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Dr. Boyce Watkins
I wanted to share something with the YBW family. As you know, I've said quite a bit in my writing about President Obama's policies, both good and bad. Much of what I do as a Black Public Scholar is driven by what I read in the emails that you send to me (I apologize for not always being able to reply, but I always appreciate them). For example, last year when we went after Bill O'Reilly in response to his attacks on Michelle Obama, I did it because I got the sense that Black folks were frustrated by O'Reilly's underhanded activities and that I could use my media access to help give a voice to those I love (yes, I love you and I am not afraid to say it!).
Well, there are times when I've praised President Obama when his decisions serve the interests of our community, but I also try to engage in just enough critical analysis to never give a blank check to any politician. Perhaps as a result of all this, I received a call last week from someone within the Obama Administration. I should probably not say his name in public, but I have made it clear that I represent the people, so I want to share the spirit of our correspondence with you.
In light of the fact that many Black newspapers and magazines across the country are unfortunately going bankrupt (due to the decline of print media), he and others are looking to the Internet to see what the Black community is thinking. AOL Black Voices is the largest Black news website in America (Essence.com is number 2, according to his calculations and my own), so its natural that this be one of the places that the administration looks to see what African Americans are happy and not so happy about.
You know that I don't typically hang out with politicians (I'm not interested in being a politician, since I am addicted to telling the truth), but I listen when people talk. After listening to this official for an hour (who was very respectful and informative), I got the sense that he really wants our feedback. Now obviously, there is a difference between listening and acting, but Barack is in a very tough position right now, and I think we should at least make sure that his administration hears from us when they make critical decisions. The last thing they want to do is roll something out and then find out that it has made us angry.
The Obama Administration official has offered to run ideas by me before releasing them to the public (which I am fine with him doing), but the truth is that I don't want to be any kind of "public voice" that mutes the individual voices in our community. So, I let him know that while I would certainly be happy to share my own opinions, it is most important that I help facilitate the sharing of opinions from those within our coalition.
So, I will start by asking you to submit your opinion of the president's performance over the first 100 days in office. I have set up a link on my blog for this (which you can get to by clicking here), and after the comments have been made, I will make sure that the link is forwarded to our contact in the White House. I am hopeful that they will listen and it is my greatest hope that we can help the president succeed by telling him how we truly feel. While I certainly can't force the president do anything, we should at least supplement their information set by letting them know what matters to us and then holding them accountable in their reactions.
Here is a link to the blog. Here is a link to a video I put together breaking it all down in case you want to hear it "straight from the Boyce's mouth."
Take care and God bless,