Pres. Obama to BET: Targeting Specific Groups is “Not How America Works.” Really?

“The most important thing I can do for the African American community is the same thing I can do for the American community, period, and that is to get the economy going again and get people hiring again…”
— President Obama to the Detroit Free Press and USA Today in Dec 2009.

Yes, the first black President must carefully navigate the waters of race like no other President before him.  He is the President of the United States not just of black America.  But at some point the White House should decide: Are we targeting based on ethnicity or not. Just decide and be done with it. Clearly the Obama Administration targets policy, events, press avails, and summits to Hispanics — more than any other group. Period.  Just today we learn that the Obama Admin’s Justice Dept. is fighting tough immigration laws — in a move some call “unusual.” Many in the CBC want DoJ do the same on new voter suppression laws. Last Friday, the President told BET’s Emmett Miller that targeting specific groups is, “not how America works.”

Let’s be real: The federal government targets all the time. The banking industry was “targeting” for help and given $800 billion dollars.  Corporate farmers are “targeted” with over $20 billion in tax payer funded welfare every every year.  The President has “targeted” rural America with specific policy.  Sens. Jon Kyl and Mitch McConnell “targeted” $95 billion in unpaid for tax relief for the wealthy along with another $30 in estate tax relief guy like Warren Buffett don’t need — and the President agreed to it.  Congress “targets” small business for tax breaks regularly.  Before the rollout of he American Jobs Act it was hard to find a White House official or the President specifically using the words “African American” or “Black” without quickly adding on every other color/race/ethnicity along with it.  To just say, “black” or “African American” singularly was to target. That was a no-no.  If you “target” policy based on profession (bankers, farmers…), even if everyone is the same color — everyone pretends not to notice.  Racial targeting makes people nervous.

Lately, when speaking on the American Jobs Act there has been a noticeable change at the White House. Fine. If you’re consistent.  Problem is: They have not been. The White House clearly targets Hispanic Americans. Should they be targeted? Yes. Just yesterday PEW informed us Hispanic children make up the largest share of poor children in the U.S. — 6.1 million kids. read here  My question regarding this President: Why is it different with African Americans?  Sometimes we’re post-racial, sometimes not. Why is the answer to BET’s Emmett Miller, “that’s not how America works,” after Miller asked the President why he can’t publicly say he’d focus on a poor black kid in Chicago?  The President in 2009 said, “It’s a mistake to start thinking in terms of particular ethnic segments of the United States rather than to think that we are all in this together and we are all going to get out of this together.”

Got it. But what is he actually doing?  Given that the black unemployment rate is higher in the black community you’d think a “target” is in order — and parts of the American Jobs Act appear to demonstrate that.  There are many similar problems (incarceration, HS dropout rate, poverty) in both these minority communities… why wouldn’t the White House combine resources for both instead of focusing on only one? No targeting? Read this:

Oct. 2010: A White House Summit on Hispanic education. read here
Oct. 2010: President Obama signs executive order re Hispanic Initiative on Educational Excellence. read here
Nov. 2010: President Obama meets with Hispanic Caucus on Dream Act read here
Dec. 2010: President Obama meets with Hispanic Caucus on Dream Act read here
March 2011: President Obama attends Univision town hall on Hispanic issues read here
April 2011:  Gallup shows Pres. Obama’s support among Hispanics “at an all time low.” read here
April 2011: President Obama meets with “influential Hispanics” on Immigration read here
April 2011: President Obama speaks at Miami Dade College commencement read here
May 2011: President Obama meets with the Hispanic Caucus at the White House read here
May 2011: President Obama will deliver remarks at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. read here
May 2011: President Obama delivers immigration speech in el Paso, Texas. read here
June 2011: Sen. Dick Durbin re-introduces the Dream Act in the Senate.
July 2011: President delivers speech to Council of LaRaza read here
July 2011: First ever two-day Hispanic Policy Conference at the White House read here
Aug. 2011: Announcement on WH Community Action Summits read here
Sept. 2011: Pres. Obama at Hispanic Caucus gala: “I’ll do whatever it takes to pass the Dream Act.” read here
Sept. 2011: Hispanic Summit in Orlando, hosted by the White House. read here
Sept. 28, 2011: President Obama has virtual roundtable on Hispanic issues. read here
Oct 15, 2011: White House will host 2nd of three Hispanic Summits (in Arizona) read here
Upcoming: White House will host 3rd of three Hispanic Summits (in Nevada)