Obama’s Web Portal for African Americans: What Does It Really Mean?

by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Syracuse UniversityScholarship in Action 


President Obama’s Web Portal for African Americans: Questions I’d Like to Have Answered

President Barack Obama just opened a new web portal for African Americans. The page drops to significant fanfare, with some feeling less than perfectly optimistic about the White House’s most recent gesture. The most interesting comment came from someone named Slim Jackson, who tweeted: "Can’t help you in real life, so here’s a page."

The site is likely in response to the fact that President Obama’s support among African Americans has been slipping. A recent poll at YourBlackWorld.com shows that roughly a third (34%) of black respondents are disappointed in the Obama presidency, which is likely reason for concern for the president. Black disappointment doesn’t necessarily give votes to the Republicans, but it can manifest itself in poor voter turnout. The argument that “the Republicans are worse than I am” is not likely going to be enough to get black folks out to the polls next year, so perhaps the administration would be wise to take notice.

As the president reaches out to the black community, I’d like to have a few questions answered by this web portal. I’m not entirely pessimistic about the administration’s efforts, but I’ll admit that creating a website is not exactly what I had in mind when it came to doing the things that our community needs our political leaders to do. Advocating for black voters (who gave Obama roughly 20% of his support) goes deeper than giving speeches to black people or dancing to Motown music in the White House. It speaks to asking what the administration is doing in terms of substantive policy that will truly impact the lives of black folks everywhere. I’ll keep it light-weight and just start with a few quick questions I’d like to ask the White House about their new website:

1) Given that African Americans are disproportionately incarcerated, although we don’t commit more crimes than whites, what’s the Obama Administration doing to deal with the mass incarceration epidemic that is destroying black families?

2) A recent Your Black World survey showed that nearly 90% of African Americans have dealt with racial discrimination in the workplace. What’s the administration doing to help put laws in place that will protect people of color from enduring such hardships?

3) Black unemployment is going up, while white unemployment has been going down. Is the administration committed to dealing with this disparity in a way that acknowledges that the white and black job markets are not quite the same? The “rising tide lifts all boats” answer from last year may not be the best response.

There are other things I’d like to ask the president, but I’ll hold off for now. The point is that anyone can create a website, anyone can do a speech and anyone can dance to Motown. What the black community needs is to hear about substantive and meaningful policy that addresses our disparities in the same way they are being addressed for the gay community, Hispanics and women. Anything less is just the same old political song and dance.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.



Filed under African Americans

9 responses to “Obama’s Web Portal for African Americans: What Does It Really Mean?

  1. Pingback: President Obama’s Web Portal for African Americans: What Does It Really Mean? « Black News in the black community

  2. Pingback: President Obama’s Web Portal for African Americans: What Does It Really Mean? | SyracuseUniversity.com

  3. Pingback: President Obama’s Web Portal for African Americans: What Does It Really Mean? « WhitmanSchoolofManagement.com

  4. Pingback: President Obama’s Web Portal for African Americans: What Does It Really Mean? – Dr. Boyce Watkins Blog

  5. It means he acknowledges that we are under rated, and disregarded. Sad thing is he actually thought this was some sort of formal recognition, when in all actuality, it is an insult to injury, and a less than mediocre effort….but I still support my President, i just don’t agree with him. That’s what makes other races of people so fortified, they stick together, and support each other, even in disagreement. Many African Americans have criticisms, but less have suggestions for our Commander and chief. send them in instead of bashing OUR president, how easily they continue to use the strategy of divide and conquer, smh

  6. What he is doing is a typical political ploy. For him it is time to reach out to the disaffected. He must put on ‘airs’. He must pretend to care. He must draw in the people into his “Web”. Politicians and their handlers always begin preparing for an election by opening themselves up to those who, during the rest of the term are ignored!

    What is important to also understand is that regardless of the appearances, and the public display of ‘numbers’. If the elite have decided to keep him in place for another term to their benefit. It doesn’t matter how many people “vote”, because they have already proven that they can manipulate voting whenever they choose to. Believe it or not!

    Let the public continue to be fooled as to continue to engage in what is clearly a hoax of great magnitude.

  7. The Great ‘American’ political facade.
    You would make a great campaign spokesperson. Obama is in a position we are conditioned to believe is THE POSITION of power, but if you read a lot of information regarding this oligarchy and the realm of the ‘Elite’ you would begin to piece together a different picture of ‘American’ rule.

    If you continue to study constantly and pay close attention to the little nuances that are almost unrecognizable, and you have found a gift of insight and enlightenment you didn’t realize you had before. You will begin to see a totally different picture, and soon you will no longer be fooled by the very wealthy, very ‘white’, very cunning, and very manipulative ‘elite’. You will not see the facade of this political spectrum as a truthful and proper mechanism. It is all a big hoax well played on us all. It is a fictitious theatrical Obama is playing his part in very well. Believe it or not!

  8. thanks, and maybe i would be a good spokesperson. one thing for sure is that i am adamant about supporting Obama…possibly for the wrong reaon, because he is a black man, holding an office, that i never thought obtaintainable by a person as such. even after 2and a half years, i am still marveled by the fact that my President is Black, as those prisoners were in the Tuskeegee Airmen movie, when Lawrence Fishborne, and Cuba Gooding Jr. landes their planes at the chain gang work area…It’s sad what you say, but true. i disagree with alot of things that have transpired With Obama in office, but i am not against him…i am with him


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