Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama Advisor Saying NO to Black Issues? : ThyBlackMan

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Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama Advisor Saying NO to Black Issues?

September 17, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Politics, Weekly Columns

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( Some have said that the Republican Party has been the primary obstructionist that keeps President Barack Obama from dealing with African American issues.  Even those who acknowledge that the president hasn’t said a word about black suffering are quick to find whatever excuse they can for inaction on the part of the White House.  Rather than earning the black vote by presenting a healthy track record of effort on behalf of the black community, black people are simply being told to “keep the faith” (note the religious reference) and to “have Barack’s back,” (note the hood slang reference).   It’s as if we’re being told to “stop snitching” on the White House, while Obama Administration officials sit back and laugh at how stupid we are for not asking for anything in return for unprecedented political loyalty.

We get one speech after another with Obama Administration officials reminding us of how many civil rights leaders died to give us the right to vote, and why they all wanted us to take the best political option they choose to give us.  But what they don’t tell us is that when you vote for a politician and ask him for nothing, you are worse off than if you’d abstained and held your vote for ransom.  A woman choosing between a man who beats her and a man who neglects her can always say “I’m not dating either one of you fools until you learn to act right.”  That woman will ALWAYS get more respect than the desperate woman with low self-esteem who takes whatever she can get.

Unfortunately, style and symbolism don’t pay the bills:  Black Americans have seen their economic condition worsen, while whites have watched their  conditions improve.  When the recession is over, black unemployment will probably not even get down to the levels that whites are complaining about right now.  Almost nothing has been done to alleviate the mass incarceration epidemic and the President has hardly addressed all of the dead black teenagers in the killing fields of his home city of Chicago.  If those were white gay kids in the suburbs, billions of dollars would have already been allocated to help resolve the problem.

A recent New York Times article seems to imply that the bottleneck on getting to the heart of African American issues is not the Republican Party or the president himself.  Instead, some say that Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett has done all she can to keep the president from dealing with African Americans directly, and instead has been working through Al Sharpton, an unwavering Obama surrogate, who admitted in a 60 Minutes interview that he would never criticize the president, even if he isn’t doing his job effectively.  Sharpton’s political motto may as well be, “Yes, things are horrible for black people, and the Democrats aren’t going to do a damn thing about it, but I really need you to keep voting for my boss.”

Valerie Jarrett has been called an elitist by some, and doesn’t have a strong track record on fighting for poor blacks.  For example, many noted that the president and Valerie came home for the expensive wedding of Valerie’s Harvard-educated daughter and said nothing about the black boys being killed right down the street on the South Side of Chicago.  Shortly thereafter, however, the president hopped on a jet to console the victims of the Batman shooting in Colorado…..after all, their lives are more important.

Part of the massive disagreement I had with Rev. Sharpton (we no longer speak and I don’t expect that to change any time soon) had to do with Valerie, who seems more hell-bent on killing a critique than actually addressing it with constructive effort.  My goal was to get to the bottom of the reason that the president was not meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, which is apparently a question that black people are not allowed to ask.  Before May 2011, President Obama had only met with the CBC two times in two years, which is inexcusable, especially during the worst black economic crisis in 30 years.  But then again, why should he do anything for black people?  They’ve got over 90% of the black vote, and many African Americans will support the Obama Administration on faith and not much else.

The “inconvenient truth” for both Valerie Jarrett and Obama is that they are getting unprecedented support from black Americans and they cannot treat this support as a political welfare check that doesn’t have to be repaid.  It is nothing less than their complete obligation to return this support with effort of their own.  If they  took half the energy they spend begging us to vote in November and actually applied this to solving problems, our community would be much better off (notice how they love to fight for voting rights to get black people to the polls, but seem to forget that we exist after they’ve been elected).

Those who feel that President Obama is being held to a higher standard than President Bush are absolutely correct:  Bush didn’t get 90% of our vote, so he didn’t owe us much of anything.  Barack Obama DOES owe us something, the same way he owed (and paid) a debt to his gay and Hispanic constituents, who threatened to withdraw their support if the administration didn’t get in line with their agenda (please take notes:  Politicians only respond to credible threats, not political groupies).

