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A day or two after Barack Obama was elected president, a colleague with an international reputation for political savvy commented that George W. Bush had made it possible for Obama to be president.

“No,” I responded. “You can’t give that to Bush single-handedly. There is a whole history, a backlog of effort, not to mention Obama’s strategic genius, to explain the outcome of the election. Bush may have weakened the gate, but Obama pushed it open, and he had a whole group of folks, much bigger and more diverse than the Verizon network, behind him.”

The idea that white folks are the ones who make things happen, that they are the motive force fueling any black accomplishment, persists as a misconception. White folks have agency, black folks do not; white folks are doers, black folks are takers. Of course, not everyone thinks or feels that way, but some still do, and not necessarily through individual fault alone. The media often subscribe to the notion that accomplishment is an exception for blacks, not a given. Rather, criminality is their constant, and so too disadvantage.


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