President Joe Biden has never been shy about crediting African Americans for not only his 2020 election victory but for many of his political wins that span decades.
But after four years of Republican reign led by Donald Trump, Black America wants to cash the proverbial check the president handed them as he traversed the country during his successful campaign.
As his first full year in the Oval Office draws to a close, Biden has yet to deliver on the biggest and perhaps most consequential promises that Black voters turned out in droves to elect him for: The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.
The U.S. House passed both bills led by the Congressional Black Caucus. However, because of obstructionism in the Senate, neither has become law.
“I believe President Biden’s poll numbers are down in some areas because of very public promises made during the election that have yet to come to pass, at least publicly,” stated Dana Martin, a professional education coach.
“The legislation passed by the Biden administration has been geared more towards all Americans and not African Americans specifically. Student loan debt forgiveness, violence reduction, job creation, financial security, police regulation and education equality are some issues that affect African Americans,” Martin remarked in an email.
“The impact of legislation passed has not been felt in the everyday lives of many African Americans. Although, during the campaign, it was clear that he was marketing directly to the issues that African Americans cared about, now that he is president, the message is not as loud and seems as if those issues are no longer as important.”
The president’s approval rating has dipped with African Americans.
A Politico/Morning Consult poll that included nearly 2,000 voters revealed that 58 percent of Black people approved of the president’s job. While that remains a high percentage, a second poll by HIT Strategies showed that President Biden’s approval rating among African Americans had decreased each month since the start of his presidency. Respondents to that poll said the president had continually failed to meet the needs of Black America.
While it’s widely accepted that West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin has obstructed much of Biden’s agenda, many have accused the president of not being forceful enough in accomplishing his mandates.
“Black Americans are the base of the Democratic Party,” insisted Pamela Denise Long, a diversity, equity, inclusion, and access business consultant and researcher.
In a 2021 opinion column, Long wrote that it’s time for Black America to break up with the Democratic Party.
“President Biden has low support from the Democratic base because the administration has provided nothing specific to Black Americans and descendants of slaves – freedmen,” Long said. “In an anti-Black social order, descendants of slaves or freedmen need to be named specifically in socioeconomic measures and must be addressed by name in protective actions.”
Long contended that nearly 60 percent of race-based hate crimes target Black people, yet neither anti-lynching nor hate crimes bills specifically address Black. In addition, she said the government still hasn’t taken reparations seriously.
“In short, President Biden’s approval rating is low because he hasn’t delivered tangible financial set-asides nor political protections for freedmen. It will remain low until he delivers and not before,” Long asserted.
The White House has pushed back on the assertion that the administration somehow has failed African Americans. Instead, they point to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes significant upgrades and impacts on roads, clean water and internet access for African-American communities.
Administration officials noted that President Biden’s American Rescue Plan provides near-unprecedented opportunities for wealth creation in the African-American community and small-business growth for Black business owners.
The president has also signed numerous executive orders, including one in October that increases and improves educational opportunities, specifically for African Americans.
“Since Day One, the Biden-Harris administration has taken a whole-of-government approach to advancing racial equity and enhancing the lives of Black families across the nation,” Erica Loewe, the White House director of African-American media, told NBC News.
“The president and vice president have already delivered on their promise by increasing investment and economic opportunity in Black communities, improving health outcomes, providing historic support for HBCUs, taking action to reform our criminal justice system and using executive authority to protect voting rights.”
National Urban League President/CEO Marc Morial also pushed back against talk that the administration has failed African Americans.
Morial noted the “significant number of African-American judges” appointed to federal benches by the president.
In addition to the nation’s first woman and the first Black vice president appointed by Biden, Morial noted that there are 22 African-American administration members compared to just three who worked in former President Donald Trump’s cabinet.
“The president was asked in the American Rescue Plan to include racial equity provisions and to make sure that there was money going to cities, not just states, where we have Black mayors,” Morial said.
“The president and his team and Congress did that. The president was asked to put together a broad infrastructure plan with racial equity provisions, including broadband, including water systems, so we could address issues like in Flint, Michigan. The president and his team delivered on that.”