Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pres. Obama publicly supports Black Lives Matter movement

During a panel discussion on criminal justice reform, President Obama openly defended the Black Lives Matter movement and stated that the more harsh and less fair treatment of black Americans by police officers is a real issue (sourceanother source).

Black Lives Matter is currently calling for a Black Lives Matter themed Presidential debate that focuses on important issues to the Black community, such as criminal justice reform, and what the candidates propose to do about these issues (Black Lives Matter source).

When President Obama first became president he was more distant from racially charged issues, something he was occasionally criticized for. For example, he was criticized by some African-Americans for his sub-par statement following the death of Michael Brown last year (source). However, as Obama's second term comes to an end, he has been more open with his opinions on controversial issues such as race, drugs, and crime.

"But I'm in my last term, I only got a year left, and it's not like my poll numbers are that high. I figure I can go ahead and say it," President Obama said in a speech about drug abuse in West Virginia yesterday, in which he talked of his own illegal drug use (source).

There is a growing bipartisan consensus in Washington, DC that sentencing reform for nonviolent crimes is needed. In fact, today the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to send legislation to the full Senate that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent crimes, reform the early release system, and create programs to help offenders return to their communities.

We have learned in class that a president's approval rating does go down as their term goes on, but that their effectiveness due to experience tends to go up. How do you think this trend will affect the passage of prison and police reform legislation? And because it is unlikely that these national issues will be solved while Obama is still in office, to what extent should the next president follow up with these issues (especially given that prison and sentencing reform has bipartisan support)? To what extent should candidates address these issues?

Photos: Obamablack lives matter


Anonymous said...

I think it is important that Obama takes a stand on the issues. But I would agree with the people criticizing him about not attacking these issues more aggressively early in his presidency. When he was elected, in a way, it showed how the American people wanted a social change in the country and in the government. Obama could have aggressively used his recently election for leveraging changes in civil rights and illegal drug issues. It is easier for him to talk about it at the end of his presidency, but there is almost no chance of significant change coming from it.

Monica Mai said...

I'm really glad that Obama is finally taking a stronger stance on these issues, but unfortunately, less can be done now. All Obama can really do is bring attention to these issues, but I agree with Louis that there is very little chance that there will be bills or laws passed that will make significant change. It's definitely better late than never, because hopefully, the Black Lives Matter movement will be one of the issues at the forefront of the next president's agenda. In regards to your statement of the president's approval rating going down as the term goes on and their increased effectiveness due to experience, I really do believe that no bills will be passed to address racially charged issues. But, because of their increasing effectiveness, I think Obama will shed light on these topics and bring change to criminal justice reforms and other issues surrounding black lives. Perhaps, Obama's influence will (hopefully) call for a Black Lives Matter presidential debate. Asm netioned in this article (, the Black Lives Matter movement is not endorsing any presidential candidates because no presidential candidate has fully acknowledged the movement. I think one of the biggest changes Obama can make is to bring this movement up to a presidential debate, so that the Black Lives Matter movement can receive responses and solutions to the injustices they face. Then, their voices will be heard. This is such an important issue to the black community and America should focus on ridding the pervasiveness of racial profiling and other unfair treatments against African-American people. So, to answer your last question, I think candidates should address these issues extensively because it's extremely important and pervasive to the black community.

Adjon Tahiraj said...

I think the passage of prison and police reform will depend on what party the next president is. Obviously democrats want more reform and republicans do no not want as much reform. As to the second question I definitely think there should be reform in prisons and police in the United States. I think that its important that Obama is finally speaking up more; however I don't think he should be backing up specifically the black lives matter organization. I think the organization has a good goal behind it, which is to make sure that black people in this country are treated the same as everyone else by law enforcement and in general. But I think there has been too many incidents involved with black lives matter organization, and these incidents give anyone who supports them bad reputation. The most recent being them shutting down Bernie Sanders at his speech. Keep in mind Bernie is the prime candidate for the democrats at the moment, and arguably the most willing out of all the candidates to try and pass legislation to achieve the organization's goals. The frustration of the people is understandable as there are a lot of cases where innocent black men, women, and children are being killed or brutally beaten by law enforcement in the US. But I don't think violence or shutting down of events will solve any issues, in turn, it will make the organization look bad lessening the chances that they succeed in their goal.

Janet Liu said...

The fact that Obama isn't going YOLO until the end of his presidency says more about the position of Chief Executive than Obama's character. Since learning about the various restrictions on the President's power in Chp 8, I always feel slightly miffed when people say, "If I were president, I would..." The fact is, anything you do, say, or decide as President has the chance to come back and bite you if the situation isn't in your favor. Maybe we think civil rights is a issue worthy of taking a stronger stance on, but there are people who, either consciously or oftentimes subconsciously, would write Obama off as another liberal A-hole if he were take a stance on the rights issue sooner than he did. That Obama used his "initial boost" of political credit to get Obamacare was amazing as it is. As the first Democrat in office since Clinton, it's also important to remember that in order to maintain his informal influence and cooperate with a Republican congress, Obama had to be careful not act impulsively.

After all, what happened when Obama tried to roll out immigration reform? Exactly.

I think it's great that Obama is finally able to speak his mind, if that's what it is. The road he's paved will make it easier for his successors to complete the journey, but addressing charged issues such as civil rights on the national level is something that, under present circumstances and without a proper crisis, will always be slow.