Both West and Leon have expressed anger at the president’s air of superiority and arrogance toward the black community.
“Obama has been at times very condescending to the black community,” Leon said. “And the problem is this, don’t run from us and then tomorrow think that you can come in and preach to us. In the vernacular, you are either down or you’re not! You’re either with us or you’re not.”
Ford said that while President Obama has made performed several important symbolic acts for the African-American community — such as staying in the historically black section of Martha’s Vineyard and laying a wreath on the African American Civil War Memorial — he has failed to deal with the substantive issues she says the community wants addressed.
“He has a substantive role, and he also has a symbolic role. He’s addressed the symbolic issues, but with the substantive issues — that’s where he has failed.”
Leon said that it is incumbent upon the African-American community to try to get Obama to move in their direction. If the community fails to do this, he said, it will be more difficult to get presidential support in the future for civil rights initiatives.
“My take on that is, you have to treat him the same way you would treat any other president,” Leon explained. “Especially since he is not giving you any reason to treat him otherwise. And it is going to be very difficult, whether it is 2012 and he is not reelected or it is 2016 and we’re dealing with a new president — who most likely will not be African American — it is going to be very difficult to hold that new president to a different standard.”
“It’s my hope that he becomes more aggressive and addresses these issues,” Ford concluded. “I’m not willing to say he’s not willing to do it, but I think it’s a difficult global climate for him to do so, but I think he’s gonna have to do so and let the chips fall.”