Why Blacks Need A New President

“There was an expectation, particularly among African Americans, that the first African-American president would at least be vocal about feeling their pain,” Blow said last week on MSNBC’s Hardball. “I think that has not been the case. The president has given a couple of speeches and he has been very heavy on the stick and not very heavy with the carrot… Just in the inability for him to commiserate with that group of people, people feel a bit deflated… He said he’s not going to focus separately on African-American issues at all. That let a lot of people down.” - Charles Blow

As we begin the second half of President Obama’s first term I think it is important for black Americans to access what having the first black President has meant in terms of their overall well-being. As someone who has stated and understands that President Obama is not the President of black America but of all America I understand the limits of his influence. My concern though is that with the rising tide of the teabaggers and the constant push back provided by Limbaugh and Beck saying the President is racist against white people this President will actually do less for black Americans than a liberal white President would do. Why? Because a white President would not have to defend his support for black issues as some sort of undercover reparations or be afraid to discuss black issues in public.

It’s funny but having the first black President has been a dual edged sword. On the one hand we have been given the boost to our pride of finally achieving the highest office in the land and that black folks have all the skills necessary to overcome centuries of racism and on the other hand we have a President who can barely use the word black in public for fear of agitating the racist who will be agitated no matter what he says. The thing about those who accuse this President or any successful black man of being racist is that no matter what these men do it will be twisted to fit the real racists scenario. It is similar to what I hear all the time when I discuss publicly the subject of how blacks are undermining their own success through black on black violence, absentee fathers, and the lack of education being a priority in our community. There are those that say that the racists will use this as fuel for their already racists views.

But think about that for a minute. These folks are going to misconstrue any information they find to fit their narrative and by us being afraid to discuss these issues it only hurts our credibility not theirs. So by this President not being willing to stand up publicly and do what other white Presidents have been willing to do (namely discuss the disproportionate effect this economy has had on black folks and seek specific remedies) it sort of makes having a black President a liability, not an asset. This is not to say that the President should specifically seek to develop policies that only benefit blacks, but I think it is important for him to at least acknowledge that there are unique differences and issues that affect black communities and black people.

For me one of the biggest criticisms I hear concerning this President by black people is his inability to articulate or even acknowledge these differences. This may be due in large part to the style of this President who is seen as more detached and rational than empathetic and perceptive. When Bill Clinton said, “I feel your pain.” He touched a nerve in the American psyche that could not be reached with cold impersonal data or a logical recitation of the facts. There are times in this country and in a way I suppose every nation that the people want to believe that their leaders understand their personal daily struggles and their uncertainties. I believe that this President has the capacity to do it, but does not have the personality type to do it. I believe that if he tried it would come off as feigned and counterfeit. Somehow this President has to reach out to black folks and let them know that his being the first black President has some real benefit in their daily lives besides this sense of pride. Pride is important and God knows we need all of the positive male role models we can get, but pride only goes so far, it doesn't pay bills or hire people.

At some point we need answers to a criminal justice system that is marginalizing our communities by strapping our young men with felonies in many cases before they are even eligible to vote and sentencing them to a life of poverty. We need answers to an inner city education system that has been allowed to become more impoverished and darker because we have allowed suburban districts to opt out as our cities expanded. We need answers to a shrinking manufacturing base that once created a pathway out of poverty for those who were either unable or unwilling to go to college. We need answers to the redevelopment of our urban neighborhoods that will not just plaster over the decay and condemn these neighborhoods to stay what they are but create new and vibrant neighborhoods that people will want to live in.

The problems we face are huge and no one is expecting this or any President to be able to overcome decades of neglect with some magic wand. However, sometimes it is important to just get an acknowledgment that you are not being taken for granted and someone can identify with your struggles. There is no benefit to having someone in office that looks like you if they are going to ignore you. I understand that this President has given a great deal of access to black folks in the media and has hired a number of blacks to high level positions, but the truth be told I haven’t heard this President use the word black in public since his campaign speech on race. It would be a shame if our first black President were not allowed to speak to the very people who understand him the most for fear of alienating the people who understands him the least.

