For The Congressional Black Caucus, Race Trumps Economic Prosperity

By July 23, 2013January 29th, 20196 Comments

This week, The Hill reported that for many black Americans, racial identification and empathy with the first black president trumps economic concerns.  This unfortunate bit of news- though a shock to absolutely no one- remains troubling, nonetheless.

This “empathetic” response was triggered by president Obama’s so-called impromptu remarks regarding the emotional reaction, mainly from pockets of black America, to the not guilty verdict of the George Zimmerman trial.

The Hill lists several economic indicators such as declining income, declining home ownership and the high unemployment rate to demonstrate just how poorly black Americans have fared under the nation’s first black president.  Yet, for the black political class (as well as black Americans generally), racial identification with the president takes precedence over socio-economic prosperity.

The Hill also notes how black politicians- some being members of the Congressional Black Caucus, are reluctant to criticize the president- constructive or otherwise- for fear of emboldening the political opposition.  Black politicians and black intelligentsia prefer the salve of racial identification to the hard and responsible task of genuine congressional and executive leadership- all at the expense of economic opportunity.

Unfortunately, “black leadership” is just as much a euphemism as “choice” and “equality.” These racial tribal chiefs are again publicly- and foolishly- embracing “race” and passivity regarding Obama’s economic stewardship rather than fighting for improved economic opportunity for their constituents.

It’s not the first time members of the Congressional Black Caucus have chosen the commonality of the president’s color as a priority over increasing economic opportunities for blacks. Last summer, Emanuel Cleaver noted: “With [such high] unemployment, if we had a white president we’d be marching around the White House.” He also said: “The president knows we are going to act in deference to him in a way we wouldn’t to someone white.”

So “racial empathy” means the president’s blackness trumps black unemployment.

For progressive black politicians to be this trivial with regard to the economic plight of so many Americans is disrespectful and shameful.

Since Barack Obama has been president, unemployment rate for blacks has been below thirteen percent only once (Jan. ’09) and has risen above 16 percent, thirteen times.  Furthermore, the unemployment rate for black teens has yet to drop below 30 percent and has risen above 40 percent, twenty-nine times.

The Congressional Black Caucus is obviously not too concerned with the unemployment rates in its representative districts.  But it should be known how their constituents have fared during president Obama’s “recovery.”

Keep in mind that the national unemployment rate is currently 7.6 percent and 13.7 percent for blacks.

– Karen Bass (CA-37) – 11.9%;

– Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18) – 11.6%;

– Joyce Beatty (OH-03) – 12.1%;

– Hakeem Jeffries (NY-08) – 15.2%;

– Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) – 14.6%;

– Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) – 11.7%;

– Corrine Brown (FL-05) -17.4%;

– Hank Johnson (GA-04) – 15.6%;

– G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) – 15.5%;

– Robin Kelly (IL-02) – 17.9%;

– Andre Carson (IN-07) – 13.9%;

– Barbara Lee (CA-13) -11 %;

– Donna M. Christensen (VI) – no stats given;

– John Lewis (GA-05) – 15.5%;

– Yvette Clarke (NY-09) – 12.7%;

– Gregory W. Meeks (NY-06) – 8.7%;

– William Lacy Clay Jr. (MO-01) -14.7%;

– Gwendolynne Moore (WI-O4) – 14.4%;

– Emanuel Cleaver II (MO-05) – 10.7%;

– Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC) – 11.4%;

– James E. Clyburn (SC-06) – 16.4%;

– Donald M. Payne Jr. (NJ-10) – 15.7%;

– John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13) – 24.7%;

– Charles B. Rangel (NY-13) – 14.9%;

– Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07) – 13.4%;

– Cedric Richmond (LA-02) – 12.5%;

– Danny K. Davis (IL-07) – 16.5%;

– Bobby L. Rush (IL-01) – 16.8%;

– Donna Edwards (MD-04) -9.5%;

– David Scott (GA-13) – 15.1%;

– Keith Ellison (MN-05) – 9.5%;

– Robert C. Scott (VA-03) – 13.1%;

– Chaka Fattah (PA-02) – 16%;

– Terri Sewell (AL-07)-16.1%;

– Marcia L. Fudge, Chairwoman of the CBC, (OH-11) – 17.7%;

– Bennie Thompson (MS-02) – 14.4%;

– Al Green (TX-09) – 10.7%;

– Marc Veasey (TX-33) – 13.3%;

– Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20) -17.1%;

– Maxine Waters (CA-43) -11.3%;

– Steven Horsford (NV-04) – 12.9%;

– Melvin L. Watt (NC-12) – 15.3%;

– Frederica Wilson (FL-24) – 16.0%.

