Grading Obama One Year Later
Having a black president in office has had a profound impact on how people of color view themselves as active members of the American body politic. Being able to see a President that looks very different than previous presidents goes a long way to making people who have felt disenfranchised feel a little less so. It may simply be a matter of aesthetics, but do not doubt how important aesthetics are to many people both nationally and internationally.
Over the course of the year the image of the United States has improved greatly on an international front. President Obama made a duty to reach out to foreign countries, many of whom have been critical, or at the very least lukewarm, to the United States under the Bush administration. Overall his efforts to engage these countries have been well received. His speech to the Muslim world in Egypt was especially a powerful moment not only for his early presidency, but for the country and world as a whole. I also believe that the immediate response to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti will go a long way in showing that America cares for people outside of its borders.
While I support the aesthetic value and much of the foreign policies that the Obama administration has undertaken, I do believe that much more needs to be done on the homefront to truly make his presidency one that benefits diversity. In many instances over the past year many people have felt that President Obama has tried to steer clear of all matters having to do with race and sexual orientation (aside from the Skip Gates controversy, which he has a vested interest since Gates was a personal friend). While it is very much understood why Obama would steer clear of these issues as he has a very full slate to handle, it is incredibly important that he begins to address some of the larger issues that disproportionately affect the diverse communities that came out in droves to vote for him. Don't ask don't tell, immigration reform, race relations, the higher than average unemployment rate for people of color among many other issues all need to be addresses in some manner if not by Obama himself, then by his administration as a whole.
It is my hope that Obama taps into the high amounts of good will that he continues to have with many people in America. While many do not neccessarily support his policies (which is fair), he still can make amazing inroads on changing not only this country but also diversity as a whole. My grade on the Obama administration is a B/B-. While definitely not great, his potential is still high.