A study released today by Cornell University cites statistics showing that 90% of all Black children will be fed by food stamps in this country. Food stamps is the number one signifier of poverty in America, as well as the prevalence of single parent homes.
The number of all children in America who subsist on food stamps is 49.2%. In other words, half of all American children experience poverty in their lifetimes, usually for their lifetimes.
In a decade where unemployment hovers around 10% for all people, for Blacks it is nearing 30%, with no sign of change for the better.
My hometown recently weathered a stretch of 8 killings and several woundings over a 10 day period. 6 people were shot during a drive-by in DC, occurring in the same neighborhood where the first family chose to take part in Easter worship, witnessed by a massive display of fire and manpower by the secret service who literally surrounded the church while the Obamas were there.
In New York, Easter Sunday night, several people were shot, 54 people arrested, after groups of young people apparently decided to go on rampage. Those shot were said to be innocent bystanders caught in the chaos.
The change happening in the Black community is not change for the good. Honestly, the community seems to have fallen off the cliff upon which it has been dangling for the past 40 years or so. And the calls by the so called Black leaders demanding the President do something to stop the slide are not new either. The only thing new is that this time the man being haranged is a Black man.
The problems are in fact, like a toothache. Back in the 1960s the pain was a minor pain. In the 1970s the crown cracked and cavity formed. In the 1980s and 1990s the pain has turned into an abcess and a root canal is needed. The economic situation that has devastated this country has virtually destroyed the Black community and the middle class. The problems are well past the point of talk.
Yet, Obama has bowed to pressure and has decided to hold another meeting to talk about the problems in the Black community. I guess they will also get around to the so called "Black Agenda," whatever that is.
Talking to so called Black leaders who are invested in being leaders of what has been a visibly dying community for the past four decades, is like talking to Hamid Karzai who is threatening to join the Taliban as a way of saving Afghanistan.
It's not about the community. It's about the personal payoff they get by being identified as a leader. It's about being invited to the White House for a sit down with President O to discuss the community and to maybe shoot some hoops on the converted tennis/basketball court.
The same holds true for the so called leaders of the Black Church, who are vested in the fake prosperity gospels in direct contrast to the teachings of Jesus as written in the Bible they so zealously claim to follow.
At least Karzai is honest about his corruption. He makes no secret that it's about the money for him and his, not the country or the people.
Obama would do well to go to the various ghettoes and hang out like he used to do when he was an organizer. Talk directly to the people. Find out what is lacking and from there, figure out how to fix it.
He is on the right track by reaching out to young people and to change the education system back to meaningful education.
But continuing to listen to the clueless Black church which has had its head in the sand for years ignoring the violence, ignoring the explosion of babies born to single women, ignoring the problem of young men dropping out of school unable to find work, ignoring AIDS and its toll on people, or ignoring the devastation wreaked by Black on Black homophobia when their choirs are led by not so closeted gay Black men, is a mistake.
And Black leaders in Brooks brothers suits are no different than the GOP and its virulent conservatism, heavily vested in keeping the status quo. They don't really want change, they just want to keep on, keepin' on.
It is time to move past them and to look at what is going on in the neighborhoods of America. Obama doesn't need anyone to filter it for him. He's been there, it's where he comes from. He needs to reconnect and work past the middlemen and women who have long stood in the way of real progress in the community.
Have your meetings if you must, Mr. President, but do it in the streets with the people, not the leaders with their hands out as usual.