Maxine Waters to Obama: Can You Say Black?
One wonders if Obama suddenly will find his blackness when he loses the black vote in 2012. It’s beyond me why 90% of black Americans continue to support him when his policies have made their lives worse. Black unemployment is 16% compared to the national average of 9.1%, under George W. Bush black unemployment was 11.5%. According to the Department of Labor, black unemployment is the highest since 1972 when government began tracking it.
More blacks also have lost their homes to foreclosures. This disproportionate misfortune hitting blacks adds up to disappearing black wealth. The Pew Research Center found the average wealth of white households is 20 times more than blacks. But does any black person in their right mind expect a black agenda from Obama when as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) highlighted recently Obama and his staff have trouble uttering the word “black.”
I never thought I would be praising Rep. Maxine Waters or defending a policy initiative of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) but I am. Waters aka “don’t mess with blacks anymore” has become the de facto spokesperson for the CBC. Waters unleashed her rage and that of her colleagues at Obama for dismissing the concerns of black Americans, 95% of which voted for him. Apparently, team Obama fears getting too black because he might alienate more white voters from his flock.
It’s taken the CBC three years and multiple snubs from the Obama White House to finally attempt to hold Obama accountable for policies which have failed their constituents. Better late than never. (When Richard Nixon was president, the 13 lone CBC members walked out of Nixon’s 1971 State of the Union because Nixon refused to meet with them.) Waters joined other members for the CBC’s nationwide For the People jobs tour targeting Miami, Detroit, Los Angeles and Atlanta where unemployment, particularly black unemployment, is acute.
The goal of the tour is to connect the jobless with employers looking to hire and create 10,000 jobs. Not only should President Obama have “dreamed” up such a jobs plan a long time ago but frankly Democrats and Republicans also should have thought of this.
Throughout the jobs tour, Waters has been in rare form. In Detroit, Waters skewered Obama for not having a jobs plan, not wanting to step foot in black communities and called the highest unemployment rate among blacks in 25 years “unconscionable.”
My favorite “Maxine Moment” so far is Monday, August 22nd when during a Miami jobs tour stop at a black church Waters excoriated Obama official Don Graves for avoiding using the word “black” when he said “certain communities have been hit harder” than others by unemployment. Waters bit back “Let me hear you say black.” NAACP Miami president Bishop Victor Curry punctuated Waters’ point, explaining when presidents Eisenhower, Johnson and Kennedy were in office, blacks held them accountable and “blacks ought to make him do it” make Obama work for the black vote.
Rep. Waters deserves praise from black liberals for reminding Obama that while “he” may want to act race neutral, his disgruntled black base, who voted en masse for him, is hardly “the colorblind” type. Never has a president in US history run from his race like Obama has fled from his blackness. Obama has never uttered the word black or African-American even during the controversy over the arrest of Prof. Henry Louis Gates.
The sad reality is with each passing day it appears Obama refuses to go into black communities, plagued by above average unemployment because he’s afraid that blackness might rub off on him and actually remind Americans he is the first black president of the United States. But would this be such an awful thing? How bad will things have to get for blacks under Obama before they will vote for something different?