Archive for President Barack Obama

What Price Victory…

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Guest Columnists with tags , , , on November 1, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Purnell Headshot

By Purnell Pinkney

               Let’s face it…by any measure, the Obama phenomenon is extraordinary. In an unprecedented string of 2007-2008 political wins, he eliminated Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary, defeated John McCain in the general election and within months of his inauguration, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  It was an astonishing string of unlikely successes. Almost immediately talk of a second term began to float around Washington D.C. It was a magical time. The prospect of the return of a Camelot-like administration courtesy of President Obama and his family, reminiscent of the John Kennedy years, drifted through the minds of an adoring public. But…there were serious problems with the economy. The solution: bail-outs and quantitative easing…more money, more money, more money. It seemed to stop the bleeding but the structural financial problems remained. In March of 2010, President Obama signed his landmark legislation, the Affordable Care Act. Seven months later, on November 6, 2010, the Democrats lost the majority in the House and Nancy Pelosi was removed as Speaker. With that Democratic loss, any hopes for D.C. statehood faded and a slew of other broad initiatives probably evaporated. The resulting effect was Congressional gridlock and it continues to this day. Nonetheless, President Obama won a second term, courtesy of a narrow popular vote which translated into a landslide Electoral College majority.

               In both of President Obama’s elections, African Americans voted for him in the mid-to-high 90 percentages. In fact, black Americans voted for Mr. Obama at some of the highest recorded levels of modern ballot-box political history. Accompanying this spectacular display of allegiance was the corresponding expectation that black communities would be the beneficiaries of policy initiatives that would begin to counteract their long-standing, seemingly intractable problems of crime, employment, housing, education, health care, infant mortality, etc. Maybe, just maybe…all of those urban pathologies were about to be dramatically reversed. Instead, “The Dream Act,” same-sex marriage, illegal immigration, 2nd Amendment issues and repeal of DOMA/”Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” became the administration’s domestic priority. President Obama now began to make extreme ideological Left turns; and each time that he did so, some of his most ardent supporters reluctantly disengaged.  Most black people were withholding judgment while trying to discern the motivation and the implication of a sudden cluster of Mr. Obama’s policy initiatives. There was bewilderment at all of the attention and controversy surrounding these Presidential pronouncements but it wasn’t nearly enough to obscure the glaring absence of a coherent African American domestic policy.

               It had taken years for the emotional fog created by the exhilaration of President Obama’s first election to lift. During his second administration when the mystique finally began to evaporate, astute black Americans then realized that they had committed a tactical political blunder of epic proportion. Even worse, as President Obama entered the “lame duck” phase of his presidential tenure this political gaffe was compounded because he was now even less inclined to delve into the “hornet’s nest” of complex issues facing black communities for the purpose of resolution. Granted, that the election of a Republican president may not have produced increased interest in America’s black communities, or for that matter, a more capable leader; but more was expected of Mr. Obama because he was “one of us” and perceived to have a vested interest in the well-being and overall progress of black people in general. Nevertheless, there were subtle indications of what was about to transpire but these signals were obscured by the magnetic personality of the President. It has to be emphasized that the fundamental miscalculation of black Americans was the investment of their political hopes and dreams in the wholesale support and unconditional election of a presidential candidate who never once articulated the policy initiatives that he had in mind for them. Incredibly, the best black political minds in America chose to collectively ignore this gaping tactical oversight and surrender to political pretense. Perhaps it was the case that in the euphoria of having a black candidate in the presidential race, the serious question of accountability would have been too sobering a distraction. Seemingly President Obama’s team recognized this odd political situation and his “inner circle” of advisors further insulated him from affiliating too closely with the black masses. Unfortunately,  President Obama did not have to court the black community to garner their votes…black Americans, in record numbers and in an unusual effort to display racial solidarity, lined up and willingly volunteered their votes: not once, but twice. How could this astounding allegiance occur in 21st century elective politics without the exacting of clearly understood tangible benefits in return?

