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Many black voters felt that electing a black president would make it easier to talk about race and racial disparities. Some naive pundits even went so far as to ruminate on whether we now lived in a post-racial society. But four years into Barack Obama’s presidency, a Washington University study says African-Americans feel less empowered under Obama than they did under white presidents.
US News reports:
The study found that while the election of Obama initially boosted feelings of political empowerment among black Americans, those sentiments significantly faded in the years that followed—especially among conservative and religious blacks.
Once a black man became president, it actually became more difficult to discuss race because whenever race was injected into the conversation, racially aroused whites on the right would pounce on the opportunity to accuse President Obama of wanting ‘special rights’ for blacks. President Obama, a man who never welcomes a fight, seems to have decided to marginalize issues which impact blacks so as not to cause a stir with folks like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
“First we saw the ‘empowerment effect,’ the boost that happens when a member of your group gets elected to an important political position,” says study author James L. Gibson, a professor of government and African-American studies at Washington University.”But then perceptions of political freedom deteriorated among conservative and religious blacks,” says Gibson.
What blacks found was that symbolism is important, but only goes so far. Blacks, like every other group, eventually ask “what have you done for me lately?” And with regard to Obama, some blacks didn’t like the answer.
Many liberal blacks find the situation deplorable, while conservative blacks disagree with Obama’s stance on same s*x marriage. Making matters worse, President Obama hasn’t provided a venue for disgruntled blacks to air out their grievances, leaving much of the black community to feel that they just don’t matter to the Obama administration.