There were tears of joy and happiness among many blacks in Chicago’s Grant Park and nationwide in 2008 when Barack Obama was elected the first black President of the United States of America. But four years later, that enthusiasm that was so vivid and contagious has been evaporated by a weak economy and a lack of jobs.
From black unemployment to a decline in household incomes to Obama’s support of gay marriage, blacks are finding fewer and fewer reasons to support the incumbent.
Currently, black unemployment is at 14.3 percent. The unemployment rate among black youth alone, ages 16-19, is near 40 percent. That’s almost double the 20.9 percent unemployment rate for whites who are in the same age range.
In the current collapsing economy, the African-American middle class has seen their median annual household income decline by roughly 11 percent between June 2009 and June 2012, according to the Census bureau, which totals to twice the loss suffered by whites.
One of the major reasons that blacks have displayed discontent with President Obama is his stance on same-sex marriage. Blacks, who are very spiritual and socially conservative by nature, denied to follow in the footsteps of the president and voiced strong opposition to the controversial issue. In October 2011, a Pew Forum poll found that 62 percent of African Americans opposed same-sex marriage. In Maryland, blacks were heavily courted by political activists to support an initiative to overturn a gay marriage bill. In California, support from blacks heavily contributed to the passing of Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in 2008. Only 37 percent of African American voters in California supported same-sex unions.
Bishop E.W. Jackson, a prominent black minister and former Senate candidate in Virginia, declared that Obama’s support of gay marriage will put him at distant odds with the black community. “Ministers are being questioned by their members: How can we vote for President Obama?” Jackson said. “I’ve even had some ministers who are on the left frankly, politically saying, ‘We gotta figure out how we quiet everybody.’ We gotta figure out how we get everybody back in the camp, because they sense that people are awakening and saying, now wait a minute: If I have to choose between Jesus and the Democrat Party, Jesus and Barack Obama, then Jesus is going to be my choice.”
BET (Black Entertainment) talked to a few blacks who explained their decision to support Governor Mitt Romney in the presidential election. Paris Dennard, a black Republican, chose to support Romney based on his record as Governor of Massachusetts by reaching across the aisle and working with Democrats and by his successful stint of overseeing the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics. Dominique Mckay, another black conservative, expressed her desire to support Romney based on the belief that he can help create an entrepreneurial environment, which is beneficial to not just the black community, but to all demographics in the United States.
While President Obama will surely garner the majority of black support, there will be many blacks who will take a deep look into their moral values and the state of their economic status, and will decide to support the only person who is effectively talking about jobs, the economy and supporting small businesses- Mitt Romney.