Take A Cue From Pres. Obama When Discussing Ferguson

March 14th 2015

Ashley Nicole Black

President Obama was on Jimmy Kimmel on Thursday and amidst the jokes, he had an important message to share. The night before the taping, two police officers were shot during a protest in Ferguson, Missouri. and the President's remarks demonstrated that it is possible to talk about Ferguson in nuanced and fair way. Watch the clip below: 

Here's what we can learn from the way the President speaks about the events in Ferguson:

  • He does not jump to conclusions about who fired the shots
  • He expresses empathy for the injured officers and their families
  • He talks about the events within a historical context. This is an important one, America has a long history of not being the best when it comes to how Black Americans are treated. It is disingenuous to talk about current racial situations as one-off or isolated occurrences. Racial conflicts are most effectively discussed within the context of historical, systematic oppression.
  • The President acknowledges that oppression, and expresses respect for the protestors (protesting is pretty freakin' American after all) while also condemning any violence or crime that takes place at the protests.
  • He urges us no to allow a few criminals to detract from the important issue being protested.
  • And provides an example for how two sides can work together towards a solution. He created a task force that brought police officers and young protestors together to come up with solutions and acknowledged both the difficulties that police face in doing their jobs, and the real grievances that protestors have about the racially biased ways they have been treated by law enforcement. 
  • The President reminds us that on both sides (police officers and protestors), those who commit violence are marginalized and in the minority. And cautions us not to generalize about either group.
  • He also acknowledges that laws, and law enforcement in Ferguson disproportionately target and impact impoverished people and people of color.
  • He advises us not to be complacent in the face of racism, but also not to despair. Things are getting better. 

We can learn a lot from our Commander in Chief on this issue. So next time you find yourself in an argument about race, try to be a little more Presidential about it. 

Just for fun, here are some more clips of President Obama on Jimmy Kimmel last night. Once he's finished being President, he might have a nice career in comedy waiting for him.

The President explains that he isn't allowed to drive.

Wants you to know his plans for helping with student loans.

And most importantly, he wants you to VOTE!

You can register to vote at www.ourtime.org