Obama’s indifference has hurt African-Americans
President Obama’s tenure has been marked by complete indifference toward African-Americans.
Two years ago, BET reporter Andre Showell posed a question to Obama at a press conference to mark the president’s first 100 days in office. Showell noted double-digit unemployment among blacks and asked Obama, “What specific policies can you point to that will target these communities and what's the timetable for us to see tangible results?”
“My general approach is that if the economy is strong, that it will lift all boats,” Obama replied.
Under his presidency, the opposite has occurred: The “rising tide” has instead swamped Black America.
Black male unemployment, which stood at 17.2 percent when Showell posed his question, would exceed 20 percent as the crisis deepened, with never a hint of targeted policy consideration from the Obama administration. Today, at 17.0 percent, black male unemployment for those 20 and over is more than twice that of white men (8.1 percent). Overall black joblessness has also sharply grown under Obama’s economic tutelage, as African-Americans disproportionately crowd the corridors of the long-term and “discouraged” unemployed.
Black wealth has virtually disappeared. The bottom has fallen out from under whole communities, with blacks hit by far the hardest. By the second quarter of 2010, black homeownership declined from its 2007 level of 48 percent to 46.2 percent. Median wealth for single black women at the top of their earning capacity, ages 36 to 49, was precisely $5 — five dollars! — in 2010.
Obama must bear direct responsibility for this, both as candidate and president. During the 2008 election campaign, Obama took the most pro-banker, laissez faire position on home foreclosures of the three major Democratic presidential candidates. John Edwards backed a mandatory moratorium on foreclosures and a freeze on interest rates, while Hillary Clinton supported a “voluntary” halt and $30 billion in federal aid to homeowners. But Obama opposed any moratorium, mandatory or voluntary, and balked at cash for homeowners and stricken communities. As president, his program to stem the flow of foreclosures has been near worthless in slowing the spiral that has taken down much of what once considered itself the black middle class.
Having collaborated in two recent major budget agreements with the Republicans that have already wiped out many of the life supports for African-Americans, Obama promises further pain. His proposed budgetary formula this time has only $1 in closed corporate loopholes and higher taxes on the rich for every $3 sliced from federal spending, most of it from education, health and other social programs.
Where previous Democratic administrations have been neglectful of black communities, Obama’s policy has been that of absolute unconcern.
Glen Ford is executive editor of BlackAgendaReport.com. He can be contacted at pmproj [at] progressive [dot] org.
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