OPINION: Black Americans Must Do More To Combat Inequality

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From the Washington Post:

All of this talk about a post-racial America where black people are seemingly thriving, partying at the White House with Jay-Z, and enjoying unprecedented access and opportunity is really starting to irk me because it is simply not the reality of most black Americans. In fact, a quiet storm has been brewing among African American leaders for months over the devastating effects that U.S. economic woes are having on blacks across the nation.

The issue came to a head recently when Tavis Smiley, appearing on the morning show of syndicated radio host Tom Joyner, openly questioned black leaders such as NAACP President Ben Jealous, the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Council of Negro Women’s Dorothy Height about their unwillingness to hold President Obama accountable for these disparities and demanded that Obama develop an agenda targeted to address black inequalities. Impassioned by the debate, Smiley is hosting a national forum today in Chicago titled, “We Count! The Black Agenda is the American Agenda.”

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But some are asking the wrong question. The issue is not whether the president should be focused on a “black agenda” vs. an “American agenda,” or whether Obama has a “special obligation” to highlight black issues in ways that his predecessors might not have. The real question is: Do we still live in a nation that is largely divided by race and class? A spate of reports and news articles strongly suggests we do, highlighting the facts that blacks have been disproportionately and devastatingly affected by the recession, foreclosure crisis and loss of wealth in the U.S. economy since 2007.

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