The job situation in the USA is dire; records indicate that unemployment among African Americans is at all time high, almost as high as during the Martin Luther King years. It is being termed as the black recession by some and black depression by others. This year being an election year, it has become fodder for the opponents of President Barrack Obama. The rancorous GOP, which has been preaching the message of “make Obama a one term president” and endless propaganda with its presidential candidate are wishing and hoping that the unemployment hits sky high and remains there. However, of concern has been the high octane attacks directed at Obama by three eminent African-Americans, Prof. Cornel West, Prof. Boyce Watkins and Travis Smiley. Unemployment is the weapon of choice for shooting at the bull’s eye that is Obama. They believe the African American community has been left with the short end of the stick under the current administration.
The long and short of their umbrage are hinged on the fact that the president is not doing enough to help blacks, but he is profoundly busy talking about and defending gay rights, Hispanic rights, protection of the rights of undocumented but not doing anything about the high levels of black unemployment – and in the case of Prof. Boyce, not doing enough to get incarcerated blacks out of prisons created through an industrial prison system meant to manacle blacks in America. It may be understandable that hopes were high in the African American community as to what a black presidency could deliver, they though that he carried the hopes and dreams of the African American on his shoulders, but reality is different and more often than not, it disappoints. The administration of any government is a system in motion with competing and equally important interests, not a one man show which renders the very thought of Obama being a panacea dud.
I highly respect the three distinguished gentlemen but I find their arguments fundamentally and intellectually dishonest. This is because they are feigning ignorance of the reality and facts on the ground. Their assertion that Obama has not done enough for his “people” is not backed up by facts. Obama is not a president for blacks, he is not quintessentially for all intents and purposes a black president, he is the president of The United States of America. Obama is a paradox of our time. There is no contest that he is proud of his African heritage, the lengths and pains he went through to find out more about his father and his lineage tells a lot about the place that his African heritage occupies in his heart, but we should not be naïve, Obama is not Gerhard Schroeder, he was brought up by his mother, maternal grandparents and step a step father, this was long even before his father died. We did not bring him up or educate him, we cannot then “claim” him as our own by virtue of his African roots; we failed in our duty to bring him up. Only perhaps a man brought up by a single mother while the father roams the world can feel the emptiness of the void left by the absentee father.
Those people who are blaming Obama for not doing enough to salvage the situation have to understand that fiats will not improve the economic situation for African Americans, a stable and resurgent economy will. At present, it seems that there are groups of people hell-bent on rocking the economic revival boat. Their hate for Obama has no bounds and they want to see him fail. And all people of goodwill should not give them ammunition but rather support Obama in his quest to improve the economic, educational, health and social standards of those who have been marginalized for centuries. We cannot balk away from the fact that that African Americans have had it rough and tough in America throughout all periods, but for a select few to heap all blame on Obama is unacceptable and mischievous.
The president alone can do little; he needs the support and goodwill of both houses hand in glove to pass bills and approve policies. Congress and the senate have flagrantly played a part in the current economic quagmire, stalling efforts meant to uplift the economy but the three gentlemen are harping on the string of how Obama is a sell out without offering alternatives to Obama’s supposedly moribund policies and inactions. Let them point out the failings of the Obama presidency till now (e.g. there are those questioning why he is not commenting on innocent and defenseless children women and men killed as collaterals in drone strikes), and suggest way out, or if they cannot support Obama, let them as enlightened people capable of looking in the future explain their best bet for blacks in America. They are up to the task being brilliant minds.