How Obama Has Failed the Black Community

Recall the euphoria that engulfed the African-American community back in 2008, when Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States.  Blacks came out for him in droves and voted for him at an astounding 96% level.  Times, they were a-changin', so to speak.  It was the dawning of a new era, as a large dose of hope and change was on its way to the county as a whole, and specifically to the African-American community.  Now, almost four years later, it's clear that Obama has done nothing to improve the way of life among blacks as a whole.  In fact, statistics show that life has actually regressed for African-Americans under Obama.

As of June, the African-American unemployment rate is a staggering 14.4%, with Latinos and Hispanics having an unemployment rate of about 11.0%, while the unemployment rate for whites is 7.4%.  Compare these rates to December 2008, the final month before Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office.  Whites were unemployed at the rate of 6.6% and Hispanics were at a rate of 9.2%, while blacks had an 11.9% rate of unemployment. 

Blacks have taken it in the chin to a greater degree than other demographic groups in the labor market during Obama's economic disaster.  Essentially, one out of every seven African-Americans is unemployed.  Still, there is worse economic news for the African-American community while under the president for whom they cast 96% of their ballots in November 2008.

According to a report released earlier this year by the Bipartisan Policy Center, in 2010, African-American homeownership rates dropped to pre-1990 levels.  Blacks owned homes at a rate of 44.3% in 2010, less than two-thirds the rate at which whites owned homes.  That same rate inched higher to 45.1% in 2011, but whites owned homes at the far greater rate of 73.7%, according to a report from the liberal Center for American Progress. 

That same report, released in April, shows more dismal economic conditions in the African-American community.  It found that from 2009 through 2011, black minimum wage workers swelled 16.6%, while whites had only 5.2% more minimum wage workers.  Not only, then, has there been a disproportionate increase in the number of African-Americans who are in the unemployment line, but there is also a greater number of blacks working for minimum wage.  This surely wasn't the change African-Americans were looking for in Obama.

The same report found that foreclosure rates in 2011 for African-Americans was 9.8% versus 5.0% for whites, or almost double.

Under Obama, the African-American community has fewer jobs, with those who have jobs often making very little, and an increasing number of families with no place to live -- facts that should cause African-Americans to wonder what they voted for in 2008.

Were the economic catastrophe not enough, the first African-American president in the history of our nation has also failed miserably in using the bully pulpit of the presidency to help cure the social ills that are destroying the black community.  Some of those include:

  • Fewer than 40% of black children live with both parents.
  • Black children are seven times more likely to have a parent in prison.
  • Over 70% of black babies are born to unwed mothers.

During his nearly four years as president of the United States, Barack Obama could have used the bully pulpit of the presidency to make a real impact on the black community and address the underlying problems within it.  Obama appears to be a happily married man and is raising two young daughters.  He and his wife Michelle could have invested time and resources in helping to reverse the negative sociological trends present in the black community, and they may have had some success.  But they have done little.  If they would have spent time in black communities around the nation, imagine how young African-Americans could have been influenced and inspired not to have children out of wedlock and to remain married with their spouse.

Barack Obama has failed the black community, and the nation as a whole, as president of the United States.  Black Entertainment Television (BET) CEO Debra Lee, in a video recently scrubbed from the Obama campaign website, said, "We're encouraging people to come out and vote to, as we say, vote like your life depended on it."

Sadly, come November 6, Election Day, no doubt African-Americans will again cast nearly all their votes for a man with whom they share color but who has done nothing to help them economically or socially.  It is that which is even more disappointing than his presidency.

Chad Stafko is a writer and political consultant living in the Midwest.  He can be reached at

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