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Archive for Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Obama inspires change from the bottom up

November 11, 2008

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It's been a long, a long time coming.

"Because of what we did on this date, in this election, at this defining moment change has come to America," President-elect Barack Obama said in his victory speech.

As an African-American mother of three children, I've been sporadically crying ever since Election Night. When I tell my children they can work hard and aspire to any job in this country, that statement is finally, finally true.

But my joy is muted because there's still some change that hasn't come.

"This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids, to restore prosperity ... to reclaim the American dream," Obama said.

For large pockets of America's population, prosperity is still an American dream deferred.

Obama will confront the enormous challenge of leading the country out of what is surely a recession. But the road out should be shared by all.

Income for all U.S. households has stagnated. But the numbers are worse for Hispanics and African-Americans. "They are likely to suffer first and to suffer more in an economy that does not produce widely shared prosperity," wrote Amanda Logan and Tim Westrich in an updated version of "The State of Minorities: How Are Minorities Faring in the Economy?" that was published by the Center for American Progress.

And how are minorities faring?

Not well.

From income to unemployment to health care to homeownership, Hispanics and African-Americans lag significantly behind whites, according to the data compiled by the center.

From 2000 to 2007, Hispanics' median family income declined from $39,935 to $38,679, an annualized average drop of 0.5 percent. Whites' median income also decreased during this time, but by only $12 (in 2007 dollars). Whites' median family income was $54,920 in 2007, 1.4 times higher than that of Hispanics.

The median income of African-Americans declined by an average of 0.7 percent per year from 2000 to 2007, dropping from $35,720 in 2000 to $34,091 in 2007.

In 2007, 8.2 percent of whites were in poverty, compared with 21.5 percent of Hispanics and 24.4 percent for African-Americans, according to the center's report.

In the second quarter of 2008, the unemployment rate for Hispanics was 7.2 percent while the rate for whites was 4.7 percent. The unemployment rate for African-Americans, almost double that of whites, was 9.1 percent in the second quarter of 2008.

The homeownership rate for whites in 2007 was 75.2 percent, compared with 49.7 percent for Hispanics and 47.2 percent for African-Americans.

Although the housing market collapse has rightly reminded people not to consider their house as a cash machine, a home still remains a significant contributor to the average family's net worth. Owning a home has historically been, and probably still will be, the path to prosperity.

During the campaign, Obama was criticized as a modern-day Robin Hood who would rob the rich to give to the poor.

"My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody," Obama explained in a now infamous encounter with an Ohio plumber, Joe Wurzelbacher. "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

That statement was interpreted to mean Obama wanted to redistribute wealth.

But there's a difference between implementing tax policies and programs to make prosperity possible for everyone and pilfering the pockets of the top earners in the country.

Besides, it's going to take more than tax breaks to lift many minorities to solid middle-class status. They need better schools, job opportunities and training. They need access to affordable health care so an illness doesn't bankrupt them. We need to find a way to provide reasonably priced homes and mortgages they can afford based on their net incomes.

I know there are some triflin' folks, of all races, who don't want to work hard and are happy with handouts. But that description doesn't fit the vast majority of those at the bottom. They want their own slice of the pie, earned by expanding the pie with their own hard work, not by slicing away someone else's wealth.

"Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers," Obama said on Election Night.

Economically speaking, many minorities are not living on Main Street, but their prosperity is just as vital to ending this country's financial crisis.

With Obama's victory comes a chance to make change, "and that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were," the president-elect said.

I believe with President Obama, a man of color who has inspired so much hope, a change is gonna come.

Michelle Singletary is a columnist for The Washington Post.

Comments

beatrice 6 years, 1 month ago

Tom: "Whether a myth or not, what happens when whites start feeling slighted?"If a white person doesn't win any of the next 43 presidential elections, then we can talk. jason: "And failure to engage in the debate is a hallmark of the left." Got proof? Seriously, that is just made up stuff. It would be like my claiming that making stuff up is the hallmark of the right. As far as there being racists among all races, you are correct. However, in this country, which race has had the upper hand in racial relations since this country was founded? Racism and sexism still exist, even if someone who is part of the majority wants to pretend it doesn't. Yes, a single individual has risen to the top, but that doesn't mean the playing field is suddenly level. Just look at the studies on how hiring favors Whites when all other things are equal. That isn't just a coincidence and it doesn't disappear because of Obama. Can you imagine Obama rising to where he is if he were another "C" student George Bush? No, it took an extraordinary individual to break through. Things will be equal when it no longer takes extraordinary skills to advance beyond the ordinary.

