‘Black Lives Matter represents hope for America's future’

© Shannon Stapleton
Whenever the black community goes to Barack Obama with specific and particular demands regarding the black condition, he dismisses the community with a wave, author and historian Gerald Horne told RT.

The US President spoke at a memorial service in Dallas for the five police officers who were killed last week by a sniper during a Black Lives Matter protest. The shooter, Micah Johnson, said he was "upset" with the anti police-brutality group.

On his flight to Texas, Barack Obama spoke by phone to relatives of the victims.

READ MORE: Party time: George Bush shocks America with little dance at Dallas police memorial service (VIDEO)

RT: In his speech, President Barack Obama said the American people “are not as divided as we seem.” Do you think people are buying that message?

Gerald Horne: I think people are chuckling or scowling at Barack Obama’s words. But to be fair to him, he is in a very difficult position. It is very difficult for him to acknowledge what increasingly historians have come to realize. That is to say that the US was founded on July 4, 1776 and no small measure as a revolt against the possibility that Britain would abolish slavery in North America. Rather than see their millions of dollars and slave property go down in flames, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and his comrades rebelled against the British crown. Then they established a nation that went on to import even more enslaved Africans objected to the system. Black people were then viewed correctly as rebels against the system. And that culture has yet to dissolve 240 years later. We are still viewed as potential criminals  

RT: How important could this issue be for Obama's legacy as president?

GH: I think it could be a legacy defining issue. The problem is that when the black community - which is largely responsible for Barack Obama being in the White House - comes to him with specific and particular demands speaking to the black condition, he dismisses this community with a wave, saying that he is the president of all the people and he cannot just address black issues. However, when other constituency comes to his doorstep, for example, the gay and lesbian community, he does not dismiss them with the wave; he tries diligently to address their issues. Now, to be fair to Mr. Obama, he has to face down a very formidable white racist constituency that objects strenuously to any concessions to black people. However, he should be honest and just concede and admit that basic fundamental fact.

Richard Becker from the anti-war Answer Coalition told RT:
“White people don’t face the same thing. That is the division, and pretending that racism doesn’t exist, and pretending that the police department doesn’t operate using extreme violence and employing racism and how they deal with the public that would be an illusion.”

RT: How do you view relations between police and black Americans? Is the mistrust any closer to being resolved?

GH: No, it’s abominable. Quite frankly, as a black person you play Russian roulette whenever you leave your house. You never know when a trigger-happy cop is going to stop you and put a bullet through your brain. This is no way to live. In fact, police have been known to even invade your house to attack you. So really there is no safe hiding place for you if you are a black person in the United States of America.

RT: The Black Lives Matter movement itself has come in for criticism with conservative commentators saying it is increasing divisions. How do you view its role?

GH: That’s nonsense. It is blaming the victim. Black Lives Matter is a breath of fresh air; it is a hope for the future. And obviously the critics are trying to throw dust in the eyes of the public. They are trying to distract attention from their own misdeeds and they should be treated with the ridicule they so richly deserve.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.