Here’s how black America probably got into this ridiculous political position. It’s common knowledge that African Americans are vulnerable to the suggestions and opinions of black, high-profile media personalities; in particular energetic radio and TV types who combine entertainment with all-out, party-time political advocacy. These black celebrities are well known and continue their boosterism to this day.  The partisan noise from this group of pop-culture figures and radio/television hosts was used theatrically to effectively overwhelm the ability of the masses of African Americans to employ reason in making informed political decisions or even knowing what questions to ask candidate Obama. Black Americans of a moderate to conservative persuasion were reluctant to chide America’s first black president to direct resources and programs toward African American communities for fear of being labeled as Obama detractors of the “crabs in a barrel” variety. Dissent directed toward President Obama or his policies was suddenly tantamount to racial betrayal. With the absence of an aggressive, countervailing, advocacy organization, moderate and conservative blacks settled into a period of quiet political acquiescence. Amazingly, the shock of President Obama’s evolution on gay marriage, his embracing of the illegal immigrant agenda and his patronizing chastising of an HBCU elicited only a tepid response from black people or their establishment designated black leaders. POTUS was evolving into the diametrical opposite of what black people naively thought he would represent. He was doing so to the rousing cheers of secular liberals who were hell-bent on destroying millennia of human social traditions. These astounding unilateral mandates were all made possible by Executive Order or by the selective enforcement of standing laws. Large numbers of African Americans who desperately wanted to continue their support for Mr. Obama gritted their teeth and begrudgingly attempted to accomodate the “new normal.”  

The rush to legalize various social initiatives by President Obama, many of which were antithetical to the core values of the Black Church, but ideally suited for “new normal” ideologues, resulted in open congregational  division in many black Houses of Worship. But so thorough was the black media’s early frenetic pitch for the support of candidate Obama, that now not a single black cleric would dare to now openly oppose the President’s radical social agenda. Dissent or criticism of Mr. Obama was now being effectively stifled and thwarted by an uneasy political correctness quandary stemming from the reluctance of black intellectuals to be viewed as overly critical of America’s highly esteemed, first black President. The net result of this situation was that the president was effectively absolved of any major obligations to the black community, even though black Americans had voted for him en-bloc at record levels. Without a coherent body of social, political and economic demands coming from the black body-politic, interest in African American issues withered, foundered and faded into irrelevance. Blacks who pressed the Obama administration too vigorously to take action on some of the problems plaguing the black community, soon found themselves isolated, ignored and ostracized by the Obama machine. Those black Americans who succeeded in gaining access to the President were so few and so eager to genuflect in his direction that they only succeeded in further immunizing him to black criticism. Meanwhile …deteriorating conditions in many black communities accelerated and intensified. Even today, the benign neglect of America’s black communities by the Obama administration continues its corrosive advance unchallenged, unrestrained and politely ignored.

The road to present-day African American political irrelevance, superficiality and impotence, was paved by the black communities own  disc jockeys, rappers, teleprompter reading news personalities and the highest profile Hollywood types. It was from these pop-culture sources that the mantra for homosexual marriage slowly filtered into the greater black community, usually cloaked in buffoonish humor, but steadily increasing in urgency until it was assumed by black people to have been condoned by consensus. A constant barrage of anecdotal social trivia interrupted by comical political banter aimed at moving black political consciousness to the extreme Left was, and still is, aimed at the hearts and minds of the African American community. Many blacks voted for and attached themselves to Mr. Obama for the sheer joy of being a part of history being made in American elective politics. Such was the fervor that traditional black political leaders relinquished their normal role as statesmen in the elective process and essentially handed over the formation of political opinion in the black community to entertainers. What should have been a thoughtful deliberative process, the choosing of a leader, degenerated into an ongoing series of festive social affairs which minimized the chance that the public would notice the appalling conditions in the majority of the nation’s black communities. With an ever present opportunity to capture the political and moral high from the entertainment industry, inexplicably, the Black Congressional Caucus opted to head for the sidelines as an observer…not a participant. As an indication of the CBC’s negligible influence with the President, he has met with them on an average of once every two years…for about 90 minutes each session.

Without a cadre of experienced political advocates for African Americans in place during either of the Obama election campaign seasons, voices of precaution were quickly and rudely dispatched. Now the way was clear for inertial politics to be foisted upon the unsuspecting black masses. Nonetheless, black support for candidate Obama reached and sustained high levels of support in each elective contest. But there remained the persistent problem of a glaring absence of any form of a quid pro quo in the relationship between Mr. Obama and his faithful black loyalists. The topic was so sensitive that it was politely, but nervously, ignored and a conspiracy of silence settled over the issue. When the carnival atmosphere that accompanied President Obama’s two elections subsided, only Tavis Smiley and Cornell West, among prominent African American political theorists/leaders, stood apart from the throngs of sycophants lining up to bask in the reflected light of the newly re-elected President Obama. None of the Obama administration surrogates have however, ventured forth to challenge or agree to debate the merits of these men’s criticisms of the Obama administrations. There are even subtle indications now that West and Smiley may ultimately emerge from their period of political banishment as vindicated visionaries. And though the media has eased up on Tavis and Cornell somewhat, neither of them has returned to the status they enjoyed during their pre-Obama days.

