Sunday, May 29, 2011

Is Obama responsible for black unemployment?

WASHINGTON – With black unemployment marinating at an unfathomable 16%, philanthropist and talk show host Tavis Smiley has an impudent message for President Barack Obama: “Put black folk back to work!”

A few days ago, while promoting his new book (Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success From Failure), Smiley took time to address our nation’s struggling job market along with Obama’s impending role in confronting unemployment.

“We gotta check him respectfully,” said Smiley, referring to Obama. “He can’t be afraid to talk about black unemployment, when he needed to stand up for the Jews, he did. Gays and lesbians? He did. Immigration for the Hispanic community? He did.

“So don’t leave black folks twisted in the wind because you are afraid of being accused of being ‘tribal’ and giving negroes the “hook up”. We are the most loyal part of your base! If you want the deficit to go down, put black folk back to work!”

Everything Smiley stated is true.

Obama has indeed ruffled the feathers of many blacks by lending credence to the claims of women’s groups, gays and Hispanics while shifting pressing African-American concerns to the back of the bus (no pun intended). And blacks are certainly known to expend versus save.

Therefore, by putting more African-Americans to work, we stand a much better chance of increasing consumer purchases for depreciable goods. However, we must remain cognizant of the fact Obama is not Superman.

He alone can’t rectify the black unemployment problem.

Rather than challenge Obama to put more blacks to work, Smiley should push for a national address urging members of Congress to conduct an employment study detailing why so many African-Americans are jobless.

Who knows?

As blacks, our socioeconomic plight may not be the fault of discriminatory business owners after all. Instead, it could involve something as remedial as African-American laziness or lack of qualified applicants.

With discriminatory practice, you’re talking about implementing provisions in the form of affirmative action or similar programs. With laziness, you’re talking about applying additional restraints to key social service programs with the hope of forcing more able-bodied citizens into the job market.

Oversimplifying the issue won’t help.

We won’t know the truth until a diligent study is both conducted and divulged.

So, why the push for a national address?

Because, in my humble opinion, it would give legitimacy to the proposed study while raising political awareness in the domestic job market.

Look, I’m sure Smiley means well.

Hell, everybody’s frustrated.

But it’s not fair to be injurious or to single-out Obama as the primary culprit. An attack must be levied against Congress too.

“We have to respect our President, and I do,” said Smiley in Obama’s defense. “We have to protect the President, and I do. But we also have to correct the President, remember he is a politician not a prophet like Dr. King.

“We have to push him into his greatness for him to become a great President and hold him accountable, lovingly not with malice, but there are some things he has to step up on like black unemployment, wars, and poverty.”

Push him? Yes.

Single him out? No.

Wayne Hodges, an MBA from St. Mary University, is the Editor-in-Chief of He also serves as District Committee Delegate in Johnson County, he’s a Democrat reporter for the Examiner, and he’s an adjunct professor in Kansas City. Wayne welcomes your comments 24/7 at


BlackMan4Real said...

Nice piece. Obama is only one man. We need everybody to put their heads together to fix this mess. Fighting and pointing fingers won't help.

Maurice said...

I agree. Obama is not to blame for blacks being out of work but as soon as he got in the White House he forgot about colored folk. 97% of blacks voted for him. He should at least be more sensitive to our needs.


While his people are broke and out of work, Obama makes it easy for illegal immigrants to come to the USA and take our jobs.