So, You Want a Real Black President, Huh?

(Photos from Left: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images,  Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

So, You Want a Real Black President, Huh?

Writer Keith Boykins writes that Rupert Murdoch doesn't want a "real" Black president. Instead, Murdoch's comments reflect a disingenuous and often situational concern expressed by conservatives for the needs of African-Americans.

Published October 8, 2015

I've written so many times about Ben Carson this year that I am reluctant to address him again.

Back in March, I described Dr. Carson as "Herman Cain with a stethoscope," and I tried to remind readers that "famous people who are successful in one field aren't automatically experts in everything else."

Just last month, I wrote about how Carson fulfills the "good Negro" stereotype in respectability politics, and I noted how mainstream African-American viewpoints are often invalidated by conservative white decision makers who try to convince us that we've been duped by "race hustlers."

So when Dr. Carson made insensitive comments this week suggesting that the victims in the Umpqua Community College mass shooting in Oregon should have fought back against their killer, I was prepared to bite my tongue while he tried to explain his way out of his latest controversy.

But then Carson became embroiled in yet another controversy this week, and this time he wasn't the culprit. It started when conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch posted a tweet describing Ben and his wife Candy Carson as "terrific" and added: "What about a real black President who can properly address the racial divide? And much else."

For the record, Rupert Murdoch is not Black. Nor is he even American. That should be enough to end the conversation. But imagine the outrage that would follow if a prominent African-American argued that Murdoch's home country of Australia needs a "real white prime minister" to replace its current prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. That person would be rightly criticized, just as Murdoch was before he finally apologized today.

Murdoch doesn't want a real Black president. We already have one. Instead, his comments reflect a disingenuous and often situational concern expressed by conservatives for the needs of African-Americans. Think about it. When was the last time you heard Rupert Murdoch express any genuine concern about the plight of African-Americans? He certainly didn't seem too worried about Black representation when his Fox News executives were hiring an army of white anchors to represent his network.

But after his controversial Carson comment, Murdoch posted another tweet to bolster his argument: "Read New York magazine for minority community disappointment with POTUS." Murdoch was pointing to a column, written by a white journalist, titled "Has Barack Obama Done Enough for African-Americans?" The magazine piece notes that Obama has failed to solve many of the longstanding issues that plague African-Americans. True, but the remedies proposed by the Blacks interviewed for the same article — criminal justice reform, more talk about structural racism, less talk about personal accountability — are precisely what Dr. Carson opposes.

If Rupert Murdoch wanted a "real Black president" to address the issues in the article he cited, he should support a president more like Al Sharpton than Ben Carson. After all, shouldn't Murdoch's so-called "real Black president" reflect the opinions of actual Black people? If so, two-thirds of Blacks are dissatisfied with the way they are treated in society, according to a recent Gallup poll; 68 percent of Blacks say the court system is unfair to them in a recent Pew poll; and 70 percent say that Blacks are treated less fairly than whites by the police.

But Murdoch doesn't seem particularly concerned about those issues, and he certainly hasn't used his media empire to help African-Americans address those concerns. Instead, he's trolling President Obama and the Democratic Party to question what they've done to earn the allegiance of Black voters.

No doubt, the president and the Democrats could do more. But to suggest, as Republicans often do, that the GOP would be better for Blacks than Democrats is a stretch coming from a party with a 50-year history of catering to racists in their base.

Meanwhile, for all the GOP rhetoric about Obama's failure to help his own people, Black unemployment has fallen from 16.8 percent at the height of the Bush recession to 9.2 percent last month. The percentage of Blacks without health insurance has dropped from 20.9 percent to 13.9 percent over the past year. Obama appointed the first African-American attorney general in the nation's history and the first African-American woman attorney general.

The president has also launched a "My Brother's Keeper" initiative to mentor Black boys and young Black men, called for reducing mandatory minimum sentences and begun commuting sentences of nonviolent drug offenders, many of whom are Black. And that list doesn't take into account the impact on Black Americans of the president's efforts to rescue the economy, save the auto industry or reboot the housing market.

Is that enough? No. Not for a people who have been structurally and systematically disenfranchised for hundreds of years. But it's more than most presidents have done in six and a half years in office, and it's far more than Ben Carson would do with his hands-off, pull-yourself-up-from-your-bootstraps philosophy of government.

So, if Rupert Murdoch wants a real Black president, he might start by recognizing the one we already have in the White House. After that, he better start listening to more Black people than the token few on Fox News.

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(Photos from Left: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images,  Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)

Written by Keith Boykin


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