               History, as usual, will be the judge of President Obama’s tenure as America’s Chief Executive. What that history must record without prejudice, is whether or not the American black community made progress on his watch. That he made no campaign promises to revive the nation’s black communities is sad, but true. There was simply an erroneous but reasonable assumption on the part of black voters that his election had ushered in an era of newfound respect for, and interest in, the plight of black America; an unfounded, unspoken notion allowed to lodge itself in the vulnerable minds of black Americans. And therein lies the crux of the tragic disconnect that West and Smiley tried valiantly and unsuccessfully to warn against. To counter this grievous oversight, these two began to call for accountability from President Obama and soon thereafter discovered that their message no longer had an audience and that  they themselves had been isolated and discredited.

In the heat of an early political speech 5 days before his historic election as president, Mr. Obama announced to a politically charged crowd, that his goal as POTUS would be to “fundamentally transform America.”  Not many African Americas were quite sure what that vague declaration actually meant. It appears to have been just another platitude-riddled political spiel implying a “new day” but short on the specifics of the planned transformation. Very quickly it became apparent that this transformative vision was focused well beyond the complex, recurring, debilitating problems of Detroit, Chicago and Newark …to notions of social engineering, income redistribution and the like. The obvious uncertainty in all of this was whether or not the President’s notion of transformation necessarily included the assurance of progress for African Americans and consequently justified more than a glance askew at their plight?

Take a casual drive through any of the black enclaves in most of America’s major cities and the answer to the “transformation” as it applies to these Americans becomes self-evident. There has been absolutely no perceptible progress and no detectable change remotely related to positive transformation within that demographic. So perhaps, President Obama’s transcendent elections were actually a pair of “Pyrrhic Victories” for the masses of hopeful African Americans…and they are now too ashamed to claim their error and too constrained by political correctness to publically discuss their astonishingly senseless political mistake.


What’s Motivating Some of Obama’s Black Critics?

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics, President Barack Obama, Racism, Trayvon Martin with tags , , , , on July 23, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Cornel West - Tavis

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In

CNN columnist L Z Granderson has written a “thought-piece” that may help some people understand why critics like Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West are so “over the top” in their criticism of President Obama and his remarks regarding the Trayvon Martin and the outcome of the George Zimmerman trial.

Granderson comes to many of the same conclusions that I have written about over the years as to why the self-serving Smiley rants against the President.  Both of us believe this may have started during the presidential campaign back in 2008 when then candidate Obama sent his wife to speak on his behalf at Smiley’s corporately sponsored “State of the Black Union” forum in New Orleans.

The man was running for President.  Here’s an excerpt of Barack Obama’s letter to Smiley explaining his situation: 

In the final stretch, I will be on the campaign trail everyday in states like Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin talking directly with voters about the causes that are at the heart of my campaign and the State of the Black Union forum such as affordable healthcare, housing, economic opportunity, civil rights and foreign policy. I am committed to touching every voter, and working to earn their vote.

That is why with regret, I am not able to attend the forum. I understand that you have declined the campaign’s request to have Michelle Obama speak on my behalf. I ask that you reconsider. Michelle is a powerful voice for the type of real change America is hungry for. No one knows my record or my passion for leading America in a new direction more than Michelle Obama.

Tavis turned down the offer of having Michelle Obama attend.  Michelle Obama is not “chopped liver.”  She is as smart, if not smarter than her husband and she’s a damn good public speaker.  Many observers, myself included feel this was the start of the rift that got Tavis’ panties all bunched up in a wad.  From that point on, Tavis has been whining and complaining like a baby.

Smiley and West remind me of the two Muppet characters Statler and Waldorf who sit in the balcony and complain about everything.

