For the past eight years, black Americans have talked about the significance of the Obama presidency the way affluent blacks talk about buying a Cadillac or a Mercedes Benz. The opening of Ta-Nehisi Coates latest piece for The Atlantic (“My President was Black”) paints a picture of this observation where Mr Coates describes a White House farewell party sponsored by Black Entertainment Television where it is safe to say that most of the honored guests don’t ride a MARTA bus to their third jobs.
For the vast majority of blacks who either aspire to be a member of the Cliff Huxtable-Barack Obama Beautiful Family and House posse or simply want a little more economic certainty in their lives, they rely on social justice organizations to advocate on their behalf a path to the Promised Land. In the New World Order of Donald Trump, an order given more validity today via the Electoral College, that advocacy will be increasingly difficult.
According to data from Pew Research, only eight percent of black Americans voted for Mr Trump versus 88% who voted for Hillary Clinton. That’s not much leverage to bring into a meeting with Trump and Company asking for political packages designed for black folk. And it is not like the Democratic Party is going to have black Americans’ backs either over the next two years. Percentage wise, fewer blacks came out for Mrs Clinton in 2016 than blacks who came out for President Obama in 2012 (93%). Strategy wise I expect the Democrats to do what they should have done in this past election: go after the white rural vote. This means that whatever black concerns may be between now and midterms in 2018, those concerns will be on the back burner.
How then should the African Diaspora in America respond in the American political market place post 20 January 2017? It will have to be proactive and so far it has not gotten off to the right start. Take for example the Federal Reserve’s decision to raise rates on overnight loans between its member banks.
The Fed’s decision to raise rates this month was expected by the markets with many analysts predicting a hike since the summer. This action, combined with the “Trump Effect” in the financial markets has resulted in a rise in long term yields meaning borrowing costs will be expected to rise although most analysts cannot say by how much. For black Americans given their average lower incomes and wealth when compared with whites, this means access to the credit markets when trying to get loans for household purchases or business investment will be increasingly difficult.
There was no response to the rate hike by black American members of the House financial services committee. Neither was there a response by the Congressional Black Caucus. A major economic event where the black community’s leadership showed no initiative in terms of educating the nation on the impact the event would have on those with little to no access to capital. Although the Fed is an independent agency, members of the Congressional Black Caucus have petitioned the central bank to action on the issue of diversity, so being proactive about the nation’s economy should not be too much to ask for.
Staying relevant and proactive should be part of black America’s strategy to gain back lost political capital.