Is Obama helping Black America?
While some blacks in the US.have been able to progress during Obama’s term, many problems in the African American community have actually gotten worse. That has some black leaders asking if Obama is doing enough for black America.
Trash on the streets; poverty and homelessness reaching critical mass. Urban decay described by some residents in Los Angeles’ Hyde Park neighborhood.
“This is a mess. The United States is a mess,” said Jejuan McCalebb, a Los Angeles resident.
The unsightly scenes in her neighborhood are rarely witnessed by America’s first family when fundraising in Los Angeles, but it is something McCalebb and her neighbors are faced with every day.
“I think he needs to come back to the lower level and see what we’re going through,” McCalebb said.
In a recent interview with Black Enterprise Magazine, President Obama said, “I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America.”
Still, that hasn’t satisfied people who believe he needs to do more to help African Americans in poor communities.
“The fact that black unemployment has remained consistent at 14 and 15 percent and as high as 20 plus percent for African American males, that’s a crisis.”
African Americans overwhelmingly supported President Obama four years ago, but since then, blacks in the US have also been disproportionately affected by the economic downturn.
“I’ve been living around here my whole life and I’ve just seen the structures crumble,” said South Los Angeles resident Trevor Swag.
While the U.S. unemployment remains right above 8 percent, the jobless rate for blacks is near Great Depression levels. In places like Los Angeles, 1-in-5 African Americans is without work.
Things are so bad, the Congressional Black Caucus and some black activists are demanding President Obama take an aggressive move in earmarking programs and initiatives aimed at poor black communities.
While the Obamas raise campaign money in swanky L-A neighborhoods, a new report shows the foreclosure crisis is now starting to wipe out much of the wealth black families worked for over generations.
Meantime, grassroots activists report that black voter enthusiasm is down. The incumbent president may not get the overwhelming backing of black voters like he did in 2008, but experts say he will get a majority of black supporters on his side thanks to his opponent’s poor choice of words.
“Mitt Romney and his using of racially coded language about welfare reform and other things is doing his best to motivate the African American community to get out the vote.”
Behind their grumblings, many black voters admit they’re optimistic of the man they overwhelmingly supported.
“In our families, in our communities, we never outwardly criticize our so called black leadership, whether they were selected or elected,” said Mzuri Pambeli of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party.
If there is a silver lining in the past four years for African Americans, black leaders praise Obama for his health care and education initiatives. Still, many of them feel the president is taking their vote for granted.
“I think the president can do a more courageous job of speaking up on racial disparity, not just on unemployment but in all walks of life.”
While the President walks a political tightrope over how to address issues affecting black communities, people like Jejuan McCalebb continue to hope change will come one day.