But unlike previous presidents, Obama doesn’t need to win over the CBC in order to pick up support in the black community. Polls show that 96 percent of black voters view him favorably — a number the CBC members probably can’t match themselves...“I think if you look at the polling, in terms of the attitudes of the African-American community, there’s overwhelming support for what we’ve tried to do,” said Obama. - Politico

The Disputed Truth

(Video link) Obama and Black Bloggers at White House

Well it looks like black bloggers are gaining opportunities for conversations at the highest levels of government in Washington, D.C. 

OK, let me re-state it differently: "Black bloggers who conditionally or unconditionally support the Obama administration are gaining DNC and White House conversation."

First there was the meeting of black bloggers with DNC Chairman Kaine (which I attended), then there was there was a  "black online summit" at the White House Monday as part of an outreach to African American journalists and bloggers before the midterm elections. 

According to reports from the Maynard Institute, even President Obama stopped by a "black online summit" at the White House Monday as part of an outreach to African American journalists and bloggers before the midterm elections, an effort that includes the Democratic National Committee spending what it calls an unprecedented $3 million to reach the most loyal part of Obama's base, African American voters.

"I thought the meeting was great in that it showed that President Obama and his administration are taking black new media and our growing influence seriously," David A. Wilson, managing editor of theGrio.com, told Journal-isms via e-mail.

 "They outlined how the administration's policies have had a positive effect on the African-American community and they invited us to make suggestions on how they could work better with us and provide us with more access to the White House.

However, Leutisha Stills, who blogs at Jack & Jill Politics, cautioned, "The summit was a good one and very comprehensive, but we made it known that if we really have 'influence,' we are going to test drive it and see how many more invites we get from the White House."

The Columbus Day session lasted from 9:15 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett present along with specialists from various parts of the administration, including the first lady's office. Among the 20 African Americans working on the Web were representatives of theRoot.com, Black Entertainment Television, Essence, Jack & Jill Politics, City Limits, Concrete Loop, AOL Black Voices, Black America Web and even the gossipy MediaTakeOut.

Monday's session is to be followed Friday by a presidential meeting with 10 members of the Trotter Group of African American columnists. Moreover, six or seven African American bloggers were credentialed for Obama's rally in Philadelphia last Sunday, although invitations were extended to about 20.

AAP says:  I was one of the 20 African American bloggers who was extended an invitation to be  credentialed for Obama's rally in Philadelphia last Sunday, unfortunately because of schedule conflicts, I was not able to attend the President's rally. 

The DNC and White House outreach effort with African American bloggers are noteworthy. The folks at Jack and Jill Politics and their partnership with Kevin S. Lewis , director, African American media for the White House is awesome. The work of senior DNC staffers, including Clyde E. Williams, Political Director for the DNC, along with Derrick L. Plummer, Regional Press Secretary,  and Jamiah Adams, New Media Constituency Manager at the DNC is equally as noteworthy. I can only wonder out loud if this effort is just to gain black blogger support for the mid-terms - only? I understand this is a political town.

Is the White House and the DNC reading the content of black blogger concerns regarding our economy and the need for the Obama administration to aggressively enforce of Federal contracting requirements, while establishing new programs in the Department of Commerce, and labor to address the need for job training and small business/micro business "grants" (not loans), for low-income urban dwellers?

I hope the DNC and The White House will continue to expand the working group to other progressive African American bloggers, such as  Afro-Netizen, Black CommentatorBlack Agenda Report, Field Negro, Faye Anderson, Oliver WillisPrometheus 6Republic of TSkeptical Brotha, and so many others, who may have other observations and thoughts regarding what the administration can do to "really" address issues like jobs, the economy, health care, education, community capacity-building, and investment in our communities. I'm hopeful that the DNC and the White House is not, what some may consider the pimping the growing influence of black bloggers Only smart work and full engagement on the part of all parties, and time will tell... 

As a black Independent voter and blogger, I remain cautiously hopeful.

UPDATE: Check out the news article in the NY Times about the black bloggers meeting with President Barack Obama. It includes video link of White House meeting with President Obama, Valarie Jarrett and Black bloggers, including corporate so-called afro-centric news groups,The Root (owned by (the Washington Post) and the Grio (owned by NBC)

 

                      Cross posted on African American Pundit Blog

 

Hillary and Bill Clinton - Tearing The Democratic Coalition Between Blacks Apart

Here are my ramblings before the South Carolina results come in.

