The President met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on May 12th in the State Dining Room of the White House to discuss job creation and economic growth. The economy has added 2.1 million private sector jobs over 14 consecutive months, including more than 800,000 jobs since the beginning of the year, but the President recognizes that too many American families are still hurting and the unemployment rate is unacceptably high—especially among African Americans.
The rate of unemployment among African Americans of 16. 1 % remains the highest in the nation, while the overall unemployment rate hovers around 9%. But black unemployment is more than a statistic. It is the faces and stories of real people who are unemployed or under employed. I wonder if these real people stories were told to the president by the CBC during their meeting. Many nameless and faceless unemployed African Americans need to be more than a statistic. President Obama has said that he feels sometimes that he lives in a “bubble.” I wonder if some of our black leaders are in the same bubble with President Obama, from the CBC, National Urban league, NAACP and Al Sharpton’s Action Network. It does not appear that many are pressing the Obama administration on the jobs issues for African Americans vigorously. One has to wonder if President Bush were still President and the black unemployment rate was almost twice as high as the national rate, if quiet meetings with little chatter would be the order.
If you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem. So I have to wonder if the CBC along with other black organizations is not a part of the problem in not pressing for greater results for black American unemployment. I know of advanced degree, PhD’s, lawyers and college degree blacks who have done all the right things according to society but are jobless or in menial jobs that do not require a bachelor’s degree. And they have six figure college debts to prove it.
If the persons that President Obama has assembled in his administration have not been able to address the black joblessness issues in 2 years, perhaps, it’s time they lost their jobs and became a part of the unemployed. Perhaps, if they get out of the bubble too, they might see what I see and hear every day.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer and legal and political commentator. She is frequently seen in the media speaking on issues affecting women and African Americans. She also writes for the Huffington Post and Politic365. She holds a Juris Doctorate from George Washington University law School and a BA in American history from the University of PA.