Former President of the United States, Barack Obama has finally admitted that payment of financial reparation is justified. However, the reason why he failed to pass bills to compensate colonies and Black Americans during his tenure in office was because of “white resistance and resentment.”
The former President made these revelations in a recent podcast featuring himself and Bruce Springsteen themed “Renegades: Born in the USA.” He said that, “there’s not much question that the wealth… the power of this country was built in significant part not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it, but a large portion of it was built on the backs of slaves.”
“What I saw during my presidency was the politics of White resistance and resentment. The talk of ‘welfare queens’ and the talk of the ‘undeserving’ poor. And the backlash against affirmative action,” Obama said; adding that, it is “perfectly understandable why working-class White folks, middle-class White folks, folks who are having trouble paying the bills or dealing with student loans, wouldn’t be too thrilled about a massive program that is designed to deal with the past but isn’t speaking to their future.”
America has been under pressure over the years to pay reparations for its role during slavery, past colonial atrocities and all the brutish treatments to pacify the black community and also amend some of the after effects of slavery including widespread poverty in these affected colonies and black American communities with a lot of bills submitted to congress but such requests were not honored.
It is important to note that, during his 2008 Presidential bid, Obama resisted payment of reparations stating that, “the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed.” However, his position proves that, he knew slavery set the black community aback and financial reparation was justified but succumbed to pressure to deny that fact.
This is not the first time Obama has allowed public public opinion to influence his position on policies. After publicly dismissing the slogan ‘defund the police’, he said “You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done”.
He has been criticized by many Black political thinkers since the second episode of the podcast was released; to these critics, Obama’s leadership was one that thrived purely on populism when it comes to policies and critical reforms, especially those with potential to benefit Black people. His new position on reparation has raised a concern of whether his support and advocacy for policies such as LGBTQ+ in Africa is also based on the same fear of losing audience and bias sensitivity to public opinion.
This is because Obama was fully aware that LGBTQ+ is socially and culturally unacceptable in Africa and highly unpopular among African people but he resorted to threats of financial aid cut and other sanctions to force African leaders to pass pro-LGBTQIA+ laws regardless. Many believe that Obama did so just to please his liberal base back in the US and not necessarily for the interest of Africans.
In Senegal and many other countries where he made LGBTQIA+ a top priority during his visit, same-sex or sex-change issues would not even make the bottom 100 list of problems facing those countries. Perhaps an open discussion about France’s colonial policy which is one of the biggest human rights violations in Africa would have been in the best interest of the Senegalese but that was ignored.
His admission concerning reparation coupled with the trajectory of his policies over the years provide a logical ground to conclude that, Obama’s sensitivity to public opinion was biased against black