Statler&Waldorf tavis-smiley-cornel-west

Granderson does a great job of providing a timeline of events that led us to this point.  I doubt that anyone will ever be able to figure out the “logic” that is driving the behavior of Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, but Granderson does a damn good job.  His article is certainly worth the read.

Click here to read the entire article.

L.Z. Granderson LZ Granderson writes a weekly column for  He’s also a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and

Dr. Boyce: President Obama Lacks the Moral Authority to Give His Lopsided Speech at Morehouse

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, President Barack Obama, Racism with tags , , , , on May 22, 2013 by Gary Johnson

By Dr. Boyce Watkin

Obama Morehouse

This week, President Barack Obama gave the commencement address to the young men at Morehouse College.  I was happy to see the president speak to these men, for I’m sure they were inspired by his presence.  The achievements of Barack Obama are nothing short of legendary and inspirational, he deserves to be recognized as such.  Morehouse College President John Wilson should also be commended for his extraordinary leadership.  Dr. Wilson was gracious enough to join the presidents of Spelman and Clark in co-signing the open letter on mass incarceration written by myself and Russell Simmons.

The president’s message consisted of the same themes that I recall hearing from my grandmother:  You have to work twice as hard to get half as much if you are black in America, and racism is no excuse for you to give up.  I agree with this message, and I share similar messages every single day of my life.

The president’s decision to speak in ways that he knew would resonate with Morehouse men and their older black parents was an intelligent political move, without question.   The president’s speeches tend to be more conservative when he speaks to African Americans (I even noticed his use of the word “Lordy” early in the speech), and this is a good fit, since black people are also very conservative. The truth is that many African Americans would be Republicans if the party would just stop being so blatantly racist.

Another thing about black people is that many of us suffer from the low self-esteem that tends to afflict oppressed individuals.  We’re not much different from the housewife who believes her husband wouldn’t have had to beat her if she had not burned the cookies.  When her husband is out with other women, she is simply thankful that he took the time to pay the rent.   She’s ecstatic about any form of acknowledgement from her husband whatsoever, and when he berates her, she knows that she deserves it.  To some extent, she comes to embrace her oppression as the natural order of things, and the tranquility of her marriage is built upon the idea that his views, needs and status are superior to her own.

When President Obama graces us with his presence, we are simply honored that he took the time to even acknowledge us.   Any symbolic gesture, no matter how scant and meaningless, becomes precious to us, because for some, there is no greater achievement that any black man could aspire to than to get validation from white people.  Had President Obama passed on the presidency and taken a position at an all-black school and educated thousands of black children, we would have considered it to be a wasted opportunity.  Why would such an important man spend his time with us?  The political harmony between black America and the Obama Administration is a carefully-designed relationship in which our job is to shut up and cheer for anything the administration chooses to do with our votes.

Part of this asymmetric partnership with the Obama Administration is that we are actually HAPPY when the president berates us.   We like being told that we don’t try hard enough and that the reason so many of us struggle is because we have come to embrace an inferior set of habits and cultural norms.   We ENJOY the abuse, because deep down, many of us have bought into the myth of white superiority as much as white people themselves.

So, when Obama comes to Morehouse and says, “Stop using racism as an excuse and start taking more responsibility,” we LOVE it.  We also nod our heads in agreement because for the educated elite, Obama isn’t talking about us.  He’s talking about “them.”  You know, those n*ggaz who keep getting sent to prison, who can’t get jobs, and who are killing each other in the street.   They deserve their plight because they don’t work as hard as the rest of us, at least that’s the logic. It’s easy to grab onto the simple answers:  Black men love their kids less than white men do, black women are only capable of raising incompetent children who eat Popeye’s chicken for breakfast, and black people are slightly less human than whites, thus prone to more criminal activity.

Morehouse Grads

Graduates react as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the commencement ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Ga., May 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Click here to read the entire commentary.

NAACP’s Ben Jealous Says Black Americans Doing Far Worse Under The Obama Administration

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Money/Economics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , on February 12, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Ben Jealous 2

February 10, 2012

In a recent interview on MSNBC’s “Meet the Press,” NAACP CEO and President, Ben Jealous, told the show’s host that black Americans are doing far worse than when President Obama first took office. The country’s back to pretty much where it was when this president started,” Jealous told show host David Gregory. “White people in this country are doing a bit better. Black people are doing far worse.”

