guns for fear of punishment by the GOP. On the other hand, the Republicans are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the NRA and the gun manufacturers. They’re in it for the money, not because of the Second Amendment.
The gun violence plaguing our nation is a public health crisis, particularly in communities of color. After all, black men are half of all gun-related murder victims, yet they are ignored in the debate. And yet for years the Republicans have fought any federal efforts to study gun violence in order to better deal with the problem. Inaction on this epidemic is a failure to heed common sense, which tells us the gun culture has gone too far. And when will we acknowledge the roots of the Second Amendment, which, as Danny Glover once said, “comes from the right to protect themselves from slave revolts, and from uprisings by Native Americans”?
Another issue on the minds of African-Americans is the racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia infecting the country. In order to understand how bad things are, keep in mind that white supremacists are making robocalls in Iowa for the GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. These are the chickens coming home to roost for the Republicans, who based their electoral strategy on opposition to people of color and any programs that might benefit them and a refusal to do anything that could make the big, bad black man in the Oval Office look good. They would not take his stimulus or his Obamacare and refused to cooperate with him, and President Obama needs to remind the public of this in this crucial election year.
Now, some white Americans are angry, as they should be, but are blaming the wrong people. Rather than identify the wealthy white folks who robbed them blind, they shed white tears, and point the finger at those who are even worse off than they are, vulnerable minority groups such as blacks, Latinos and Muslims. And this is how white, Christian domestic terrorists get their inspiration. America is changing, and sharing the country with black, brown and foreign-language-speaking people is too much for some to bear. And any attempt at inclusion, any efforts to eliminate white privilege and expand opportunity, are viewed as an injustice against white folks.
It is fitting that the Democrats are encouraging their colleagues to bring Muslim-Americans to the State of the Union, because this is the future we must embrace as Americans. It’s time to celebrate our differences, not hold them against each other.
Finally, the #BlackLivesMatter movement has become a potent force in the American landscape. And the causes this movement embraces — including an end to police violence and mass incarceration — have become signature issues of the Obama era. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, like her predecessor Eric Holder, is busy investigating police departments across the U.S. for civil rights violations and the use of deadly force against black people.
Meanwhile, blacks and Latinos are ensnared in the criminal justice system, casualties in a war on drugs that destroys families and communities. While past presidents helped create this mess, President Obama decided to become part of the solution and a drum major for criminal justice reform. He was the first sitting president to visit a prison, and he announced a prison reform package as a bipartisan consensus emerged for dismantling the prison-industrial complex.
Mr. President, these, as you know, are some of the issues on the minds of black America. Please make sure that organ is playing on Tuesday night.
Oh, and Governor Nikki Haley, your work is cut out for you.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove