(July 22, 2011 – Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)
The political buzz on HBCU campuses around the country has been what to make of President Obama’s efforts to create more jobs. This will indefinitely become the most critical issue heading into Election 2012. We all know that the President of the United States has to attend to hundreds of issues and concerns, but HBCU students and African Americans in general want to know that President Obama has not forgotten about us.
President Obama has offered a solution to the job market problem, announcing that he will give a speech on jobs and the economy on September 8th. This jobs speech is drastically needed, and it is about more than making promises to unsatisfied Americans; it is about saving his presidency and his legacy.
President Obama has taken major criticism in the past weeks, for the debt ceiling and the bipartisan battles in Congress, but the biggest reason everyone is upset is the job market. The unemployment rate in America has hit a depressing 9.1%. Since July 2009, it has been steadily creeping at 9% and has flirted with 10% a few times. College graduates are working jobs as bartenders or cashiers, instead of working in the field they paid tens of thousands of dollars for four to five years to study.
That’s bad, but when you put it into perspective for African Americans, it is much worse. Remember, everything that negatively affects Americans hits African Americans even harder. The unemployment rate for Blacks is 15.9%, and has either gone up or down just a little bit in the last 3 years.
Like April Thornton said in her column, HBCU graduates are finding it harder and harder to find jobs in the area they majored in while attending college. Some have been able to find work through networking and others have had to work in the mom and pop stores they dreaded while in college.
One of the most publicized aspects of attending an HBCU is the alumni network. Knowing somebody who works in your desired field is necessary for advancement in your career. That’s how it works—if you know somebody who’s already in, be it an alumni, a family member or a friend, they can get you in. The majority of people get their job because of who they know, not what they know.
Here are two things that every college graduate knows: the job openings are too low and the student loans are too high.
African Americans are feeling more than just angry at the current economic situation, they are disappointed and hurt. 2008 was a powerful and magical year for politics; Obama could do no wrong. Now it’s 2011 and it looks like he can’t do anything right. The defense for Obama is always time—he needs time to get it done. Now is the time for Obama to deliver on his promises, or else he will lose Election 2012.
President Obama’s plan of action has already been met with controversy, and he hasn’t even said a word yet about jobs. President Obama had scheduled his jobs speech for Wednesday, September 7th to assure the American people that he has a plan for the economy, and that jobs will be created. The Republican Party had already planned to have a Republican presidential debate on the same day. House Speaker John Boehner told the White House they had to move the President’s speech. After much back and forth arguing between both camps, President Obama agreed to hold his jobs speech on the following day: Thursday, September 8th. Now, President Obama’s speech has to compete with the long awaited NFL’s season opener featuring the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints.
Once again, sports and politics seem destined to be together. Maybe Obama and Boehner should settle their differences in a boxing ring instead of a boardroom.
What it comes down to in this jobs speech debacle is this: back and forth bickering involving childish, petty antics from politicians. Even if you don’t like or respect the man in the position, you have to respect the position he holds. Boehner is extremely petty for what he did in getting President Obama’s speech moved. The Republicans do not respect Obama because he is President. That has been made obvious with remarks referring to the President as a “tar baby” and a “dick.”
(August 15, 2011 – Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America)
Do you know what the biggest issue some Republicans (and some Democrats too) have with President Obama? Barack Obama’s presidency is a slap in the face to the traditional hierarchy that has been established in America for over 400 years. For generations, the one in charge has always been white, and has always been a man. This hierarchy places the white man as the law of the land. Cops are usually white, as well as politicians and CEO’s. The most common depictions of Jesus and God in early history have all been white. Minorities and women have to fall in line according to this hierarchy. Like the old saying goes, “This is the way it’s always been! It’s the way we’ve always done it!” Well, not anymore.
So when a black man is telling white men (some of whom more than likely grew up in the Jim Crow era) what to do, their comfort and their familiarity with a white hierarchy is threatened and their ego is bruised. Basically, white men don’t want to take orders from a black man. That’s why Senators call Obama a liar and insult him in the press.It’s been going on ever since his presidential campaign; remember how McCain wouldn’t even use Obama’s name when they were debating in the 2008 presidential race? Remember ‘That One’?
The Republicans are once again putting their party and politics before the people. The people need to hear Obama’s speech about job creation and the economy. The people need to know what he is going to do to fix it. What the people don’t need is 10 different people standing at a podium arguing about the very same issues Obama is giving his speech on. We need to know Obama will take a stand for us, not to make Washington happy, but to make the people happy.
These are the very same people—black people—who helped put him in the Oval Office. People are hurting out here, both their pride and their pockets. College graduates are finding themselves having to explain the choice of higher education instead of a trade school or a full time job. The unemployment rate for blacks in some states is in the 20’s.
The American people need to hear their leader’s strategy for action about jobs and the economy. More specifically, Black America needs to hear what Obama is going to do. We need him to be the man we elected him to be. Boehner and the Republican Party told the POTUS that they were having their presidential hopefuls debating each other, and that he needed to move his speech to another day—and he did. The most powerful man in the country was benched for the likes of Rick Perry and Herman Cain. Now I see what the Congressional Black Caucus and other black leaders were getting at. How can we fight for Obama, when it doesn’t look like he’s fighting for us?