02-19-2017  3:50 am      •     

Across the board, Black Americans love President Barack Obama. We love his wife and his family. We love the symbolism of it all and most refuse to attack his presidency. But, has it stuck you that the ever-growing list of problems Black Americans face aren't on anybody's agenda? Though we have Black people in high positions the quandary of Black Americans is not on the president's agenda, or that of Congress and mainstream media. Even the Congressional Black Caucus leadership takes a hands-off approach to their constituents' dire situation. Unless African Americans develop an agenda and make the requisite demands, their economic prospects will continue declining.

With the current national unemployment rate at 9.5 percent, Americans across the board are wondering when they'll see an economic recovery. But those concerns are even greater for African-Americans, whose unemployment rate is closer to 20 percent. Lack of economic opportunities has long been a problem among most African Americans, but financial woes have fallen on the Black middle-class. Disturbing trends made up of a stagnant economy and an inactive Black middle-class has put this group on a downward slope. A report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that economic gains African-Americans made in the 1990s have slowly eroded.
These economic concerns are even greater for African Americans that languish behind the rest of Americans. But, from all appearances, Blacks are just "fine on Cloud 9." The historic election of President Obama led to big cheers among Blacks, but their reality is growing uncertainty, joblessness and poverty. As it was in 1920, the economic trajectory for Black Americans continues downward -- despite the presence of a Black man in the White House. On all major economic indicators, which can include income, wages, employment and poverty, African-Americans are worse off than at the beginning of the decade. A Pew Research Center report reveals that of the sons and daughters of the 20th Century Black Middle-Class are ending up with lower incomes than their parents.
As Blacks were defending his presidency, Obama signed economic stimulus legislation in the form of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - $787 billion aimed at helping America's economy recover. The act includes increased federal spending for health care, infrastructure, education, various tax breaks and incentives, and direct assistance to individuals. But nothing has been targeted to help Blacks in the grave economic circumstances they face.
Many Blacks elect to fall in behind the fantasy being pushed that America is better because it has a Black President and that "we all" are moving towards becoming a post-racial and equitable society. It looks like Blacks will be the last Americans to hold Obama's feet to the fire for their lack of "economy recovery." Most Blacks, definitely those of the middle class, don't seem to realize how they've brought about their own decline. DuBois' vision of Blacks building an economic foundation by incorporating into White industry and gaining skills and acumen that foster capitalism never happened. Blacks in positions to do something, don't. Few among the mainstream have looked out for Black Americans' best interest. Like Obama, many Blacks have assimilated American Establishment mind-sets and apologize for this nation's injustices and inequality.
The unique circumstances of Black Americans will get no attention from the Obama administration unless Blacks in crowds stop adoring and making apologies for him and start making demands of him. If Blacks continue to lose assets, homes and jobs and fail to bring attention to their plight, then hackneyed speeches from Obama will be all we will get. Blacks are foolish to not hold Obama, et al., accountable. We continue confusing "political empowerment" with "economic empowerment" and as we accept "politics as usual" and continue African Americans' downward spiral. Blacks overlook basic mechanisms we need to employ to gain and sustain collective wealth. Interactive participation in capitalism is the way we can maximize economic growth and generalize prosperity. Capitalism can work for us if we hold elected officials accountable and form effective economic and political bases.

William Reed is available for speaking engagements via BaileyGroup.org.


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  • WASHINGTON (AP) — One month after the inauguration, the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Donald Trump's White House still is a hard-hat zone. Skeletal remains of the inaugural reviewing stands poke skyward. Random piles of plywood and cables are heaped on the ground inside crooked lines of metal fencing. The disarray outside the president's front door, though not his fault, serves as a metaphor for the tumult still unfolding inside. Four weeks in, the man who says he inherited "a mess" at home and abroad is presiding over a White House that is widely described as itself being a mess. At a stunning pace, Trump has riled world leaders and frustrated allies. He was dealt a bruising legal blow on one of his signature policies. He lost his national security adviser and his pick for labor secretary to scandal. He's seen forces within his government push back against his policies and leak confidential information. All of this has played out amid a steady drip of revelations about an FBI investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian intelligence officials. Trump says his administration is running like a "fine-tuned machine." He points to the rising stock market and the devotion of his still-loyal supporters as evidence that all is well, although his job approval rating is much lower than that for prior presidents in their first weeks in office. Stung by the unrelenting criticism coming his way, Trump dismisses much of it as "fake news" delivered by "the enemy of the people" — aka the press. Daily denunciations of the media are just one of the new White House fixtures Americans are adjusting to. Most days start (and end) with presidential tweets riffing off of whatever's on TV talk shows or teasing coming events or hurling insults at the media. At some point in the day, count on Trump to cast back to the marvels of his upset of Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November election and quite possibly overstate his margins of support. Expect more denunciations of the "dishonest" press and its "fake news." From there, things can veer in unexpected directions as Trump offers up policy pronouncements or offhand remarks that leave even White House aides struggling to interpret them. The long-standing U.S. policy of seeking a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Trump this past week offered this cryptic pronouncement: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I can live with either one." His U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, the next day insisted, "We absolutely support a two-state solution." Trump's days are busy. Outside groups troop in for "listening sessions." Foreign leaders call or come to visit. (Or, in the case of Mexico's president, cancel out in pique over Trump's talk about the planned border wall.) After the president signed two dozen executive actions, the White House was awaiting a rush order of more of the gold-plated Cross pens that Trump prefers to the chrome-plated ones used by his predecessor. Trump hands them out as souvenirs at the signing ceremonies that he points to as evidence of his ambitious pace. "This last month has represented an unprecedented degree of action on behalf of the great citizens of our country," Trump said at a Thursday news conference. "Again, I say it. There has never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time." That's all music to the ears of his followers, who sent him to Washington to upend the established order and play the role of disrupter. 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Trump shouldn't mistake the fact that some of his supporters like his style with the fact that a lot of Republicans just want the policies he promised them. He has to deliver that." Put Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in the camp of those more interested in substance than style. "I'm not a great fan of daily tweets," McConnell said Friday, referring to the "extra discussion" that Trump likes to engage in. But McConnell was quick to add: "What I am a fan of is what he's been actually doing." He credits Trump with assembling a conservative Cabinet and taking steps to reduce government regulation, and promised: "We like his positions and we're going to pursue them as vigorously as we can." The challenge may be to tease out exactly what Trump wants in the way of a health care plan, tax changes and trade policy. 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