A Disappointed Member of the Black Middle Class Addresses the President

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No, Joy Behar of The View. I don’t think that she was a plant.

From the New York Times:

An African-American woman who described herself as a chief financial officer, a mother and a military veteran said she was disappointed that Mr. Obama had not lived up to her once-lofty expectations.

“I’m exhausted of defending you, defending your administration. … I’m deeply disappointed where we are right now,” she said, adding that when she voted for Mr. Obama, she thought he would change Washington. “I’m waiting, sir. I’m waiting. I don’t feel it yet. … Is this my new reality?”

Her name is Velma Hart.

What else could he say to her but that we are all on the right track.

Really, I don’t think that we are. At least, not yet.

None of this stuff is enough for this woman to turn into a ‘Bagger. I did not hear Hart put an “or else” in her question. But it’s increasingly difficult for even blacks who continue to have enthusiasm for the FBP–the first black president of the United States, as Bob Herbert observed.

Most blacks are reluctant to publicly express their concerns about the president because they are so outraged by the blatantly unfair and often racist attacks against him from the political right. But many blacks are unhappy that Mr. Obama hasn’t been more forceful in the fight to create jobs. And there is disappointment over the dearth of black faces in high-profile posts in the administration.

This exchange may have turned off even more people from the democratic process as it is now. Many are thinking of a third or fourth party movement. The two-party system is seemingly not addressing these momentous problems and concerns.

People have nearly had enough of the President’s centrist policies, some of which, like the Stimulus Bill, were not enough to help. Several of the Red States with Republican governors refused the help outright to their own citizens. Many of these policies made the rich and the corporate class even more rich and powerful.  He refused to place into office individuals who would really kick ass and take names; instead he was bowing or tiptoeing incessantly to the criticism of the right-wing and reactionary elements who want him to fail, and who have coalesced around the Tea Party movement.

Furthermore, that economic team of his–Geithner, Summers, Bernanke–need to be chucked out.  It’s been long overdue.  The slowly, slowly gently conservative approach is not working.  The Roosevelt we had been hoping for has not emerged and may never emerge from this president.  I knew that the guy was a moderate–like Roosevelt. Yet Roosevelt became moderate on some issues and liberal on others. I’d hoped President Obama would repeat the strategy. He didn’t. As a result, the disappointment is wide ranging and deep.

The black middle class that Velma Hart represents is bearing the brunt of  the Great Recession. Foreclosures and joblessness have gutted many from its ranks and they face poverty to a degree not seen since the Roosevelt years. The Grio stated:

Amidst recent U.S. Census Bureau numbers showing income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States for 2009 going in the wrong directions, and mid-term elections in November, the Obama administration is facing real challenges. The median household income in the US was $49,777; for whites, $51,861 (down -0.5 percent from 2008) and blacks, $32,584 (down -4.4 percent from 2008). In 2009 43.6 million people or 14.3 percent were in poverty up from 39.8 million or 13.2 percent in 2008. This is the largest number in 51 years for which poverty numbers are available. Of this, in 2009 12.3 percent or 29.8 million are white and 25.8 percent or 9.9 million are black.

Add to that joblessness–many blacks, and black couples, were working two jobs each to make ends meet for their American Dream. (I know: my sister in Atlanta has had two jobs since she bought her house. And she’s single.) Now black families are lucky to have one job for all the debt. That job may be merely minimum wage. The salaries that the black middle class used to command in the private sector are gone and may not return. The gains that the black middle class have made over the last half-century have been wiped out.

The record foreclosures caused by banks like Wells Fargo offering subprime loans to blacks (and Latinos) has also in turn made poverty rates rise exponentially. Says Truthout:

The real estate and foreclosure crisis has stripped African-American families of more wealth than any single event in history.

The American middle class has been hammered over the last several decades. The black middle class has suffered to an even greater degree. But the single most crippling blow has been the real estate and foreclosure crisis. It has stripped black families of more wealth than any single event in U.S. history. Due entirely to subprime loans, black borrowers are expected to lose between $71 billion and $92 billion.

To fully understand why the foreclosure crisis has so disproportionately affected working- and middle-class blacks, it is important to provide a little background. Many of these American families watched on the sidelines as everyone and their dog seemed to jump into the real estate game. The communities they lived in were changing, gentrifying, and many blacks unable to purchase homes were forced out as new homeowners moved in. They were fed daily on the benefits of home ownership. Their communities, churches and social networks were inundated by smooth-talking but shady fly-by-night brokers. With a home, they believed, came stability, wealth and good schools for their children. Home ownership, which accounts for upwards of 80 percent of the average American family’s wealth, was the basis of permanent membership into the American middle class. They were primed to fall for the American Dream con job.

Black and Latino minorities have been disproportionately targeted and affected by subprime loans. In California, one-eighth of all residences, or 702,000 homes, are in foreclosure. Black and Latino families make up more than half that number. Latino and African-American borrowers in California, according to figures from the Center for Responsible Lending, have foreclosure rates 2.3 and 1.9 times that of non-Hispanic white families.

There is little indication that things will get much better any time soon.

Especially if the ‘Baggers get their way. If they have a thing about Obama, they have a thing about black people, period. Black people in the Tea Party are going to have to figure out what their threshold for pain is. It will get that way.

What does the Republicans offer, even with the ‘Baggers? Not much. Some of these idiots even want to do away with Social Security and with unemployment insurance. They are straight out of their minds. The revolution would indeed be televised then.

There have got to be other alternatives. If Obama makes it possible in another two years, very well and good. But I am not holding my breath, not if Congress goes nuts after the midterms.

~ by blksista on September 21, 2010.

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