A New York Times/CBS News poll found blacks are nearly unanimous in their support of the President. Ninety-six percent approve and zero disapprove. CBSNews.com reports:
The election of the first-ever African-American president and his time in office has prompted an outpouring of optimism among African-Americans, despite the tough economic times.
Seventy-percent of African-Americans now say the country is headed in the right direction - more than twice the percentage of white Americans (34 percent) who say as much.
African Americans have faith that Obama will do the right thing. But their “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
During last night’s news conference, BET’s Andre Showell asked:
As the entire nation tries to climb out of this deep recession, in communities of color the circumstances are far worse. The black unemployment rate, as you know, is in the double digits, and in New York City, for example, the black unemployment rate for men is near 50 percent.
My question tonight is, given this unique and desperate circumstance, what specific policies can you point to that will target these communities? And what’s a timetable for us to see tangible results?
Obama’s response: keep the faith.
My colleague Richard Prince observed that “Obama gave his usual answer to such questions about the racial impact of his policies”:
Every step we're taking is designed to help all people, but folks who are most vulnerable are most likely to be helped, because they need the most help.
So -- so my general approach is that if the economy is strong, that will lift all boats, as long as it is also supported by, for example, strategies around college affordability and job training; tax cuts for working families, as opposed to the wealthiest, that level the playing field and ensure bottom-up economic growth.
And I’m confident that that will help the African-American community live out the American dream at the same time as it’s helping communities all across the country.
As for seeing tangible results, the black unemployment rate was 11.3 percent in November 2008. It's 13.3 percent today.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, University of Maryland Prof. Ronald Walters said Obama’s achievements to date are “not good enough”:
The black community was in a crisis before the [national] crisis. There is a need for targeted public policies. I’d say his 100-day report card is pretty much a zero where African-Americans are concerned.
Walters is a tough grader. So, 100 days in, I give Obama an “incomplete.”