Statistics show that the African-American community is in bad shape under the Obama Administration.  The Labor Department reports that the black unemployment rate was at 12.7 percent when Pres. Obama initially took office. As the employment rate for the nation dropped below 8 percent, black unemployment increased to 12.9 percent and then to 14 percent for December.

Commentators such as Yvette Carnell, Dr. Wilmer Leon and Dr. Boyce Watkins at Your Black World have consistently stated that the president’s performance in the black community should be judged based on the quality of his results, not the color of his skin.  Also, Dr. Julianne Malveaux recently wrote that the Obama Administration needs to speak out more about existing racial disparities and persistent problems in black unemployment.

You can read the entire article courtesy of our friends at Your Black WorldClick here to go there now.

What do you think?

Tom Joyner: Tavis Is Fascinated with His Own Legacy

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by Gary Johnson

Tom and Tavis

By Gary A. Johnson, Black Men In 27, 2013

Here we go again.  Can’t we all just get along?  I don’t know who’s in the news more these days.  Tavis or Rhianna?

PBS host Tavis Smiley and his colleague and partner  former Princeton professor Cornel West, criticized President Obama last week for using a bible belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for the President’s inaugural swearing in ceremony.  I’m not sure about the criticism.  It’s not like the President stole the bible.  The King family gave the bible to the President.

Well, Tavis’ former employer, syndicated radio host Tom Joyner apparently heard enough.  Last week Joyner wrote a commentary called “Tavis vs. MLK,” published on Black America  Here are two prominent highlights in Joyner’s commentary:

  • Tavis is fascinated with his own legacy, and that’s not good. He wants more than anything to be remembered the way Dr. King was, and to some how make that kind of mark on the world.
  • Tavis is afraid of what will be said about him and it’s driving him crazy.

Tavis has consistently claimed that he holds no ill will towards the President and that he is simply attempting to hold the President accountable.

Most people who follow Tavis are not neutral in their view. For another perspective read Harold Bell’s recent commentary “There’s A New Sheriff In Town.”

What do you think?

(Photos from Getty Images/AP)

Mr. President, It Is Time

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Guest Columnists, Politics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , on December 24, 2012 by Gary Johnson


By Nicholas M. Young, Ph D.

Mr. President,

When you were elected in 2008, I immediately told a female friend that you would go down as the greatest President in the history of the United States.  I based my prediction primarily on what I saw of you when we played basketball together during my graduate school, and your faculty days at The University of Chicago (The U of C), I came to know you as a bright, tough, and kind guy that was a tough defender on the basketball court.  Outside the court, I saw you as concerned member of the Hyde Park and U of C communities that was a smooth and effective politician.  Although watching you assume the highest office in the land is still a bit surreal for me, watching you win the 2008 election showed others what we in the Hyde Park and U of C communities already knew about you: You are the type of guy that had the ability and courage to rise up to, and succeed at, any challenge.

To be sure, while you continue to use these skills to lead the United States out of a horrible recession and toward greater social and economic prosperity, the events of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has provided you with a new challenge that the social and political skills that you sharpened during your Chicago days may not have prepared you for: Taking on the powerful U.S. gun lobby.

As I am sure you, and other Americans know, the gun lobby in this country bases it history, and basic existence on the presence of the Second Amendment–a Constitutional reality and relic that guarantees the right of every American to own a gun to protect her or himself and household.

However, I, for one, do not believe that the Second Amendment was conceived to allow a deranged, private, U.S. citizen to own a gun that has the ability to wipe out many innocent people.  From what I know about this part of the Constitution, the founders of this great document did not anticipate an episode like the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre occurring, and. if they did, I suspect that they would have included a checks and balance provision in the Constitution to address this possibility.  Two possible ways to prevent a Sandy Hook Elementary School—like massacre from ever occurring again is to ban the sale of assault weapons, and limit the sale of ammunition that gun purchasers need to power these weapons.  For instance, those buying these weapons can be limited to a small number of bullets.  They can even be asked to show what, who, when, and why they choose to use their guns.  While all Americans have the right to own a gun, their right to own the ammunition used to power these weapons of mass destruction is not guaranteed by the Constitution

So, Mr. President, if I was you, I would contact the leader of the American Gun Lobby and tell him the following: “Your days of supporting the sale of assault weapons to our citizens is coming to an end.  The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has shown the country the limits and danger of the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution. The Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has also shown the limits and danger of organizations like yours in causing harm to the American public.”

