How many African-Americans know that the president of the United States (POTUS) recently met with their leaders? How many among the African-American population know what the meeting agenda entailed, who was there, and what was accomplished at, or subsequent to it, regarding our plight and problems?
Late Black History Month 2013, the POTUS had Blacks to a meeting at the White House in the Roosevelt Room. The president discussed his “plan to strengthen the economy … and continue to build ladders of opportunity for those striving to get there.”
In perhaps the cruelest of ironies, the president praised the participants for their “steadfast leadership on issues critical to improving the economy.”
The presidential meeting produced no programs to lift Blacks, nor their economies. According to White House, President Obama “reiterated his commitment to supporting policies that will directly impact those hardest hit by the economic crisis by making sure that America is a magnet for jobs, etc. …”
Instead of informing the “emperor” that his clothing was “threadbare and worn,” people at the meeting gave a chorus of approval to the president’s agenda for Blacks and their communities.
Those in attendance included the Rev. Al Sharpton, National Action Network; NAACP President Ben Jealous; Avis Jones-DeWeever, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women along with Ralph Everett, president, Joint Center for Economic and Political Studies.
Who is going to tell the “emperor” he has no clothes? The only notable item to come out of the meeting was the staged photo-ops. Nothing of substance regarding an agenda for African-Americans was discussed. In his post-meeting statement, Sharpton commented, “I and other leaders had a very significant discussion with the president about concerns in the African-American community and the civil rights community in general.”
The reverend insists that calling on Obama to be an “exponent of Black views” is “just stupid.” But, the financial ills afflicting the Black communities are more real than Sharpton & Company admit.
The Black-White wealth disparity is more than 20 to 1, Black homeownership rates are declining, Blacks’ unemployment rates are nearly double those for Whites, and Blacks’ incomes are down. These discrepancies reflect a mixture of realism and low expectations.
Instead of devotion to White House deceptions, organizations such as the Joint Center can point Blacks in the right direction through program policy and leadership development practices.
The Obama administration has little interest in supporting Blacks in the same ways it has gay and Latino groups.
A Black agenda that addresses the serious problems that plague African-Americans needs to be presented to Obama, rather than “picture taking moments” with POTUS.
William Reed is publisher of “Who’s Who in Black Corporate America” and available for projects via the BaileyGroup.org.