|As he travels around the country in his effort to become the nation's first black president, Obama has engaged in an intense competition for black voters -- a crucial Democratic Party constituency that accounts for as much as half the electorate in some key primary states such as South Carolina. But the first-term senator, who has sought to present himself as an agent of change eager to challenge political convention, has taken the unusual route of publicly criticizing his own community.|
or the fact his aides are saying enough publicly to make people think Obama is trying a softer Sister Souljah.
|Obama has been criticized for hypocrisy on the issue because he met in his Chicago office last year with the rapper Ludacris, who has been in a public feud over his lyrics with one of Obama's biggest boosters, Oprah Winfrey.|
Obama aides acknowledge their eagerness to appeal to older black leaders. "It's very important because of who votes," said one Obama adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "The generation that is of the civil rights era are pretty reliable voters."
But the concerns Obama is addressing are not just the province of older African Americans.
"I consider myself a hip-hop child, but I think his criticism is right on," said Jared Roebuck, 21, a black student at City College of New York who attended one of Obama's speeches and wrote about it on his blog.
....And there is a more general concern that Obama is saying these things as political positioning. Lacewell likened them to a speech Bill Clinton gave in 1992 when he criticized hip-hop artist Sister Souljah, who had said after riots in Los Angeles, "If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people."
That speech was largely seen as an effort to allow Clinton to distance himself from parts of the black community in a bid to win over white centrist voters. Aides said that is not the case with Obama's recent rhetoric, pointing to a 2006 speech he gave at a Chicago church after a pair of shootings in a black neighborhood and before his presidential candidacy.