Building on the tragedy of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Democrats are trying to mobilize blacks to help them keep control of the Senate.
In black churches and on black talk radio, black civic leaders have begun invoking Michael Brown’s death in an effort get black voters to channel their anger by voting Democratic in the midterm elections, according to the New York Times.
But why would informed blacks vote for Democrats?
“The data is going to indicate sadly that when the Obama administration is over, black people will have lost ground in every single leading economic indicator category,” says Tavis Smiley, a PBS host and political commentator.
In January 2009, when President Obama took office, the national unemployment rate was 7.8 %. In contrast, the unemployment rate for blacks was 12.7% and the rate for black youth was 21.8 %.
In July 2014, the national unemployment rate was 6.2%; the unemployment rate for whites was 5.3 %. In contrast, the unemployment rate for blacks was 11.4% and the rate for black youth was 24.8 %.
In August 2014, the unemployment rate for blacks, 11.4 %, was almost double the 6.1 % rate for the overall population.
“The 2-to-1 employment disparity between African Americans and whites is not closing and appears to be a permanent part of the economy,” said Dedrick Asante-Muhammad, senior director of NAACP’s economic department.
The income gap between black and white households is also about the same now as it was when Obama took office.
Moreover, recent black college graduates ages 22 to 27 have an unemployment rate of 12.4 percent. That’s more than double the 5.6 percent unemployed among all college grads in that age range and almost a 300 percent increase from the 2007 level of 4.6 percent, before the Great Recession, according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research.
An estimated 10.6 percent of black women age 20 or older are unemployed, a figure unchanged from a year ago, according to the Labor Department.
With justification, all this is causing some blacks to question whether Obama and the Democrats deserve their almost automatic support.
“When Barack Obama leaves the White House in January 2017, what will black America, his earliest and most consistent supporters, have to show for making his political career possible. We’ll have the T-shirts and buttons and posters, the souvenirs. That will be the good news. The bad news is what else we’ll have … and not,” said Bruce Dixon of the Black Agenda Report.
Obama won 96 percent of the black vote in 2008 and 93 percent in 2012.
There’s simply no reason for that level of support to continue.