By Alan Caruba
January 16, 2012 – Dr. Martin Luther King Day.
It is always a difficult endeavor for a White man to write about the African American—Black—population. The suspicion of prejudice always lingers, but it must also be said that many White people, particularly those who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, are seriously disappointed with him and, not surprisingly, so are many Blacks.
A quintessential Black liberal, Harry Belafonte, has been quite open regarding his unhappiness with Obama. Belafonte marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the Civil Rights era. In a recent interview he said that Obama had “a splendid opportunity to do more than most presidents would have ever been able to do and he let that opportunity slip away from him,” adding “I think if there was a kind of moral compass serving Barack Obama in the way we had all hoped, the moral force would have helped him make choices.” And where there is no moral force?
Belafonte is, of course, speaking for himself, but a January 2nd Associated Press article by Jocelyn Noveck, “Hollywood Stars less Vocal in Obama Support”, suggests that those who might be expected to be strong supporters of Obama have also experienced second thoughts. Matt Damon, who campaigned for Obama, told Elle magazine, “I think he misinterpreted his mandate.” Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs told Source magazine “I just want the president to do better.”
Black, White, Hispanic, or Asian, Americans have taken Obama’s measure over the past three years, but for Blacks the expectations were likely even higher than the rest of the population.
Forty-four years since the assassination of Dr. King, Blacks in America continue to experience difficulties that reflect a community plagued with social problems.
The Civil Right Act of 1964, passed in the wake of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, tore down the century of barriers that Blacks had endured. White Americans took pride in ridding the nation of this stain on its reputation. The election of a Black President was symbolic of the progress that had been made.
In early January, Julianne Malveaux, president of Bennett College for Women in Greensboro, North Carolina, wrote an editorial, “African-Americans Lose, While Others Gain.” While unemployment plagues American workers, Malveaux noted that the “African American unemployment rate increased from 15.5 to 15.8 percent,” adding that “the estimate of the African American unemployment rate”, in real terms, was “a whopping 28.3 percent.”
Every President gets blamed for unemployment and Obama took office in the wake of a huge financial crisis that began as former President Bush’s second term was coming to an end. Massive bailouts kept the banking system from collapse, but it must also be said that Obama’s solutions, his stimulus programs, have been judged to have been failures.
Moreover, Obama has added more debt in three years than all previous presidents combined, from Washington to Clinton. As a result, he became the first President to preside over the downgrade of America’s sovereign debt rating.
It is just my opinion, but I believe that among Obama’s legacy will be the likelihood that it will be a generation or more before another Black politician is elected to lead the nation.
It must be said that African Americans have made progress. They will make progress.
Data posted on BlackDemographics.com set the 2010 Black population at 42 million, 13.6% of the U.S. population of 308.7 million.
The statistics regarding America’s African-American population, however, paint a daunting picture. Despite the passage of the Civil Rights Act at least half of the male Black population nationwide has been in prison.
African American women have 30% of all abortions and, according to the 2010 Census, Black females make up less than 14% of the total population.
From 1974 to 2004, the median income fell 12% for Black men while rising 75% for Black women. Other sources state that African Americans accounted for half of all new HIV diagnoses and, in 2009, just under half of new AIDS diagnoses.
Most certainly these statistics and others do not reflect anything that a Black President could impact in three years, but they suggest that the African American community is in serious trouble and that being a Black President is simply not enough. Still, one is mindful of the political risks his predecessors took to right a wrong.
The Democratic Party's answer has always been to throw money at such problems. It hasn’t worked. Politically, the great irony of Black support for the Democratic Party is that it was the party that fought against the Civil Rights Act and other measures to end the infamous Jim Crow measures in Southern States.
It’s not too soon to question whether Obama will receive the level of support given him by African Americans and by liberals in 2008. I doubt it. He has squandered the greatest opportunity ever given any man.
© Alan Caruba, 2012
Not Obama, particularly, but liberalism in general is IMO the culprit. You can't give self-respect and self-esteem; it must be earned. You can't set up an inescapable dependency system and have independent people.
