February 18, 2010
Can you imagine Michael Jordan seeking advice on basketball from a ping pong player, or Tiger Woods seeking advice on his golf swing from a rugby player, or Bill Gates seeking advice on technology from a Buddhist monk?
Even Hollywood, with all its creative energy, could not have come up with such a script. Even if they did, no one would believe them. They would be run out of town. But, what would you say if I told you of a real life story that seems just as ridiculous, but yet, actually happened?
What if I told you the irony of all ironies was that it happened during Black History Month and there has been little public reaction to this amazing occurrence.
On February 10th, president Obama met with supposed “leaders” from the Black community to talk about the economy, how to create jobs, and the high unemployment rate within the Black community.
So far, so good. I don’t think anyone would have an issue with that. As it is often stated, “when America sneezes, Black folks get pneumonia.” It is also well documented that during recessions, Black unemployment is always higher than the official number.
So, the president wanted to have an intimate, hour long meeting with 4 Black “leaders” that could shed some light on this problem. The invited participants were, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP and Dr. Dorothy I. Height, chairman, National Council of Negro Women (she was unable to make it due to the bad weather, she is 97).
I will give you a few minutes to stop laughing.
I find this to be an insult to every successful Black businessman and entrepreneur. What do these 4 people know about economics or job creation? How many jobs have they ever created, individually or collectively? Zero! Nada! Zilch!
I think Obama’s presidency is about over if he is really seeking economic advice from people like these, whose policy agenda is antithetical to job creation (higher taxes, increased minimum wages, etc.).
Am I the only Black who is not only embarrassed by this, but also insulted by Obama’s actions? If he was serious about dealing with these issues he would have met with Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Here’s a former professional athlete who has proven you can make money by investing in the inner cities across America. He owns a chain of Starbucks, movie theaters, and restaurants all located in the inner city. Then there is Junior Bridgeman, retired N.B.A. player. He is president of Bridgeman Foods, Inc., which owns and operates Wendy’s Hamburgers and other restaurants (103 Chili’s) across the country. He is (and has been for many years) one of the largest Wendy’s franchisees (over 160) in the world and is estimated to have revenues in the hundreds of millions dollars annually. Stephanie Drake, president of Drake Incorporated, an up and coming female owned construction company in Washington, DC. The rapper Jay-Z (estimated to have a net worth upwards of $ 150 million). He owns a very successful fashion line and is part owner of the New Jersey Nets of the N.B.A. Then you have the usual cast of characters Obama should have met with, Dick Parsons, chairman of Citigroup, Ken Chenault, CEO and chairman of American Express.
These are just a few of the people Obama should have been meeting with. What Obama did should be insulting to all Blacks. Let’s be real. Obama had to do something to quiet the discontent from the radical liberals in the Democratic Party in general and Blacks specifically. This was his symbolic way of showing Blacks that he has not forgotten about us. He specially chose these individuals to meet with because they each have loud microphones plus he knew that would be happy with just a meeting. This cynical stunt buys the president some time to deal with other radical liberals who are giving him problems. He has silenced the gays by talking about “don’t ask, don’t tell.” He’s silenced the Hispanics by giving them Sonya Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court. But, ironically, the biggest problem he has is the Democratic members of the House and Senate.
Obama knows that the Black folks he met with can do absolutely no harm to him politically. They can now go back to their groups and brag about being in the White House. They have already forgotten the fact that the president made no substantive commitments to them. Also unusual was the fact that the White House did not release any photos of the meeting, an indication of how unimportant they viewed the meeting.
Obama had no intention of having a serious discussion with these people about the economy and the Black community. They wouldn’t have understood the conversation even if the president did have sincere intentions.
What a cynical slap in the face to Blacks in general and Black business owners specifically.
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a D.C.-public relations/government affairs firm. He is also a contributing editor for ExcellStyle Magazine (www.excellstyle.com).