Jason Bailey 6 years, 1 month ago

@Alia: You're right...I was using the term in a derogatory manner. No debate there and I apologize if you took it personally. These are spirited discussions and the colorful language makes for more interesting reading, IMO.All kidding/colorful language/incendiary points aside, I'll engage you in the same thoughtful debate that you're trying to bring to this discussion:You wrote:"Yes, a single individual has risen to the top, but that doesn't mean the playing field is suddenly level"See, that's the problem...your point is that "it's still not fair". Nothing in life is fair. Take life by the horns and drive it as far as you can take it. That's my point. Too many people sit around, moan, complain, and point the finger of blame at others that are not like them. Instead of doing this, take the path towards a better shot at success which is education, good decisions in life, critical examination of choices, and surrounding yourself with people who are a positive influence.There's not a magical concoction or government program that's going to make success happen. It all comes down to the individual and how they choose to approach life.Obama was an extraordinary orator and communicator of ideas. Much like Reagan. Who'd have thought an actor with mediocre intellectual depth would have become one of the most beloved and historical significant presidents? This was primarily due to luck (the collapse of the USSR during his presidency) and his extraordinary skills in speaking.We can have this back and forth all day but I don't see Obama's success as anything besides sheer determination, public speaking skills (which is the #1 skill any politician today can possess), and dumb luck (the economy collapsing when it did, the Clinton machine making mistakes where Obama made none). That same recipe can be achieved by anyone.It's not race that keeps people down; it's people who keep themselves oppressed.

Jason Bailey 6 years, 1 month ago

Booklover: It always was it a myth. That's Tom's original point. If it were not a myth, then BO would never have become president. If you think about it, the concept of minorities being barred by some unseen force from achieving heights of success has a circular logic that, if true, would prevent just the sort of thing that has happened from happening.Anyone can succeed but in addition to preparation and hard work, it does take some luck. In this case, Obama was handed a golden egg with the crash of the economy when it happened. Most business leaders will say that their success has a component of luck.People sit around and bemoan the fact that some unseen force is "holding them down" or suppressing their shot at the American Dream yet there have been many examples of minorities achieving great success. We have minority Supreme Court judges, minority Joint Chiefs, minority CEOs, minority professional sport coaches, minority Congressman...the list goes on.You told Tom to "Do more reading and less pssng and moaning"; I'd recommend that you apply more logic and less vitriolic emotionalism.

Jason Bailey 6 years, 1 month ago

Sorry Alia, I attributed a quote to you that actually belongs to Beatrice....been a long day.But I hope you'll engage in the discussion nonetheless....

bad_dog 6 years, 1 month ago

Dry your eyes and lead the way out, Brother Invictus... No need for crocodile tears, just do your part and lead the way out...

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 1 month ago

It's impossible to counter your ignorance when it's so obviously willful, jason.

booklover 6 years, 1 month ago

You don't need a BO worshiper, you just need some commons sense. Are you truly that dense or just such an ingrained racist that even this escapes you? Every parent tells their kids to work hard, dream big and they can do whatever they want. And for some people (mainly white, mainly male) its true history has shown them that they can indeed achieve anything. (with me so far?)(But) If you are a minority parent, ANY minority parent or the parent of a girl, and you want to instill a good work ethic in your kids and you encourage them and tell them they can work hard and dream big and be anything they want to, but deep down as a parent you are saying to yourself "Well, OK, really they can't be ANY thing, They are never going to something like president, this country is never, ever going to elect a black man (sub any minority) or a woman as a president who am I kidding" because history has shown us that there never has been one. Well, for minority parents, we no longer have to tell that little fib to our kids. We have shattered one more obstacle toward being totally equal. Duh! Tom really. Do more reading and less pissing and moaning. You would be SO much better off.PS (We're still working on the girls, they're next!)

tvc 6 years, 1 month ago

"When I tell my children they can work hard and aspire to any job in this country, that statement is finally, finally true"--Some children still excluded: female, Hispanic, Native American:

Jason Bailey 6 years, 1 month ago

@The Shrills in the Forum:You guys jumped all over the "it's a myth" comment and then followed up with examples of racial profiling. This is a typical case of apples compared to oranges.Racial profiling is much different than the myth of a ceiling that bars success due to the color of your skin. You haven't even responded to many numerous and illustrious examples of minorities succeeding in areas besides just the Presidency of the US. You just raise the specter of the Jewish Holocaust (good one, Alia, I would never have imagined the Holocaust fitting into the context of this thread but somehow you managed to do it) and mix up the opportunities to succeed with racial profiling. It's no wonder Obama won with people voting for him that possess such a deep-seated grasp on logical thought and critical evaluation skills.

