Is Obama Sending Mixed Messages?

By Malena Amusa May 14, 2007

I was shocked this morning when I read a small article in the New York Times about an interview Sen. Barack Obama had on ABC’s "This Week." On affirmative action, the story quoted Obama as saying: affirmative action programs should ultimately become “a diminishing tool for us to achieve racial equality in this society.” Diminishing?! Were these words taken out of context or is Obama reneging on comments he made during his successful 2004 bid for Senate when he said: "I want to make sure that today’s decision upholding affirmative action remains in force, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all those who make up our nation," according to a US Senate Race website. Later, I looked up the Washington Post story on the interview and learned that Obama’s full stance was: "if we have done what needs to be done to ensure that kids who are qualified to go to college can afford it, that affirmative action becomes a diminishing tool for us to achieve racial equality in this society." Ok, this sounds better. But to say that if and when all children have equal access to education then affirmative action will cease importance, is not a strong enough vote for affirmative action. It fails to address a real-time solution for a real-time crisis. And it reminds me of how President Bush deflected the affirmative action question at the 2004 UNITY Journalists of Color conference in Washington D.C. I was there. And he said something like, I affirmly support action toward good education. The massive crowd booed and hissed. Now, Obama’s showing some signs of diddling up language around affirmative action so as not to outright say he supports it. If not Obama…