One thing is sure about President Barack Obama’s legacy. When black leaders express outrage and march to protest high black unemployment rates under a future white president and administration, the answer should be: “Wait a minute. You didn’t go after Obama for 14 percent black unemployment rates, so don’t come after me.”
The average black unemployment rate for February and March stood at 13.5 percent. Economist Walter E. Williams states that black youth unemployment is more than 40 percent nationally and in some cities unemployment of black working-age males is more than 50 percent.
Yet, we have heard no real expressions of outrage or condemnation of Obama for the plight of blacks by the NAACP, Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), or the other usual suspects who would be all over a Republican, or even a white Democratic president with such deplorable numbers.
The National Urban League’s State of Black America report for 2013 released this month states that, notwithstanding social and economic gains, the African-American equality gap with whites has changed little since the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom 50 years ago. The League’s senior vice president said that the report “underscores that employment remains the biggest barrier to equality in our country . . .”
So why the silence?
The reason was given two months before the election.
Then CBC Chairman Emanuel Cleaver was widely quoted saying that, “if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House . . . the president knows we are going to act in deference to him in a way we wouldn’t to someone white.”
Mr. Cleaver and the other silent black leaders think they can give Obama a pass and then try to hold a white president’s feet to the fire and make demands when Obama is long gone.
As so-called leaders looking out for their black flock, they have blown their credibility.
Maybe they should take a page out of the book of Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson who said that Obama should “bring home the bacon . . . Our people in an overwhelming way supported the re-election of this president and there ought to be a quid pro quo . . .”
But, on the other hand, why should they complain now? After all, blacks gave Obama 93 percent of their vote and a recent poll suggests that blacks may not be too concerned.
According to a February Zogby on-line poll of 1,002 black Americans commissioned by Bob Johnson, BET founder and Chairman of the RLJ Companies:
- 91 percent had a favorable opinion of Obama
- 72 percent said his election helped “in the lives of most African-Americans”
- 30 percent said their personal finances “are better off now than they were four years ago and 48 percent said they are “about the same”
- 44 percent felt that blacks are “about the same “as they were four years ago” while 25 percent say they are “better off”
So what or who is at fault for a black unemployment rate twice that for whites?
Based on the survey results, it is not Obama’s failed economic policies. Fifty percent believed that it was caused by the failure of the “education system for minorities/African Americans; while only 25 percent blamed lack of “good government policies.”
As Mr. Johnson told a National Press Club audience recently, this country “would never tolerate white unemployment at 14 and 15 percent” and that no one “would ever stay in office at such rates.”
Well, blacks obviously have no problem with it as long as it is coming from a liberal black Democratic president. Blacks didn’t ask for anything or get anything in return for the 93 percent support — Hispanics and the gay rights community, on the other hand, got some “bacon” — they demanded it.
Selective outrage seems to be reserved for Republicans, black or white, who advocate alternative policies and options for dealing with unemployment and other problems impacting urban America.
As more and more African Americans careen to the back of the economic bus, the sound of silence is deafening, disturbing, and disgraceful from Obama’s fellow “black elite” so-called leaders on his inability to get the economy going and his lack of attention to the plight of his black “brothers and sisters.” They delivered votes for him, but his economy has not delivered jobs for them as they teeter on the edge of the economic cliff.
As to expressions of outrage, speeches, and marches to the White House demanding action, don’t count on it as long as “Bro Prez” is in the White House.
To be fair, Congresswoman Maxine Waters of the CBC was a lonely voice over two years ago: "We want to give him every opportunity, but our people are hurting. The unemployment is unconscionable. We don't know what the strategy is."
The same applies today more than ever. Where are those in the black leadership who have the courage to echo Ms. Waters' criticism today?
Let me predict what will happen if a Republican returns to the White House in 2016 — or even a white Democrat. You can be sure that that all hell will break loose if he or she fails to help inner cities and the struggling middle black class within the first 100 days in office. That is if there is any black middle class left after eight years of “Obamanomics.”
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as the Reagan presidential campaigns and has appeared on many national and local media outlets. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee — Click Here Now.
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