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Dr Boyce Watkins on Obama’s Black Unemployment Policies

By Dr. Boyce Watkins

8:33 AM on 06/25/2009

Obama's not good enough on black unemployment

In America, there are essentially two types of power: Political power and economic power. African Americans, relatively speaking, have always had very little of both. What’s worse is that we tend to squander the little bit of power we have by giving it away to any sweet-talking candidate who makes us feel good. Obama has been that candidate, not because he is a "sell-out" or a "swindler"; but because he is a politician.

Obama’s apparent lack of desire to create targeted policies for African Americans is driven by the fact that we "gave it up" without critically analyzing or challenging his commitment to our issues. No other candidate could have gotten away with this. Our commitment to political style over substance is similar to materialistic distractions toward "blinging, balling, flossing and shining" which lead many of us into bankruptcy. I say this as a supporter of Obama, but also as a man who’d like to see him do more.

I watched President Obama give one of the most uncomfortable press conferences he’s ever had to deliver to the American people. The honeymoon is slowly ending, and "the chosen one" is now being forced to answer to angry Americans looking to stab their pitchforks into whatever politician they can find. President Obama has been spared this anger, in large part because he has presented himself as the man who can guide the country out of this crisis.

I still believe he can but the kryptonite is taking effect. President Obama’s unemployment forecasts have gone from "nothing above 8%" to "surely above 10%". African Americans are even more concerned about the pinch, as our unemployment rates are expected to rise as high as 20% by the end of the year. The black family is additionally threatened by tangential issues such as mass incarceration, which serve to further undermine our social infrastructure during these difficult economic times.

Click to read.


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