Sir, it is time for you to cash in the political chips that we gave you to lead us.  It is time for us to not expect another massacre like the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy to ever again occur on our soil. I hope that you recognize that the time has come for you to be the leader that we envisioned when we elected you in 2008, and reelected you in 2012.  I hope that you recognize that the time has come for you to find a way to impose a permanent ban on assault weapons.

Nick Young Nicholas Maurice Young is a sociologist, writer, and independent researcher.  He is a former Fellow with the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University.   He holds a Ph. D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago.  Nick is currently writing a book about the network connections of the Underground Railroad.

Cornel West: ‘Coward’ Obama Doesn’t Care When ‘Black Folk’ Get Shot, Only When ‘Vanilla’ Children Do

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Links, Black Men, Black Men In America, Politics, President Barack Obama, Racism with tags , , , , , on December 23, 2012 by Gary Johnson

Cornel West

By Black Men In Staff

Oh my.  Here we go again.  In wrestling parlance, it looks as if we have a “cage match,” between the team of “Terrible Tavis Smiley” and his partner “The Professor” Cornel West against President Barack Obama and his policies.

In this latest war of words, Professor West made his comments on Saturday, December 22, 2012, on the “Smiley and West” radio show.  These two guys have no quit in them.  I guess you can say they have the courage of their convictions when it comes to putting issues they believe of interest on the public table for discussion.

Following the shooting death  of 26 children and adults in Newtown, Connecticut, Saturday, West referred to President Obama and other (unnamed) politicians as “cowards” who only cares about “vanilla” children.  Smiley and West have been frequent critics of President Obama and they don’t seem to care what people say or think about them.

West, an open and frequent critic of Obama, referring to the soaring homicide rate in Chicago, said the president did not care when “black folk” get shot in his own state.


Click here to listen to Professor West’s comments as he is being interviewed by Tavis Smiley.

I’m Not Disappointed By President Barack Obama

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, President Barack Obama with tags , , , on November 20, 2011 by Gary Johnson

On October 8, 2011, Democrats Abroad France held an event titled “Voices for Obama” at the Nikki Diana Marquandt Gallery in Paris. One of the speakers was the American author Jake Lamar. This clip is a shortened version of his talk.

What do you think?

First There Was Tavis, Then There Was Tom

Posted in African Americans, Barack Obama, Black Interests, Black Men, Black Men In America, Gary A. Johnson, Politics, President Barack Obama, Racism with tags , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

I don’t know what to make of nationally syndicated radio show personality Tom Joyner.  I don’t consider Joyner an intellectual lightning rod, however, the morning deejay also known as “The Fly Jock,” reportedly has approximately 8 million listeners to his radio show.  If those numbers are correct, then Joyner’s radio show reaches one in four black American adults.  This commentary is about Joyner’s blog post a few months ago that has recently been getting mainstream media attention.

I have decided to separate Joyner’s philanthropic and fundraising efforts for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) from this commentary.  His work in that area is unparalleled.

Joyner’s syndicated radio show is part news and a lot more entertainment in my view.  That being said, Joyner continues to make news headlines with an old blog posting (July 2011) where he essentially told Black America to vote for President Obama simply because he is black.  Whoa!  Joyner’s position does raise some political and philosophical issues.

In 2008, the election of a black President of the United States of America changed the political landscape.  What happened to evaluating a candidate based on his or her record of performance and how the issues outlined in the campaign impact you and your family?  To his credit, Joyner stated that we are all not “like-minded,” but went to write that we need to have a common goal in this election and that goal is to make sure that President Obama is re-elected.  Joyner understands that we have the right to vote for whomever we want; he just thinks that not voting for President Obama is not a good use of your vote.

There is something about Joyner’s stance that doesn’t sit well with me.  Joyner is not alone.  Former syndicated radio host Bev Smith, reportedly has urged listeners to vote for President Obama based on his race.

Does Joyner and company realize that President Obama did not win the 2008 election based on the black vote alone?  Blacks voted in record numbers, but a whole lot of independent voters of all races, cast their vote for him too.  Voting for President Obama just because he is black is a very dangerous and slippery slope.  Some of my colleagues are ready to throw Joyner under the bus for this position.  I have him resting comfortably in front of the rear wheels of the bus while the the motor is running.  My foot is on the brake and the transmission in 1st gear.

