Crystal Wright is a contributor for The Root DC and the editor of the political site Conservative Black Chick.
The Congressional Black Caucus was founded in 1971 to advocate on behalf of black Americans and hold the president and lawmakers accountable for policies that adversely affect African Americans. The CBC is often referred to as the “conscience of the Congress.”
Considering the caucus’s history, it’s shocking the CBC chairman, Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.),
told The Root this week that the caucus
has been reluctant to criticize President Obama because he’s black. Never mind that for the past three years, black unemployment under Obama has been nearly double the national average and hit a record high of 16 percent in 2011. Unemployment among African Americans hasn’t been that high since 1984. I guess Cleaver also isn’t concerned that black wealth has plummeted under Obama. According to the Pew Research Center, the average black family’s wealth is about $5,600 compared with $113,000 for whites.
By contrast, Cleaver joked when asked what he would do had Hillary Rodham Clinton been elected president and the jobless numbers for blacks were this bad. “As much as I love Senator Clinton, I would have been all over her on 14 percent unemployment for African Americans. I would have said, “My sister, I love you, but this has got to go.”
According to Cleaver, for members of the CBC, “pride” about the president’s blackness trumps any concerns over current 14 percent black unemployment. Cleaver said, “If we had a white president we'd be marching around the White House.”
As the CBC celebrates its annual legislative conference this week in Washington, it’s even more than insulting that Cleaver can chuckle about the CBC giving Obama a pass on accountability for his failed agenda with blacks and all Americans. Cleaver’s glib reaction is particularly disturbing when you consider in 1970, the Democratic Select Committee, which became the CBC, was outraged by President Richard Nixon’s refusal to meet with its members. Nixon’s snub appeared to be the impetus for group’s name change a year later.
In 1971, the CBC boycotted Nixon’s State of the Union and sent him 60 policy recommendations (the link to which has been conspicuously removed from the CBC Web site). I do find it curious that the CBC isn’t treating Obama with the same outrage.
After all, Obama refused to meet with the CBC until a full year into his term, even though 95 percent of blacks voted for him in 2008. That doesn’t seem to be the appropriate way to thank your most loyal voting bloc. Adding insult to injury, Obama spoke at last year’s CBC legislative conference and told blacks they were lazy and needed to look for jobs.
“Take off your bedroom slippers,” he said famously. “Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’.”
Apparently, being America’s first black president has its benefits. It means the raging high unemployment and diminished wealth for blacks under his presidency ain’t nothing but a thing to members of the CBC. The conscience of the Congress seems to have lost its way and sold his soul down the river in the name of giving deference to a brother named Barack Obama.