It’s understandable that so many people in minority communities identify with President Obama. First African-American president. First person of color to become president. I took personal pride in another one of President Obama’s historic milestones: first mixed-race president. Around the time that Barack Obama was a half-black kid being raised by his single mom in Polynesia (Hawaii), I was a half-Polynesian kid being raised by my single mom in a black neighborhood. I identify with President Obama in many ways, and understand why he inspired so many people back in 2008.
But it’s no longer 2008. It’s 2012, and people are suffering. And as much as people may like President Obama, we have to be honest enough to admit that our communities are suffering because of his policies. How much more pain are we willing to inflict upon our communities just because we want to root for this president? We have to judge this president not by the color of his skin, but by the results of his policies.
President Obama’s policies have been devastating to minority communities and to the most vulnerable in our society. America is suffering through the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression: Unemployment has been stuck over 8 percent for almost three-and-a-half years under Obama, after averaging only 5.3 percent under President George W. Bush. Minority communities have been hit much harder: African-American unemployment is 14.4 percent, and black youth unemployment is an obscene 44.2 percent. Latino unemployment is 11 percent. I recited these figures recently to a gathering of Pacific Islanders in Nevada, which is being crushed by the highest unemployment rate and worst housing crisis in the country. They didn’t need to hear these numbers to know that their community is hurting. If you had tried to tell these folks, three-and-a-half years into the Obama presidency, that their ongoing misery was President Bush’s fault, they would rightly have considered that to be an insult to their intelligence.