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 1 month ago

Jason says...... It always was it a myth. That's Tom's original point.That is just about as ridiculous as your like-minded Marion Lynn's belief that the Holocaust was a myth too. Ask any black man who gets pulled over by the police for some trumped up "probable cause" numerous times a week or month if it is a level playing field. I know of a psychiatrist in California who is black who was pulled over because he was driving a Honda and as the cop explained it had to be stolen "because blacks don't drive Hondas". A former KC, KS cop bragged about how he and his fellow officers would pull black males over just to mess with them. How about blacks and other minorities being followed around by security in a store because of the color of their skin. You rightwingers are opposed to affirmative action,but don't see anything wrong with the good ole (white) boys network where someone gets into college or gets a job because his dad belonged the same "white" fraternity as the boss or donated large sums of money to the university. There has been reverse affirmative action for 400 years in this society.

grammaddy 6 years, 1 month ago

you tell 'em Booklover. Most white people just don't understand that comment. I am white but my children and grandchildren are bi-racial and I can't tell how good they feel about having a president that looks like them.And now the girls know that anything is possible for them, too.

commuter 6 years, 1 month ago

With the election of President elect Obama, I hope this help the racial tensions in America. We will have a president who is not 100% caucasian.My hope is that people of all races see what Obama has accomplished and start to better themselves. They can start to look after themselves and start trying increase the marketability for better paying jobs. With this maybe we will have a decrease in the number of people who are on welfare as a profession? I only hope so. The best way to help America is to work and pay taxes.Time will only tell. Even though I didn;t vote for Obama, I still wish he does a good job- not only for America but for the people of his races. He has a lot of pressure because, for good reasons or bad, people will judge him and his race by how he presidency goes.Good luck. I am hoping all sides can get along - not jusge the republicans but the far left democracts too.

Jason Bailey 6 years, 1 month ago

@Alia: As defined by the Dictionary, "Shrill" is an adjective not a noun so I called no one a name. Try again to pin the tail on the evil conservative donkey...you missed.@Supertramp: Again, I didn't call anyone stupid. And failure to engage in the debate is a hallmark of the left. @JustAnotherBozo: Don't you mean it's impossible to counter my point because you simply don't have a logical response?Just to reiterate my point, racism happens on both sides of the minority fence. There are black racists who'd love to keep me, the whitey, down. To me, they are just noise on the sidelines; I ignore them and do my best to meet the goals I have set for myself. It's up to me to succeed. People do not decide my fate, it's in my hands. That is NOT unique to a white guy and that's why I raised so many examples of minorities succeeding in life.People who see a ceiling set there by racists are trapped by their own imagined enemies. If people ignore the racists and just do the best we can in an area where they have a passion, they will succeed.

supertrampofkansas 6 years, 1 month ago

"It's no wonder Obama won with people voting for him that possess such a deep-seated grasp on logical thought and critical evaluation skills." - JasonDon't you find it curious when your own political party is in power, then it is "we is all average Joes and thems peoples over thars is just a bunch of arrogant librul elites". As opposed to when your political party is down the drain it becomes "It's no wonder Obama won with people voting for him that possess such a deep-seated grasp on logical thought and critical evaluation skills." Who are you calling stupid Jason? Ah well, who am I kidding, might as well go talk to a box of rocks...

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 1 month ago

Since Jason will likely invalidate my above statement because I left out the word "quo", here it is again, It is in your best interest to maintain the status quo and it is all about you. Do unto others, right?

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 1 month ago

Jason,Thank you for your comments above. I'll be glad to engage in this discussion with you further. Like you, I've had a long day and will defer to another time........to be continued. :~)

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 6 years, 1 month ago

Tom: "Whether a myth or not, what happens when whites start feeling slighted?"We're all expecting they'll take it better than you have.

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 1 month ago

Jason,I'm not sure why you feel compelled to call those you disagree with names like "shrill" I guess those behaviors are guided by your great religious and moral values and logical, critical evaluation skills. I'm not sure why using examples of racial profiling and bigotry in one area (the criminal justice system) wouldn't speak to similar experiences in economic and education systems. But, in case you doubt it still happens in those areas as well, here's a recent article that speaks to those differences of opportunity for minorities and women versus white males. http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FPPS%2FPPS2_04%2FS1537592704040447a.pdf&code=2cf157fd8ebc2f72a239898b8d35813a

Alia Ahmed 6 years, 1 month ago

jason2007 (Anonymous) says: @Alia: As defined by the Dictionary, "Shrill" is an adjective not a noun so I called no one a name. Try again to pin the tail on the evil conservative donkey:you missed.Your post above just reinforces that you don't want to dialogue about these issues. Regardless of the part of speech it is, you were definitely using that term in a derogatory manner. But, rather than admit you engage in the the same behavior you attribute to those you disagree with you, you'll change the subject by arguing about the part of speech you used. Jason, if you want to believe you are a victim of oppression and whatever you've experienced economically, educationally and socially is on par with the examples I gave above as well as the the link I provided, that is your perojative. There are none so blind.....as those who will not see. You definitely have a lot of company and it certainly benefits you to deny oppression and racism still exist. It is in your best interest to maintain the status and it is all about you. Do unto others, right?

natas 6 years, 1 month ago

Stand up ... go to school ..... get a job and stop crying.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 1 month ago

All our bottoms are going to feel inspired after a few months.

kidicarus 6 years, 1 month ago

"Booklover: It always was it a myth. That's Tom's original point." Jason, what an idiotic comment. The "myth" you speak of was fact for a very, very long time. How anyone can be as ignorant as Tom is beyond me.

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