By Bill Fletcher, Jr.
Alright, team, enough is enough. During the entire first term of the Obama administration, Black America—for the most part—gave the administration a pass. Many of us felt that the first Black president of the United States should have a little breathing room. While we gave him breathing room, the political Right, through organizations such as the Republicans in Congress and the Tea Party, did exactly the opposite.
For our silence we received very little. The Obama administration continuously caved to the political Right, apparently hoping that they could convince the other side that they were reasonable. Well, the political Right was not interested in reason: they were interested in blood. So, each concession that the administration made to the political Right resulted in nothing. Consider Obama’s pay freeze for federal workers. He received nothing in exchange for this, except further demands from the Republicans for even more cuts.
One does not have to be an economist or sociologist to know that Black America is in trouble. Our unemployment rate continues in double digit and at least double that of Whites. The Supreme Court’s recent decisions on the Voting Rights Act and affirmative action represent one more step towards grinding us down. To this must be added, the hiking in the student loan rate brought on by the failure of the administration and the Congress to reach an agreement, but added to this was an effort by the administration to shift how students (and their families) would actually qualify for loans.
There are also concerns when it comes to foreign policy, including, drone strikes, harassing political leaders of other countries (e.g., Bolivia’s Evo Morales), the on-going war in Afghanistan, the growing intervention in Syria and, well, you see the problem.
Many African Americans, for very understandable reasons, have been reluctant to openly criticize this administration fearing that to do so provides aid and comfort to the political Right. The time has come to cast aside such fears and recognize that there is no constituency that is better placed to lean on this administration than Black America.
Our reluctance to criticize this administration must end. Black America that must say, in no uncertain terms, that this administration would not have come into existence without our support and it is time for it to shift gears and focus on the needs of Black America and other constituencies that were there for this candidate, this president, this administration. Perhaps it is time that we also said that we need no more speeches; we need action that favors those of us who exist beneath the clouds.
Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a Senior Scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, the immediate past president of TransAfrica Forum, and the author of “They’re Bankrupting Us” – And Twenty Other Myths about Unions. Follow him on Facebook and at www.billfletcherjr.com.