Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Monday, April 28, 2008

    "There was a tragedy in New York. I said at the time, without benefit of all the facts before me, that it looked like a possible case of excessive force. The judge has made his ruling, and we're a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down... The most important thing for people who are concerned about that shooting is to figure out how do we come together and assure those kinds of tragedies don't happen again... Resorting to violence to express displeasure over a verdict is something that is completely unacceptable and counterproductive."

    Above are the comments from Senator Barack Obama on the despicable Sean Bell verdict, which has New York City and other parts of the country in an uproar. On Friday, the day of the verdict, the Michael Baisden radio show other black media outlets (even Wendy Williams) criticized Obama for not making a statement—even though the verdict was read just hours before.

    By the afternoon Obama was questioned on the Sean Bell verdict, which is the statement above. But, some people in the black community weren’t satisfied with Obama’s statement and felt he should’ve offered a sharper critique on police brutality.

    A dear friend of mine, who is a big Obama supporter, said to me, "Why not state the relations between the police and communities of color MUST change? I'm afraid that it he were President, it would be more of the same. He will be constantly trying to prove that can appeal to whites, without being too black. Obama should not take Black folks for granted.”

    Is Obama taking black folks for granted or are black folks taking him for granted?

    I think it's unfair to say, less than a few hours after the verdict was read, that the black presidential candidate has a responsibility to make a statement on a case that he is not completely familar with, didn't even happen in the state he represents and is intensely divided along racial lines. Why isn’t anyone demanding a statement from John McCain or Senator Hillary Clinton? Most importantly, Senator Clinton is the Senator of New York; she is the one who should be pressed to make a comment, not Obama -- this happened in her city. What about New York congressman Charles Rangel? The Governor of New York David Paterson? Lawd knows if Clinton did make a statement, which I doubt she will, if she took the side of the Sean Bell family—no one would be up in arms. However, if Obama did the same, people would shout that he is anti-white and doesn't support the police.

    One thing we as black folks need to realize is that Obama is not a black leader; he is a leader who is black. Being the president you must, or at least should, appeal to both sides. Senator Clinton isn't being pressured to make a comment on Sean Bell because as people of color we must always be the harbinger of hope and change in our community... unless of course you are a rapper, R&B singer, or sports star. You can piss on underage girls, molest children, rape women and still be called a genius.

    I don't want Barack Obama to lose the election simply because he is black, which is what will happen if he is forced to respond to Reverend Wright's latest interview and speech, give an opinion on Sean Bell, blasted by Tavis Smiley for not attending the Black State of the Union, admits whether or not he likes hip-hop, does the electric slide, or sing the theme song from Good Times! As much as the Republicans and the Clintons have “nig'rafied” Obama, I don’t want him to mention anything black till January of 2009!

    Are you wearing black? Wear black today for the injustice verdict in the Sean Bell case.

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    Posted by Clay :: 1:50 AM :: 17 comments

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