It keeps getting deeper by the second. I was on CNN the other day to discuss the recent incident during which Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
stated that President Barack Obama
might have a chance to become president because he is "light-skinned" and doesn't speak with a "negro dialect" (the video here is here if you want to watch
). But the real bombshell came today when I read about the statements allegedly made by former President Bill Clinton
According to reports in a new book to be released this week, Bill Clinton told Ted Kennedy that
, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee," referring to then candidate Barack Obama. Clinton also griped that Kennedy was only supporting Obama for president, because he is black.
To say that the black community should be offended by Bill Clinton's words would be an understatement. If the allegations in this book (called "Game Change") are true, this is going to destroy the already wounded relationship between the Clinton family and the African-American community. But as I mentioned on CNN early in the campaign
(back when no one thought Barack Obama could even challenge Clinton for the presidency), African Americans have been awakened by the idea that we no longer have to have a "sugar substitute," and can instead taste the very real sweetness that comes with having meaningful access to the White House. Although I have critiqued Obama on multiple occasions, I am quite proud of his accomplishment.
For many years, Bill Clinton proudly accepted the false label of "first black president," which offended real black men in America who wondered if someone who looks like us could ever be considered capable enough to have that kind of power. Many in the black community also felt patronized and disrespected by the Clintons, who almost seemed to feel that they were doing us a favor by even caring the least bit about African-American issues. Hillary's "Gone with the Wind" attitude began to show itself as she unraveled during the Democratic primary, using nasty racial references to undermine Obama's bid to the presidency. Bill put icing on the cake by publicly comparing Obama's campaign to that of Jesse Jackson
Well, a new day has come. Black people are no longer interested in second-class citizenship. We are Americans too and expect the respect that comes with that status. Now Bill, please go get me a cup of coffee - I take my coffee black. Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.