According to a new Bloomberg poll, “a majority of Americans, 53 percent, say the interactions between the white and black communities have deteriorated” since Obama took office back in 2008.
But can you blame them?
In the six years since his election as the nation’s first black president, Obama has addressed race just a handful of times. He delivered his most personal remarks after an unarmed 17-year-old boy was gunned down in Florida by a man who found him to be suspicious, and then again when that man, George Zimmerman, was acquitted of any crime. “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is, Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
Additionally, aside from his now typical quick bit of lofty rhetoric, it seems almost is if Obama is uncomfortable with the subject at times.
Obama has also weighed in on the deaths of both Brown and Garner. And the Justice Department is reviewing the two incidents, as well. Yet Obama has not gone to Missouri or New York. To Griessel, that’s a problem. “He should have gone to Ferguson and very bluntly said, ‘I don’t want any violence here. Let’s show people that we can accept verdicts we don’t like,'” he said. “The destruction just makes people more prejudice than they already are.”
Given the extent to which he may have been able to build upon moments and themes like this below – but didn’t – race relations in America under Obama may ultimately go down as one of his biggest failures – although some might suggest there’s a lot of competition for that distinction.
Obama also nodded to the symbolic power of his rise to the presidency in the opening line of his victory speech on Nov. 4, 2008. “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of democracy, tonight is your answer.”