The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Obama’s still got it

When typing “Why blacks still” into the Google search bar, the first prompt I was offered was “Why blacks still support Obama.”

With the new technology of search engine optimization, it is evident that many people are fervently asking why the black community continues to rave over President Barack Obama despite his lackluster presidency.

In the 11th quarter, Obama’s approval rating reached an all time low of 42.5 percent, while his satisfaction with the black community rakes in at 86 percent.

Obama’s black following is even more baffling when the black community has another African-American candidate to choose from, Herman Cain.

Despite Cain’s upbringing during the Civil Rights era and being a graduate of the prominent and historically all-black male Morehouse College, Cain still doesn’t seem to have enough authenticity to be the quintessential black candidate for president.

Brandon Monteith, an Atlanta native whose family knows Cain well, believes many Americans are highly disconnected from the political system and have preconceived notions of the candidate.

“A Democratic president is right and a Republican candidate is wrong. Obama is a real black man and Cain is an Uncle Tom. That’s not how I see it, but I am the anomaly,” Monteith said.

Cain isn’t helping his case with conflicting messages on the campaign trail. One moment “The Cain Train” is having Iowans participate with him singing a Negro spiritual, and the next he is releasing an advertisement with country music in the background.

With an inexplicable track record like that, it is understandable why black voters are reluctant to support Herman Cain.

“Black people just aren’t trying to hear that,” Monteith, a junior at Wake Forest University, said.

It also seems like black people aren’t perking their ears to hear Cain proclaim that he can snatch up a third of the black vote in the election.

Many high profile black community leaders are questioning Cain’s motives in trying to be the black frontrunner in the Republican party. Mo’Kelly, an African-American political commentator, believes Cain doesn’t challenge historical Republican biases. “He offers a leather couch for Republicans to become more comfortable with them,” Monteith said.

Cain makes that claim even more credible with his infamous “I don’t believe racism in this country today holds anybody back in a big way” statement. Such evidence demonstrates how Cain is blatantly ignoring not only the constant struggle of African-Americans in the United States, but also the struggle of other ethnic minorities in America.

Although Obama is of mixed ancestry, he won the White House in 2008 with the help of record high support and turnout from African-American voters (95 percent).

Whereas Obama frequently mentioned his unconventional upbringing and inner conflict of racial double-consciousness throughout his 2008 campaign, Cain rarely mentions his experiences in a highly segregated Southern city and at a historically black college. This exact reason is why Obama’s campaign resonates with African-Americans, because his story is told.

Micaela Watkins, a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University, doesn’t correlate Cain with a compelling narrative or wanting to help people of his own race.

“President Obama made many promises concerning the general welfare and existence of the middle class which a large portion of the black community is a part of. Based on Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, I don’t see that same concern,” Watkins, a former political science major, said.

This lack of concern leads African-Americans to question Cain’s experience as a black man.

If a student at a historically black college in the South during the times of “Bloody Sunday” has no recollection of nostalgic civil rights memories, then he most likely wasn’t doing anything to help advance the status of blacks in the South.

Bill Henderson, a Morehouse classmate of Cain’s, was active during the civil rights movement.

“There were so many people who wanted to do so much and to be part of it that you virtually had to look the other way if you didn’t want to be involved,” he said.

Dr. Martin Luther King, an alum of Morehouse, had a line of Morehouse students who wanted to help his cause for the betterment of all minorities.

To sit on the sidelines during such a historic time does not serve Cain’s image well in the black community.

Not to say that Cain should go on the campaign trail yelling loud, “I’m black and I’m proud!” but many African-Americans are hesitant to support a candidate who did so little for his people in such a time of peril. Now, the black community is beyond reluctant to hope that Cain can come through 50 years later, as a candidate of the Republican party.

Another hurdle Cain must come to terms with is the simple fact that many African-Americans still have hope in Obama. Watkins knows that Obama isn’t perfect, but he deserves an ample amount of time to deliver.

“I feel that he may have set the bar very high for himself with the changes he planned on implementing but all change takes time — especially considering our country’s state of disarray.”

Watkins thoughts seem to be the general consensus of the African-American community and the driving force behind the consistent support for Obama.

Questions have been raised as to whether blacks will turn out in numbers as high as 2008 when Obama had a chance to make history as the first president of African-American descent, but Obama has support.

A telling sign is a T-shirt design that began circulating around Chicago’s South Side and has garnered much attention.

The design includes a rear profile of Obama’s upper body with text above saying “I’ve got his back.”

Since then, it has garnered much attention and has populated the Internet. This mini campaign is just one of many and lets Obama know that the black community won’t let him have all the weight on his shoulders.

Amie Kromis is a junior majoring in religious studies and communications studies. She can be reached for comment at [email protected]

 

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