Opinion
President Barack Obama turns around looking for first lady Michelle Obama as he greets the crowd at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Foundation Annual Phoenix Awards in Washington Saturday Sept. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) President Barack Obama turns around looking for first lady Michelle Obama as he greets the crowd at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Foundation Annual Phoenix Awards in Washington Saturday Sept. 24, 2011. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)  

Identity politics won’t fix black unemployment

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Derryck Green
Advisory Council, Project 21
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      Derryck Green

      Derryck Green is a doctoral candidate in ministry at Azusa Pacific University and holds a M.A. in Theological Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is a member of the advisory council of Project 21, a leadership network for black conservatives.

Black lawmakers have such a “sense of identification and empathy” with President Barack Obama that they are allowing him to get away with pretty much anything.

Or so said a recent article in the Hill, one of Washington’s top political newspapers, that such empathy was evident following Obama’s alleged impromptu remarks about the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY), who has represented Harlem in Congress since Obama was five years old, said: “I don’t see how a person not-of-color could possibly do the job that he’s doing.”

This reaction, shocking to no one, is nonetheless troubling because Obama’s economic performance — particularly as it has affected black communities — is sub-par at best.

The Hill listed several economic indicators — including declining income, declining home ownership rates and the high unemployment rate — to demonstrate just how poorly black Americans have fared under the nation’s first black president.

Remember how bad George W. Bush’s presidency apparently was for blacks?  At the same point in Bush’s presidency, blacks were earning an average of more than $800 more (adjusted for inflation) annually than they are now under Obama. Black unemployment has risen under Obama’s watch.

Yet, for the black politicians, it appears racial identification takes precedence over prosperity.

Black politicians are also reluctant to criticize Obama — constructively or otherwise — for fear of emboldening his critics. So often, it seems, black politicians and the black intelligentsia prefer a salve of racial identification over the hard and responsible task of holding leaders accountable. These racial chieftains are again publicly — and foolishly — embracing race and passivity rather than fighting for economic opportunity for black America.

It’s not the first time members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), for instance, have chosen commonality with the President over a better program for black opportunity. Last summer, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) noted: “With [such high] unemployment, if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House.” Cleaver added: “The President knows we are going to act in deference to him in a way we wouldn’t to someone white.”

So Obama’s blackness trumps his failure to get black people back to work?