OK, here’s the good news: The Economy has turned the corner. Our nation created 162,000 new jobs this month, leading to the first period of substantial job growth that we’ve had in a year. The unemployment rate has remained stable at 8.8 percent….wait….sorry, that’s the unemployment rate if you are white. If you’re black, then that means that you’ve signed up for the “Negro Unemployment Package,” which means that your unemployment rate actually went up from 15.8 percent to 16.5 percent, nearly double that of white Americans. If you are a black male, you will find that your unemployment rate has risen at an even more dramatic pace, from 17.8 percent to 19 percent. But don’t worry – you’ve got a black president, and he’s certainly not unemployed….at least not yet.
Most of those who read my articles know that I am not a fan of unconditional Obama-bashing. I praised President Obama’s work on health care and I’ve loved the way he’s been sticking it to the Republicans over the past three months. I have also fought against disingenuous attempts to undermine his presidency, being led by Tavis Smiley.
Click below to view GALLERY: The Unemployed
But enough is enough, and one thing that President Obama absolutely MUST do is stop acting as if black unemployment is going to be reduced when he takes steps to help the entire economy. The idea that a “rising tide raises all ships” is as illogical as Ronald Reagan’s theory of “trickle down economics.” In his fundamentally-flawed approach to helping urban America, Reagan argued that if businesses were supported with tax cuts and subsidies, this money would “trickle down” to the poor. Reagan obviously knew very little about how capitalism works, because companies aren’t going to trickle down anything if they don’t have to.
By embracing economic policies which presume that racial inequality isn’t a priority, President Obama is creating a huge Achilles Heel for himself within the African American community. While Obama doesn’t have to endorse the idea of specifically targeting jobs toward the black community, he could aim resources toward the communities that have been hit the hardest.
Obama must also do something for black teens, who are facing an unemployment rate of over 40 percent (nearly twice as high as white teens). I would love to see him make use of funds for job training, the creation of green empowerment zones, and supporting small businesses who may want to hire these youth. The bottom line is that whatever the president and his advisers are doing right now, it is simply not working.
I want to see President Obama succeed, and I am even willing to allow him to play the games that he’s been playing. While listening to a presidential historian on the radio today, I was firmly convinced that publicly targeting his initiatives toward African Americans would hurt Obama’s ability to get re-elected. At the same time, the president must send a clear signal that he and his team are interested in helping those who are suffering the most during this recession. Black unemployment, even in the best of times, is as bad as white unemployment in the worst of times. This has got to change.