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12 Mar, 2010 20:48

Blacks left out of Obama agenda

Although African-Americans were overjoyed with the election of US President Barack Obama, black unemployment remains high. Is Obama neglecting the black community for fear of being seen as an angry black man?

A recent study found that the median wealth of single black women is $5 in their prime earning years. In comparison, the median wealth of single white women between 36 and 49 is $42,600. As the financial crisis drags on, unemployment rates are continuing to rise among minorities in the United States while rates of home ownership fall. Is this an indication that US President Barack Obama not doing enough to help African-Americans?

He started off his administration with a great deal of hope, an immense amount of support, but his tendency is to be very cautious, so many of us in the black community have felt that he has not been the kind of force that we need right now,” said Bill Fletcher, Jr., columnist for The Black Commentator.

Many blacks in the United States felt that Obama’s election was the culmination of a long road stretching from the era of slavery and through the civil rights movement. They came out in record numbers to work for his campaign and also to vote. A study released in January by the Pew Research Center on the anniversary of Obama’s inauguration found that most African-Americans still viewed Obama positively and were optimistic about the future.

However, in a meeting with the president on March 11, members of the Congressional Black Caucus confronted Obama about his record thus far. The congressional leaders accused Obama of not listening to them and neglecting poor blacks.

There is absolutely a feeling that this president does not feel comfortable specifically addressing issues of race,” said Fletcher. "President Obama is very concerned about being perceived by white Americans as the angry black man, whereas leaders in the black community feel that he needs to be more upfront about talking about issues of race.”

Still, more than half of African-Americans are optimistic about the future and believe that race relations in America have improved.

“We are very proud that there is an African American president and we want him succeed,” said Fletcher. “There is a reluctance by many African-Americans to publicly criticize Barack Obama , but I feel that there is a very constructive way to criticize President Obama in order to push him to advance the agenda that we need."