What would the Freedom Riders and the hundreds of other black and white civil rights leaders of the past have to say to Joyner if they had the chance?  I wonder if they would agree with his position.

The reality is President Obama was able to win the historic election in 2008, not solely because blacks turned out in huge numbers, but because many whites, Latinos and other races supported him as well. To suggest that blacks support him just because of the color of his skin is just wrong. It’s dangerous. Tom Joyner has done a lot for the black community and I won’t throw him under a bus, but I am very disappointed by his comments rallying blacks to support President Obama on the basis of his race. Blacks should support Obama because they agree with his stance on the issues and that he best personifies their needs. I would urge each voter to take the time to do some research on where all the candidates stand on the issues that affect you the most. If President Obama is the one whose views are similar to yours, then vote for him come November 2012.

If you look down the proverbial “re-election bench” you will see the Rev. Al Sharpton (who has a television show on the MSNBC network) suited up and echoing the same message.  During the dedication of the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington, DC in October 2011, Joyner and Sharpton were saying that President Obama should be judged not on the content of his character and policies but rather on the color of his skin.  WTF?  When you vote for President Obama because he is black, doesn’t that fly in the face of those in the civil rights movement who marched and died for us to have choices and the right to vote?

My very unscientific poll reflects that not everyone is on the Tom Joyner bandwagon.  If you injected President Obama with truth serum I’m not sure he would say, “Vote for me just because I’m Black.”

In his blog Joyner writes:  “Let’s not even deal with the facts right now.  Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride – and loyalty.  We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done. We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man. There are a great number of people who are against him because he’s a black man. That should be enough motivation for us to band together and get it done.”

How about assessing this President based on what he inherited coming into office and how he has performed for example in the areas of foreign policy, the economy, health care, managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while in office?  As adults our assessments will differ but at least we have the chance to consider a number of situations.  I would suggest that all citizens ask themselves the following question:  “Am I better off now than when President Barack Obama took office?”  Some will say, “Yes” and others will say “No.”  If you answered, “No” to this question, and you believe that President Obama has underperformed, there is nothing wrong with evaluating the President’s performance and deciding that in order to improve your circumstances you might vote for someone else.

Black unemployment is 16.7 percent, the highest it’s been in almost 30 years.  You may determine that voting for President Obama is in the best interest of you and your family and cast your vote for him in 2012.  The point I’m trying to make is that all of us should take the time to think and evaluate all the factors that matter to us and cast your vote accordingly.

Click here to read Tom Joyner’s commentary.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the new book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.” 

President Obama, the Congressional Black Caucus and Rising Unemployment Equals One Big Mess for America

Posted in Barack Obama, Black America, Black Interests, Black Men, Politics, President Barack Obama with tags , , , , on August 17, 2011 by Gary Johnson

By Gary A. Johnson

(August 17, 2011) As he seeks re-election in a submarine deep recession and a terrible economy, President Barack Obama announced today that he will introduce an economic plan next month.  The last report that I read had the nation’s unemployment rate at 9.1%.  The unemployment rate for blacks is 16.2%.  For black males it’s 17.5%; for black teens the unemployment rate is a whopping 41%. 

No President in recent history has been re-elected with a jobless rate that high.  The President also announced that the housing market may not improve for a year.  Speaking of housing, if the President and his economic team don’t improve jobs and housing, the President will be looking for a new home.

I am on the record for not being impressed with the President’s economic team of advisers.  I think the collective body does not have enough of a connection with the black community and has given the President terrible advice.  I know he is President of the United States.  I know the political ramifications of “appearing” to give black folks any kind of preferential treatment. 

That being said, no one can ignore the fact that nearly 14 million people are unemployed and millions more have given up looking for jobs or haven’t found a way to move from part-time to full-time work.

According to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, in Charlotte, N.C., the unemployment rate for blacks is 19.2%.  If you factor in people who have given up looking for jobs, that number exceeds 20%.  Folks, these are Great Depression numbers.

It is a fact that President Obama inherited this economic mess from the Bush administration.  It is also a fact that statistically the economy has been weaker under President Obama than it was under President Bush, which is probably why President Obama’s disapproval rating on the economy is low (around 60%).

This series of events begs the following questions:  How much criticism should President Obama get for his administration’s management of the economy?  Is President Obama responsible for the soaring black unemployment rate?

