“Like Du Bois, Barack Obama has taken the stage at a moment when it is popular to assert that black people are the agents of their own doom. The response to Trayvon Martin, indeed the response to Barack Obama himself, has been to attack black morality, to highlight black criminality and thus change the conversation from what the American state has done to black people, to what black people have done to themselves. Like Du Bois, Barack Obama believes that these people have a point. Du Bois’s biographer, David Levering Lewis, says that Du Bois came to look back back on that speech with some embarrassment. I don’t know that Barack Obama will ever reach such a conclusion.
Indeed, if we are — as the president asks us to be — honest with ourselves, we will see that we have elected a president who claims to oppose racial profiling one minute, and then flirts with inaugurating the country’s greatest racial profiler the next. If we are honest with ourselves we will see that we have a president who can condemn the riots as ‘self-defeating,’ but can’t see his way clear to enforce the fair housing law that came out of them. If we are honest with ourselves we will see a president who believes in particular black morality, but eschews particular black policy.
It is heartbreaking to see this. But it is also clarifying.”
– Ta-Nehisi Coates, “On the Death of Dreams”