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You have an opinion, but do you have what it takes to be heard?

Amina Luqman
Petersburg, Va.

Amina Luqman

My voice comes from my experiences as a professional African American woman raised Muslim, progressive and from less-than-privileged circumstances.

Black in Obama's America

It can be tough to be Black in Obama's America. By the way, Bush's America was no picnic for Black Americans either. But at least then the lines were clearly drawn. We didn't trust him and he wasn't too concerned about us. We had an understanding. With Obama the world is complicated. There's a sudden urge for the comfort of a counseling session to discuss the battle being waged between the personal and political self. With Obama we are both awestruck and a little disappointed.

However, on the eve of Obama's inauguration there was clarity. We believed. Pew reported, in 2008, African Americans had the highest in voter turnout, up 4.9%. Among youth, Blacks had the highest increase in turnout, a whopping 8.7%. For a time we cast aside our gnawing wisdom that Obama, like every other President in recent history, would likely be unwilling to focus a political agenda on the disproportionately high needs of the Black community. We buried the thought that we might one day need to raise the issue and hold him accountable. Instead, in that moment we surrendered our personal selves to the joy of the political moment. To what his election could mean for the nation, for history, for everyone.

Since then the political water has grown muddy. Times are hard. African Americans are facing the highest unemployment rate in 25 years; upwards of 15%! Black American home foreclosures are twice the rate of whites. For us this may be a depression. The White House has taken no clear policy action. We hesitate to face growing evidence of President Obama's unwillingness to fight for progressivism in general and for African Americans in particular. Thus far President Obama has towed a strict policy approach of rising waters will raise all ships. To his credit he has pushed through large measures that will hopefully raise the waters. But if African Americans aren't even in a boat, these measures may not prevent our drowning.

As the 2012 midterms loom the president can hardly cloak the desperation in his voice as he stumps to jumpstart the enthusiasm of dissatisfied and disengaged Democrats. In stark contrast to his race neutral policy agenda, the reality may be that he needs African Americans in particular. Will we, yet again, put aside the personal and vote for the larger political implications?

In America are we ever really given much choice?

By Amina Luqman  |  October 11, 2010; 12:00 AM ET  | Category:  Initial Entries
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"Will we, yet again, put aside the personal and vote for the larger political implications?" It seems the personal continues to be political and for the poor and middle-class African Americans he remains the best choice. Who else?

Posted by: drpatgay | October 19, 2010 8:36 PM
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Which would you prefer, a rising tide with the possibility that you may yet get into one of those boats--or up sh*t creek without a paddle?

That's the choice I see.

Posted by: martymar123 | October 19, 2010 8:00 AM
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Writing requires that the reader be afforded a certain access to the writer.
Though I am deeply interested in the subject of this article, I cannot get traction as I read it.
Writers must be able to lift a veil so to speak and allow the reader in. I read this knowing I'm kind of on "probation" and I'm not going to be allowed to grasp what I sincerely want to understand.
Is Obama on probation with you also? I'd rather prefer a more generous spirit toward a President,though I am opposed to 99.9% of all he is politically, still has entered the public arena with a considerable personal risk to himself and his family.
This piece is too clinical; like an arranged marriage, yeh, it meets the legal definitions, but there ain't no love.

Posted by: realitybased1 | October 14, 2010 10:19 AM
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Please do not amalgamate all African Americans with the same frame of mind as you. President Obama is not president to one sub-group of individuals he is president to everyone in these United States of America.

Could you imagine what kind of hell African Americans would be living in if the President directed all his attention to this one sub-group? Is that what “we had an understanding.” means? Anytime you write an article "bashing" the President from the African American point of view, yes it will gain honorable mention in this right leaning publication. This article is your opinion and not an opinion of a entire sub-group of Americans.

This has been and they want it to continue to be an America run by one sub-group; “rich white men (mid-term elections are proving this).” These men are not giving up easily. They are resisting every step of the way, but the President continues to TRY to bring them kicking and screaming into the “21 Century”. President Obama is working as hard as he can to make this an America “for the people and by the people”.

Posted by: messey08 | October 14, 2010 9:38 AM
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Ms Luqman has perfectly and skillfully captured the unique frustration that many of Obama's supporters have felt for a while now. I appreciate this very intelligently written piece and hope to see more from this author.

Posted by: sslcs | October 14, 2010 9:04 AM
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I can see why this is one of the editor's picks. It is the typical us vs. them mentality that the Post promotes. There has been no "rising tide". Rather, we are being pounded by tidal waves, each one taking more victims.

Pundits should also use complete and grammatically correct sentences, unless the phrase is for effect.

Posted by: edboot63 | October 13, 2010 7:39 PM
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I am leery of anyone claiming to know what an entire sub-group of people is thinking, as in “we had an understanding.” I’m left wondering what the author doesn’t know she doesn’t know.

As to unemployment, the BLS data for September 2010 show that education levels factor heavily in one’s ability to land and hold a job. This is typical of most recessions and no amount of presidential magic wand waving can change it much in the short run. Without a college diploma, it’s really hard right now, and without a high school diploma, it stinks.

I am curious what the author would propose to empower African-Americans instead of wondering what the occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is up to. I recommend she read Walter Backstrom’s essay as a start.

Posted by: MsJS | October 13, 2010 12:42 PM
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In this Black Mans Lament, you write "the political water has grown muddy."
I ask, "Is there a rhinoceros in the library?"

Posted by: pocodot | October 13, 2010 5:44 AM
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One of the torubles of this column is that you take a polticially great saying " a rising tide lifts all boats" and mis-apply it to the current situation. A more apt description is that under the Obama Stimulus program that no boats were lifted ( other than the Union or State leadership) and this is why so many Americans are under water. When you write that "We had an understanding" to whom are you referring to and why do you think that there was an understanding? what was that understanding?

Too many questions, too many holes, not a powerful advocacy opinion article. Seems to be 'sour grapes" and aimed at the wrong constituency. Should be mad at the Dems for nominating Obama if he was going to not "deliver" on the special "needs" of the balck community ( which were also not defined.).

Posted by: jgdonahue | October 12, 2010 10:12 AM
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I should add the reason the WP picked you is because you are hurting Obama, just what the Neocon editors of the WP want.

Posted by: chucky-el | October 11, 2010 4:24 PM
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Little understanding of what Bush and the Republicans left for Obama when he entered office 20 months ago: America on edge of next great depression (Obama stopped it), 2 wars not won, and Republicans voting NO, NO, NO! on every issue. Obama won healthcare for all Americans, pulled the combat troops out of Iraq, is trying to win Afghanistan before he withdraws.

This is a I'm black, he's black, why is Obama not helping me, me, me opinion. Answer, because he is trying to save America from what Bush NeoCons did.

Obama has done wonders, and you may friend are only hurting him and yourself and all Americans with this uninformed talk.

Posted by: chucky-el | October 11, 2010 4:22 PM
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Thank you for so aptly discussing the dilemma for Black voters in this country. As Republican politicians increasingly refuse even to acknowledge the disproportionate impact of this recession on African-Americans we are left with the Democrats as our only viable option. Yet, if the 2008 election could not demonstrate the powerful impact of the Black vote, the upcoming Midterms just might demonstrate the price of ignoring it.
I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Luqman in the weeks to come!

Posted by: QassiminCali | October 11, 2010 2:42 PM
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Interesting piece. Get rid of the professional race-baiter/axe-grinder, Courtland Milloy, and put this nice young woman to work, WashPo.

Posted by: avogt202 | October 11, 2010 2:15 PM
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Factual error: 2010 midterms

Posted by: chiquita2 | October 11, 2010 1:43 PM
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