When advocating for African American issues defines a person to be inherently anti-Obama, we’ve got a serious problem in which our observations may not be consistent with reality.  We can no longer live in a world where anyone who asks President Obama to do something is defined to be an enemy of the administration, and Valerie Jarrett knows this.  Any effort by Valerie Jarrett, Al Sharpton or anyone else to suppress black voices who request action from the White House is as unAmerican as the oppressive regimes that they seek to dismantle around the world.  We too have the right to speak freely about the issues that matter to our community and no one has a right to sleep on the job.

An excerpt of the New York Times article (below) features a back-and-forth between Jarrett and Prof. Cornel West.  Dr. West seems to feel that Valerie was the one who started the whole nonsense of invalidating the entire poverty critique by reducing Cornel to a bitter man who was mad that he didn’t get inauguration tickets.  Even if that were the case, it doesn’t change one fundamental fact:  Black poverty and unemployment are worse than they have been in decades, in large part because Valerie and Barack were busy fighting for gay rights instead of embracing any form of targeted economic policy.  Bush did create the economic mess we’re in, but the Obama Administration seemed to only clean up the mess in white neighborhoods.

It’s hard to show up and ask for support for work you didn’t do.  Anyone who disagrees is encouraged to tell me where I am wrong.

Here’s a snippet from the New York Times:

 Ms. Valerie Jarrett was similarly “livid,” one former White House official said, with members of the Congressional Black Caucus who accused the president of paying insufficient attention to the particular economic woes of blacks. When the writer and academic Cornel West joined in, calling Mr. Obama the “black mascot of Wall Street,” Ms. Valerie Jarrett’s response was “ruthless,” Dr. West said.

He recalled a phone call in which she dismissed his criticism as sour grapes for not receiving a ticket to the inauguration, and said he later heard from friends that she was putting out the word that “one, I was crazy, and two, I was un-American.”

“It was a matter of letting me know that I was, in her view, way out of line and that I needed to get in line,” he said in an interview. “I conveyed to her: ‘I’m not that kind of Negro. I’m a Jesus-loving black man who tells the truth, in the White House, in the crack house or in any other house.’ She got real quiet. It was clear that she was not used to being spoken to that way.”      

Those who feel compelled to attack Cornel West, a scholar who has been one of the most consistent and relentless fighters for the black community over the last 25 years, might want to think about what they are doing.  By going after West for asking Obama to address the statistically-documented issues of extreme (and worsening) poverty and mass incarceration, you are trading in an authentic leader who loves you for a more popular and powerful leader who has ignored you.  This is nothing less than the slave mentality, which leans on validation from white Americans as symbolic evidence of our own self-worth.  Black people don’t just love Barack Obama for being a great man….they love him because white people have crowned him to be our king.

If President Obama loves us, he has an obligation to show us, not to the exclusion of everything else on his plate, but to the point where the White House remembers that black people are Americans too.  Those who want Barack to succeed as an authentic African American hero are encouraged to push him to higher standards, no less than the way we should push our sons to overcome racism and still do their best.   Barack Obama is not just the president of black America, but he must be reminded that black people are part of America too. In other words, it’s time to stop making excuses.

Staff Writer; Dr. Boyce Watkins
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. For more information, please visit


14 Responses to “Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama Advisor Saying NO to Black Issues?”
  1. jeff a moni says:

    vote for color and get what you deserve- vote for ideas coming from thought and real change and you get what you deserve, which did you vote for?

  2. lewis orr says:

    If you two ladies will stop letting your emotions run away with you and re-read my comment, I make no mention of President Obama. And you speaking of the 3rd World in a condescending manner speaks volumes about your nature and why you support a condescending man. And you’re right President Obama does have 99% of the Black vote which makes you two Odd Fellas.

  3. Natalie says:

    R. U kidding me The Optus most loyal voting bloc are single black women! It is the presidents constant pandering to to women and his anti male policies influenced by feminist groups likeNOW that suggest it is Obama that has a problem with men (black ones in particular)

  4. single black woman says:

    @lewis Orr, this is America not a 3rd World Country. Stop assuming that every single woman wants govt to be their man because this one embraces Romney’s message of opportunity over dependency. Now stop jocking the creases in Obama’s pants and say something of substance because a 2 bit community organizer who spends life hustling the poor is not the answer.

