February 25, 2009

A presidential press conference for Black History Month

Wolf Blitzer: Good morning, this is Wolf Blitzer. President Barack Obama has called an unexpected Black History Month press conference to, in his words, “Commemorate the occasion, honor Carter G. Woodson and do the right thing.” He used no speechwriters for this. Apparently, administration officials have no idea what he’s going to say. Let’s go to the White House as the president comes to the podium.

President Obama: Thank you all for coming out today. Now that the stimulus package has passed (even though no one knows if it will really work) and I’ve sent more troops to Afghanistan (proving I am indeed a hawk — just in a different country), I feel it’s important that I speak to something I’ve avoided like the plague to this point: the plight of black Americans. To date, outside of tossing my old preacher under the bus, I have publicly soft-peddled on this issue, chided black fathers for being ne’er-do-wells, and basically adopted the behavioral individualistic stances of misinformed people like Bill Cosby. No more.

I think all rational people, including myself, understood that these arguments were beneath my intellectual acumen. However, I used them because I knew they made the country’s core group comfortable. Predictably, they also pulled a good number of black folks who hate black folks closer to me.

Why am I about to make the following announcements? First, because black Americans are suffering disproportionately as a consequence of the legacies of slavery, segregation, discrimination and oppression. Listen. These are American citizens. They are not strangers or interlopers, but our brothers and sisters in the great American dream. While some of them have been successful in spite of the indescribable pressures heaped upon them, many others have folded under the weight. As I have said about our support of Israel, our support of this population must also be “sacrosanct.”

Second, black folks support me almost absolutely and without question. It’s time I earned it. Third, I have a great deal of guilt about the fact that many people mention me in the same breath as Martin Luther King Jr., when I refused to even mention him by name as I accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination or when I won the presidency. I can’t deal with that anymore.

And finally, because this is just the right thing to do.

Today, I’ve signed a number of executive orders that put several public policy initiatives and laws into place. First of all, I have ordered the formation of a National Committee on Racial Discrepancies. This will include elected officials, scholars and community advocates. No comedians, ballplayers or entertainers will be allowed. Related to this, I have ordered the immediate removal of D.L. Hughley from CNN. Beginning Monday, Drs. Cornel West and bell hooks will take over the hosting duties of that show.

Second, I am ordering a new stimulus package that targets black poverty. I know none of us wants to deal with poverty, but almost a quarter of black people are impoverished in this country. That’s triple the white poverty rate. Over one-third of black children are impoverished. That’s a crisis, folks. Something has to be done.

Third, I am launching a recruitment initiative for black male educators on the primary and secondary school levels. As we do with all high-demand workers, I will pay them accordingly. These positions will start out at $65,000 a year with lucrative incentive packages. I am determined to eradicate the embarrassingly high number of young black males failing educationally across this country. I think a new cadre of talented black male teachers is a good first step.

Fourth, for the next 50 years, any African-American citizen who is admitted will be able to attend any public college or university in the country for free. Let’s see what that does for African-Americans’ overall economic condition over time.

Finally, I am ordering the immediate arrest and incarceration of Shelby Steele, Rush Limbaugh, Clarence Thomas, Bill Cosby, Michael Savage and Ward Conerly. Why? These people are dangers to themselves and others.

I will announce a number of other initiatives in the coming weeks, including my Affirmative Action Augmentation Plan. I’ll take your questions now.

Martin (from Beyond): Malcolm? Hey, brother — it’s Martin. I have surprising news. The Obama kid is starting to get it. Tell Thurgood, Ida B. and the others we might be able to rest now.