It’s hard to believe that it has been 8 years since President Barack Obama ignited blacks in America to rally to the voting booth in record numbers. In 2012, African American voter participation exceeded that of white voters for the first time in our nation’s history. The black vote made such an impact in 2012, that it accounted for Obama's entire margin of victory in seven states, including Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, according to the 2015 Cook Political Report. Black voter participation has increased over the past 3 election cycles since 2000. With voting underway, why are we seeing such lackluster poll numbers? I have 3 reasons why.
It has been almost three years since I wrote an article called "Capitalism is key to forming a prosperous African American middle class". In that article I highlighted that the byproducts of fair capitalism are competition, accountability and opportunity. At the time I was still optimistic that the Obama Administration’s policies were going to make life better for the most underserved areas of the black community. Well, my optimism officially runs out on Election Day. I'm left facing the reality that a skewed version of "capitalism," and an infatuation with being politically correct, may be keeping the black community from addressing many of the underlying issues that I laid out in my article. This is a big reason why early polls show that African American voters are on the sideline after 8 years of stagnant economic progress in areas of our communities that need it the most. The unemployment rate for blacks is nearly 9%, twice that of whites. And while the unemployment rate for blacks remains high, the same stat for whites, Asians and Latinos declined in the latest October 2016 jobs numbers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
So how does this effect black millennials? The youth unemployment rate for blacks ages 16-24 has been over 18% this year, and is more than double the white youth unemployment rate, based on my research. Nearly 60% of blacks in this age group do not work at all. I remember my first job as a dishwasher when I was 13 years old, and I don't think I've missed a year of employment in the 24 years since. The unfortunate reality is that for a growing number of underserved blacks in this country, the American dream doesn't exist. Regrettably, this may be enough to keep some away from the polls this Tuesday.
The US News and World Report on education published last year brought to light another troubling reality for African Americans as we end the Obama tenure. Here are some stats to consider….Twenty-five percent of black parents in America report that their children live in unsafe neighborhoods. So why do we waste time attacking Trump for highlighting these issues in urban areas, instead of acknowledging facts and putting our energy into helping solving these problems? Many African Americans like myself voted for Barack Obama in the hopes that the country would come together to make an effort to address these chronic challenges in underserved black communities. It's unimaginable to think that 34% of the high school freshmen that are held back in our school system are African American, nearly three times the rate of whites. Blacks also account for 42% of students who receive multiple out-of-school suspensions. These are staggering statistics when you consider that blacks make up 12% of the nation’s population. Statistics also show that 40% of white students finish their college degree in 4 years, compared to only 20% of blacks students. This means black students are being weighed down with much more college debt, which only adds to our community’s economic struggles.
The new age of transparency has deflated African American participation in this election cycle. The world has become more transparent due to real-time information flow, social media, email hacks and a renewed demand for accountability on behalf of our political leaders.
Donald Trump's appeal among most African Americans was a nonstarter as he continued his disrespectful line of questioning about President Obama’s birth. Trump also lost points for his ethnic criticism of illegal aliens and his push to ‘build a wall’ between the U.S. and Mexico. Let’s not forget the bombshell audio tape in which he was heard degrading women; a lapse he coined as “locker room talk.”
Though I think the history of racism in Trump’s past is disgusting, the Clinton’s history isn’t one to brag about. Under President Bill Clinton and supported by Hillary, more blacks were thrown in prison for non-violent crimes than at any other time in U.S. history. President Clinton also went on to enforce mandatory minimum punishment rules that still today are putting a dagger into many lower and middle class black families, in my observation.
As for Hillary Clinton, enthusiasm has been waning, even as President Obama, Democratic leaders and some of the most well-known celebrities in the world such as Beyonce, Jay-Z, Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi, are campaigning across the country for her.
Bill and Hillary Clinton have historically been staples in the African American community, with deep roots in black churches, and numerous black community leadership endorsements. However, the Clinton Foundation’s questionable business practices, many of which are being released through WikiLeaks, have raised more questions than answers.
When I learned that the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere has abundant reserves of natural resources, I was floored to see the Clinton’s hands in the till. The facts are, Hillary Clinton’s own brother has a major interest in the gold reserves of Haiti. He served on the board of VCS Mining before resigning in March 2016. This as the country currently has over 1.4 million people fighting for their lives following a devastating hurricane.
Myself, and many of my supporters, spend our time and resources helping underserved countries like Haiti and Malawi, and the thought of exploiting the poorest black populations on the planet angers me, if those allegations prove true.
Moreover, how can a family with no major operating business generate $200 million in wealth?
African American comedian Dave Chapel recently voted for Hillary Clinton and made it clear that he didn't feel good about it, stating "She's not right and we all know it".
Ambassador Jack Brewer is CEO of the Brewer Group, an investment firm. Before entering finance, Brewer spent five years in the NFL holding positions with the Minnesota Vikings, the New York Giants, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Arizona Cardinals. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota.