As President Barack Obama wrestles with political lemmings and the so-called “fiscal cliff,” he finds himself under a unique microscope that simultaneously examines his recent record of the last four years while making predictions and demands for the next four.
“I believe we need to allow President Obama a breath of fresh air after a grueling election campaign–the result of which nobody on the Republican side thought he would win, given the economic condition in the country. Yet he did win in a landslide,” said Chika A. Onyeani, publisher and editor-in-chief of the African Sun Times. “Now that it is over, we need to be constructively engaged in articulating our needs and making suggestions on how they could be fulfilled, not the type of jingoistic, meaningless outbursts of envious ‘nattering nabobs of negativism,’ as late William Safire put it, that professor Cornel West and Tavis Smiley exemplify.”
Just under a month after his historic re-election, here comes the analyzing and the partisan proselytizing, perhaps poignantly coined up by the Loop 21 headline “President Obama, What Have You Done for Me Lately?”
Writer Lisa A. Armstrong asks the question whether the African-American community feels that the president has neglected them. She bases the question on an anti-Obama ad run on BET sponsored by conservative super PAC Pivot Point, where two Black folks slam the president for supporting gay marriage and cutting aid to Black colleges.
Wayne Perryman, the Black minister in charge of church administration for Mt. Calvary Christian Center Church of God in Christ in Washington state, helped create the ad.
Perryman is also the author of “Whites, Blacks & Racist Democracy: The Untold History of Race and Politics Within the Democratic Party from 1792-2009,” and “Unveiling the Whole Truth,” in which he makes such interesting statements as “Bush: a true friend of Blacks and the poor.”
The reverend had proclaimed that Blacks should not go out and vote for Obama based on his Blackness since he had done little to earn that loyalty by not addressing issues specific to the Black community.
“Our communities are in deplorable condition. Sometimes I watch TV and weep. African-Americans are so loyal to a party and a Black man that they ignore the condition of their people,” was one of Perryman’s reported comments. “Everyone had hope that with this first Black president, our issues would be addressed, but [Obama] blatantly turned against specific things that Blacks had requested.”
Looking at major issues such as unemployment, the disproportionate incarceration of Black people in the prison-industrial complex, education and poverty, Armstrong stated, “unemployment figures dropped to 7.8 percent in September–that number is 13.4 percent for Blacks. Twenty-eight percent of African-Americans live in poverty, compared to 10 percent of whites. More than 900,000 Black men are incarcerated, and African-Americans are more likely to attend high-poverty schools and less likely than any other group to attend college.”
The writer added, however, that Obama has not been lagging in efforts to improve the lot of Black folks. For example, she noted that in February 2010, he signed an executive order granting $850 million in funding over the next 10 years for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and in July 2012, he established the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans.
Obama has said in his own defense that he is the president of all of the United States of America, not the president of Black America. So there.
“Black people believe it was our vote and our power that put him into office. Politicians tend to the needs and desires of the group(s) that put them into power. President Obama’s neglect of the Black community during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy should be proof positive that it’s the white power structure that put him in power,” said Bomani Ikemba Mayasa, one half of activist rap group United Front. “Obama has never been concerned with the Black community. Sad thing is that our people will love him anyway.”
Observers the world over have spoken and written ad nauseam on the need of folks to participate in their own lives, be that in the political, spiritual, economic or cultural sense. Be present. One such person is Ilyasah Shabazz, author of “Growing Up X” and daughter of Malcolm and Betty Shabazz. She told the Amsterdam News that her organization, Ilyasah Shabazz Enterprises, encourages a threefold community action: “Register to vote. This is an imperative for all eligible citizens; become knowledgeable about elected officials and community issues; and vote in every election.
“By doing so, we demonstrate to any and all elected officials that we take responsibility for what happens in our communities, and further that each and every one of them is accountable to us for their actions and omissions. It’s through the power of the vote that we express our concerns and make our voices heard.”
Documentary filmmaker Edward Harris said the analysis should not be that complicated. He told the paper that folk should look to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to evaluate what is on the horizon. “I believe the shabby response by the city, state and the Feds is an indication that communities must change how they organize themselves. We cannot look for any help from the government, so everything from food co-ops to community response teams must be developed.
“The president has shown no connection with or concern for the 93 percent of Black voters that voted for him. New York has more in common with New Orleans than ever before–disenfranchisement is the new policy …. and Americans of all colors will feel it more and more. And since the Civil Rights Movement has been compromised … folks are on their own.”
As personal participation in the electoral process relates to the hurricane aftermath, for which federal, state and city government has come under fire for an initial lackadaisical response, Shabazz added, “Hopefully all constituents and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy are lobbying their elected representatives to ensure that all available aid from each level of government is effectively channeled to them. We at ISE also invite community residents to participate with us to collectively strategize a Forward agenda in the interest of we the people at www.ilyasahshabazz.com.”