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"I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played,"
"But I think it's fair to say,
No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry;
No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and,
No. 3 ... that there's a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately."
The first significant controversy of the first black president's tenure in office was a racial one.
When President Obama came to the defense of African-American Harvard Prof. Henry Louis Gates — who was arrested while trying to enter his own home and said the white officer involved acted "stupidly," an erosion in his already tenuous white support began and never fully recovered.
Obama tried to make the most of this so-called "teachable moment," by holding a "beer summit" with Gates and the policeman. The meeting however was ridiculed for being ineffectual in terms of addressing implicit bias. The critique that emerged became a familiar one — that the first black president was passing up an opportunity to truly enlighten the country on race.
But, historians and political experts say that premise overlooked that race is a subject that Obama has often delved deeply into; first as an author, then as a candidate and eventually as a president.
He also spoke in fiercely emotional terms about the shooting deaths of young black men like Trayvon Martin, famously saying "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon." He repeatedly attempted to speak truthfully about the real gulf that exists between law enforcement and communities of color in this country.
And yet, despite consistent sky-high approval ratings with African-American voters, Obama has been harshly criticized for not using his bully pulpit more to advance the conditions of black America.
He should have pointed to that and reached out to the communities as part of speaking to communities in need. Be a father! Raise your kids! Keep your sons off the streets and in school and maybe they won't need to worry as much about the police.