The Futility of Colorblindness: President Obama & Certain House Financial Services Committee Members

For war billions more, but no more for the poor.–Rev. Joseph Lowery

It has been argued that the United States is in a “post-racial” era because of the election of President Barack Obama. While I was happy that President Obama was elected, I knew that his election would be irrelevant to the hierarchical power structure in the society of the United States. In fact, the President will not be able to address the problems identified by several members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) because of the demographic makeup of and power distribution in the United States. A recent dispute between the President and the several members of the CBC has reaffirmed my view.

Rev. Lowery’s eulogy at Coretta Scott King’s funeral was criticized, but it is seemingly playing out in recent times. The country has extended much of its treasury to the financial sector (said to be the economic lifeblood of the country). Agreeing with the need for a functioning financial sector also leads a reasonable person to require stringent regulations to guarantee against careless risk taking. The money was distributed, the regulations will not come as both Represenative Barney Frank and Senator Christopher Dodd receive the bulk of their campaign contributions from these firms.

Needless to mention, the United States is engaged in two major military operations costing the taxpayers billions of dollars per month. Regardless of the economic maladies, the money flows without limit.

The zeal to protect the financial sector and advance warcraft, sadly, is not replicated for some others. Representative Maxine Waters, speaking on behalf of Congressional Black Caucus members who are on the House Financial Services Committee, stated that the suffering of the poor is not being addressed.

Each of us serves on the Financial Services Committee and we have not been forceful enough in our efforts to protect the most vulnerable of our population. We cannot address system risk on a broad scale without taking steps to prevent the crumbling of our community’s infrastructure. Since last September, we have continuously voted for bailouts and reform for the very institutions that created this devastation, without properly protecting the African American community, or small business.

That stops today.

While we appreciate the need for the expansion of regulatory authority, we can no longer afford for our public policy to be defined by the worldview of Wall Street. Policy for the least of these must be integrated into everything that we do. We must protect and defend our individual constituents, as well as the small businesses and institutions that serve them.

Also, the New York Times published an article discussing the plight that some Black people are facing in looking for employment.

The President held a “jobs summit” in which he explained that he was open to all alternatives, but options were limited. Rep. Waters noted that she did not think the President’s jobs summit was sufficient to address the problems.

Responding to the criticism, in an interview with the Detroit Free Press and USA Today, the President stated that his best approach for unemployment in the African-American community is to address the problems in the American community.

The President’s statement sounds good, fair, and balanced, except that given the vast power disparity among the races in the United States, the same solution for all will not necessarily fix similar problems in every segment of society in the United States. For example, tax breaks will work for those who own property, but what about those who rent?

United States (population: 281,421,906 (2000 Census)

Race Percentage of population Number
White 75.1% 211,460,626
Black 12.3 34,658,190
Native American 0.9 2,475,956
Asian 3.6 10,242,998

Given the President’s expensive surge in Afghanistan, continuing support of the irresponsible financial sector, overwhelming and intractible power concentration with the haves in society (who are also, not coincidentally, influential political contributors), the President will not be able to do very much for those of all races without power. It may be a long four years.