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Unconditional, unrequited love? | By Kevin Alexander Gray

(Note: edited version, “Obama and Black America: Who Has Whose Back?”’ published in August 2011 edition of The Progressive | updated data –WashPost/ABC News Poll: Big Drop In Black Support For President Obama )

“I’ve said to you on many occasions that each of us is something of a schizophrenic personality. We’re split up and divided against ourselves. And there is something of a civil war going on within all of our lives. There is a recalcitrant South of our soul revolting against the North of our soul.”

—Martin Luther King, “Loving Your Enemies,” November 17, 1957

I ran into Congressman Jim Clyburn at Brookland Baptist Church, here in Columbia, during the 2010 midterm election season while campaigning with South Carolina Green Party senate candidate Tom Clements. As we all exchanged pleasantries, I jokingly mentioned to Jim that I had gotten his campaign mail with the picture of him and President Barack Obama on it. He seemed genuinely pleased, so much so that he walked me over to check out the special poster he had at his campaign material table. The poster was also of Clyburn with the commander-in-chief. Clyburn appears to be making a point in the President’s ear. Obama looks and leans as though he’s listening. The U.S. flag is in the background. At the bottom of the poster read the caption: “JIM HAS THE PRESIDENT’S EAR, AND WE MUST HAVE THEIR BACKS!!!”

Clyburn didn’t really need Obama’s help in getting reelected in his safe district, which is 57 percent African American. And he’s never had any serious opposition to his seat. But it would have taken some help from Obama for him to keep his spot as the second-ranking Democrat in the House after the drubbing their party took in the midterm elections. That help was not forthcoming. When the dust settled, Clyburn wasn’t even offered the minority whip job, which went to Steny Hoyer of Maryland. Clyburn was given the new title of assistant Democratic leader. Clyburn has fewer staff than before, he is no longer involved in vote-counting, nor is he a key party messenger. Clyburn’s demotion has not sat well with the Congressional Black Caucus, which he used to chair. But it typifies Obama’s indifference to African Americans across the board.

Last December, when he was polling in the mid-nineties among blacks, during a White House press conference a black reporter asked Obama about grumblings among the black leadership. He replied: “I think if you look at the polling, in terms of the attitudes of the African-American community, there’s overwhelming support for what we’ve tried to do.”

Yet even as he boasted, that same month the black unemployment rose from 15.7 percent to 16 percent, almost double the Dec. 9% national rate (Aug 2011- 9.1%). Black male unemployment rose from 16.3 percent to 16.7 percent as 1.3 million black men were out of work. For black women it jumped from 12.7 percent to 13.1, or roughly 1.2 million unemployed black women. And the unemployment rate for black teens stood at a staggering 46.5 percent (by contrast, the rate for white teenagers was 23.6 percent).

When Obama entered office, the black unemployment rate was 12.6 percent. But rising unemployment still didn’t dampen black optimism going into his second year. According to a Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation/Harvard University poll conducted Jan. 27-Feb. 9 of this year, 85 percent of blacks said they were optimistic about the future course of the economy while 72 percent of white held that view. Eighty-four percent of blacks felt hopeful about their personal financial situation, compared with 73 percent of whites.

Obama and Black AmericaObama is right that the African American community gives him overwhelming support, but it’s not as overwhelming as it used to be. In the most recent polls blacks see “the economy” or unemployment as the nation’s top problem with one in seven or 2.9 million African Americans out of work — the highest number in nearly a quarter century. And some economists argue that 16%+ rate isn’t the “real” or accurate rate. They say that if one takes into account those people who want work and cannot get it and have stopped looking, those not counted such as the 900,000 incarcerated black men and women, and those recently released from the military– the “real” underemployment rate may be 25% or higher.

Back in 2008, nearly all (95 percent) black voters cast their ballot for Obama. Presently, they give him approval ratings just above 80 percent although there are polls with higher numbers.

Blacks still seem to have Obama’s back, but does he have theirs? Continue reading

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Filed under American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Black Culture | United States, Black Politics, Civil Rights, Economics, Federal Budget, Foreclosure/Housing, Obama Administration, Pan Africanism | Afrocentrism | Africana Studies, The Bush Administration, The Obama Administration, white supremacy

Molly Secours’ open letter to Barack Obama

 

Molly Secours

Molly Secours is a writer/filmmaker living in Nashville, TN.  Although her personal story is used, it is universal.  She’s been told she doesn’t fit into the guidelines of Obama’s new foreclosure “bailout” plan (but it was the lender who said that) so she may be losing her home in less than a few weeks. Until now she’s always paid her mortgage–even through chemo and radiation so this is not due to her negligence but to the massive medical bills and debt incurred during treatment. Local Channel 2 covered her story – http://www.wkrn.com/global/story.asp?s=9869547.

 

When Congress holds it hearing with Bank Of America in a few weeks, these questions must be asked.  It’s probably too late for Molly, but this eventually may help millions of others.

