President Barack Obama has struggled to meet the expectations of some in the black community, which is wading in high unemployment and poverty. Black joblessness is 16.7 percent, about two times as high as overall U.S. unemployment. The number of blacks living below the poverty line is triple that of whites.
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“We want to give him every opportunity,” Rep. Maxine Waters said about giving Obama time to turn things around. One of his most visible critics, Waters feels the president has let blacks down and wants him to show that he can lead the nation and black America towards improvement.
The Obama administration argues that the American Jobs Act will help millions of black families. But is it fair to put the weight of black American on Obama’s shoulders without considering the American populace at large?
“All presidents have the responsibility to address this kind of inequality and none of them have up to this point,” said Melissa Harris-Perry. She says that a black president shouldn’t have the sole responsibility of rescuing black American, when previous presidents didn’t have that singular responsibility.
A former Obama campaigner from North Carolina, Eric Winter, is casting a critical glance at progress under President Obama’s watch. “I think he’s lost focus…he didn’t really know what he was up against,” he said.
Joy-Ann Reid, Managing Editor of theGrio said Obama’s friction with black politicians has to do with his brand of politics. “They want to hear more about targeting toward African-Americans, which as president of the United States, he really can’t do,” she said.
Obama has taken steps to show his direct support for African-Americans by making surprise call-ins to black radio shows, and recently dropping in unannounced to a gathering of black journalists in Washington, D.C.
Prominent politicians such as Maxine Waters and media personality Tavis Smiley will continue to heavily criticize the president’s efforts until things change. “The president has to fight…recognize the hell that [blacks] are enduring,” Smiley said.
A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found the president still has a 92-percent approval rating with black voters. So, despite all the criticism the important questions remains: Will black voters turn out to re-elect President Obama?