Are African Americans ‘Better Off’ Since Obama?
A strange thing happened on the way to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. On the Sunday morning talk shows, Democratic operatives were repeatedly asked the question, if Americans are “better off” today than at the start of President Barack Obama’s term?
At first, like a fish out of water, all they did was squirm. But miraculously, like a coach calling a twenty second time out, the party regrouped and began to state in a singular chorus that the answer was yes — Americans are “better off” today than at the start of President Obama’s term
Every one from the communications director for the Democratic National Committee, Brad Woodhouse, to Joe Biden is on the band wagon and is citing General Motors and the death of Osama bin Laden to support this postulate. They even suggest that gaining 4.5 million jobs over the past two and a half years is also evidence of being better off.
The concern is that this may be true for America, but not blacks in America and the numbers do not lie. Unemployment rate among blacks hovering around 17 percent, represents a 27-year high, and has steadily increased, while simultaneously decreasing for other ethnic groups since Obama was elected in 2008. The unemployment rate continued to increase to its highest level since 1984, when typically data indicates that black unemployment has been roughly double that of whites since the government started tracking the figures in 1972.
While Obama was on the campaign trail, the U.S. poverty rate for African American children was 34.5 percent now, it’s 38.2 percent. True, these problems started under Bush, but they have only gotten worse and not better for blacks under Obama’s tenure. Since 2005, wealth for African Americans dropped 53 percent from $12,124 to $5,677, according to an analysis released in 2011 by the Pew Research Center. The same report noted that much of the fall occurred during the past three years and that the median black net worth had fallen 83 percent to $2,170.
Although he also pledged to: expand and make refundable the child and dependent care credit; create a $10 billion fund to help homeowners refinance or sell their homes; double funding and federal support for afters school programs; raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, and increase the Earned Income Tax Credit — he didn’t and not because of GOP congressional road blocks.
Currently, an alarming 27.4 percent of blacks live under the poverty level and business contracting to black-owned firms has decreased under Obama’s presidency dropping 8 percent from 2010 to 2011 alone.
The fact is that although the election of Barack Obama was historic and motivating, nothing has changed for African Americans and have unfortunately only gotten worse. Aldous Huxley once wrote “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” He didn’t know African Americans would accept things as true from our nation’s first black president, even if the facts say otherwise.