This week, The Hill reported that for many black Americans, racial identification and empathy with the first black president trumps economic concerns. This unfortunate bit of news- though a shock to absolutely no one- remains troubling, nonetheless.
This “empathetic” response was triggered by president Obama’s so-called impromptu remarks regarding the emotional reaction, mainly from pockets of black America, to the not guilty verdict of the George Zimmerman trial.
The Hill lists several economic indicators such as declining income, declining home ownership and the high unemployment rate to demonstrate just how poorly black Americans have fared under the nation’s first black president. Yet, for the black political class (as well as black Americans generally), racial identification with the president takes precedence over socio-economic prosperity.
The Hill also notes how black politicians- some being members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are reluctant to criticize the president- constructive or otherwise- for fear of emboldening the political opposition. Black politicians and black intelligentsia prefer the salve of racial identification to the hard and responsible task of genuine congressional and executive leadership- all at the expense of economic opportunity.
Unfortunately, “black leadership” is just as much a euphemism as “choice” and “equality.” These racial tribal chiefs are again publicly- and foolishly- embracing “race” and passivity regarding Obama’s economic stewardship rather than fighting for improved economic opportunity for their constituents.
It’s not the first time members of the Congressional Black Caucus have chosen the commonality of the president’s color as a priority over increasing economic opportunities for blacks. Last summer, Emanuel Cleaver noted: “With [such high] unemployment, if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House.” He also said: “The president knows we are going to act in deference to him in a way we wouldn’t to someone white.”
So “racial empathy” means the president’s blackness trumps black unemployment.
For progressive black politicians to be this trivial with regard to the economic plight of so many Americans is disrespectful and shameful.
Since Barack Obama has been president, unemployment rate for blacks has been below thirteen percent only once (Jan. ’09) and has risen above 16 percent, thirteen times. Furthermore, the unemployment rate for black teens has yet to drop below 30 percent and has risen above 40 percent, twenty-nine times.
The Congressional Black Caucus is obviously not too concerned with the unemployment rates in its representative districts. But it should be known how their constituents have fared during president Obama’s “recovery.”
Keep in mind that the national unemployment rate is currently 7.6 percent and 13.7 percent for blacks.
– Karen Bass (CA-37) – 11.9%;
– Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) – 11.6%;
– Joyce Beatty (OH-03) – 12.1%;
– Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) – 15.2%;
– Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) – 14.6%;
– Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) – 11.7%;
– Corrine Brown (FL-05) -17.4%;
– Hank Johnson (GA-04) – 15.6%;
– G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) – 15.5%;
– Robin Kelly (IL-02) – 17.9%;
– Andre Carson (IN-07) – 13.9%;
– Barbara Lee (CA-13) -11 %;
– Donna M. Christensen (VI) – no stats given;
– John Lewis (GA-05) – 15.5%;
– Yvette Clarke (NY-09) – 12.7%;
– Gregory W. Meeks (NY-06) – 8.7%;
– William Lacy Clay Jr. (MO-01) -14.7%;
– Gwendolynne Moore (WI-O4) – 14.4%;
– Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-05) – 10.7%;
– Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC) – 11.4%;
– James E. Clyburn (SC-06) – 16.4%;
– Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10) – 15.7%;
– John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) – 24.7%;
– Charles B. Rangel (NY-13) – 14.9%;
– Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07) – 13.4%;
– Cedric Richmond (LA-02) – 12.5%;
– Danny K. Davis (IL-07) – 16.5%;
– Bobby L. Rush (IL-01) – 16.8%;
– Donna Edwards (MD-04) -9.5%;
– David Scott (GA-13) – 15.1%;
– Keith Ellison (MN-05) – 9.5%;
– Robert C. Scott (VA-03) – 13.1%;
– Chaka Fattah (PA-02) – 16%;
– Terri Sewell (AL-07)-16.1%;
– Marcia L. Fudge, Chairwoman of the CBC, (OH-11) – 17.7%;
– Bennie Thompson (MS-02) – 14.4%;
– Al Green (TX-09) – 10.7%;
– Marc Veasey (TX-33) – 13.3%;
– Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20) -17.1%;
– Maxine Waters (CA-43) -11.3%;
– Steven Horsford (NV-04) – 12.9%;
– Melvin L. Watt (NC-12) – 15.3%;
– Frederica Wilson (FL-24) – 16.0%.
The average unemployment rate of the districts represented by the CBC is 13.8 percent.
Members of CBC currently represent many of the districts that are suffering the highest unemployment rates in the country. Yet these so-called leaders choose to embrace racial empathy and racial solidarity rather than being actual leaders who should be pressuring the president to implement policies or reduce regulations that could diminish the absurd levels of unemployment for their constituents.
The CBC has become a national embarrassment- not only to their constituents, but to the congressional body itself.
And that’s saying something.
Black Americans who continue to elect political charlatans like these are unfortunately complicit in their own socio-economic asphyxiation.
With loyalty like this one can understand why the Democrat party takes blacks (elected and unelected alike) for granted and why the GOP ignores them completely.
It’s far past time- in a twenty-first century America which will soon celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech- that blacks rethink their reflexive and emotional embrace of race and “racial empathy.”
Refusal to do so in favor of the continued idolization and commodification of race will inevitably facilitate black America into a moral and political irrelevancy.
And the sad fact is that the black Americans who do so will have no one to blame but themselves.