The average unemployment rate of the districts represented by the CBC is 13.8 percent.

Members of CBC currently represent many of the districts that are suffering the highest unemployment rates in the country.  Yet these so-called leaders choose to embrace racial empathy and racial solidarity rather than being actual leaders who should be pressuring the president to implement policies or reduce regulations that could diminish the absurd levels of unemployment for their constituents.

The CBC has become a national embarrassment- not only to their constituents, but to the congressional body itself.

And that’s saying something.

Black Americans who continue to elect political charlatans like these are unfortunately complicit in their own socio-economic asphyxiation.

With loyalty like this one can understand why the Democrat party takes blacks (elected and unelected alike) for granted and why the GOP ignores them completely.

It’s far past time- in a twenty-first century America which will soon celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech- that blacks rethink their reflexive and emotional embrace of race and “racial empathy.”

Refusal to do so in favor of the continued idolization and commodification of race will inevitably facilitate black America into a moral and political irrelevancy.

And the sad fact is that the black Americans who do so will have no one to blame but themselves.



  • reframes says:

    What exactly do you expect them to do? Or for that matter Obama?

    Certainly the larger context is the economy and jobs, and the argument between the austerians and well, Paul Krugman. The House seems determined to stop government from functioning at all, and then blaming the Dems for the lack of a recovery. Corporations seem to be happy – record profits and an endless cheap labor pool. Sounds like Cloward and Piven’s, “Regulating the Poor” Oh yeah, can’t say that. They’re commies.
    Voting rights is effectively repealed cause we’re “post racial”. King was beginning to focus economic opportunity for all (and opposition to Vietnam) but he got killed. No idea where he would have gone with that. Another March on Washington, probably.

    The black caucus might as well go home and become community organizers, er, entrepreneurs. So, if you were elected to Congress what would you do?

    • derryckg says:

      I agree with you that the larger economy is the issue- it’s basically the reason for the post. That said you’re bringing several issues that deal with the post, mostly in a tangential way.

      Specifically, when the CBC is openly choosing to stand in racial solidarity with the president as opposed to holding him accountable for what many Americans would call a piss poor economy, they should be called on their bs- black or not.

      That Emanuel Cleaver would proclaim that he along with the rest of the CBC would be loudly protesting the economic situation if the president were white is not only racist it’s a profound dereliction of their responsibility as congressional representatives. Again, the president’s blackness is more important than the economic prosperity of black Americans? You see that, no?

      Now, you and I part ways regarding the actions of the House. If your ideology matches that of the president and his party, then yes, the House is determined to prevent Obama from implementing more of his reckless and economy-killing ideological agenda. Like Obamacare. Like Dodd-Frank. Like increased EPA regulations, etc., all of which hurts the poor first and hardest. The House is there to hold him accountable for the IRS infractions, Benghazi, etc. That’s what they’re elected to do.

      Quite frankly, if I’m elected to Congress, my power and or influence would be minimal so to attempt to explain what I’d do would almost be pointless. Until I run for Congress. 😉

      But, what I wouldn’t do is embrace something as meaningless and insignificant as race at the expense and detriment of the constituents who voted me into office to represent their best interests. I wouldn’t allow a black president cover simply because we shared the same complexion (which is all we have in common). I wouldn’t lower the standards of executive expectation of leadership simply because the president is black. That’s called affirmative action.

      It sends the wrong message to blacks, to America and to the world.

  • reframes says:

    The CBC must be in a funny position. So much conservative comment on Obama seems based on animus to Obama personally, and IMHO because he’s black. Birthers can’t believe he was born here; he must be some sub-human from Africa. His degree must have been the result of affirmative action; no black guy could be smart enough to do it on his own. One commenter on National Memo constantly refers to Obama as “Sambo”. Race doesn’t seem insignificant to those people. It would be nice of we were really in post-racial world (Obama may have thought that), and the CBC could be free to disagree on policy terms.

    RE: actual policy, I’m not sure how Obamacare, Dodd-Frank, increased regulation in general hurts poor people most. I don’t particularly like Obamacare, but it seems better than the alternative. I addressed that as “Return Death Panels to Their Rightful Owners: Insurance Companies” http://reframes.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/end-health-care/

    I’m probably going to update it with another post. Not very many bloggers talk across ideological lines. I’d be glad to cite you as someone to look at in the debate. (Not that I have a huge following either, and I’ll probably make fun of you, at least a bit.)

    • derryckg says:


      “The CBC must be in a funny position. So much conservative comment on Obama seems based on animus to Obama personally, and IMHO because he’s black.”

