Race Politics: Obama’s Rift With Black Community, Herman Cain Says Blacks “Brainwashed”

Posted on September 30, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

by Caren Z. Turner

For months critics within the black community have complained that President Obama, as the first black President, hasn’t done enough to focus on African-American issues such as disproportionately high unemployment. But this past weekend, at a gala dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), President Obama fired back rather sharply against the criticism.

“I am going to press on for jobs,” he said in his speech at the dinner, and then went on to say, “I expect all of you to march with me and press on. Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying.”

Some prominent black leaders were stunned, among them Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Princeton professor Cornel West, and PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley.

“How does he get away with saying this to black folk?” said Smiley. “The president of the United States ought to consider more wisely the words that he uses when talking to Black folk as compared to others.”

The core issue is the economy, and President Obama’s economic policies in particular. While joblessness is a critical issue in the country at present, it is worse in African-American communities where unemployment is nearing 17%. And fueling the criticism from black leaders is their disappointment – perhaps unfairly reached – in the President’s perceived failure as an African-American to bring greater relief to economic woes in the black community.

A CNN.com analysis encapsulated the issue this way:

Many political analysts sum up those “expectations run amok” this way: White voters heralded the election of a black president as a sign that long-standing racial gaps were closing, and they expected Obama to play a post-racial role; a president for everyone, who just happened to be black.

Meanwhile, many African-American voters just as clearly saw his election as a great leap forward and hoped the presence of a black president in the Oval Office would bring a new level of understanding, acknowledgment, and relief for their community’s problems.

In a rare interview with Black Entertainment Television (BET) after the CBC gala speech, President Obama acknowledged that the 2012 election will be economy-driven, and that motivating black voters is critical. However, giving necessary place to balance, he also said that “America works when all of us are pulling together, and everybody is focused on making sure that every single person has opportunity.”

“And so when we put forward a program like, for example, the health care bill, our focus is people who don’t have health care,” Obama further said. “Now it turns out that the majority of folks who don’t have health care are also working families, and are disproportionately African-American and Latino, but that doesn’t mean that it’s only for them. There are a whole bunch of folks all across the country who need help. And we are going to help every single person who needs help.”

Some black critics feel that President Obama’s recent remarks only widened the rift that already exists between him and black voters, whose “strongly favorable” view of the President dropped from 86% to 58% in just five months, according to a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll.

But while African-American voters continue to support the President in spite of the rift, his problem may not be that black voters will vote for a Republican, but that they might not vote at all. It could prove costly to the President if the 2012 race is a tight one.

On the issue of black votes and race issues, GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, who is African-American, said yesterday in an interview on CNN’s The Situation Room that the black community has been “brainwashed” into voting for Democrats.

“African-Americans have been brainwashed into not being open minded, not even considering a conservative point of view,” said Cain, who is a former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. “I have received some of that same vitriol simply because I am running for the Republican nomination as a conservative. So it’s just brainwashing and people not being open minded, pure and simple.”

Believing he has a good chance to win a large portion of the black vote, Cain went on to say that “this whole notion that all African-Americans are not going to vote for Obama is not necessarily true. … I believe a third [of African-Americans] would vote for me, based on my own anecdotal feedback. Not vote for me because I’m black but because of my policies.”

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit http://www.turnergpa.comor call 202-466-2511.

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2 Responses to “Race Politics: Obama’s Rift With Black Community, Herman Cain Says Blacks “Brainwashed””

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Well there are no rules for this, we have never had a Black President before and the challenge that he laid before the Caucus and their constituencies is realistic- there is a pitch battle going on in US politics between Obama and his ideas of progress( chosen by the people in 2008) and the destructive tactics paid for by corporate interests in 2010.

There will likely be no neutrality no reasoned middle ground. The opposition is determined to damage the economy again as they did before Obama’s election by turning undue control over to corporate power centers; it appears they wish to further reduce the American middle class to a class of wage dependent servants.
We see tactics the likes of which have possibly not been seen since the Republicans turned back the freedoms won during the Civil War, it has the appearance of a war upon America by a political party ostensibly obligated to run the government for the benefit of its citizens. That prospect- Republican control of Government- should be frightening to anyone who believes in the importance of this era- the opportunity to improve health, invigorate education, rebuild infrastructure, initiate new industries that will employ Americans in the US; create careers and not just temporary low wage menial jobs, invest American assets in America!.

There will be some clear choices in 2012, but an overwhelming flood of corporate money will drown many voices. The President has sounded a warning, there will be much to overcome: voter suppression and intimidation; rules to limit minority voting; actions by Republican controlled state governments to take away the voting power of the young and minority voter. In this situation, it is indeed time to take off the bedroom slippers… and put on some combat boots!.

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