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On Martha’s Vineyard, Black Elites Ponder the Past Year

A passer-by, right, walks past a storefront that features cut-outs of President Barack Obama, left, and first lady Michelle Obama, center, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
A passer-by, right, walks past a storefront that features cut-outs of President Barack Obama, left, and first lady Michelle Obama, center, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Sarah Wheaton, POLITICO

 
EDGARTOWN, Mass. (Politico) – For America’s black elite, this year’s seasonal sojourn to Martha’s Vineyard turned into a soul-searching retreat.

The shooting of a young, unarmed black man in Ferguson, Mo., last year did little to disrupt the annual idyll of upper-class blacks on this island 1,200 miles away. Photos showed President Barack Obama dancing at a soiree for political power couple Vernon and Ann Jordan as Ferguson burned. The next afternoon he delivered an anodyne statement urging calm without mentioning race.

Obama returned this year for his sixth summer in office on Martha’s Vineyard, the island off the Massachusetts coast that has been a vacation destination for upwardly mobile African Americans for more than a century. But this year, many of the black doctors, lawyers, executives, professors and politicians who gather here to enjoy the sunshine, surf and cultural events are grappling with the realization that there may not be quite as much to celebrate as they once hoped.

Yes, the country has been led by a black president for nearly seven years. But images from body cameras and smart phones that have splashed police killings of unarmed black men across televisions and the Internet over the past year have forced the black elite to recognize — along with the rest of America — that their highest tide has left some boats sinking faster than ever.

 

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