When Barack Obama made the decision to campaign to become one of the most powerful leaders in the world, one of his aims was to address serious issues affecting black people in the US. This fact was revealed in a letter Obama sent to his half-brother Malik Obama in July 1995.
The letter provides insight into Obama’s political ambitions and why he wanted to be the President of the United States, the Telegraph reports.
“Some colleagues of mine here have talked me into running for the Illinois state senate (like being an MP for a province, not the national United States Congress in DC). I have agreed, since I have an interest in politics to deal with some serious issues blacks face here,” Obama wrote.
Since his appointment as president in 2009, Obama has been criticised by many black critics for not doing enough to address issues affecting black people.
His election as the first black US president was not only a historical moment for many black people in that country, but it also gave them hope that under a black leader their lives would change for the better.
Despite these hopes, poverty and the high unemployment rate amongst the black population remain key issues the Obama administration has done little to address. They are two of the biggest problems facing the country.
Not only has the Obama administration failed to create jobs, but in fact, the unemployment rate for black people is now worse than it was before he took office.
I cannot pass laws that say ‘I’m just helping black folks’. I’m the President of the entire United States.
According to a report by News Max, the unemployment rate has dropped by 7%. Since 2009, the unemployment rate for black Americans has dropped from 12,7% to 12,5%, according to figures released last year by the Bureau of Labour Statistics.
The number of people living below the poverty line has also risen from 12,1% in 2008 to 16,1% now.
President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Harry Alford, told News Max that black people’s lives have not improved under Obama’s leadership.
“I don’t know how much he has done or how much his policies are responsible for the current state of blacks in America. What I do know is that we are worse off than we were when he came into office,” he said.
Alford is not the first person to voice such sentiments. In 2013, the former president of civil rights group, The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, Benjamin Jealous, criticised Obama during an interview with MSNBC.
He said that black people were in a far worse position now. “The country’s back to pretty much where it was when this president started,” Jealous said. “White people in this country are doing a bit better. Black people are doing a full point worse,” The Washington Times quoted him as saying.
Responding to criticism in the past, Obama has emphasised that in his position he is not only a representative of the black community, but stands for all Americans.
“I cannot pass laws that say ‘I’m just helping black folks’. I’m the President of the entire United States,” he said. “What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need. That in turn is going to help lift up the African American community,” Obama was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
Recent cases of African Americans being gunned down in hate crimes have also not put the Obama administration in a positive light.
His administration has been condemned for not doing enough to address racial tension, with Obama taking most of the blame, as many African Americans feel he is not taking a strong enough stance on race issues.
Despite his critics, Obama’s recent visit to Charleston to pay tribute to Rev Clementa Pinckney, who along with nine other people, was gunned down at a historical African American in Charleston, South Carolina, might be a move into the right direction.,
But his failure to address the real issues that inspired him to go into politics in the first place might be what Obama is judged most harshly for when his presidential tenure ends.
And as to whether Obama wants his legacy to be about addressing the issues affecting black people or all Americans . . . well that remains a big question, for which only he has the answer.
Sources: The Telegraph, Washington Times, News Max