Why Are Blacks Silent on Obama Failures?

President Barack Obama's blackness shouldn't quiet African-American intellectuals' critiques of the POTUS, writes Fredrick C. Harris in the New York Times.

Posted:
 
barackobamaforwardcrowd102812575hc
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

For all of President Obama's victories, there also have been failures, like a high poverty rate and the prison population among African Americans. New York Times contributor Fredrick C. Harris wonders why more black intellectuals, who no doubt recognize these trends, aren't more critical of the president, like Cornel West is, for example.

Whether it ends in 2013 or 2017, the Obama presidency has already marked the decline, rather than the pinnacle, of a political vision centered on challenging racial inequality. The tragedy is that black elites — from intellectuals and civil rights leaders to politicians and clergy members — have acquiesced to this decline, seeing it as the necessary price for the pride and satisfaction of having a black family in the White House.

These are not easy words to write. Mr. Obama's expansion of health insurance coverage was the most significant social legislation since the Great Society, his stimulus package blunted much of the devastation of the Great Recession, and the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul added major new protections for consumers. His politics would seem to vindicate the position of civil rights-era leaders like Bayard Rustin, who argued that blacks should form coalitions with other Democratic constituencies in support of universal, race-neutral policies — in opposition to activists like Malcolm X, who distrusted party politics and believed that blacks would be better positioned to advance their interests as an independent voting bloc, beholden to neither party.

But the triumph of "post-racial" Democratic politics has not been a triumph for African-Americans in the aggregate. It has failed to arrest the growing chasm of income and wealth inequality; to improve prospects for social and economic mobility; to halt the re-segregation of public schools and narrow the black-white achievement gap; and to prevent the Supreme Court from eroding the last vestiges of affirmative action.

Read Fredrick C. Harris' entire piece at the New York Times.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff. 

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. 

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.