  5. lewis orr says:

    Why is it that single Black women find it hard to criticize White men regardless, to whatever they do or have done, while they find it easy to criticize Black men? Does this go back to some unconscious psychological condition created during slavery when Black women were forced to sleep with White men and for fear of harm to themselves and their children they couldn’t speak ill of the White man and blamed the Black man for not being able to protect them? Or could this be a form of the Stockholm syndrome? It makes me wonder how a person who claims to be poor can support a candidate that has come out and said he doesn’t care about poor people and intends to eliminate Health Care and all social programs. And let everyone come up on their own with nothing against billionairs.

  6. single black woman says:

    chavonne good job. Too bad Obama’s supporters don’t give a damn about the poor.

  7. Nicholas says:

    What is a Black isure? The author wrote “Black poverty and unemployment are worse than they have been in decades” “because Valerie and Barack were busy fighting for gay rights instead of embracing any form of targeted economic policy.” Can and will the author identify a form of targeted economic policy, that is doable and can serve the needs of the Black Community while targeted on Black poverty and unemployment, if so please let your readers know what that policy is and where can we see it. Perhaps Tavis and Cornell can spend some time writing a policy outline, that would address the problem, rather then attacking the President. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

  8. truth be told says:

    Mitt Romney has disqualified himself because he is against turning America into a Nanny State, didn’t start his career in the home of an American terrorist, hasn’t accepted a Mansion in Hyde Park from Tony Rezko and doesn’t manipulate the poor to accumulate wealth.

  9. lewis orr says:

    Mitt Romney was born with a silver spoon and foot in his mouth, and has T-Totally disqualified himself from ever being president of these United States! His latest video where he comes staight out and says there is two Americas and one he doesn’t care about! That says it all, especially when he has no tangible plan for the middle class and doesn’t even know where the middle class is. He thinks $250,000 is middle class! A poor person or even a middle class person voting for Romney against their own best interest would have to be a dimwit.

  10. chavonne says:

    And as one that attended Whitney Young Magnet Higschool from 7-12 grade during the time Michelle was there I found this article that provides the most accurate narrative about the Hyde Park Obamas and Michelle in particular. They have always been an elitist couple with little concern foor the working poor, but a great deal fof focus on their personal gain.

  11. chavonne says:

    Chicagoan here! You wouldnt be talking about this vallerie jarrett? Board of Directors of the Chicago Federal Reserve Val?

    I have worked with the people interviewed…

  12. born in the USA says:

    The middle east is on fire killing Americans, attacking our Embassies and America is even more hated since Barack Hussain Obama took office. It’s time to give Barack Hussain Obama a pink slip since his foreign policy is one of retreat and has diminished America’s standing in the World. Romney understands that the best way to overcome poverty is through the creation of good paying jobs not more government handouts of free food, housing, healthcare, etc. which will not improve people’s economic status. Also, unemployment amongst Hispanics is above 10 percent and above 14 percent for blacks which is unacceptable as these are Obama’s largest voting block and the direct victims of his failed policies.

  13. lewis orr says:

    Where you went wrong is you failed to mention Healthcare, the greatest legislation since civil rights. Not only for Black people but for all working people. And do you really think President Obama has time to run around to all the cities in the country dispencing the National Guard, because of the action of some crackheads? That’s a job for the police. The President went to Aurora to consoul not to capture the culprit. And we only have a choice of two candidates. Because you feel President Obama doesn’t love you, Romney will love you more? Romney has made himself clear on several occasions how he feels about people with their hand out. Only recently Romney said 47% of voters feel they are entitled to human necessities and he can’t be concerned about them. And some poles show that Romney will get less than 1% of the Black vote, yet you think he’ll do something for Blacks and the poor working people?
    But worse of all is Romney’s shoot first and aim later habit. If Romney is elected president it would be the end for the US. All of the enemies of the US would be duty bound to test Romney and draw the US into another war, with battle worn troops it would force a new draft further polarizing the country, in time of war. Then you won’t have to worry about a job, you’ll have a job, staying alive!

  14. common sense says:

    Everyone’s up in arms about Romney’s wealth when all he did was earn it unlike Obama and Valerie Jarrett whose wealth is through Big Government off the backs of taxpayers and poor families. It’s best we get in the game and stop being played by Obama and his billionaire buddies.

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