2012 Holds the Key to Black America's Success ... or Failure
Sure President Obama is up for reelection but there is more at stake
As 2011 closes, the African American community stands at a crossroads. For the first time in our nation's history, an African American presidential candidate enters an election year as an incumbent. No longer relegated to the margins of political power, people of African decent have finally proven that they can break through the proverbial glass ceiling and perform under pressure. And Barack Obama may not have walked on water his first term, but he tip-toed on hot charcoal. From the Affordable Care Act to the death of Osama Bin Laden, Obama was able to push forth meaningful initiatives, even while dodging thinly veiled racism and political tom foolery from his opponents. Yeah, we don't live in a post-racial society, but these last 4 years have had to be rough for die hard racists. #justsaying
But even though President Obama has shattered the boundaries, the majority of African Americans are really struggling.
The once growing black middle class is shrinking by the month. By the time the year ends, more than 11% of African American homeowners will have lost their homes, 16% of African American workers will be unemployed and 36,000 blacks will have been murdered since the president took office. And it doesn't look like things will be getting any better any time soon. The current economic forecast looks dark for dark skinned people as manufacturing, construction and a changing health care industry have all been hampered by the sluggish market. Without a stimulus sized investment in 2013, many experts predict that the American economy will likely spiral into a depression during the next four years. Whoever is elected in 2012 will have to bring it like Billy Blanks if the African American community has a chance of getting back into even half way decent financial shape.
To make matters worse, changes in election law have made it more difficult for African Americans to participate in the civic process. From the introduction of Voter ID laws that dramatically shrink the size of the electorate, to the scaling back of early and absentee voting, the black vote is under attack. And come on, if voting didn't matter, would people be trying to steal it.
Despite all the obstacles, the black community is still poised for greatness in 2012. We are the most connected, technological savvy and educated generation ever. Let's not even mention our generation's ability to set cultural and social trends. (Come on, the planking craze didn't really go viral until we swagged it out.) We can influence America's political economy in ways our ancestors couldn't imagine. According to Dr. Cathy Cohen at the University of Chicago and some cool nerds at CIRCLE, the African American community is the most engaged and consistent segment of the American electorate. In 2010, young black voters turned out at higher rates than any other portion of the youth demographic. Our elders theorized about building black power, we are actually practicing it.
If we can figure out how to capitalize on our electoral power and build a political agenda, our generation should be able to push for policy initiatives that could potentially shape the socio-economic landscape for decades to come. Because from social media, to the sheers size of our numbers, the ingredients for greatness are at our finger tips. We can either embrace our destiny and fight like those that came before us, or we can sit and succumb to the status quo. But it is up to us.
Either way, 2012 is here. Put on your seat belt.