Until he could, a Black US president seemed to lie even beyond the chances of probability. Barack Obama signified hope and change for younger generations. But, for many African Americans, his election meant more: it was the realisation of a personal dream. His victory meant a significant leap forward for a nation where, decade after decade, strained Black-White relations could ultimately be traced to the scars of slavery. In 2008, a few white optimists even declared the onset of a post-racial era.
Four years later and on the eve of a tightly fought election process, Obama gets mixed peer reviews, especially from Black intellectuals, who are disappointed that he hasn’t done enough for his community. But the common African-American is more than satisfied and willing to cut him some slack.
There is little doubt that Obama will get about 95 per cent of the Black vote on November 6, according to a Wall Street-nbc survey. Not helped by his ‘47 per cent remark’, Republican challenger Mitt Romney might as well be ‘Missing Romney’ for the Black electorate. But is support for Obama based on real work for the community or because it is afraid to be disloyal?
On the harsh slate of statistics, Obama doesn’t fare so well, but, as has been countered throughout this season, he inherited one hell of a hand. Two ongoing wars, an economy going into depression, and unemployment at 9 per cent. Obama managed to put a shoulder to all of the above, even though the statistics for his own community remain alarming. Unemployment among Blacks remains at 14.1 per cent, higher than the national average of 8.3 per cent. He has also been criticised for keeping the community at an arm’s length, as if holding back till he found the right tone to engage.
Not true, insists Rhonda Humphries, an African-American consultant for small business. She says that it was unwise to expect Obama to directly address the Black community, because “we are only 13 per cent of the population”. If you address one group, you alienate others. He talked incessantly about helping the lower-income and middle class—a category into which most African-Americans fall. “He did a lot for us by injecting capital into small business programmes. My clients benefited directly and most of them are either Blacks or other minorities like Hispanics, Indians and Pakistanis.”
Humphries, who was brought up with three siblings by a single mother on an annual income of $28,000, has no patience for raking up the race issue. “I am just as Black as anyone, but nothing disturbs me more than to hear people say they didn’t get a job because they were Black,” she says. “The older generation keeps clinging to the race idea, but today the schools are more integrated and there are more opportunities.” She says the best thing Obama has done is to give people hope. “One day this could be you. This is his contribution.”
But the Obama presidency seems to have hardened racist attitudes among Whites. An AP poll released on October 27 revealed that a majority of Americans (51 per cent) harbour explicit anti-Black attitudes, compared to 48 per cent four years ago. When judged for implicit racial feelings, the figure jumped to 56 per cent. The figures were similar against Hispanic Americans. Sadly, while many saw Obama’s election as a sign of racial progress, it also prompted a backlash. Racist bumper stickers (‘Put white in the White House’) and cartoons showing him as a monkey have surfaced. Earlier this year, a White police officer was taken off First Lady Michelle Obama’s security detail after he talked about shooting her.
Obama’s healthcare plan is also a plus for the middle class for rationalising the bulky system. It allows children to stay on their parents’ plan till they are 26. Laura Johnson, a federal employee, says her sister was “so happy” with Obamacare as she could keep her son on her plan instead of having to buy a separate policy. Johnson also points out that Obama is being credited with reviving the sick auto industry in Detroit, securing thousands of jobs. She would vote for Obama, regardless of race. “Heck yes. I voted for white presidents, didn’t I? I even voted for a Republican once—George Bush Senior,” she says.
For Melvin Harper, a concierge, the biggest takeaway has been the ending of the Iraq war and Obama’s plan to do the same in Afghanistan by 2014. The young man in his 20s isn’t enthused at all by Romney. “His ego is too big,” says Harper.
While the average Black voter wants “four more years”, some in the Black leadership say Obama should be more forthright about addressing the community directly with targeted aid. But they well understand that any such overt messages would be a political faux pas of humongous magnitude, something Republicans would lunge at in this storm-tossed, highest-stakes game of seducing voters.
People don't seem to immigrate to the U. S. from Africa. Perhaps, because the perception is, top doctors, engineers, and professionals only can have a future there. U. S. law is a state subject, and different states may have different laws, on a matter of law.
You mean, Obama was actually sitting in their seat in the workplace, with them, at the same time? You know, if it is a waste of time, blaming yourself, and you cannot, you blame the representative of democracy, who is not really doing anything for you. You can blame him without any thought. The question arises, that if it is also a waste of time, blaming the representative of democracy according to public perception, then what of democracy? It is good for the M. P. and M. L. A. that democracy is spared, and they are seen as bad, corrupt, etc. Otherwise the profound ideals of democracy would be wasted. As far as I can see, that is.
We at Outlookindia.com welcome feedback and your comments, including scathing criticism
1. Scathing, passionate, even angry critiques are welcome, but please do not indulge in abuse and invective. Our Primary concern is to keep the debate civil. We urge our users to try and express their disagreements without being disagreeable. Personal attacks are not welcome. No ad hominem please.
2. Please do not post the same message again and again in the same or different threads
3. Please keep your responses confined to the subject matter of the article you are responding to. Please note that our comments section is not a general free-for-all but for feedback to articles/blogs posted on the site
4. Our endeavour is to keep these forums unmoderated and unexpurgated. But if any of the above three conditions are violated, we reserve the right to delete any comment that we deem objectionable and also to withdraw posting privileges from the abuser. Please also note that hate-speech is punishable by law and in extreme circumstances, we may be forced to take legal action by tracing the IP addresses of the poster.
5. If someone is being abusive or personal, or generally being a troll or a flame-baiter, please do not descend to their level. The best response to such posters is to ignore them and send us a message at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT
6. Please do not copy and paste copyrighted material. If you do think that an article elsewhere has relevance to the point you wish to make, please only quote what is considered fair-use and provide a link to the article under question.
7. There is no particular outlookindia.com line on any subject. The views expressed in our opinion section are those of the author concerned and not that of all of outlookindia.com or all its authors.
8. Please also note that you are solely responsible for the comments posted by you on the site. The comments could be deleted or edited entirely at our discretion if we find them objectionable. However, the mere fact of their existence on our site does not mean that we necessarily approve of their contents. In short, the onus of responsibility for the comments remains solely with the authors thereof. Outlookindia.com or any of its group publications, may, however, retains the right to publish any of these comments, with or without editing, in any medium whatsoever. It is therefore in your own interest to be careful before posting.
9.Outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for how any search engine -- such as Google, Bing etc -- caches or displays these comments. Please note that you are solely responsible for posting these comments and it is a privilege being granted to our registered users which can be withdrawn in case of abuse. To reiterate:
a. Comments once posted can only be deleted at the discretion of outlookindia.com
b. The comments reflect the views of the authors and not of outlookindia.com
c. outlookindia.com is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for the way search engines cache or display these comments
d. Please therefore take due caution before you post any comments as your words could potentially be used against you
10. We have an online thread for our comments policy:
You are welcome to post your suggestions here or in case you have a specific issue, to directly email us at Mail AT outlookindia DOT com with the subject header COMPLAINT