Kam Williams | 12/16/2009, 5:16 a.m.
AP photo/Rich Schultz

How do we save our young men, then? Where are the black male role models?

There’s only one way to save young black people, and that’s to love ‘em, love ‘em, love ‘em, care for ‘em, attend to them, embrace them, target them, concentrate on them, and make them feel as if they’re somebody, because that’s the only way they get self-respect and self-confidence, which are the two prerequisites for flowering and flourishing in life.

How would you say President Obama is doing on a scale of 1 to 10?

It depends on which issue you’re talking about. On ecology and the environment, I would give him a 7. On war, I’d give him a 3. On the economy, a 2. In terms of his trying to sustain a new atmosphere and new ethos in the country and around the world, I’d give him an 8. So, it goes up and down, relative to each issue.

 So…we haven’t turned a corner just because we have a black president?

We certainly haven’t turned a corner. Not at all. And we’re a long way from there being a level playing field, just like we’re a long way from poor people enjoying the same opportunities as the well-to-do. It depends on the quality of our struggle, the quality of our commitment and the quality of our conviction.

Why do you refer to everyone by either brother or sister, even if they’re not black?

All human beings are vanishing creatures and disappearing organisms trying to find a little meaning and love before they die. In that sense, we’re all trying to work it out. And when I say “brother” or “sister” to every person without regard to color, or culture or civilization, I’m just paying tribute to their struggling.

Do you think Barack Obama is being treated less fairly or with less dignity than previous presidents?

Yes, by Brother Rush [Limbaugh], Brother Sean [Hannity] and Brother Bill O’Reilly. I think they hardly respect him at all. In fact, I think they are very demeaning and disrespectful. On the other hand, the liberal press has been so deferential, that they haven’t engaged in the criticisms that they should. So, it cuts both ways. Barack Obama needs to be protected, and he needs to be respected, but he also needs to be corrected. Criticisms are important when they’re based on principle, man, because in the end, it’s not about Obama, it’s about poor people and working people.