Wed, 1 April 2009
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The data on the actual State of Black America roll in like clockwork, a graphic display of the fact that there has never been such a thing as a “post-racial society” in the United States. Barack Obama rose to the presidency claiming that Blacks had already come “90 percent of the way” toward racial equality, yet the National Urban League’s annual report on the State of Black America shows Blacks at only 71.1 percent of equality of with whites – “and slipping.” The League urges Obama to make sure Blacks are included in his “green revolution” of jobs, but that is unlikely, since Obama “does not support race-based solutions, even when race is the root of the problem.”
Somebody Tell Obama: Gap Widens Between Blacks and Whites
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“African Americans register at only 71.1 percent on the Equality Index – and slipping.”Back in March of 2007, presidential candidate Barack Obama did a grave disservice to African Americans when he proclaimed that Blacks had already come 90 percent of the way on the road to racial equality. We don’t know where Obama came up with that ridiculous number, but he was way, way off the mark. According to the National Urban League’s State of Black America report, African Americans register at only 71.1 percent on the Equality Index – and slipping. Blacks fell almost half a percent further behind whites on the Equality Index between 2008 and 2009.
The Index measures Black progress, or regression, in five areas: economics, education, health, civic engagement and social justice. In only one of these categories – health – did Blacks slightly improve their relative status. And that minor blip was the result of the racial gap narrowing between Blacks and whites who share the misfortune of not having health insurance.
The general state of affairs for African Americans remains much as it has been for most of the last 40 years. "Ironically,” says the Urban League report, “even as an African American man holds the highest office in the country, African Americans remain twice as likely as whites to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and more than six times as likely to be incarcerated." That’s a very great distance from Barack Obama’s 90 percent-of-the-way nonsense.
Obama is fond of saying that people of all races have problems. But of course, the data show that Blacks have a lot more problems than others. Between 2001 and 2007, African American poverty rose eight percent, while only five percent more whites slipped into poverty. White children increased their enrollment in pre-school programs by three percent during that period, while Black kids’ participation in pre-school declined by one percent.
“President Obama does not support race-based solutions, even when race is the root of the problem.”Obama’s bogus statement on Black progress notwithstanding, the facts on the ground show clearly that there remains a great need for a people’s movement, whether you call it a civil rights movement or something else. The National Urban League says their report “reminds the country that the election of President Obama does not mean the work of civil rights is done." Martin Luther King III, writing in the forward to the report, said Obama’s “election is not the fulfillment” of his father’s dream, “because President Obama is not the only character in this narrative, nor is he the story's only writer.”
Rather than cloud the issue of widening racial disparities, Obama could make himself more useful by following the report’s “recommendations” on public policy. The National Urban League calls for an end to predatory lending practices in Black America, and a “balance” in educational funding that would “eliminate dropout rates of over 50 percent” in some cities. The League worries that Obama’s promised revolution in “green jobs” might pass the inner cities by, and urges that federal infrastructure monies be set aside to train and hire “disadvantaged workers” – meaning Black workers. However, that may be a problem. President Obama does not support race-based solutions, even when race is the root of the problem. And the president is fully prepared to paper over racial problems with phony numbers, as he did in Selma, Alabama, two years ago. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.