Last week, Tavis Smiley garnered attention for what he said on Sean Hannity’s television program. Specifically, Hannity asked Smiley if black Americans were better off after five years of the presidency of Barack Obama.
Smiley’s answer- which should have been a shock and surprise to exactly no one — was that blacks aren’t better off and that eventually, the socio-economic data would demonstrate that blacks will have certainly lost ground in all economic categories when the Obama administration culminates.
Again, what he said isn’t a shock. Conservatives- particularly black conservatives- have been saying this for years.
The so-called shock is that Smiley, a black liberal, broke taboo and said it publicly. And he said it on FOX News, no less.
Since January 2009, blacks have suffered economically- be it consistently high unemployment numbers, the statistical drops in income and wealth, and a drop in homeownership- in comparison to their own numbers prior to Obama’s inauguration and in comparison to their white peers.
Look at the unemployment rate that has devastated the economic potential of blacks as the first indicator. Since Obama was elected, black unemployment has been below thirteen percent only twice- January of ’09 and July ’13. Twice. It’s been at or above fourteen percent, forty times; it’s been at or above sixteen percent, eleven times.
Black teens have fared much worse. During this same period, black teen unemployment has never been below thirty percent. Not once. It has been at or above forty percent, thirty times.
That black teen unemployment has maintained such a high level isn’t a bad economic indicator for black America’s current reality; it is disastrous for the future of black America. Diminishing the opportunities for black teens to enter the workforce delays their exposure to- and development of- the necessary skill sets that create prospects of economic ascendancy, which comes as a result of increased wages and/or promotions into employment accompanied by salaries rather than wages.
This situation is compounded because many of these same black teens are subjected to substandard public education (dominated by teachers unions that fund the party blacks vote overwhelmingly for). Coupling that substandard education with the lack of economic opportunity and prosperity and a (permanent?) underclass is intentionally being created that will be forced to seek financial support and economic stability from government provisions. Or worse, the underclass will seek economic prosperity through the black market and other violent and gang-related activities.
But is Obama to blame for this sorry state of affairs? Yes, he’s partially responsible. And as Smiley said, he should be held responsible- he won’t, but he should. He is the president after all.
But more important to note and understand is that it isn’t necessarily Obama who’s the problem; it’s the party and the policies of his party that are ultimately to blame. Whether Obama, Hillary Clinton, or Joe Biden is president, these folks are simply emblematic figureheads and are ultimately interchangeable. It’s the economic policies that are the cause of so much economic destruction concentrated in black America. (That, and the overwhelming need for spiritual redemption.)
This is what Tavis Smiley and his ilk intentionally and continually ignore.
Remember what the Congressional Black Caucus acknowledged- those wayward, black sheep who continue to embarrass themselves, Congress, and black America? They see and give lip service to the oppressive economic difficulty that blacks are subjected to. But for them- and according to their own admission- racial solidarity and party policies are much more important than the economic well-being of their constituents.
According to Census Bureau reports (2010) as reported by CNN Money, whites ($110,729) had twenty-two times more wealth than their black counterparts ($4,995).
Also, according to the same report, of all the homes that report receiving food stamps, 26.4 percent are black; yet blacks are only 13 percent of the total population.
And this year, black homeownership has hit an eighteen-year low.
With these kinds of stats, it’s no surprise that the black poverty rate now stands at twenty-eight percent, compared to just ten percent for whites.
Yet, exit polls from both the 2008 and 2012 election saw blacks give Obama and the Democrat party ninety-five and ninety-three percent of their votes, respectively. In 2008, it was (emotionally) understandable; in 2012, it was neither understandable nor justifiable.
Sadly, blacks will continue to give whatever charlatan who receives the Democrat nomination for president in 2016 the majority of their support, continuing the humiliating pattern of reflexively voting against their own self-interest without a moment’s pause.
So yes, Tavis Smiley is absolutely correct. Blacks have been- and will continue to be- worse off under the first black president; and the president should be held responsible.
But blacks aren’t absolved from their contributions to these problems and should also be held responsible. Blacks actively underwrite their own socio-economic demise, particularly in favor of racial solidarity by continuing to demonstrate political loyalty without demanding anything of substance in return.
It’s far past time for blacks to understand that it’s increasingly difficult to generate sympathy for problems they’ve actively helped create.
Blacks aren’t victims; they’re co-contributors to their fate- in more ways than they care to admit.
Photo credit: Center for American Progress Action Fund (Creative Commons)