Obama and Holder Again Show Devotion to Civil Rights

He's had his "Blackness" questioned a lot lately, but the president has always been looking out for the Black community in less obvious ways.

Posted: 06/18/2011 02:47 PM EDT
Barack Obama Eric Holder

A lot of critics on the left like to say that President Obama hasn’t done enough for Black Americans. Cornel West, for instance, Princeton’s most outspoken celebrity professor, said last month that Obama is "a Black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a Black puppet of corporate plutocrats.”

 

"His formation is such that I think he does have a predilection much more towards upper-middle class white brothers and Jewish brothers," West added, "and has a certain distance from free Black men."

 

Though Obama's approval ratings tend to be very high in the Black community, I'm not sure anyone would say he's done a perfect job. Indeed, Blacks are still unemployed at horribly disproportionate rates, and health in the African-American community is frequently abysmal (though healthcare reform will change some of that). Nevertheless, despite having flaws, it's very important to recognize that the Obama administration has done a lot for the Black community during its relatively short time in office, especially in the Department of Justice.

 

If the Pigford settlement, in which thousands of Black farmers were compensated for lending discrimination by the U.S.D.A., didn't convince you that the Obama, Eric Holder and the DOJ are serious about civil rights, a new case out of Missouri provides more evidence. Thanks to a 2009 suit brought by Justice against Midwest Bankcentre, Midwest is going to pay nearly $1.5 million in damages for allegedly discriminating against African-Americans starting in 2004.

 

According to the government's complaint, "In operating and expanding the scope of its business over time, [Midwest] has acted to meet the credit needs for residential real estate-related loans in predominantly white residential census tracts (with a population greater than 50 percent white) in the Missouri portion of the St. Louis MSA [Metropolitan Statistical Area], and has avoided serving similar credit needs of majority-Black census tracts."

 

Midwest admitted to no wrongdoing, but it also agreed to pay the damages, some of which will appear in the form of $900,000 in financing to increase credit in majority Black neighborhoods and $300,000 for consumer education and credit repair programs.

 

Again, this isn't to say that Barack Obama or Eric Holder are perfect men doing everything that they can do for the Black community. It is to say, though, that it's inaccurate to say they're operating without the interests of African-Americans in mind. Cornel West should probably talk to a lot of Black Missourians before badmouthing Obama again.

(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

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