      That’s definitely an opinion to hold, but I don’t think that it’s correct at all. I think people who use this excuse are being disingenuous. But to hold that particular position about Choom’s detractors, one needs to provide clear and specific evidence that supports that position. Choom’s policies can be critiqued on principle regardless of his half-blackness or half-whiteness.

      So I would love to see specific evidence that conservatives disagree with Choom based on his color.

      “His degree must have been the result of affirmative action; no black guy could be smart enough to do it on his own.”

      Choom has sealed his records…why? For example, it’s well known that although Choom was elected as president of the Harvard Law Review, he did so without any publications to his name. His name isn’t attached to any- any- legal scholarship produced while serving. Why? He beat out close to 20 other contenders for this position…why was he elected? Sorry, that reeks of affirmative action.

      What were his grades at Occidental? Were they good enough to gain admission to Columbia (apart from affirmative action? Were they good enough to gain admission to Harvard Law School w/o affirmative action? No one can say for sure because again, he’s sealed his transcripts and we can only speculate as to why.

      One can argue, based upon his record, that his entire candidacy and resulting presidency was nothing more than one continuing episode characterized by affirmative action.

      Now when you say Obamacare doesn’t hurt poor people…have you read the bill? Any executive summaries? Obamacare forces people to purchase insurance privately or through an exchange. Some of those people may not qualify for federal subsidies which means they will have to pay for a product that they may not need or can afford using money that could be well spent (or saved) in other areas.

      Dodd-Frank “limit[s] interest-rate increases and penalties on credit cards under the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, and limited fees these companies could charge merchants under the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act. Payday-loan users tend to be lower income. Limiting availability of such loans has driven cash-strapped borrowers to alternatives such as pawn shops that charge far higher interest rates. Limiting the supply does not reduce demand…

      Similarly, when interest rates are capped, credit remains available to higher-income individuals with better credit. It is poorer people with worse credit who lose access to credit cards and are driven to seek even more expensive and possibly illegal options to fulfill their credit needs. This might not have been the intended consequence, but it was entirely foreseeable.”

      You said- “I don’t particularly like Obamacare, but it seems better than the alternative. “–> People say this all the time when they passively defend of Obamacare… or they say “something needed to be done” but never specify what the alternative is (as if there is only one and it’s so bad it’s not worth mentioning or describing in detail). When someone says “something needed to be done” it’s a very clear way of a person judging intentions rather than the results of said intentions, which never does any good. “Something” is so vague that it includes any action whatsoever. Obamacare has contributed to more part-time work and increased insurance premiums… that’s better than an amorphous “alternative?”

  • reframes says:

    You haven’t posted my response. maybe you’re busy.
    We seem t oagree on some big issues, but definitely not on specific policy.
    I’m responding to your list of policy disasters

    Here is EPA over-regulation:
    Here is Obamacare: http://reframes.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/end-health-care/
    I have some old work on the impact of fiscal deregulation. I’ll see if I can’t produce something new about Lawrence Summers.

    If you’re interested in a conservative point of view I like, see Russ Douhat in the NY Times today http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/28/opinion/sunday/douthat-going-for-bolingbroke.html?hp&_r=0

  • reframes says:

    “conservative comment on Obama seems based on animus to Obama personally, and IMHO because he’s black”
    I can’t read minds, so could we agree the guy who calls Obama Sambo, might just possibly base his opinion on race? Then what’s up with “Choom”? I had to google it. Do I detect a hint of non-race based animus in you? Now that I read about it, I see Obama is just like Travon. A pot smoking proto-criminal. A pity the police in Hawaii didn’t use stop and frisk.

    Back to policy
    Obamacare: 1. a vague something needed to be done 2. better than the alternative.
    As far as I’m concerned the vague alternative I prefer is is “Socialist” single payer.
    Obamacare at least extends the number of people covered by millions. My son was able to return to our family policy.. Ruling out “pre-exisiting conditions is forbidden. That’s a lot better than the Insurance company death panel alternative.

    AFAIK Dodd-Frank is designed to roll back the deregulation of the financial system and to provide some consumer protection from things like predatory lending. Pay-day lenders? I guess you could criticize not regulating loan sharks as well. Wait, that’s what bankers want to be. That’s why I tied my recent entry to Larry Summers. http://reframes.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/stop-me-before-i-spin-again/

    It may be we agree on the specific problems for poor people you cite. I don’t feel any need to defend the administration. Again I would ask you what specifically you would change, and how you would implement your changes. As far as I can see, the general Republican response has not been to change but to abolish, and let the “free market” decide everything.
    In this case the free market is a bunch of rich guys – who’ve bought big chunks of both parties. and have little interest in poor people of any color.

    Where do you stand in relation to them?

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