Are we going to care about theatrics and "phraseology" and whether we call it a "black agenda" if we wake up in 2016 to find that Black communities are worse than they were in the Bush years? On June 13, eleven Senators met with 17 African American journalists in the U.S. Capitol for a roundtable on African American issues. Jobs, education, diversity, and Senate gridlock dominated the discussion.
Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the roundtable was: It happened. When was the last time you heard of any sort of forum focused on Black issues coming out of Congress? Everyone understands Hispanics are the new Black. How many Univision and Telemundo interviews does the President have to do for that to be clear? That the Senators initiated the event and 11 participated in a black issues forum is noteworthy.
It was clear that staff, particularly Tyrone Gayle of the Senate Democratic Steering Committee and Darrel Thompson with Majority Leader Reid, put a lot of effort into the gathering.
With 27% of African Americans living in poverty, a 13.5% jobless rate and 53% of their wealth lost to foreclosure, there was lots to discuss. The Black unemployment rate hit a 28 year high of 16.7% in 2011 and even as overall job numbers improve, African American joblessness doesn't. There is also an ongoing high school dropout crisis wedded to a incarceration crisis. One in nine Black children in America has a parent behind bars. Despite the dire reality within those numbers, a fuss continues over whether to define and strategize the problems as part of a focused "black agenda." One would think the gravity of the situation would help people to discard trivia. It can be argued that African Americans are faced with the deepest dilemmas in American life -- yet ironically, the Senate's only Black Democrat, who also moderated the roundtable, voiced something veering away from that dim reality.
"The president wasn't elected to be president of Black America, he's president of all America, the same issue you have in Massachusetts with (Gov.) Deval Patrick. If you're going to govern, you've got to govern for everybody: those who voted for you, who look like you, and those who voted against you," said Sen. Mo Cowan (D-MA).
"How dead-on-arrival" would a Black agenda be, Jonathan Capehart asked. Funny that gun legislation and immigration were not considered DOA. Only 4% of legislation offered becomes law. But on guns and immigration there was a push anyway. In a representative Democracy, political will is a must. Even when you think you're likely to lose. But when it comes to Black issues...
"Let me be clear about this as a Black American," Sen. Cowan said. He continued, "You know, the black American agenda, as I see it, is the American agenda. We are a huge part of this nation. We are not separate, but equal. We are very much a part of this, and I have faith and confidence in the president and this administration is focused on the things that matters most to black America"
Source: Politic365 | Lauren Victoria Burke