Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What Will The Intangible Effects of Barry 4 Prez Be For Black America?

Folks are all in a tizzy about Obama's "Heartland Values" Summer Tour 08' this week. He started off yesterday talking about patriotism in some backwater town place called Independence, Missouri. Today, he's in rural Ohio talking about faith. Tomorrow, he'll be in South Central Los Angeles talking about chitlins and signing copies of his books at the Slauson Swap Meet[1]. It's quite a rigorous schedule.

Many folks see this as pandering to middle America and trying to dispel many of the myths and fear-mongering perpetuated not only by the Right, but also from within his own party. I guess you could see it that way, if you thought Obama could actually say anything to convince these folks to vote for him. Personally, I don't think he can. If folks take rumor for fact and consider you an closet Muslim hellbent on enslaving Whites once in office, a lapel pin and some Lee Greenwood songs aren't gonna do anything to change their minds. So screw em'.

One thing I did like is how Obama very quietly talked about his solution for a problem that personally troubles me quite a bit: the issue of Urban Education. And more specifically, the Achievement Gap between minority students (read: black boys) and whites (read: Caucasian girls).

I've blogged endlessly about this topic, and have spent a good portion of my adult life working with kids to try and eradicate this issue. Like most social issues, this one's complex, with many causes and culprits, and thus, no real silver bullet.

I'm sure there will be boatloads of Conservatives who decry earmarking public funds to solve such an issue amounts to some odd sort of affirmative action. And I'd be the first to tell such Conservatives to kick rocks and get a life.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would spend at least $500 million a year to promote community aid programs run by faith-based groups, with a focus on summer education for lower-income children.

Obama, a former community organizer in Chicago, proposed a new White House office for the President's Council for Faith- Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Among other things, the council would help train faith-based groups on how to apply for federal grants and set up a program to provide summer educational opportunities for 1 million children.

In its fact sheet on the proposal, Obama's campaign didn't give a cost for the entire program, saying that the educational part would cost about $500 million a year. That would be paid for through better management of surplus government property, reducing growth in the federal travel budget and streamlining the federal procurement process, the campaign said.

The campaign cited research showing that lower-income children tend to lose reading skills over the summer months while middle-class students gain. Poor students and minorities often end up about 2 1/2 grade levels behind their higher-income peers after years of this summer achievement gap, the campaign said.
For once and for all, I wish any black person who says Obama "isn't doing enough for the community" would shut up and take notice. Reality is, if more black folks actually quit hatin' and checked into the game as opposed to heckling from the sideline, there wouldn't be any achievement gap to speak of.

I've had my doubts about the guy, and will surely continue to do so, but for taking a bold and somewhat public (this one's being lost in the kerfuffle about faith-based funding) stance on an issue that matters immensely to me, he's got my vote cemented.

I guess this whole thing brings to mind a question I've been pondering for weeks, and it is, outside of being Leader Of The Free World, just what intangible effect will Barry 4 Prez have on Black America?

Some have said putting Obama in the White House will encourage Black America to do better. It will improve the overall issue of Black Americans throughout the world. Black boys will get off the corners and into classrooms. Black women will take pride in Michelle and follow her path to high career achievement and family balance. The Obama kids will influence the next generation of Black girls to stay in school and off the pole. On and on.

Personally, I'm not sure that things for Black America will be tangibly better 4 years from now than they are now, and I certainly wouldn't blame Obama if that's the case. Reality is, he isn't going to raise anyone's child, get anybody off the pipe, or keep anyone out of jail who wasn't already on a one-way trip there already. By speaking about and funding issues of importance to the Black community (academic achievement, crime, health), he can encourage people to do better, but he can't make them do anything. Perhaps we're putting a bit too much stock in one guy, who has to govern an entire country BTW, and not enough in ourselves.

Still, Barry gets my props for taking on this issue. I just wish he had more help.

Question: What do you think the intangible effects of an Obama Presidency on Black America will be?

Obama Proposes $500 Million Faith-Based Program, Reading Plan [Bloomberg]

[1] Yeah, I know it's not called that anymore. Somebody give me the updated name, it's been years since I've been in LA.

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