Black Scholars to Debate How to Hold Obama ‘Accountable’

Krissah Thompson, Washington Post, Sept. 17, 2010

A group probing whether President Obama is addressing issues of concern to African Americans will discuss the issue Saturday at the annual conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, hours before Obama is scheduled to address conference attendees.

Political scientist Ron Daniels formed the Shirley Chisholm Presidential Accountability Commission in late 2008 as a mechanism for black leaders to hold the nation’s first black president accountable. Eventually, the group hopes to issue a “Report Card on Obama” about how well the administration is working to close racial disparities.

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“The subtext is that there seems to be some hesitancy–to put it mildly–on the part of the Obama administration to overtly address issues of race,” Daniels said. “There is talk about a rising tide lifts all boats. But if there is unevenness in terms of how the boats are situated, then maybe you should look at that instead of some across-the-board notion.”

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Daniels, along with some members of the Congressional Black Caucus, has called on the White House to push for initiatives specifically targeting minorities, such as job programs to address high black unemployment.

Obama, who has addressed supporters on black radio and at a reception of historically black college professors this week, has declined to support targeting programs. He says his policies, such as overhauling health care, will help blacks and other minorities who face disparities–along with other Americans.

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Faye Anderson, a political blogger who created the Tracking Change wiki to follow the stimulus money and document whether a proportionate share reaches the black community, said she is supportive of the commission’s aims.

“If we don’t like what they are doing,” Anderson said of political leaders, “then black folks should be holding them accountable.”

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