Former Obama Supporter Takes Heat for Criticizing the President’s Record on Diversity and Employment
Kevin Johnson doesn’t have a lot of friends these days. Part of the reason that he has been attacked as of late is because he spoke his version of truth about the effectiveness of the Obama presidency. In the black community, this is an absolute no-no, and anyone questioning the Obama Administration is typically tarred and feathered, even if they have evidence to support their point of view. Black people are people of faith, which sometimes means that little things like “proof” or “evidence” don’t mean much of anything.
In his article, called “A President for Everyone Except Black People,” Johnson called out the Obama Administration for putting together a cabinet that includes fewer African American than either former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He says that there is an “astounding” lack of diversity in the president’s cabinet, with Obama seemingly believing that he too is a white male.
As President Barack Obama begins his second term, there is something noticeably different about his new cabinet – the absence of African-American leaders and advisors.
Clinton appointed seven African-American cabinet members, the most of any president in history: Ron Brown as Secretary of Commerce; Mike Espy as Secretary of Agriculture; Hazel O’Leary as Secretary of Energy; Alexis Herman as Secretary of Labor; and Jesse Brown as Secretary of Veteran Affairs. President Clinton also appointed Togo West as Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Rodney Slater as Secretary of Transportation.
Compared to Obama, President George W. Bush also had more African-Americans in his cabinet, including the first African-American secretary of state and secretary of education, Colin Powell and Rod Paige, respectively. Bush also appointed Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state and Alphonso Jackson as secretary of housing and urban development.
For Obama, Eric Holder is the first African-American attorney general and the only African-American cabinet member of Obama’s administration.
In sum, when one compares the first African-American president to his recent predecessors, the number of African-Americans in senior cabinet positions is very disappointing: Clinton (7); Bush (4); and Obama (1). Obama has not moved African-American leadership forward, but backwards.
The author then uses data to show that the black community is far worse off under President Obama than they were without him. Whites, on the other hand, are far better off. He says that strong black support for Obama doesn’t receive reciprocity, and that this leads to blatant disrespect for black Americans, who Johnson feels are not getting a good return on their investment.
For me, the absence of African-Americans in a second term is not only disrespectful to the Black community—who voted 96 percent for President Obama in 2008 and 93 percent in 2012, but also underscores a larger problem of economic and job opportunities for the Black community.
Indeed, if we objectively look at Obama’s presidency, African-Americans are in a worse position than they were before he became president. At the end of January 2009, unemployment for African-Americans was 12.7 percent. Four years later, the situation is worse, and unemployment is higher at 13.8 percent.
Johnson says that it’s unfair for people to attack him as being anti-Obama. He says that he was one of the first to give him strong support and was happy to see him elected. But he is finding that the president he thought he was getting turned out to be nothing like the one he actually received.
For those of you who have read my articles in The Philadelphia Tribune, you know I have been a very strong supporter of the president and worked hard to get him elected in 2008 and 2012.
Shortly after Obama announced his candidacy to run for the office of President of United States, in 2008 I hosted the first clergy breakfast in Philadelphia to encourage religious leaders to support his candidacy. This was a major gathering at the time, because both Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter were strong supporters of then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, and were encouraging the clergy to support her and not Obama.
I supported then-Senator Obama not because he was Black, but because I truly believed in my heart that he was the best candidate to empathize, understand, and develop policies to help the African-American community, the poor, and previously under-represented communities.
To my disappointment, the president has not only failed the Black community, but also has failed to surround himself with qualified African-Americans who could develop policies to help the most disenfranchised.
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