I'm not a huge fan of these types of town halls, not for their intentions, but for their execution and results. I have every belief that going into it, Obama and his staff, and David Muir and Jemele Hill had every intention of it being a real dialogue about hard truths. Or at least that's what it was billed as. But the truth is, none of that ever happens. The President, who I'm almost positive is tired of these things as well, has to speak in guarded language while straddling the fence and trying to not to offend. And that's his job; be a president to all. But there's nothing that was said, either via question or answer, that we haven't heard before. It felt more like, "let's let some of the direct victims of these tragedies get a little time nationally."
At the same time, I understand why these town halls on race and what not end up like this. The people in attendance seemed largely to be those immediately affected by the tragedies. You had families of victims, of police officers, activists, etc. You know who we need to hear from? The random individuals in the nation who aren't on the front lines of either of these movement. The person who just tries to live their everyday life by making it home after work. The nation's temperature on these things that comes out in data and polls are the folks I'm most interested in hearing. Those are the voters and the people who are either apathetic to the plights of communities unlike their own and just flat out don't care, or folks who do care but aren't willing to get actively involved for various reasons. I'd have rather they just knocked on folks doors at random and said, "hey, you have no choice, you're coming to speak with the President. Grab your toothbrush, do not check your racism at the door (if it exists), and please, leave your guns."
At the samer time, it IS good that these town halls happen because it raises the discussions to the national level even if lots of people maybe don't know, don't show, or just don't care about what's going on in the hood (that's not their own). While there is only so much that can be accomplished, SOMETHING is better than nothing and its likely that these things do cause more conversations, which is truly the only way to get to a more perfect union in 2764, assuming we haven't blown up the planet by then or global warming hasn't turned all of us into pieces of friend chicken by then.
Obama is longwinded. As fuck. That's another reason I don't love these things. He talks too much and too long. Which limits the instances of other people getting a chance to ask questions because we all know people suck at asking questions, especially when you get one shot to ask the President something. You're likely to weave a paragraph long narrative to frame your question which is more of a statement while you double back trying to add a question mark to the end of the statement. Erica Garner, the daughter of Eric Garner, apparently felt a way about the whole thing and had to devolve into an angry outburst after the talk in order to get a moment to speak with the President. If Obama wasn't so long-winded, I'm sure at least five or six more people could have got some questions off. Just an observation and constructive criticism.
I'm sure Obama has to be ABSOLUTELY over having to explain #BlackLivesMatter to people. At this point, you almost have to be intentionally REFUSING to accept that there's an invisible "too" after the statement. I almost wonder if the folks who started the hashtag don't wish they hadn't made it #BlackLivesMatterToo instead. Obviously, there are people who wouldn't care one way or another and only view - as white America has historically done - support for your community as an automatic lack of support for another. I will never understand why white people (as an institution) are so afraid of Black people caring about ourselves to the point where the assumption is that if we love ourselves, we hate them. Shit, we love lots of white people. Ben Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, any number of abolitionists, Mark Zuckerberg, Bono, Bette Midler, etc. Honestly, I'm over having to explain it to anybody as well. If they don't get it by now, it's because they don't want to get it. That Police Chief who spoke towards the end - I forget his name - gets it. In fact that guy seems to get the whole shit. Which reminds me…
You know who I'd like to really hear talk? Police officers. Before you throw tomatoes, hear me out. These are the people who we view negatively in our community. They're also not going anywhere. Cops have a shitty job, but its a necessary one. But they're the ones in our community. We need to hear from them why the hell they feel how they do. I'm not saying we'll like it, I'm just saying its important to get them into these conversations. What do they think the problem is? It can't be all our "failure to comply". People who are complying are being killed, on camera. They have to realize that the veil they've been living under is coming up, and they still have to police the streets. I'm not offering sympathy, but I'm asking for some reasonable individuals to speak on it all too. I think they're all power-hungry assholes for the most part, but the truth is, that's not true. Many probably just want to keep the streets safe and go home. Black and Latino communities have significant issues with the police obviously, and we are airing those and non-conservative media outlets are helping. But it might be helpful to let them talk without immediately calling for their heads.
Hearing police advocates be on this, "Obama we don't know that you support the police" is some of the most irresponsible rhetoric ever. And patently false. Obama has gone out of his way to show support, often to the point of pissing off those on the victim end of cops. It's annoying. I wish they'd stop it. People, especially those in power, SUCK in this nation. We need new leaders. Shit, at this point, I almost think we'd be just as well off letting Mona Scott-Young create a reality show competition for each Congressional office.
One of the sad things about Obama nearing the end of his time in office is that national town halls on race…yeah, that's pfffffffffft. Donald Trump for damn sure wouldn't and it's not like Hillary Clinton could pull this off. These national conversations only work - so much as they do work - because the President is a Black man. Sure the convos will continue at local levels, which is honestly where most of the work needs to be done, but putting a national spotlight on these issues acknowledges that there's a problem, and for the Black community at least it gives us some hope that a change is gon' come. Thing is, change is coming…in a few months. And the Black community won't have the same advocate we've had in the White House. I realize many people aren't up on Obama, but hate him or love him, he addressed these things from a reasonable and personal angle. What other president could do that?
I'm still pissed the NRA hasn't said shit about Philando Castile. I have a lot more to say about this from a personal angle and I intend to, but its amazing to me how the one thing white folks cherish above all else is their rights and infringing on their rights is like sleeping with their spouses. Yet, a Black man exercises his rights and dies because of it, and the ONE body whose entire mission is to ensure that right is protected has gone radio silent. The NRA is a whole bitch.
In a macro sense, and speaking about rights, it's amazing to me how much white people don't just understand, fundamentally, that Black folks want our rights recognized. Like, we have entire town halls to talk about race relations but mostly how the rights of Black Americans get trampled on by American institutions and its a fucking debate. We know that rights for Black people are more privileges in the eyes of White America, but its ultimately frustrating that these things have to be outlined anywhere. That's why I'm not a fan of these town halls, they're discussions that we have to have because America ultimately still struggles with all of its citizens having equal rights and ignorantly pretends like they don't understand. Oh, America, you card.