In the middle of a blizzard last February, Reverend Al Sharpton, Marc Morial and Benjamin Jealous huddled at a bank of microphones outside of the White House following their visit with President Barack Obama. The visit fueled a minor controversy when the trio were chastened for their unwillingness to utter the words "black unemployment." They used the euphemism "urban communities," but we all knew they meant "black."
Back then we were told by NAACP President Ben Jealous that a "rising tide lifts all boats": "When you try to focus on how to lift all those boats, what you come back to are places -- geographic areas, urban and rural, where assistance should be located," Jealous said. "That approach can work if Congress lets it work... This is about place. It's not about race." In other words, by focusing on the overall economy, black folks would benefit as well.
If the central theme of the White House economic policy is "a rising tide lifts all boats," then black folks are struggling mightily aboard the U.S.S. Blackfolk.
It's true. If the overall economy improves, so do the fortunes of black people. The tiny little problem with the "rising tide" theory is that not all boats are equally sea worthy. Yes, a rising tide lifts all boats, but if some of the boats have massive holes in the hulls and the people on board are drowning, logic tells us that perhaps these listing boats might need some targeted emergency assistance.
The U.S.S. Blackfolk got sent to sea with no life boats and fewer life vests. If we land in the water we just have to struggle to tread water. In addition to taking on water due to barriers in access to education, capital and employment, subprime lenders specifically target the passengers of the U.S.S. Blackfolk for high interest mortgage loans. Now in addition to being set adrift by the Obama administration to survive an economic tsunami while we're listing to one side, the U.S.S. Blackfolk is expected to carry the weight of the Democratic party to victory during the midterm elections?
In the waning days of the campaign season, the Democrats have touted the extraordinary measures they are taking to engage black voters in a targeted manner. The Democratic National Committee invested $3 million in radio, print, and online advertising focusing on the black community. They've enlisted celebrities John Legend, Jaime Foxx and Russell Simmons in radio ads, conference calls and at political rallies. In 2006, they only spent $260,000.
If a rising tide lifts all boats, why don't the Democrats catch a ride on some of the other boats? After all, the unemployment rate on the U.S.S Blackfolk is 16.1 percent -- almost twice that of the general population. Sure we're floating in the same turbulent economic storm as everyone else, but it appears we're taking on water faster than everyone else as well.
On Tuesday, in a conference call organized by the Democratic National Committee for black online media, White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett argued that despite the fact that the administration does not appear to have any targeted job creation programs on its agenda for blacks, the passengers of the U.S.S. Blackfolk must turn out in large numbers to vote for Obama's Democratic allies in order to insure that his agenda moves forward.
When I asked her to explain how black unemployment would look any different if the Republicans retook control of the house, she cited the President's plan for new infrastructure and community college programs for job retraining, neither of which would address black unemployment in the immediate future.
Can it be any more clearer for Black liberals that Barry only cares about them when it comes time for votes? In the past two years even Hispanics have gotten more attention from Barry than Blacks. Sonia Sotomayor was put on the Supreme Court and Hispanic congressmen only supported the healthcare legislation under the agreement that immigration reform be addressed immediately, and it was. Let's not even talk about how much Barry has gone out if his way to help the "gay agenda". In 2 years the Obama administration has cojoined with other previous Democratic administrations in taking Black folks for granted. Nothing's still being done by Barry to address problems concerning black unemployment, crime in urban cities, teenage pregnancy or education. Yet, Obama still gets a free pass because he's a Democrat who happens to be half-black. Good for black liberals if many decide not to show up for the midterm elections, maybe then Barry will start listening to them.