The world is watching as old southern "color aroused" shows its ugly head across America. The US race is capturing the world's eyes. From Bankok, Thailand, the front page of the Asian Tribune, the headlines read: Democrats fight it in S. Carolina Vying for Black Vote. Color Arousal, subtle and crude, has made its mark on The White House. Like the debate about Clinton having sex out of wed lock with Monica Lewinsky, The Clintons have fueled a political debate about "race" that just may tear a 50 year Democratic Coalition between Blacks apart.

http://aapoliticalpundit.blogspot.com/20 08/01/hillary-and-bill-clinton-tearing.h tml

There's more...

Harry Belafonte Endorses John Edwards

Harry Belafonte, one of the most outspoken, admired and courageous of the campaigners for civil rights and for the poor today endorsed John Edwards.

http://www.abcnews4.com/news/stories/120 7/478529.html

Belafonte, who was famous for the beautiful calypso songs he sang in the fifties and sixties, has crusaded for fifty years to protect children and help the poor, and he said that Edwards is the only candidate whose compassion and concern indicate that he is truly able and willing to effectively deal with these critical issues.

"I've looked at his [Edward's] platform on education, healthcare, poverty, what young people are going through and I have come to believe he's the best candidate," Belafonte said.

"[Belafonte]...says all the other candidates talk about the plight of the middle class, while only Edwards talks about the poor."

Here is video of Belafonte's endorsement:

http://www.abcnews4.com/video.hrb?stat=w civ&a=f&f=n&s=478529&fil e=http://video.wjla.com/wciv/120607_bela fonte.wmv

There is already a very good diary up about Belafonte's endorsement at

http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/12/6/ 19239/4888/188/418834

There's more...

The new urban strategy - stealing our land through eminent domain

Stealing our Land through Eminent Domain Are governments repeating the urban renewal policies of the 1950s and 1960 that uprooted hundreds of thousands of minority and low-income communities? Is there an attack on us again? Or is it something that never stopped? Check out the post below and let us know what you think. Is this another Mirror on America? Read this report Hat Tip: Institute for Justice Arlington, Va.--The poor, less educated and minorities are disproportionately targets of eminent domain abuse. Those are the findings of a first-of-its-kind national study released today by the Institute for Justice that systematically examined U.S. Census data to determine the profile of people subject to eminent domain abuse in 184 projects across the country. The study, "Victimizing the Vulnerable: The Demographics of Eminent Domain Abuse," found that 58 percent of those targeted with the threat of eminent domain were minority residents (compared to only 45 percent in surrounding neighborhoods that were not targeted with takings), and those targeted had an annual median income of less than $19,000 (compared to $23,000 in surrounding neighborhoods). Moreover, a greater percentage of people living in areas targeted for eminent domain for private development have less than a high school diploma and smaller percentages have various levels of college education compared to surrounding communities."Eminent domain abuse is essentially Robin Hood in reverse: taking from the poor to give to wealthy, politically connected developers," said Dr. Dick M. Carpenter II, director of strategic research at the Institute for Justice, who directed the study. The report is available at http://www.ij.org/publications/other/dem ographic_study.html. The study vindicates the warning offered by former-U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote in her dissent in the infamous Kelo case that eminent domain would be used "to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more." Saturday, June 23, 2007, marks the second anniversary of the Kelo ruling in which the Supreme Court ruled that governments may seize non-blighted homes and turn them over to another private party based on little more than the mere promise that the new owners could use the land in a way that might create more jobs and pay higher taxes."The only real solution is ending eminent domain for private development," said Chip Mellor, president and general counsel of the Institute for Justice. "Those with the least means most need robust protection of constitutional rights. This is especially important in the context of eminent domain because eminent domain doesn't just kick people out of their homes, it uproots entire communities and social networks, which is especially devastating for those of lower-income, predominantly minority communities." Mellor said, "It appears that governments are repeating the same tragic mistakes made in the failed urban renewal policies of the 1950s and 1960s that uprooted thousands of minority and low-income communities." More HERE Note: In a dissenting opinion opposing the majority on Kelo, former Associate Justice Sandra Day O'Connor noted that lower income property owners would be the ones most often victimized by government seizure of their property. She wrote, "Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms." Justice Clarence Thomas also opposed the majority's decision. In his dissent, he wrote, "Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities." Source: MontgomeryAdvertiser.com http://aapoliticalpundit.blogspot.com/20 07/07/new-urban-strategy-stealing-our-la nd.html

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