Talk Back: What About Us, Obama?

JET wants you to Talk Back.  This is one of the reader submissions that we received and opted to publish.  Want to make your voice heard?  Submit your commentary, TV show recap, poem, or essay HERE.  Read all the rules (link on the page) so you know how it works.  And with no further ado, this week’s entry.

Did President Obama abandon one minority group for another? If you asked many Blacks, the answer would be a resounding yes. Sadly, the immigration reform bill that couldn’t get through Congress became a reality, in part, due to an executive order enacted by POTUS. This order led to resounding cheers and jubilee among Latinos across the nation, but it left Blacks with many unanswered questions. The main one being, “What about us?”

With Black Americans suffering from the largest rates of unemployment and underemployment (double digits in some areas of the country), being victims of the cradle to prison pipeline, and all too often housed in poor public education systems it is no wonder why the influence of the first Black President served as more than a symbolism for the community. A large percentage of Blacks supported President Obama at the polls during his presidential elections. Additionally, Blacks have largely supported the Democratic Party as a whole–being arguably their most solid base. So why can’t Blacks count on the president or the Democratic Party to place our agenda on the forefront?

Sure we got a few crumbs, most notably the My Brother’s Keeper initiative, but thus far we have seen no true gains or real investment in that. In fact its passage hurt HBCU’s and many long-standing community organizations.

Our communities are falling apart. We are bombarded with news stories of Trayvon Martin, Renisha McBride, Michael Brown, etc. The stories all get national attention; we hear a few words of support from elected officials, but at the end of the day a few months later yet another body of a young Black man/woman lay dead and we all ask ourselves when will it end?

We are told to vote as if that will end years of oppression, consistent discrimination, and deterioration of progress. Millions of dollars were spent on GOTV efforts aimed on getting Blacks to the polls yet the Black policy agenda did not make the cut. Immigration reform is important, no one is denying that fact, but so is Black community uplift. When will national leaders begin to actively pursue solutions to leveling the playing field for Blacks as much as they are for Latinos? And if the Black community can’t move its first Black President to advocate and push legislation for us then who can we count on?