She made a public appeal to Rep. Jim Cooper last week (http://blogs.nashvillescene.com/pitw/2009/02/this_just_in_the_economy.php) and he has been very responsive.

She may not live in your state but she may remind you of someone you know.  Certainly her situation is like many thousands who may have voted for Obama and needs his help.

The last couple years for her have been harrowing but dealing with the practices of First Franklin (owned by Bank Of America) has been almost as devastating.

Here is her open letter to Barack Obama:

Dear President Obama:

I wish this letter were simply a congratulatory note thanking you for the sacrifices and struggles your family has made in order for you to become our 44th President.  Your victory has been a personal highlight for me. And like millions of others I, perhaps for the first time, feel hope and optimism.

Although I write you today about my personal struggle, I am only one of countless others facing the same fate: foreclosure.  As you read the following paragraphs, imagine the millions of others in a similar predicament.

I’m a freelance writer/filmmaker living in Nashville TN. A year and a half ago I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and spent much of last year in chemotherapy and radiation. In spite of never missing a single mortgage payment during the entire time of treatment–thanks to all my friends in Nashville and across the world–I have for the past 8 months been unable to convince First Franklin Loan Services (owned by Bank Of America) to refinance my 9.8% loan.  With the accumulated medical bills and debt incurred during chemo, it was my only hope of keeping my house.  I was later told that until I was 2 months behind in payments, negotiations were unlikely.

Well now I am nearly three months behind and only because of your moratorium on foreclosures, will my March 2nd deadline be pushed back to March 12th. But according to First Franklin, I do not qualify for refinancing under your program.

After weeks of persistent inquiry, it turns out that of course First Franklin can’t refinance my loan.  First Franklin doesn’t even possess my loan. When I asked for the name and number of the person who possessed my loan and who might help me refinance, I was told that my mortgage was actually packaged in a trust under the name ‘Merrill Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust 2007-2’. Not surprising, he couldn’t give me a good contact number for these Merrill Lynch First Franklin folks.  Out on a Caribbean cruise, I imagine.

I was further told that First Franklin Loan Services priority and commitment is to be fair to the owner of the loan underwritten under their guidelines and that the terms to my loan could not be altered.

Are you still with me, Mr. President?

As part of my cancer recovery I have been advised to keep a low stress level in order to assure continued remission.  Mr. President I must be honest. While going through chemotherapy and radiation was excruciating at times, dealing with the devious and rather underhanded practices of First Franklin Loan Services (Bank Of America) over this past 8 months has been almost as brutal–and in some ways even worse.

Last summer, In spite of the massive debt and medical bills, I still had good enough credit to refinance my 9.8% loan with another bank. But because First Franklin refused to forgive the exorbitant pre-payment penalty, my house was upside down in value and refinancing with a reputable bank became impossible. Eight months later because of the economy, my house is valued at $18,500 less than I owe and now, selling and or renting are no longer options

The details of obstruction and uncooperative dealings with First Franklin are endless and I know you have you heard the same stories from people across the country so I’ll spare you the specifics.

What can you do? When Bank Of America appears before Congress next month, please demand that they answer the following questions. While it may be too late for me by then, maybe it will help millions of others.

1) What exactly are the ‘guidelines’ that loan service providers like First Franklin Loan Services are held to in their agreements with folks like Merrill Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust 2007-02?

2) Can these guidelines be made public for ALL Americans?  Since First Franklin claims that for people like me that ‘there is no way to alter the guidelines governing’ my loan. Perhaps transparency might help.

3) We already know that First Franklin Loan Services is owned by Bank Of America.  Mr. President, I am wondering why First Franklin Loan Services was unable to benefit from the bail out package received by Merrill Lynch and Bank Of America this past year? That way they could work with folks like me to stay in their homes.

4) Given that the trustees of my loan are “Merrill Lynch” I am thinking maybe there is a way to locate some of the funds allocated to help people in my situation? How many billions of dollars was it that Merrill Lynch and Bank Of America received? Perhaps Congress would help First Franklin Loan Services garner some of that or the new stimulus money from their parent company Bank Of America?

5) I am interested in knowing if I go into foreclosure would the tax benefit go to “Merrill Lynch First Franklin Loan Trust” or would it go to First Franklin Loan Services or would Bank Of America receive the tax write off?  This might help me understand more why it has been so difficult to make an agreement before now.  There must be some great foreclosure benefits for so many people to be on the verge of losing their homes.

You see Mr. President, I’m not looking for a bailout or a hand out.  I’m just looking for a good faith deal and fair shake without the smoke and mirrors.

Like millions of Americans, my house is not just the place where I sleep and eat. It is a source of comfort and healing. And although it is true, home is where your heart is, these days, my heart is my home.

On behalf of millions who are facing fiscal, emotional and physical devastation, thank you for your leadership, compassion and humanitarian spirit.

Ever faithful,

Molly Secours, writer/filmmaker/speaker

One Woman Show Productions | www.mollysecours.com | 615.429.6817

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