The Congressional Black Caucus was formed in 1971 to advocate on behalf of black Americans, and to hold lawmakers and the president of the United States accountable for policies adversely impacting blacks. The CBC is often referred to as the “conscience of the Congress.”
Considering the caucus’ history, it’s shocking that CBC Chairman Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver admitted to the Root that the CBC has been reluctant to criticize President Obama because he’s black.
Never mind that black unemployment under Obama for the past three years has been nearly double the national average and hit a record high of 16% in 2011. Black unemployment hasn’t been that high since 1984. I guess Cleaver also isn’t concerned black wealth has also plummeted under Obama. According to Pew Research Center, the average black family’s wealth is about $5,600 compared to $113,000 for whites.
According to Cleaver, “pride” about the president’s blackness trumps any concerns over current 14% black unemployment for members of the CBC. Cleaver said, “If we had a white president we'd be marching around the White House.”
As the CBC celebrates their annual Legislative Conference this week in DC, it’s more than insulting that Rep. Cleaver can chuckle about the CBC giving Obama a pass on accountability for his failed agenda with blacks and all Americans.
Cleaver’s glib reaction is particularly disturbing when you consider that in 1970 the Democratic Select Committee, which later became the CBC, was outraged by President Richard Nixon’s refusal to meet with them. Nixon’s snub appeared to be the impetus for group’s name change a year later.
In 1971, the CBC boycotted Nixon’s State of the Union because he refused to meet with them and sent him a list of 60 policy recommendations. However, the link on the CBC's website to these demands, which re-directs to Cleaver's personal website, is broken. At least a year or two ago, it was there and fully functional.
Perhaps Cleaver removed it because he didn’t want people asking why the CBC isn’t treating Obama with the same outrage. After all, Obama refused to meet with the CBC until a full year in office even though 95% of blacks voted for him in 2008. That doesn’t seem to be the appropriate way to thank your most loyal voting block.
Adding insult to injury, Obama spoke at last year’s CBC’s annual legislative conference and told blacks they were lazy and needed to look for jobs:
"Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'.”
When asked what he would do if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency in 2008 and the jobless numbers for blacks were this bad, Cleaver joked with the Root, “As much as I love Sen. Clinton I would have been all over her on 14% unemployment for African Americans. I would have said, 'My sister, I love you, but this has got to go.'"
Apparently being America’s first black president has its benefits.
It means the raging high unemployment and diminished wealth for blacks under Obama’s presidency ain't nothing but a thing to members of the CBC. The conscience of the Congress seems to have lost its way and sold his soul down the river in the name of giving deference to a brother named Barack Obama.
This article originally appeared on Town Hall.