The silencing of the CBC by the White House has been confusing for Black America. The CBC has long served as the bridge between the ways of Washington and the consciousness of urban America. Its members have served urban communities, which in America is a specific demographic: black and brown, women and children.
For previous presidential administrations, the CBC was a powerful political utility that could translate public policy into language that Black America could understand. But with the election of Barack Obama, the CBC has been displaced and relegated to placeholders instead of stakeholders in shaping the betterment and recovery of their constituents.
In November 2009, the CBC began promoting solutions to the White House and Congress, including funding for job training, summer job programs, and existing federal job initiatives to be directed to the communities hardest hit by unemployment. Specifically, the members called for at least 10 percent of funding for these programs to target areas with poverty rates of 15 percent or higher, or unemployment greater than 10 percent.
All of these provisions were ignored in the first jobs bill. Fighting back against the snub, 21 members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted “nay” on the bill. And although it narrowly passed, the protest showed that they have the potential to block Obama’s agenda if they continue to be ignored.