Guest Columnist - A. Bruce Crawley
A. Bruce Crawley | 11/9/2011, 1:11 p.m.
"Occupiers" Have More Courage than Blacks
During a brief conversation at an event last week two apparently well-educated African Americans tried to carefully "explain" to me that President Barack Obama has no choice other than to ignore Black political issues because he wants of course to be re-elected and "there are more white voters than Black voters."
I was deeply disappointed by their easy acceptance of what has become a predictable pattern of second-class economic and political treatment for the Black community over the past few years. Not only did they seem willing to endure 16.2 percent Black unemployment levels (as long as it didn't include the loss of their own jobs, I guess) but they were also apparently resigned to having four more years of the same if that's what it will take to return the Obama family to the White House.
What has happened to us? Why the recent complacency? How dare we try to characterize this curious new brand of self-defeatism and cowardice as "political sophistication?"
In the aftermath of the short-lived euphoria of 2008, what we have come away with -- in addition to rampant African-American unemployment -- is a recent report from the Federal Procurement Data System that informs us that Black-owned businesses received just 1.2 percent of all federal contracts in the fiscal year ended September 30, 2011. To put that into context, Blacks constitute nearly 13 percent of the national population and own more than 7 percent of all U.S. businesses.
Adding insult to economic injury, we also endured a $787 billion Stimulus Program that produced precious little business/contract stimulation in our community. Indeed nine months into the program $150 million in contracts had been let to companies for streets highway and bridge construction but "not a single dollar had been allocated to any African-American-owned business," according to the Transportation Equity Network.
Many of these economic disparities pre-dated Barack Obama, including the fact that only 14,500 of the nation's 1.9 million Black businesses report annual sales of $1 million or more or that 97 percent of Black firms report gross receipts of less than $250,000 per year.
But shouldn't the president using his bully pulpit establish a task force to explore why these challenges have existed for so long certainly not to disadvantage white Americans but rather to level the playing field once and for all.
Shouldn't we expect at least that much from a President to whom we gave 95 percent of our votes on Election Day in November 2008?
Here's the sad thing: We had grown to almost take for granted here in the U.S. dating back to the Kennedy Administration that our country would be working consistently if not always perfectly to bring about racial inclusion in the workforce and in the area of federal contract participation.
Then right after the 2008 election "post-racialism" broke out and all of those beliefs started to evaporate.
It's hard to believe that 2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the use of the term "affirmative action" by the U.S. government. It wasn't until March of 1961 that President Kennedy's Executive Order 10925 was introduced and the Committee On Equal Opportunity was created.