Wednesday, 3 July 2013


The following facts can be considered to determine if blacks have made progress under Obama.
a) The first black president in the the nation's history proves that there is no discrimination in America when it comes to elected officials.
 b) High visibility of blacks politicians at all levels of government means that the community has plenty of representatives, so there is no need to complain that democracy does not extend to them. 
c) TV, Hollywood, and entertainment are flooded with blacks, therefore, the merit-based value system must really work as well as the American Dream for blacks. After all, Oprah and Will Smith among so many others have made it and so can the black child on the south side of Chicago or in inner city Detroit.
d) There are millionaire blacks in business standing out as outstanding examples that capitalism works just as well for minorities as it does for whites. If a handful of blacks can become millionaires, can the American Dream be far behind for the rest?
e) Blacks are in educational institutions - k-through graduate school - and that is further proof that talented blacks are a well integrated in society and have nothing to complain about because education like all American institutions are equal opportunity entities and work for all people. 

a) black unemployment at about 15% and poverty at 26%. This is something we find in Third World countries or in those like Southern Europe undergoing very serious debt-related problems.

b) Income disparity between blacks and whites suggests a divide between a first world vs. a Third World nation. While the median income of white households stood at $113,149 in 2009, that of blacks was $5,677, according to the Pew Research Center. In short, we have ratios of 20 to 1 for blacks, and the widest wealth gap since Reagan's first term in office.

c) roughly 15% of the entire US population, yet half of the prisoners are blacks. Why is it that a small percentage of whites are in prison, while a large percentage of blacks? 
1. racial profiling; 
2. minor infractions turning into major ones; 
3. judicial system heavily geared to assume guilt on the part of minorities; 
4. drug-related offenses reveal that although blacks represent 14% of users, vs. 25% of the general population, nevertheless, blacks are incarcerated at the rate of 45% for drug offenses.  
5.  poverty and disintegration of the family unity, partly owing to weak or non-existing community services

Did Civil Rights help or hinder the black community achieve broad upward socioeconomic mobility? Did integration simply placate blacks because it co-opted the elites in mainstream institutions from politics and business to education and social organizations? While "Affirmative Action" corrected some problems, it too was used as a tool of co-option of the black community. The NAACP has clearly stated that blacks are worse off today under Obama than they were during the Clinton era. The NAACP, like many organizations and individuals, simply assumed that Obama would advance blacks and minorities, simply because of his skin color. 

The record shows that Obama has advanced the wealthy, even among whites, and has neglected blacks from whom he simply expected support because he too is black, not because of his policies. It is tragic to see so many millions of people take such pride in the first black president, and such treachery on his part to do nothing to reduce black poverty, unemployment, and to introduce community programs that would educate more kids instead of having them wind up in prison. I suppose a black teenager looking at the president on TV feels as good as his mother that there is a black man who made it, among millions who live on the margins. 

My reply to questions about the article from readers on LINKEDIN who raised questions about the underlying assumptions of the article:

 1. If the observation is that the black-white disparity in American society is a question of imperialism, then I would agree, and add that there is literature on the subject as well.

2. If the observation is that progress is a matter of cultural relativism, then I would also agree.

3. If the question is that one must have a starting point of groups one compares, and that means relative to a starting point, let say the 1960s generation (Dr. Martin Luther King) civil rights generation, then I would say that this has some validity, though it strikes me as an argument that conservative apologists would make for they are not interested in raising the level of "progress" as white America defines it, for all people.

4. If the argument is that one must necessarily take into account the value system and definition of the people in question, especially the black minority, my answer to that is that of course that should be case. On the other hand, class transcends race in the existing political economy, and that means that there is no cohesive black community because the class-based social structure has kept it divided. 

First, the article I wrote is about blacks in the US making progress under Obama, not since the Dred Scott decision. I am not sure what point is served making comparisons with the slavery era, other than to project the impression that "at least blacks are not slaves any more".

Second, it is estimated that 60 million, or 2.5% of the world's population perished in WWII, although some statistics run as high as 80 million. The total number of US soldiers killed in WWI is 291,557, and it goes to 1076,245 with the wounded. By contrast, the total number killed in the Civil War is 214,938 and with the wounded included the number rises to 646,932. Therefore, WWII was much deadlier for the US than the Civil War.  

Third, those who have studied US history know that the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments meant very little in practice for the lives of blacks, as the white establishment found ways to circumvent the Amendments and nothing was done until the 1960s during the Civil Rights movement. Let us not forget the KKK thrived and blacks lived in apartheid conditions.

Fourth, appointing high level officials who are black does nothing for the black community except to appease it so nothing changes to improve their lives simply because a black person is in position of authority.

Fifth, in January 2013, the NAACP President argued that blacks are worse off under Obama in comparison with whites.

Finally, the incredibly sad thing in all of this is that a black president has advanced white elites as much as any white president would have done, but blacks remain loyal and proud of the symbol in the White House.

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