President Obama was the harbinger of “hope and change.” As America’s first black president, he was meant to deliver black people from decades of racial disparity. Now, many people are wondering what exactly Obama did to mend racial grievances.
As the Marxist-led Black Lives Matter movement increases its demands, after nearly a year of continuous destructive rioting, there are renewed calls for “economic justice.” Namely, “reparations” for the abominable practice of slavery, which ended in the mid-nineteenth century.
Barack Obama blamed “the politics of White resistance and resentment” as the reason that he never pushed the issue of reparations, despite his stated belief in them. The accusation comes by way of a brand-new podcast with Bruce Springsteen, he-of-the-hardscrabble-everyman-Jeep-ad at the Super Bowl.
The podcast, named “Renegades: Born in the USA,” reveals a number of the former president’s attitudes on race that were supposedly never divulged before in any of the endless volumes on his presidency or in his three biographies.
Obama says the he believes that reparattions are “justified” adding that “there’s not much question that the wealth… the power of this country was built in significant part — not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it, but a large portion of it — was built on the backs of slaves.”
His explanation for why a reparations bill never made its way to the Congress, despite Democratic Party control of the House and Senate: The “politics of White resistance and resentment.”
“And what I saw during my presidency was the politics of White resistance and resentment. The talk of ‘welfare queens’ and the talk of the ‘undeserving’ poor. And the backlash against affirmative action,” he said.
“All that made the prospect of actually proposing any kind of coherent, meaningful reparations program struck me as, politically, not only a nonstarter but potentially counterproductive,” he concluded.
The former president adds it is “perfectly understandable why working-class White folks, middle-class White folks, folks who are having trouble paying the bills or dealing with student loans, wouldn’t be too thrilled” about the possibility of “a massive program that is designed to deal with the past, but isn’t speaking to their future.”
The current U.S. Congress has a bill up regarding reparations, introduced by Rep. Sheila-Jackson Lee. The Biden administration is backing the study of slavery reparations.
“President Joe Biden’s White House is giving its support to studying reparations for Black Americans, boosting Democratic lawmakers who are renewing efforts to create a commission on the issue amid the stark racial disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the AP reported.
According to Reuters/Ipsos polls released in July 2020, only one in five respondents agreed the U.S. should use “taxpayer money to pay damages to descendants of enslaved people in the United States.”
The issue of reparations for slavery was also brought up recently in reference to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Researchers from Harvard Medical School are claiming that slavery reparations would have helped limit the spread of COVID-19 for Black people in the U.S.,” Fox News reported.
“A restitutive program targeted towards Black individuals would not only decrease COVID-19 risk for recipients of the wealth redistribution, the mitigating effects would also be distributed across racial groups, benefiting the population at large,” the study read.
“More specifically, it estimates that COVID-19 transmission in Louisiana would have fallen by 31%-68% if descendants of African slaves received financial reparations prior to the pandemic,” the study claims.
The cost of reparations, according to the Harvard model? It would be $800,000 per household (or $250,000 per individual).
Barack Obama’s presidential election was driven in part by the belief on the part of voters that it would help to heal racial wounds. A Gallup poll issued in 2016, near the end of his presidency, showed that race relations dramatically deteriorated. The public opinion measure of racial strife actually hit a 15-year-high, as “the share of Americans who worry a lot about race relations soaring to 35% from a bottom of 13% just after Obama took office.”
One pollster cited by Investor’s Business Daily put the public opinion trend in a stark light.
“The rising concern about race relations as the nation’s first black president completes his last year in office is a retreat from the optimism that swept the country in the immediate aftermath of President Obama’s first election win in 2008,” the pollster said. “A Gallup poll one night after Obama won found that 7 in 10 Americans believed race relations would improve because of his victory.”
Long after the president’s two terms in office has concluded, the divisive rhetoric of the Obama years continues.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.