Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Structural Inequality

Last week President Obama spoke boldly about persistent racial discrimination and criticized the “structural inequality” that presents “the steepest barrier” to African American equality in the 21st century.

Speaking before a crowd at the centennial convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, he highlighted the need for government action to help tear down these barriers.

So it was a surprise to see this headline on the New York Times story covering the event: “Obama Tells Fellow Blacks: ‘No Excuses’ for Failure.”

Somehow the Times saw fit to dismiss Obama’s meaningful acknowledgement of continued discrimination and, instead, portray his speech as a dose of “tough love” to black America.

The Times was not alone, though. The Huffington Post, a purportedly more liberal outlet, titled its article “Your destiny is in your hands … ‘No excuses.'”

It is true that President Obama borrowed a page from the book of black leaders as diverse as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Rev. Al Sharpton and Minister Louis Farrakhan in outlining the need for black self-empowerment. But it was a damaging oversight to ignore the president’s recognition of systemic inequality and the policy solutions he laid out to reform these systems.

By addressing the living legacy of white supremacy, African-American socio-economic disenfranchisement, President Obama advanced the discussion of racial inequality.

The president pointed out that the African American community still suffers from discrimination and is disproportionately hurt by a recession and the boom/bust economy that has broadened economic inequality throughout the country. He included policy proposals ranging from changes to tax policy, health care, education and housing to improve the condition of African Americans.

One of the most repeated themes in Obama’s address was that the nation’s racial inequality is not an African-American problem, but rather a problem of our entire nation. Yet if you read the New York Times, you’d think the president was simply scolding African Americans for failing to live up to their potential.

I had hoped for more from the leading newspaper in the country. Not only should the Times have reported on what Obama actually said, but as is done concerning other important policy matters, it should have also examined whether Obama’s prescriptions were adequate for the ongoing racial economic divide.

As someone who studies the racial economic divide, particularly between African-Americans and whites, my strongest criticism of the address is that Obama’s policy solutions are not strong enough to overcome the structural inequality suffered by African Americans. African Americans have only 10 percent of the wealth of white Americans and they are segregated into the most disenfranchised communities. On top of that, their job loss rate has been far higher than the rest of American’s during our current economic crisis.

When I first read President Obama’s address to the NAACP, I had a mixed reaction. I was glad to have a president who saw government responsibility for the structural inequality developed through decades of discrimination. At the same time, I found myself disappointed that he did not advocate for stronger measures, like an equity assessment of all future federal spending to ensure that government funds do not solidify the racial economic divide.

Yet after reading news coverage of President Obama’s address, I realized that his discussion of structural inequality is beyond what most Americans are prepared to deal with, or at least beyond what The New York Times sees as news that’s fit to print.

DEDRICK MUHAMMAD is the senior organizer and research associate for the Inequality and Common Good Project of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. – www.ips-dc.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad is host of the Race and Wealth Podcast and Director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Economic Development.

October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail