Wednesday, October 13, 2010

President Obama Courts Black Bloggers: Why I’m Glad I Wasn’t Invited


by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse University 

President Obama recently invited a slew of African American bloggers to the White House for a “black online summit” of sorts.  Many commentators from Black America Web, News One and even my very own AOL Black Voices were brought in to talk turkey with the president before the election. 

I do a lot of writing on the web, and I actually do work with several of the sites that were invited to the White House summit.  But I wasn’t asked to be part of this particular gathering.  I am not ashamed to admit that I wasn’t invited, because I never expected to be brought in anyway.  In fact, I despise the idea of spending all my time around politicians, many of whom only seem to care about their own agenda. 

While I wasn’t invited to the summit, I’ve certainly received my share of calls from The White House.  I also know for a fact that many members of the Obama Administration, even Hillary Clinton, are on my eblast list that I send out to the YBW Coalition.  The number of calls from Obama’s camp increased dramatically when I expressed public opposition to the terrible decision by the Obama Administration to recommend Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.  As had been argued by Guy Charles at Duke, myself, and Roland Martin, Kagan ran one of the most racist academic departments in America for years as Dean of the Harvard Law School and never did anything to challenge their exclusion of minorities from the faculty.  When Obama’s people called to try to get me to change my opinion, I had to tell them to get lost.  In fact, I recommended that they never call me again.

Such is my relationship with the White House.   At first, I thought that perhaps they were reaching out in order to hear what others had to say.  It didn’t take me long to realize that they simply invite black bloggers to their functions in order to influence their opinions.  So, while there is a tremendous thrill in being able to hang out with the coolest kids on the political block, we must remember those days in high school where sometimes the cool kids might use their influence to get us to do stupid things.  Given that the election is coming, I’m sure the bloggers invited to the White House were asked to say good things in spite of the fact that the White House has never addressed 16 percent black unemployment.

I personally don’t have a significant degree of disdain toward Obama.  I love much of what he does, and I hate some of it.  The goal, at the end of the day, is to speak the truth about it.  That’s it.  I told his media people that if he’s doing right by African Americans, then I will speak favorably.  But if the people around him are engaging in politics as usual, I don’t want to hear their reasons for selling out. 

You usually don’t see me hanging out with many politicians.  If you get caught up in all the hype, then you eventually lose your sense of purpose.  If I am ever invited to The White House, I might consider attending.  But it would only be out of respect for Obama, and my opinions are never going to be for sale.


Carolyn Moon said...

Jack N Jill representative, Jill Tubman was there and she agrees with you as far as not being influenced by the Obama agenda if it's against the best interests of black folks.
Please see"In Defense of Black Bloggers Having a Relationship with the White House". There is also another article about that meeting on the website.
The comments were also quite interesting. There were a few that believed the black bloggers weren't respectful towards the President and White House Staff and scolded them for their lack of decorum. This is quite intriguing especially given that the mid-term elections are near!

Anonymous said...

Despite proclamations, you sound a little bitter that you were not included. While we need not agree, as Black folks we often express disdain for the status quo and take our marbles and go home. That is the exact thing the establishment wants us to do in the first place. Our agenda should be like the game of SURVIVOR...."outwit, outlast and outplay" cant change the game if you are sitting at home with your marbles. The only thing you will be doing then is playing with much good does that do the masses....Love ya still Dr. Boykins

Apostle Prophetess Ruby Mitchell said...

I know there are disgruntle black people and we expect a lot from President Obama. But, regardless of my personal opinion I will not allow myself to not vote for a black man. I have spend decades voting for a white man. Keep in mind many blacks was supporting Hilary, now we are complaining. Look it is time we do for ourselves. Black men need to take responsibility. In my hometown they are committing crimes that requires long jail sentences. Until now black were not complaining about white politicians, why now.