Hailed upon his election as the final nail in racism's coffin, Barack Obama has not delivered the hoped-for renaissance in African American communities where life on multiple fronts has turned worse as the president has moved on to other pressing issues, according to a leading scholar on race.
"Racial inequality continues to be an ugly sore festering in the heart of 21st century America, despite claims that it has become a post-racial society," according to Northwestern University professor Aldon Morris. "Social conditions for poor and working-class blacks have actually worsened since Obama took office," he wrote in the authoritative Contemporary Sociology.
Reviewing a book on race, "State of White Supremacy: Racism, Governance, and the United States," Morris provided this depressing list:
"The black/white wealth gap has widened; the black unemployment rate has risen to alarming proportions, especially in inner cities; the home foreclosure crisis has hit the black community with fiercely disproportionate consequences; poor black and brown communities continue to be devastated by crime. The murder of black and brown youth is commonplace, even just blocks from Obama's Chicago mansion and his new home in the stately White House. At the same time, public education for blacks has deteriorated drastically."
And, he added, "Above all, the massive incarceration of black and brown people during the first decade of the twenty-first century has been so crippling for those communities that it has been diagnosed as the New Jim Crow."
Morris told Secrets that blacks and liberals are disappointed with Obama, though, he added, life wouldn't be better if Mitt Romney wins the election.
"There can be no doubt that many black people are disappointed with Obama because of his avoidance of issue of race inequality," he told us. "Then too, many liberal and progressive Americans also feel that Obama has avoided addressing poverty in this country. Yet blacks and whites are clear that these conditions will worsen if Republicans are elected to the White House."
Obama continues to have the overwhelming support of African Americans, though their enthusiasm has waned. Morris noted that black criticism of the president is both complex and sensitive. "Blacks worry that any of their criticisms of Obama will be used by the right and racists in their attempts to destroy his presidency," he said.