Gary Younge writes: The symbolic resonance of Obama’s victory for black Americans has not diminished [since he took office]. At rallies the hawkers are still there with T-shirts setting him alongside Martin Luther King, setting his logo within Superman’s crest or insisting: “I like my coffee black. Like my president”. According to Gallup 90% of African Americans intend to back him and they plan to turn out at the same rate as white voters. No other block of voters is more loyal.
No other block of voters is more optimistic. Over the past few years polls have consistently shown that African Americans are more likely than any other group to be bullish about their own future, to think the country’s best days are yet to come and that the economy is already recovering.
A Pew survey in January 2010 indicated that the percentage of black Americans who thought blacks were better off than they were five years before had almost doubled since 2007. There were also significant increases in the percentages who believed the standard-of-living gap between whites and blacks was decreasing. No wonder they love the president.
There was only one trouble with these assessments. They weren’t true. African Americans, as a group, are far worse off now than they were when Obama came to power and the gap between whites and blacks in terms of wealth and income has increased under Obama’s tenure. The overall rate of unemployment may be close to where it was when Obama took office, but black unemployment is up 11%. Meanwhile the wealth gap has doubled during this recession with the average white American now having 22 times more wealth than their black counterparts. So too has the educational achievement gap with the rate at which white Americans graduate from high school growing at a far faster clip than black students. [Continue reading…]