Note: Walter “Isakson”, has been changed to his correct name, Walter “Isaacson”
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama top adviser Valerie Jarrett did a 30-minute interview with Walter Isaacson at the Aspen Institute. Isaacson asked Jarrett about Obama’s reticence on race.
“Some of us feel there was an opportunity throughout this presidency to really deal passionately, vocally and without putting a muffled hand in front of the face on the issue of race. The president only did it halfway. He was always holding back on that. You’ve got 18 months. Is this going to be the passion of the final stretch?” Isaacson asked Jarrett.
“I think you have to ask yourself: Why is that all on him? Why is that his responsibility?” said Jarrett, adding, “Each of us have to have that conversation,” and “The question is what are we gonna do? Let’s take the burden off of him solely … because this is a collective responsibility … this has to happen family by family and at the water cooler …”
One thing’s for sure: It’s a good thing Jarrett wasn’t a senior adviser to Abraham Lincoln or Lyndon Johnson. It’s notable that Jarrett, who engineered the vibrant display of rainbow colors on the White House after the Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of a right to gay marriage, doesn’t use the same template of logic for issues of race used on LGBT and Hispanic policy concerns. Why Jarrett didn’t simply cite Obamacare that’s been blocked by Republican governors in the South, and a record number of black judicial appointments and move on, is anyone’s guess.
When it comes to issues concerning minority groups, whether it’s Hispanics, blacks or LGBT, waiting for that “collective” nirvana-like moment, as if we “all” have control over the universe, would mean nothing would ever change. Whether it’s women’s rights or civil rights, change arrived when the law exacted a penalty for discrimination, making it costly.
For six years, there’s been a haze of powerlessness when Team Obama’s folks are asked about race. But just as sure as there’s no point in waiting until “we all work on” issues like gay marriage or immigration reform, there should be no waiting on the black agenda, either. Particularly when so many black issues deal with institutional bias regulated by the government, as in the cases of lending and housing.
Imagine what the rapid response would be from LGBT advocates if Jarrett said “why is that all on him and why is that his responsibility,” when speaking on gay marriage? Of course, that response is unthinkable. It’s not “all of our problem” that gay people were not being treated equally under the law when attempting to obtain a marriage license.
Source: The Root | LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE