Answering Ta-Nehisi Coates Question About Our Affirmative Action President

by John Hawkins | August 30, 2012 5:44 am

Answering Ta-Nehisi Coates Question About Our Affirmative Action President

Over at the Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates[1] asks a question that he really doesn’t want answered in a piece called, “The Myth of an Affirmative-Action President.”

Why, I wonder, do so many people question how Barack Obama got where he is, while no one asks the same about Mitt Romney?

Ta-Nehisi Coates wants to have it both ways. On the one hand, he thinks it’s fine to give a less qualified black American a spot at a college or a job he doesn’t deserve, over a more qualified white applicant, just because of his skin color. Even though that policy doesn’t do the same sort of damage that Jim Crow laws did, it’s every bit as discriminatory and immoral — but okay, it is what it is.

That being said, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t give black Americans a special advantage because of their skin color and then expect everyone to assume that they’re just as competent as the people who didn’t have that same advantage. Is that fair to the majority of black Americans who’ve earned everything they’ve gotten? Absolutely not — and that’s one of the reasons that so many black conservatives like Clarence Thomas don’t like Affirmative Action[2].

The conservative justice says he initially considered his admission to Yale a dream, but soon felt he was there because of his race. He says he loaded up on tough courses to prove he was not inferior to his white classmates but considers the effort futile. He says he was repeatedly turned down in job interviews at law firms after his 1974 graduation.

“I learned the hard way that a law degree from Yale meant one thing for white graduates and another for blacks, no matter how much any one denied it,” Thomas writes. “I’d graduated from one of America’s top law schools, but racial preference had robbed my achievement of its true value.”

Thomas says he stores his Yale Law degree in his basement with a 15-cent sticker from a cigar package on the frame.

As to Barack Obama, he’s no Clarence Thomas. What did he actually accomplish before he got into government? Nothing of consequence. What did he get done as a state senator in Illinois? Nothing of consequence. What did he do in the Senate? Nothing of consequence. In other words, Barack Obama is a politician whose entire career has been built around being a non-threatening black man who gives uplifting speeches. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t enough once he got into a position where he was expected, for the first time in his adult life, to actually perform at a high level. Since he became President, Barack Obama has been so far over his head he’s looked like a pee wee league football player trying to play the NFL. He’s completely incompetent, out-of-his-depth, incapable of handling the presidency. But, it’s everybody else’s fault. Bush, the Republicans, ATM machines…here’s an alternate theory: Barack Obama would have been a joke candidate in 2008 if he were white, but he coasted into a job he wasn’t remotely ready to tackle in large part because Americans wanted to prove that this isn’t a racist country.

Unfortunately, unlike Jackie Robinson who proved himself on the field, the Jackie Robinson of the presidency can’t hit, field, or throw. Yet, we’re still supposed to give him a pass on his miserable performance because we can’t let the first black President fail. Sorry, but we can’t destroy the entire nation because our first black President turned out to be an Affirmative Action case who isn’t up to the job. If Obama had actually proven himself to be qualified with his performance, his supporters would be talking about that incessantly instead of shouting “racism” as often and loudly as they can. Jackie Robinson didn’t have to shout “racism” when people said he should be sent to the minor leagues because he could point to his stats and shut them up. Obama can’t do that. That’s because Obama is a failure.

As to the second part of the question, Mitt Romney, for all of his flaws, was an extremely successful businessman. Even if he were black, no one would wonder if he were an “Affirmative Action” case just like no one wonders if Herman Cain got to the top that way. Mitt Romney proved himself in the real world. Herman Cain proved himself in the real world. Barack Obama rose up through the ranks in politics by giving speeches and the only thing he has proven is that he can’t hack it now that he has real responsibility on his shoulders.

Also see,

5 Reasons Obama’s Election Is Bad For Race Relations (September 22, 2009)[3]

  1. Ta-Nehisi Coates:
  2. Affirmative Action:
  3. 5 Reasons Obama’s Election Is Bad For Race Relations (September 22, 2009):

Source URL: