By Madavia Johnson
In recent news there has been a strong and heated debate between Al Sharpton and Cornell West, two prestigious leaders within the African American community. The debate took place on MSNBC on the Black Agenda. The debated stemmed from points of view of Obama and the Health Care System.
Questions were asked concerning whether the government was helping or hurting the poor people with the new plan. From Al Sharpton’s point of view he believes that they are cutting funds in certain places, and that the rich should make economical sacrifices. He stands by Obama and his effort to improve healthcare. He says that all that Obama needs is time. He made the reference to the Civil Rights movement and how it took nine years for Martin Luther King, Jr. along with others to reach their goals. Cornell West had a difference of opinion. He believes that Obama has made empty promises to the people, and that black leaders such as Obama are being silent about the issues that are going on in lower class African American communities. He feels as if Black leaders are focusing on the middle class and not the working class. There are many people who feel as if Obama is being spineless and weak in the White House’s decision on health care and helping impoverished citizens.
Al Sharpton felt as if too many people are putting the blame on Obama and expecting him to be responsible for jobs that are not his. Cornell felt as if Al Sharpton is easily manipulated by the people in the White House and that it is giving him a bad look as an African American leader. Sharpton responded as if Cornell was seeking security behind the Ivory towers and not speaking out. Sharpton believes the duty to address some issues are not in the hands of Obama, but in the hands of African American leaders such as himself.
Sharpton also believes that Cornell West is scared to step out and speak up about issues facing the community. He also expressed that Cornell West is sitting around waiting for bills to pass instead of being active with the African American community and politics. Cornell West disagreed and stated that Obama, being president is obligated to address things that going on in the African American community.
Cornell West if often seen as a more respectable man in the public eye than Al Sharpton, but in this case Al Sharpton may have a valid point. At this time, President Obama is taking a lot of hits and he is taking them well. He is an African American, but he can’t just focus on events such as this. This is the job of other African American political leaders. Obama has other issues to focus on such as issues regarding the economy and such. This year has been a very challenging year for Obama and policy making due to the record amount of filibusters that have been made this year.
Republicans are shooting down a lot of his ideas, which is making it hard to see the change that he promised from the beginning.