Will President Obama put African Americans on his To-Do-List?
By Roger Caldwell
In the 2012 presidential election, 93 percent of African Americans voted for President Obama and the Democratic Party. The leaders in the African American community must borrow the Hispanics’ talking points, and say to the President, “We helped you now you help us.” There is no other organized political demographic that supported and delivered votes by over 90 percent.
During the election and through the President’s first term, there were limited meetings with the Congressional Black Caucus, and very few meetings specifically geared to Black businesses, the Physical State of Black America, the Health of Black America, the Black American Educational System, and Prisons/Drugs in the Black community. It is my hope that in the President’s second term, he will develop a comprehensive program that is focused on the Black community.
The inner-city urban communities have unique problems that must be addressed with resources and programs that are sustainable and relevant. African Americans need jobs, better schools, safe communities, and organizations that can communicate and enhance our children and youth.
In the 2012 presidential election, it appeared that the Black vote did not matter, because that coalition was a given. There was a program from the DCCC, “Got His Back” but the Democratic Party knew that Blacks would vote for the President and not ask for anything in return. Even though African Americans had a record turnout, Blacks were pushed off the stage, and the media paid limited attention to the Black vote.
African Americans are the most loyal constituency to the President and the great poet Gwendolyn Brooks said, “Respectfully, somebody has to remind the President day in and day out of the debt he owes Black America. After four years of being sidelined and silenced, it’s time to get loud. We have to be willing to engage even if we are the last of the loud.”
For four years under the Obama Administration, Blacks have the highest unemployment percentages, and our communities’ wealth is suffering the most in the economy. In many of the urban cities the male unemployment numbers are over 50 percent, and there are more single woman households living in poverty. It is critical in President Obama’s second term that he develops programs that address the poverty, drugs, and lack of education in the Black community.
The day after President Obama won the election, the Hispanic political and business leaders had a national media conference call to make it clear that they saved the President in some key battleground states. A survey of Hispanic voters by the firm Latino Decisions found that Hispanics pushed Obama over the top in Colorado, Florida, and Nevada, where they turned out in unusually high numbers.
Rafael Collazo, director for the National Council of La Raza, which is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, says it helped register over 90,000 new Hispanic voters this year. “Yes, there are differences and nuances in the Hispanic ethnic group, but if you look at the polling and all the anecdotal work and outreach we’ve done over the years, the core issues are very, very similar. At the end of the day, Latino voters are voting for the candidate they feel will best reflect their values,” says Mr. Collazo.
It is time that African Americans put pressure on the President, and get more funding in our communities. The State of Black America must be front and center and we must increase the volume of our demands. We helped the President win the election and now he must improve the quality of our community’s life.