Black Excellence Key SOTU Takeaways
I know what it’s like to defend your dream. Still believing in that dream when those you work with stand against you is not for the faint at heart.
It takes courage to stand firm on core values and principles while remaining flexible and considerate of others. It takes strength to grant the benefit of doubt and wisdom to discern the motives of others.
Regardless of his missteps, history will rightly honor his presidential legacy. What if we take heed, for once, to our national leaders to President Barack Obama’s leadership on gun legislperhaps America could finally embark on her path to redemption?
Since President Obama has taken office, the annual State of the Union address has become a staple in agenda setting for the year. Advances in communication technology, greatly influenced by President Obama, allows him to meet the requirements of the office while rallying the favorable support of the American people. Typically distributed to the Hill via the press, its’ digital release marked a series of firsts for the address. The Administration made sure a full text version of President Obama’s address was released online to the public beforehand.
The State of the Union was established to give information to Congress and recommend for their consideration issues of high importance to the president’s agenda. Arguably, President Obama has increased citizenship participation by employing social media tools to promote transparency and openness. Take into account the quip that inspired some of our favorite tweets and vines of 2015 occurred during the last five minutes of the speech.
Unfortunately, our social media responses did not reflect the quality of our listening skills. What should have set the tone for community organizing nationwide morphed into a media circus. The Political Correspondents Class of 2015 did not disappoint. CNN kicked off #SOTU coverage almost five hours before the address which lasted well into the week.
In the spirit of Black Excellence, Martin Luther King Jr., and our fallen soldiers, it behooves us to stand in solidarity with our president. Sure, it’s hard because we are enraged with the current State of the Black Union. Nonetheless, we represent the United States of America from sea to shining sea.
I share a few ways we can capture #BlackExcellence in America and beyond as we work to advance the International Decade for People of African Descent.
The outcry for more jobs, less policing permeates the State of the Black Union rhetoric. Unfortunately, what seems to be ignored are the dismal employment rates among Blacks, who have the highest unemployment rate (10%) among major worker groups. They are only preceded by teenagers (17%). In addition, The Administration still remains tight-lipped on the true impact of the 2013 Sequestration on the 32% of Americans who remain
The President’s Economic agenda is to re-establish a strong Middle Class. He has drilled in on the pathos of poverty and the fear and distrust that it creates. Contrary to popular belief, he is the most successful executive to have a success story like this:
“Tonight, after a breakthrough year for America, our economy is growing and creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our unemployment rate is now lower than it was before the financial crisis. More of our kids are graduating than ever before; more of our people are insured than ever before; we are as free from the grip of foreign oil as we’ve been in almost 30 years.”
We can celebrate the private sector adding over 11 million jobs over the last five years with its strongest track record of growth over the last year. The Bureau of Labor also touts an 1% drop in the unemployment rate over the last two years with an increase in wages for manufacturing jobs.
Those who are proactive will consider the industries that are creating jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor, employment opportunities increased in professional and business services, construction, food services, health care, and manufacturing. Although there are lucrative opportunities in professional services and construction, organizing efforts should continue focus on increasing the minimum wage for food services and retail trades.
Furthering your education is as American as apple pie. We must work for it. Organizing efforts in education should be for reform of the public education system that institutionalizes skill-based curricula and life mapping. Skill development curriculum will ensure students are maximizing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses. In addition, life mapping will help them to visualize their opportunities even if they don’t pursue four year universities.
President Obama’s pioneering proposal of Free Community College is a cause worthy of support. The increasing supply of work in the knowledge economy requires a skilled and educated employee to meet demand. Families across the nation are buckling from the weight of student debt. We agree with President Obama stated “It is not fair to them, and it’s not smart for our future.” No student, continuing or adult, should be priced out of education when the economy of the future demands more from us.
In his address, the President made a poignant statement:
“In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”
I think this is his most underrated point of the evening. Working parents are the bedrock to our success as a nation and as people. Too often we discount the hard work of parenting as the price for having children when securing affordable childcare is the single greatest imperative to parenting success.
Think about it—if a part time worker needs to pick up their child’s report card, take their child to the doctor, without the protection of full time employment benefits, they lose a day of pay. If the child is sick and the child goes to school then other parents may need to take days off to care for their children. I could go on and on, but hopefully you see the big picture.
All of these things are related. President Obama wraps it up in a challenge statement to Congress:
“To everyone in this Congress who still refuses to raise the minimum wage, I say this: If you truly believe you could work full-time and support a family on less than $15,000 a year, go try it. If not, vote to give millions of the hardest-working people in America a raise.”
The pursuit of happiness is a privilege but providing a safe and sufficient life for your family should not be a luxury. It is time to re-tool our government, businesses, and communities for the 21st Century and we stand in solidarity with President Obama in moving his agenda forward. Surely we can agree that some of the burden of responsibility falls on the people and let’s rescind the government from the mythical position of making us rich or relieving all hardships.
If you didn’t get a chance to see President Obama’s Address and the GOP Response you can view them below.
President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union Address
Joni Ernst GOP Response to President Obama State of the Union