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How President Obama Can Help the Black Community

After the black community played a huge part in helping Barack Obama secure a second term, the pressure and expectation is building among African Americans that Obama is obligated to reward the community—just as politicians have rewarded their most loyal supporters throughout this nation’s history—by developing policies and programs that will quickly and specifically benefit African Americans.

He created a policy that will be hugely beneficial to many Latinos when he created a way for hundreds of thousands of undocumented residents to stay in the U.S. legally. He probably permanently changed the fortunes of gays when he publicly stated his support for same-sex marriage.

So now African Americans wait some major policy decision that will benefit us.

On the Huffington Post, writer Freeway Rick Ross continues the drumbeat by proposing specific things the president can do now to relieve the brutal effects the Great Recession has had on African Americans.

“I see the difference in the belief in the political process by African Americans when compared to the 1980s,” Ross writes. “There is a new energy and excitement that was lost in Reagonomics, particularly amongst the youth. While this has been great to see, my call would be for there to be more action by President Obama for all African Americans in his second term. As a group our forefathers built the United States through free labor, and we now as a result of longstanding policy and disadvantage see little of the fruits of that labor as descendants.”

Ross calls on Obama to focus on a series of initiatives:

  •  Building economic development centers in inner-city areas that have high minority populations
  •  More attention & visits by President Barack Obama to African American groups such as the NAACP, Urban League and others during his second term
  •  Focused government efforts on unemployment of black youth, particularly in high crime urban centers
  •  College loan and grant assistance for those in college, in addition loan forgiveness or aid for those that complete college
  •  A highly focused look at the War on Drugs, and the unfair application of crack cocaine sentencing disparities

On the San Francisco Bay View website, Eva Paterson, president and co-founder of the Equal Justice Society, lays out her three wishes for the president.

“First, be more forceful about appointing federal judges. As a former constitutional law professor, you know better than most the importance of the federal bench,” she writes.

“Second, please listen to Paul Krugman on economic policy. He was right early on in the economic crisis when he was adamant about the need to create jobs. Romney and Ryan hammered you on that, Mr. President. It resonated with the people. The fact that TARP monies went to the banks rather than homeowners helped fuel the Tea Party movement. Although racial bias, both explicit and implicit, was also a driving engine of the Tea Party, the perception that your administration favored the 1 percent caused you unnecessary problems.”

“Finally, do not abandon the needs of Black people because you will be seen as playing favorites. One harsh reality has been made clear to me during this ugly campaign: Black folks are out here on our own…Mr. President, Black Americans are your most loyal voting bloc, yet aside from political appointments, we haven’t seen any positive policy changes specifically geared towards the Black community. We understand that it’s important to be the president for all Americans. When you announced deferred action on young immigrants, we applauded you because we knew that this issue was important to the Latino and Asian communities. When you abandoned DOMA, we cheered knowing that this was important to the LGBT community. Women took a step forward with your signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. What have you done specifically for Black America?”

Here at ABS, we have also proposed to the president that it is time now to take care of his most loyal constituency.

“Black and brown people must starting making more demands on the occupant of the White House, pushing for policies that are going to benefit people of color, rather than the white middle class that has seemed to be the preoccupation of both political parties in modern times,” we wrote last week. “If Obama wins re-election, black people will be presented with a trial run for the American future, when our sheer numbers and the fact that we have the power to put candidates in office mean that we are in a position to dictate policy like never before. Without being fearful of endangering Obama’s re-election, the African-American community should be aggressive about pushing the president to institute programs and policy that will radically improve our employment situation, our schools, our difficulties in securing fair mortgages, our accessibility to good healthcare. When we are continually falling behind on these measures, it means that the policies of the White House are not working for us.”

The president has said in the past that when he benefits all Americans, he naturally benefits African Americans as well. But that’s not going to cut it anymore. Without the black community’s support, the Obamas would be starting to box up their stuff this morning to begin clearing out of the Romney White House.

When Barack Obama walks out of the White House for the last time as president in January 2017, he should be rejoining a black community whose fortunes have been substantially improved because he was a two-term president. So he needs to get to work, on our behalf.

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