While stuck in Ohio on a business trip following Hurricane Sandy, I wandered into an Obama campaign outpost in Shaker Heights on the Sunday evening preceding the election. The campaign office, located in quaint, idyllic Shaker Square, was populated primarily with young white campaign volunteers (many of whom, I later learned, were Occupy Wall Streeters). Their primary task that evening seemed to be to assist a handful of mostly elderly blacks cast early votes.
When a twenty-something white girl noticed that I was meandering around the office, rather than filling out paperwork or loudly extolling the glory of Obama in the manner of every other black person there, she came over and asked if I needed help. I told her I didn’t, and continued to peruse the desks littered with standard Obama flyers about moving “Forward.”
On one wall was a chart listing drivers’ names and pickup-locations for taking voters to the polls. Since Shaker Heights is a relatively affluent community where most residents have their own cars, I noted that a number of the pick-up locations were in heavily black, heavily impoverished East Cleveland.
“What do you think of the new unemployment numbers,” I asked the young woman who had previously offered assistance. ”Oh, I think they’re about the same as before, around 7.9%,” she answered with a smile.” I looked her straight in the eye and said, “Not for black Americans. Black Unemployment has risen to 14.3% in the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics Report.“
The young woman stared at me with a confused look on her face, then said, “Really? I didn’t know that.”
“But you’re working here, trying to get blacks to go out and vote for Obama, yet you don’t even know about the high black unemployment rate under his administration?” She was silent, so I continued.
I pointed to a “We’ve Got Your Back” poster on the wall, and asked, ”Do you realize that Obama has never once mentioned the staggering rate of black unemployment, yet you expect blacks to have his back. Why?”
The young woman then said something that I found curious. She said, “Well, black unemployment, uh, I guess there are some people who are taking about that, but…..” Her voice trailed off, so I finished the sentence for her. “But you’re not one of them, right.?” She smiled prettily, and said, “Right.”
This brief encounter represented clearly the role of blacks in the democratic party, and their designated place in this historic election. How many blacks who dutifully trudged to the polls have a clue that black unemployment has risen dramatically under Obama? (12.6% on the day he was inaugurated.)
In the days leading up to the election, each time a black person told me how worried they were that Obama would lose, I would ask if they knew what the black unemployment rate was and if they were happy with it? The puzzled looks that I got in return weren’t based on an inability to answer the question. Instead, their surprise was a result of my having merely asked the question. It wasn’t supposed to happen. No black person is allowed to ask any questions about life under an Obama administration. Our role is simply to grin like brainless ninnies and “have his back.”
But why wasn’t Barack Obama required to have black voters’ backs in return? Why was he able to sail to re-election on black votes when black youth are mired in a 40.5% unemployment cesspool? FORTY PERCENT!! This is not a recession. If blacks are in a recession (which they clearly are), then black youth are, by every definition of the word , living through a DEPRESSION of epic proportions. Yet not a single black elected official has ever demanded that Obama address this issue in the manner that he has addressed gay issues, or white women’s issues, or Hispanic issues — all groups that he openly courted, while ignoring blacks.
Why is he allowed to ignore the crushing economic plight of black America, not even attending an NAACP convention or visiting an unemployment office in a black neighborhood? When he repeatedly says we are moving in the “right direction,” or when Michelle Obama claims we have averted a recession, why doesn’t a single prominent black leader respond by asking, “But what about black Americans?”
The answer is simple — because African-Americans allow him to ignore them. It is now frighteningly clear that there is no level of substandard life that blacks will not accept. If they will accept 14.3% unemployment, then surely they will accept 20%, or 30%. And they will remain equally silent if black youth unemployment rises to 60% or 75%, or even 100%!
Imagine the carnage in the streets if an already listless young, black, male population finds themselves with even more time on their hands? How many more drug sales, how many more robberies, how many more shootings will result? And how many more black babies will be caught in the crossfire?
But, not to worry. Obama has never been moved to discuss the past murders of children caught in the hails of bullets, so there is no reason to believe he will do so in the future. Luckily for him, he has a loyal, mindless, unthinking black voter base that had his back, even though he has never had theirs.