Who cares if he’s a colossal failure and the plights of black is a lot worse than when he took office. He looks like them, so all is well!
To African-Americans, President Obama just gets it.
Obama’s notably personal comments on Friday about the verdict in the trial of George Zimmerman, and on race in America, struck a chord. They vividly underlined the fact that, for the first time, the person in the Oval Office has lived an African-American experience.
To black supporters, that is more important than Obama’s inability to narrow racial inequalities during his four and a half years in office, something that has frustrated members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
For the vast bulk of the African-American political class, the sense of identification and empathy with the nation’s first black president has almost always taken primacy over whatever disappointments they have with his record.
The disappointment is perhaps strongest on the economy, since black people are worse off now than they were when Obama first took office, according to virtually every major indicator.
They have fared worse than whites throughout Obama’s time in the White House. Their plight, therefore, cannot be pinned on the general malaise that has afflicted the nation since the financial crash.
In January 2009, the month Obama took office, black unemployment stood at 12.7 percent, outstripping white unemployment, which stood at 7.1 percent.
The national unemployment rate and the rate among whites have both ticked down since then, but African-American joblessness has actually worsened. It now stands at 13.7 percent, while the white rate is just 6.6 percent.