Part of MLK's message was, essentially, define your own reality, do for your self and be independent and self-sufficient.
That part of his shtick has been ignored both by the white liberal and these so-called leaders of the black community.
I'd trade a thousand Obamas, J. Jacksons or A. Sharptons for one Thomas Sowell, any day.
I certainly agree with one aspect that it will be a generation or more before we elect another black president. Non-black people do NOT want to be labeled as racist everytime they want to disagree with a president's performance. The whole racism accusation either scares off people who want a voice in what is going on or ends up diluting the argument or causing it to sway off course. People want to be able to criticize the president and not be called racist.
Since there does not seem to be any way to alleviate this serious concern of be accused of something we are not...it is much easier to do away with criteria that has allowed this false argument to occur. So, if we don't elect anymore black presidents then we no longer can be called racist when we talk about the bad job he is doing. It really is that simple.
Alan, race is a sensitive issue and so having said that I would like to say the following.
South Africa has roughly the same amount of blacks as the USA and their statistics probably read the same to those you've just mentioned. No matter how you'd like to wish it away or not discuss it, race determines IQ. Of course there are the exceptions. In South Africa, the average IQ for blacks is 67 - I believe in the USA it is 10 points higher. When you have the whites with an average of 100 and the Asians at nearly 110, then it's not too difficult to see why African Americans are struggling to make any gains. Add to that their sense of entitlement (brainwashed into them by Liberals) and the absence of personal responsibility, then it's a guarantee that this will only get worse in the future. Who would have thought that after 40 years, African Americans, with all the advantages of affirmative action behind them, would still be struggling to make a mark?
I would also like someone to clarify why African Americans thought that Obama would make their lives easier. Did they think that just because a half-black man was voted President, they would be entitled to be treated differently? If the answer is yes, then no wonder they are hugely disappointed in him.
MLK has won - Americans of all races and in all section of the country pretty agree on one thing at the personal level - Racism is a thing of the past!
In record numbers American marry and/or mate with members of different races, and some of the most intelligent/beautiful people in the world are the results of these unions.
Seattle, Washington is of those big city melting pots where on a Saturday afternoon at Westlake Park in the middle of the business/shopping district, a male visitors will be well reward with rich "eye candy" of an endless parade of good looking and well dressed European, African and Asian women...and for the most part they are AMERICANS.
Yes, Dr. King's vision has come true EXCEPT for reactionary white Leftist racists and their black racist allies like Obama whose minds are stuck on stupid in about 1955.
Leftist racism is one major reason socialism must be destroyed in the USA....and the world.
Destroy socialism and you kill political racism - It's really just as simple as that...
Another timely and well written essay on where we are on racism. What always annoys me about Affirmative Action is that it depends upon purposeful racial discrimination to be effective. I whole-heartedly support a color-blind system, but when you start "helping" groups on the basis of their race, you've begun to shoot yourself in the foot with the gun still in its holster.
Excellent article! They all miss the most crucial point in their support or lack thereof of Obama. They "just want him to do better', but to do what? To follow some sort of moral compass that liberals will accept, and what is that? The very same things that helped destroy traditional values creating a dependant population that feel it is owed. All of the problems you outlined are "more" of what these people want. They are the same kind of people that think those 20th century monsters; Castro and Che are heroes of the people. This kind of thinking is the narcotic of the insane left. All those who profess to be lefties, commie, progressives, greenies, liberals and any other incarnation of socialism, are proponents of dystopia. Dystopia follows socialism just as Sancho Panza, who after abandoning his traditional life with his family, chose to follow Don Quixote...a mad man. Traditional values have stood the test of time, so we have abandoned them for the latest philosophical flavor of today, and yesterday, and tomorrow, etc. I wonder if any of these people ever wonder why society appears like waves being destructively washed up against the rocks? We have abandoned everything that gives anchors to our lives.
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