That middle-of-the-road guy we saw on the campaign trail was also fist-bumping, singing Al Green and listening to Common. Surely he would honor his roots, and black folks would have something coming.
Aquil put it more bluntly. "Some of us have issues — this sense of entitlement," she said. "We're always looking for the hookup. People thought, 'We have one in office now. We're going to get this or that.'"
Obama has collected high-profile black detractors — academics, politicians, commentators — disappointed that he hasn't done more to tackle poverty and racial injustice.
"The president owes Black folk. BIG time," wrote commentator Tavis Smiley in the Huffington Post.
"Other constituencies have gained ground under Obama," Smiley told me. "But unless something significantly different is about to happen in this second term, the numbers may well indicate that black people did worse under Obama."
"Black people have had his back," Smiley said. But other groups seem to have his ear: Latinos on immigration reform. Women on healthcare rights. Gays and lesbians on marriage.
Those groups are following a path we trod generations ago, galvanized by Martin Luther King Jr., pounding on the door to end Jim Crow.
But the broad problems impeding black progress today — unemployment, poor education, incarceration — aren't so focused, so fundamental, as getting permission to sit at the front of a bus or drink from a whites-only fountain.
The last 50 years of "two steps forward, one step back" have shown that we can't undo the damage of generations of injustice simply by passing a law.
"Obama did some concrete things to make life better," the Rev. Al Sharpton insisted. "People want him to put his fist up and say, 'This is the black agenda.'
"He is not that kind of president … and we should not expect him to be."
Some of the criticism is just "player hating" by blacks trying to build support for their own agendas, Sharpton said.
"The black community is not monolithic now and never has been. But people stood in line for five and seven hours to vote for this president.... We understand what we're up against."
Obama was hobbled in his first term by a sinking economy, Republican opposition and his own timidity. Now he owes it to the nation to do more to shrink a privilege gap. Too many blacks are stranded in an underclass that Obama can't continue to ignore.
I had expected to hear that sentiment as I combed the streets talking with black people about Obama. I found plenty of disappointment — jobs lost, homes foreclosed, children stuck in failing schools — but few people willing to blame the man in the Oval Office.
Their disappointment, it seems, has been tempered by an unexpected effect: the impact on the American psyche of the image that Obama projects.
The Rev. Thomas Bowen sees it in the youth group he leads at venerable Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
"Before, the best these kids would hope for was to get a good government job," he said. "Now they see their possibilities and potential as being unlimited and endless … that all they need to do is apply themselves. They can't fall back on excuses."
Aquil feels it. "You hear people say Obama's not black enough. I don't know what that means. Is that because he's not the stereotype of the black male.... He's not vulgar and boisterous and loud?