Does the Obama Campaign Have a Diversity Problem?

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Someone recently forwarded me a picture of the Chicago team for the 2012 re-election campaign for President Barack Obama.  The picture was full of enthusiastic supporters, each of them grinning from ear-to-ear.  But in the midst of all this excitement about re-electing the nation’s first black president, there was one thing missing:  Black people.

The picture was as white as a klan rally, although I’m sure that most of those in attendance would never join the KKK.  But it did raise suspicion among some who wonder if the first black president uses his blackness to gain loyalty from black folks, while leaving them behind when the time comes to grant meaningful opportunities.  Even if President Obama himself isn’t behind a Democratic mission to exploit the black vote, there is little doubt that other Democrats are happy to do so.

The Democratic National Convention has already been accused of leaving African Americans out of the loop when it comes to providing contracts that are paid out of the billions being spent at election time.   Both the Obama Administration and the Democrats would be wise to be more forthcoming about the depths to which they are giving back to the community that is expected to give them over 90% of its support in the election.

No matter how you slice it, this picture is not a good look for President Obama.  One could readily argue that since African Americans gave him 25% of the votes that got him into office, we can legitimately claim a right to 25% of the contracts and opportunities that come with his possession of the presidency.  Politics is a game of quid pro quo, not one where you give all of your support to someone and then ask for nothing in return.

As Dr. King said over 40 years ago, it’s OK for black people to come to Washington to “get our check.”  Everyone else is already getting paid. so we should get paid too.  If we can’t figure out exactly and specifically how large numbers of African Americans are benefiting from the success of elected officials that we support, then we may want to reconsider whether or not we are wasting our votes.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

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