Bill Clinton's Harlem Scuffle: Why is the "First Black President" Angering Fellow African-Americans?
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Bill Clinton’s givenÃ‚Â title of the “first black president of the United States,” a label which was first applied by Toni Morrison in aÃ‚Â 1998 article in The New Yorker,Ã‚Â has always been a misnomer, but could some of that BS finallyÃ‚Â be bubbling to the surface, soon to burn the former prez?
Bill Clinton’s decision to site his office in the largely black Manhattan neighbourhood of Harlem, as a gesture of solidarity with African-Americans, appears to have backfired.
Dozens of angry blacks demonstrated last week outside the building that houses the former president’s staff, claiming that his move had led to the gentrification of the area and increased the price of homes beyond their reach.
On how many front pages in the U.S. would this story have headlined if this were Bush’s, Cheney’s or Rice’s office?
At any rate, what’s happening between Bubba and his fellow African-Americans?
It seems like only yesterdayÃ‚Â (Oct. 19, 2002 to be exact) thatÃ‚Â former president Bill Clinton was honored, perhaps in part because his middle name is “Jefferson,” to become the first white guy inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. The move puts serious pressure on the Polka Dancers Hall of Fame to return the racial favor, and also brings to mind the question, “just what has Clinton done for African-Americans?”
The previously mentioned story answers that questions with, “certainly not help keep property values affordable.” But it goes deeper than that.
For most of the ’80s, as Arkansas governor, Clinton did his best to see to it that blacks didn’t fall for all that “decade of greed” talk, with 1990 census statistics showing white families with a median income of $22,550, and black families at $12,128. Good thing Clinton was there to fight for them, or else black families in Arkansas would have finished the ’80s owing money.
Later on, as president, Clinton also offered sage advice to a black business executive. At a town hall meeting, Herman Cain, the CEO of the Godfathers Pizza chain, raised concerns to Clinton about the cost of employer mandates. Clinton’s answer Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as the most powerful man in the world displayed an economic intellectual energy so low it couldn’t even power a potato clock Ã¢â‚¬â€œ was stunning: He offered Cain an idea to fight high taxes that the CEO probably hadn’t thought of Ã¢â‚¬â€œ hadn’t thought of because of its inane stupidity. The answer was,Ã‚Â ”just raise your price.” This solidified my desire to leave the garage door down when I started my car the next morning.
What would have happened if Cain had, in a fit of neuron-fizzle, followed Clinton’s advice? More than likely, his customers would have fulfilled their pepperoni and mozzarella needs at a place where a pizza didn’t cost as much as a Cadillac El Dorado. Then Cain, and all his employees, would have been out of work Ã¢â‚¬â€œ victims of the man who loves them so much.
Clinton has also displayed a tremendous respect for black heritage. In 2001, the historic landmark, the Choctaw Terminal, built in part by craftsmen who were former slaves, a building which was truly a piece of black history, was leveled to make room for the Clinton Presidential Library. Arkansas finally gets a library and it’s got to be smack on top of a piece of black history? That’s OK, I suppose, since Clinton’s blacker than they were, right?
If I were black, I’d be a little angered that the first white guy to receive honorary membership in my race was a lying, cheating, morally bankrupt, intellectually dishonest pants-dropper who spent the better part of eight years making the Oval Office look like the director’s cut of the orgy scene inÃ‚Â ”Eyes Wide Shut.” That’s an insult to the black community, not a reflection of them.
If the protests keep up,Ã‚Â the irony of it allÃ‚Â is that Bill Clinton, in order to maintainÃ‚Â his facade of blackness, may have to someday move his office out of Harlem.
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