In the interest of full disclosure let’s establish a couple of things: 1) I am African-American 2) I voted for Barack Obama twice. With that said, let’s get to work.
Allow me to explain why I voted for the President. First of all he was the better candidate. I simply could not get past Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping, non-disclosure of his taxes, and of course the dubious 47 percent. The President was more consistent and ran on a platform that I mostly agreed with, with respect to the economy, foreign policy, green energy, and women’s rights to name a few.
I am also not disillusioned by what is possible for the President to accomplish. I am not of the opinion that it is the President’s job to fix all the ails of this country or even any given community. I have been broke and I have had plenty in my life and I cannot necessarily direct any lacking or prosperity in my life at any particular administration, with exception of the mortgage collapse of 2007 under George W. Bush. I do feel for the most part,that people should spend more time focusing on their individual decisions for their lives rather than what’s being done or not in Washington. In other words I don’t expect a whole lot from any politician. However, the obvious condition of the current black state (and other minorities as well) is at least noteworthy if not alarming.
Here are the numbers:
Race/Ethnicity January 2013
Black or African-American 13.8%
Hispanic or Latino 9.7%
Does anything stick out? It’s like watching an episode of Sesame Street right? Which one of these doesn’t belong here? Black unemployment is nearly double that of Caucasians. Why is that? I am not going to go into all the components in this forum, but my larger point is that this needs to be addressed. It would need to be addressed if the President were white. You are only as strong as your weakest link. As much as some people would prefer, we don’t live in our own separate bubbles where our woes and successes don’t affect one another.
In 5 years of the Obama presidency I have not heard a single statement about addressing this specific anomaly. We have had equal pay for women, gays getting married and serving openly in the military, and so on. All of that is great by the way, but absolutely no acknowledgement for Black unemployment. Can the President fix this by himself? No. Nor can he fix gun violence by himself, but at least he is a voice for it and that is all that I am asking. Again, no disillusions here.
NET WORTH BY RACE 2012:
Wow. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well at this point is about 450 words, but whose counting? In all seriousness, this is a perfect illustration of my point. White net worth is approximately 22 times that of black net worth in this country. Now let’s be clear, I am not here to say that all of this disparity is due to racism. In my opinion there are many factors that contribute to the startling dynamic: classism, education (or lack thereof), and to some degree just plain old ignorance.
As far as the economics go, it comes down to a lack of financial diversity. The average African-American and Hispanic has most of their net worth in the equity in their property. So when housing prices plummeted in 2007 due the aforementioned mortgage crisis, then in concert, the wealth of minorities was adversely impacted. Housing markets were down in all across the country, but because Whites have their assets diversified they were able to weather the storm better.
I frequently listen to talk radio (on the left and right) and I commonly hear an ad for a company that encourages people to invest in gold. If you invest in enough gold with them, (at least $5000.00) then the company will give you a free safe. My mind is blown away every time I hear this ad. Who are they talking to? What person can afford to invest $5000 into anything, least of all gold that you don’t wear? According to the statistics I have provided the average black couldn’t qualify for the free safe if he exhausted his entire net worth. I am not challenging the validity of the ad, I am simply trying to point out the glaring economic and cultural differences.
All the while the silence from Washington is deafening. Why do I point out Washington? President Obama received 96% of the Black vote. We have earned a voice. I understand that the President is the President for ALL Americans, and I agree with that standard. However, in the sense of “fairness” that this President has no problem using as a platform for his tax policies, somehow cannot manage to be a voice for the Americans that are the most disenfranchised. Can the President fix the problem alone, and is it his responsibility alone? No, but again, that is not what I am asking for. What I am asking for is some acknowledgement of the 800 pound gorilla in the room. This administration has taken up a lot of causes in the past five years, whether its equal pay, repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell”, or universal healthcare. While all of those issues had different paths to being corrected, the one thing that they all have in common was someone being bold enough to admit that there was a problem and a disparity. The encouraging thing is, with three years left in this administration, it’s not too late.