The Black and White:
President Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America catches a lot of heat and backlash for his involvement and stance concerning issues related to race and relations in America. His fiercest opponents go to great lengths outlining how his lack of public discourse and action oriented solutions regarding, most notably, criminal justice reform is without a shadow of a doubt in their opinion, lackluster. These opponents are not limited in their racial sphere, and often times than not his largest rivals are those of melanin skin tones. These opponents have come to firmly believe Obama can do more to help minority families and minority males in particular to realize a more promising future free of heavy encounters with law enforcement and incarceration behind bars.
Perhaps as an African American male President Obama could have or should have done more in expressing his sentiments for the effects of mass incarceration and the war on drugs in minority communities. But one point that maybe conveniently overlooked by the public camps that seek to illegitimize his legacy thus far is: Obama vowed to be President of the United Stated of America and not merely the Black United States of America. I can only imagine how tough it is maintaining balance in action taken towards the cause, while also displaying unbiased decision making for an entire country, especially one as diverse as ours.
The reality of the matter is that some critics only view the picture with hindering limitations as their frame of mind is captivated by sudden, yet typically temporary changes. I argue that Obama’s actions are systematic, well thought out and have a greater chance to stand the test of time.
Here are a few changes Obama has implemented while serving as Potus:
- Yesterday he commuted the sentences of 58 federal inmates; 18 of which were previously serving life sentences.
- To date, Obama has commuted the sentences of 308 inmates (this may be a drop in the bucket in perspective of the nearly 2.8 million inmates in federal and state holding facilities but…….
- It is clear that Obama is concerned with mass incarceration and the effects the war on drugs has caused families (side note how do you have a war on drugs, usually wars are country against country). He has gone on record saying:”It just doesn’t make sense to require a nonviolent drug offender to serve 20 years, or in some cases, life, in prison.” He went on to add,
“An excessive punishment like that doesn’t fit the crime. It’s not serving taxpayers, and it’s not making us safer.”
- Obama has appointed 2 Supreme Court justices to the court (Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.) One Supreme Court judgeship is still vacant and very well can be filled with an Obama nomination before his term ends. Remember Supreme Court Justices serve life terms and typically aren’t replaced until death.
- Obama has nominated and had confirmed 324 judges by the U.S Senate. (These posts include the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals, district courts, and the United States Court of International Trade.
- The number of nominations can increase before his term concludes because 57 nominations are still pending Senate approval.
- Obama can possibly nominate 92 more judges to various posts on various court levels before his term ends as current holders retire and/or decide to move on with other engagements.
All of these things are important in the grander scheme of politics and creating a platform for change that can become generational and not as short as a Senator’s office term. Although Obama isn’t blowing the country away with daily conversations and actions, his work thus far speaks volumes to his understanding that the challenges we face as a nation can’t be fixed overnight with one decision. Instead, the solution will come from a top down approach that is catered to by President, Judge, State’s Attorney, Prosecutor, Defense, offender, victim, community members and all of the sort.
There is an old saying, “It takes a village to raise a child,” in this case, it will take a nation, bound together in commonality of cause to create the overarching changes we so desperately need!