Niagara Gazette

September 6, 2013

HAMILTON: Obama's Syrian effect on local black politicians

By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Has President Barack Obama’s specific lack of effect on black America produced anything generally positive for local black people?

Politically, I’d say yes, but it may not be as he intended.

Five years after the feel good words of candidate Obama’s promises, his failures of hope and change, and with most of black America still waiting for that unspecified change to become more than just no-cost cellphones, more and more blacks are saying to me that if Obama ran again, though he cannot, they would not even vote for him.

Many of the nation’s representatives in Washington are also starting to get that uneasy feeling about the president. As a result, local representatives at the state, county and city levels should also be feeling a bit uneasy about their own re-election prospects.

Reliable sources are reporting that Democratic Congresswoman Marcia Fudge of Ohio, head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), is urging her group to remain silent on the president’s intention to bomb the sovereign nation of Syria. The president likely needs the CBC’s 40 faithful votes to a resolution for him to do so.

But it is clear that many of Fudge’s members, if not all, are as war weary as most other Americans, and are against more such Bush-like adventures into the Middle East. With the CBC wanting to speak out against such policies, they may be reflecting the political, non-racial views of their constituents far better now than they have ever done so in many years.

After five years, black Americans are realizing that we have received less than other groups from whom we considered the first real black president. Many of those black Americans — after having had their dream of a black president fulfilled, have now awakened to the nightmare of realizing that their local black officials have also done little to nothing at all for them; and they have been around a lot longer.

In fact, in some cases, they have found that, like the president, local blacks have done more for other groups than they have for the communities from which they come; and black voters may be giving those black incumbents the red light at the polls.

The president has stated on many occasions that he wanted to mainstream black Americans, to get us educated and involved in our system to the same level that fellow white Americans have long been. While I do not believe that he thought that his Syrian policy would have also been black America’s alarm clock, it may turn out that it is exactly that — and that its clanging is even heard above the roar of Niagara Falls.

As a result, black Americans will now be asking of local black, white and other politicians the question that white Americans have long asked of theirs, “What have you done FOR us lately?”

If we look at our past and current crop of black politicians, the answer would be a resounding nothing. Unfortunately, as our community centers remain closed, our employment numbers remain low and our incarceration rates remaining ever higher, we need to be asking the representatives that look like us the even better and more accurate question of, “What have you done TO us lately?”

Contact Ken Hamilton at