Grading Obama: Katherine Tate
The UC Irvine professor argues that President Obama has been responsive to blacks.
KT: I think the CBC is changing ... and is unable to fight back in a satisfactory way. When President Clinton signed into law welfare reform in 1996, there was a big silence from the CBC, even though only one member voted for it. Politically, white America will never accept [a] "righteous-justice campaign" from black Americans. I think we need black interest groups, including the black church, to stand up and respond to political leadership that wrongly implies that black Americans are wrong in seeking redress for the problems that are rooted in America's racism toward blacks. I think the CBC should stand down and let other civil rights and religious leaders make this case.
TR: Do you believe that Obama has made marked strides toward a "postracial" America?
KT: Obama's election has widened the door so that government is becoming more responsive to the interests of marginalized groups. I see this in health reform, the ending of the ban on gays and lesbians in the military and even Obama's support of the Dream Act for undocumented young Latinos. His administration will stand against conservative-court policymaking and point to a more inclusive future for all Americans.
TR: In what areas of public policy, if any, do you believe Obama has most neglected the concerns of black Americans?
KT: I would like the president to find and point to evidence that his administration has helped black people keep their homes, keep their resolve to find employment and find employment. He needs to point to black families with disabled children who can get health insurance now. He needs to point to the families with young adults not in college year-round whom they can keep on their policies. Black Americans in surveys are among the most hopeful, and his biggest fans. He needs his political-campaign managers to tell black America all that his administration has done.
Tomorrow: Stanford Law professor Ralph Richard Banks grades the president.
Alexander Heffner, a freelance journalist based in New York and Boston, has written for the Washington Post, Boston Globe and USA Today.