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The Real “Obama Effect” on African Americans


Black voters
Black voters gave Obama 95% of their vote

African Americans have lost, by some measures, two generations of gains since the onset of the “Silent Depression” in the early 2000s. So profound is the decline, “nothing but the most wrenching and thorough social transformation – something like a revolution – offers any hope of eventual economic parity with Whites.” But the “Obama Effect” convinces many Blacks that, despite the evidence, the African American condition has actually improved under Obama.” It is a fatal delusion.

In the soon to be released movie “The Obama Effect,” the protagonist, played by Charles S. Dutton, has a heart attack. “Facing the end,” intones the trailer voice-over, “it was time for a new beginning.” Dutton’s character becomes obsessed with the idea of a Black president, and throws himself into the Obama campaign, neglecting all else.

I’m sure the movie has a happy ending, but in the real life and history of Black people, “The Obama Effect” has been disastrous. Black economic progress is not just at an end; the African American economic condition has so deteriorated, nothing but the most wrenching and thorough social transformation – something like a revolution – offers any hope of eventual economic parity with Whites.

The latest Census Bureau figures show that the median White household is now 22 times more wealthy than Black households. White families are worth more than $110,000, compared to just under $5,000 for Blacks.

The gap has widened, since 2009, when Whites registered only 20 times more wealth than Blacks. The State of the Dream Report for that year described Blacks as experiencing a kind of “Silent Depression” – one that is “unnoticed, unacknowledged and unaddressed – and yet the evidence is striking.” Back then, more than three years ago, 30 percent of African American households had no wealth at all, or negative wealth, less than nothing, and the gap between Black and White incomes was proportionately larger than it was back in 1968, the year Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

And now, almost four years after the Wall Street meltdown and President Obama’s election – and going on a decade since the Black Depression began in the early 2000s – African Americans are in even worse shape. There is absolutely nothing on the horizon that would reverse the steady relative deterioration of the Black economic condition, absent massive, targeted government intervention. The Republicans aren’t going to do that – and neither will President Obama, of his own volition. He avoids even the whiff of targeted federal intervention that might tend to favor Blacks. It’s against his philosophy, as he has repeatedly stated since the Spring of 2009, when Obama declared that a “rising tide” will lift all boats and that Blacks should not make special pleadings. Even when the Congress provided him with $6.7 billion targeted at those worst hit by the housing catastrophe – and the certainly means Black folks – Obama’s Treasury Department let most of the money sit there, unspent.

I would call Obama a fraud – except for the fact that Black folks mostly fooled themselves into believing that Obama’s success was their own. As a number of polls and studies have shown, even as Blacks were losing two generations of economic ground, large numbers of African Americans believed that the Black condition had dramatically improved under Obama. Last week’s numbers confirm once again that the Black condition is only getting worse. The Obama Effect might have saved the fictitious Charles Dutton movie character’s life, but it’s made African Americans blind and deaf, seemingly incapable of putting up a fight. The real Obama Effect can destroy a people.


By; Glen Ford

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