Peter Wallsten and Krissah Thompson of the Washington Post are reporting that President Obama is facing uncomfortable questions from the black community and black lawmakers like those in the Congressional Black Caucus.
Obama’s initial strategy of distancing himself from the black electorate when campaigning in order to appeal to a broader group of Americans is now backfiring amid the downturn in the economy, including disproportionate levels of joblessness affecting black communities.
The White House is now adjusting this strategy, because it appears that President Obama may not be able to count on the black vote without directly addressing the black community. This week the White House dispatched top official Don Graves to participate in a CBC jobs forum in Miami that had been scheduled in part to pressure the White House.
Graves, executive director of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, told black lawmakers that the president would consider taking executive action to enact at least parts of the jobs-related measures they have introduced to no avail in the Republican-led House.
“You may not feel like the president is listening to you, but he hears you loud and clear,” Graves told the lawmakers before an audience of hundreds crammed into the pews of the Mount Hermon African Methodist Episcopal Church.
It’s pretty sad when the nation’s first black president has to distance himself from the black community to assuage the fears of nonblacks. The result of this distancing has led many to believe that the president does not care about the chronic joblessness that is crushing black communities.
The president is caught in a quandary that many of us face in jobs where we are a “first” or one of few, and that is having to be strategic about connecting with your people in a way that will not make co-workers feel that their survival is in peril. It’s raggedy, but it is a real concern. We’re glad that the president is “dispatching” top officials to help figure out how to best help the black community, yet we are annoyed that this appears to be happening because of the need for our vote, as opposed to the needs of our community, which are not all that different from those of the rest of the country.
One more thing: Shouldn’t the fact that we are citizens and voters mean that our needs should be addressed, regardless of the color of the person in the Oval Office?
Read more at the Washington Post.