It’s no coincidence, (at least in my mind) that the White House has serious concerns about President Obama’s popularity in the black community.  A few months ago the White House launched a dedicated web page for black folks (President Obama and the African American Community).

In recent weeks, President Obama has been harshly criticized by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West.  These two men are on The Poverty Tour:  A Call To Conscience.  While Smiley and West have been scorned by many in the black community for criticizing the President.  I believe they have a right to challenge him on the issues.  The problem for many, (myself included), is Tavis’ reputation for being petty and self-serving precedes him.  In addition, the attacks from Smiley and West on the President are perceived by many as “personal cheap shots.”

Yesterday during the Congressional Black Caucus “For the People Jobs Tour” town hall in Detroit, MI, Black Caucus members told the mostly black audience to “unleash” them to confront President Barack Obama on the issue of jobs.  WTF?

According to report filed by Correspondent Jeff Johnson posted on The, California Rep. Maxine Waters a leading participant on the five-city Congressional Black Caucus “For The People” Jobs Tour, expressed her and other Black Caucus members’ dilemma of having to walk a line.  Who is forcing the elected officials to “walk a line?”

Waters was quoted saying that the Congressional Black Caucus does not put pressure on the President.  She explained, “Let me tell you why. We don’t put pressure on the President because ya’ll love the President.  You love the President.  You’re very proud…to have a black man [in the White House] …First time in the history of the United States of America. If we go after the President too hard, you’re going after us.”

Whoa.  Let me step back and digest this.  My first reaction to reading this story was that the Congressional Black Caucus members who feel that they cannot put pressure on the President during this period of Great Depression era unemployment are weak-kneed, gutless and spineless.  Don’t get me started.  I’m trying to trim down on my cussing.

What a bunch of inept elected officials.  In my mind, the facts reflect that this is a crisis.  Courageous people take action during a crisis.  They don’t stand around waiting for permission to take action.

Detroit’s unemployment may be the worse for a major city in America.  According to folks in the audience, President Obama has not come to Detroit during the worst days of the recession.   With unemployment in the city at almost 50 percent that’s justifies asking:  Why hasn’t the President visited our city to address this issue?  If he can visit Iowa and other places in rural America, he should be able to find time on his schedule to visit the Motor City.

There is growing concern, even among hardcore supporters that President Obama is allowing himself to be detached from the “urban poor”—translation “poor black people.”  President’s Obama’s approval rating is reportedly 80% among Black America.

I don’t care if the President’s approval rating is 100% among black folks.  Given this economy he needs to be questioned and pressured to force his administration to provide a plan for how they will address this issue for black, poor and working Americans.  His ass should be in Detroit, Los Angeles and other cities that are suffering with double-digit unemployment.

Something is terribly wrong when black elected officials are afraid to challenge the President because he’s black.  Has politics trumped common sense and doing the right thing?  It appears that some members of Congress are more concerned with keeping their job, than doing their job.  That’s some terribly “flawed logic.”  Another way of saying it is:  “That’s some bullshit!”

If I am one of the President’s advisers, one of my primary concerns for the 2012 Presidential election would be voter apathy, especially in the black community.  Capturing and killing Osama Bid Laden will not be enough to secure this election.  This election is about the economy– specifically, JOBS and curtailing rising unemployment.  If things don’t improve for black people, and the President is perceived as being disconnected and not having addressed the issues–black people will not show up at the polls to vote.   CTRL + ALT + DEL  = Game Over!

As for the Congressional Black Caucus, here’s a piece of advice:  How about doing what you were elected to do and represent the best interest of your constituents and not yourselves.  If that means criticizing the President of the United States to get him to address one of the most important issue of our time, then do it.  I would like to know what the Congressional Black Caucus is doing to help create jobs and solve the soaring black unemployment rate in the black community.  One would think that this would be the number one action item for this group of black elected officials.  Has the Congressional Black Caucus put forth any recommendations or solutions to help the President solve this issue?  Hey, I’m just asking?  Hopefully, if Caucus members have been working on helping to create jobs in the communities in which they serve this will come to light.

One can always hope.

Gary A. Johnson is the Founder & Publisher of Black Men In a popular online magazine on the Internet and the Black Men In Blog. Gary is also the author of the book “25 Things That Really Matter In Life.

Source:  Unemployment statistics courtesy Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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