Barack Obama has carved out a niche for himself that no other Democratic candidates dare invade: making sharp critiques of blacks in America. The Washington Post has compiled a series of examples in which senator Obama talks publicly about the problems of African Americans in front of black audiences. Among the themes Obama has broached in recent weeks:

  • Chastising black children who tell their peers that getting good grades is “acting white.”
  • Criticising blacks who don’t exercise their right to vote.
  • Taking rappers to task for the language they use in their lyrics (an issue magnified by the recent Don Imus flap).
  • Promiscuity among young black men and women.
  • The number of black children in one-parent homes.
  • The disproportionate crime rate among blacks – and the fact that it is often black-on-black crime.

Obama is not the first to approach the “third rail” of politics when it comes to black Americans. Comedian Bill Cosby has been doing it for years, frequently asking that blacks stop blaming the “white man” for their problems. Cosby requestss that blacks “turn the mirror around” and personally cope with many of the problems listed above. Cosby readily acknowledges that his talks are part common sense and part shock value.

But Obama is a presidential candidate, and so his method of publicly criticizing the black community is all the more unparalleled. He, like Cosby, has been disapproving the way many blacks conduct themselves and thus promote a negative image. His message is clear: don’t look to anyone other than yourselves to improve the situation.

Thus, Obama is not only unique in being the only black candidate on the slate, he is uncommon in that, as a black, he can say things that the other candidates dare not utter. On the other hand, Obama can also speak legitimately to white audiences about disciplining their children when it comes to school work, recreation, and other activities.

Some political pundits have noted that when Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns for black votes, she often takes on a “southern accent” that is rarely heard in front of white audiences. Clinton also stops short of addressing blacks with the same stern rhetoric that often comes from Obama.

So for the moment, Barack Obama is occupying the high ground where no white presidential candidate dare approach. While to some, it may seem like the natural and logical thing to do, Obama’s handlers deserve high praise for identifying and utilizing this special campaign initiative which is denied to the other candidates. As the Post noted, Obama “has sought to present himself as an agency of change, eager to challenge political convention.”

[NOTE]: As this blog was being posted, word came that Barack Obama was being placed under the protection of the Secret Service. A spokesman for the Secret Service would not give a speficic reason for the protection, although no mention was made of any threat toward Obama. Candidates can ask to be guarded by the Secret Service if certain conditions are met, including a high profile in the opinion polls and prominence as measured by fundraising.

– Chase.Hamil

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