An Open Letter to President Obama on the Matter of Assata Shakur

Dear Mr. President,

First of all, let me congratulate you on your massive re election win back in November. I voted for you and am proud to have done so. However, I am troubled by the recent act by your administration of placing Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, on the most wanted domestic terrorist list. To be perfectly honest, one of my problems with you, Mr. President, is that I’ve never felt comfortable trusting you to handle the problems of Black America, and this move against Shakur illustrates my point.

Do you understand that this one act has the effect of retroactively criminalizing the very movement that made your ascent to the White House possible? Do you understand the historic stain that you have allowed your Justice Department to paint all over the Black community?

With one fell swoop you have labeled everyone, from Dr. Martin Luther King on down to me as a domestic terrorist, and proclaimed our demands for equality and freedom from Jim Crow back in the day as nothing more than acts of terrorism against the United States. We’re not Terrorists, Mr. President. We are Americans. Americans who have routinely and systematically been excluded from the melting pot that America proclaims itself to be.

The announcement by the Police and Federal officials in New Jersey this week, called the continued hunt for Shakur an open wound dating back some 40 years. Well what about the open wounds inflicted by COINTELPRO on Black people, Mr. President. Shakur is a classic example of what this covert government agency inflicted on my people (not sure if they’re yours) during the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There was no mention of governmental complicity during the news conference. Did you think that all of us who might remember had died off or maybe decided to stay quiet since we’re older now?

We’re older, Mr. President, but we haven’t gone away, primarily because despite working our asses off to see you live in the White House, things haven’t gotten any better for us in the past few years. Some of that is conservative bigoty, but much of it is you, Mr. President. We’re still not living in full economic, non racist harmonic American equality. The American dream has yet to roll down my street. Not even with you in charge of the White House and your designate Eric Holder in control of the Just-us department. No I didn’t misspell Justice, Mr. President. Real Black people know that it’s always been Justice for them and Just-us for us.

I keep waiting for you to take a stand for Black people, Mr. President. I keep waiting for you to find some empathy for those who look like you look. You tell the world that you’re minority. You make jokes about it. You get mad when someone says otherwise. And lord knows you take enough crap from even the minor masters of the universe for appearing to be Black.

assata-shakur-most-wantedTrouble is, Mr. President, you don’t even feel Black to me. You’ve got the cool Black factor working. You do look good in your Ray Bans as you step out of your armored Escalade. But when it comes to deep down understanding, you are seriously lacking in knowledge, passion and feeling for what it is to be a Black man in America. Your election did not come close to making America post racial. How many times does some white guy have to question your intelligence before you get mad enough to realize that.

I just don’t get how you and Eric Holder could miss the incredible symbolism attached to making Assata Shakur a domesticc terrorist. You may as well have gone to Angela Davis’ house, kicked down her door, and slapped cuffs on her saying double jeopardy is no longer in force. Same difference.

Amid your fight for gays and lesbians and immigrants and Latinos, your administration just told all of Black America that we don’t count, and that we never counted. Even if you really feel that way, I personally thought you were smarter than that. Hell, I’ve been waiting for five years for some sign that you were smarter than you appear. But then again, some of the dumbest people that I know personally are academic geniuses, sporting all the book learning in the world yet not a lick of common sense.

I personally thought that you were strong enough to resist the allure and overwhelming addiction of power that comes with the Oval Office. I was wrong, apparently. You’re so into the power that you’ve chosen to make the power grab retroactive. Our civil liberties are being wiped out. Not by the man who created the law, but by the man, you, who succeeded him.

I keep waiting for you to shed tears for Black America, Mr. President, because it is disappearing before your eyes. I keep waiting for you to choke up over the very visible inequities still written into the social system that controls American lives.

But the act of making Assata Shakur a domestic terrorist most wanted means I’m going to be waiting a long time for real black understanding coming from the White House.

You already know the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Well it’s a good thing you can’t run for a third term, because I can’t in all honesty support someone who continues to work against me and my community to its detriment. That is insanity and I’m promise you, I am not crazy. I know when to quit.

And I’m done….

Respectfully yours,


P.S. if you’re not too busy creating jobs, take the time to watch the following: