(NNPA)—The aphorism, “A friend in need is a friend indeed,” is especially relevant to the conversations being held among Black people vis-à-vis our president and our lack of economic progress in this country. The “friend in need” is the collective of African-Americans who overwhelmingly voted for Barack Obama but find ourselves even worse off economically, as Ben Jealous pointed out a few weeks ago, than we were prior to our “friend” being elected to the highest office in the land.

If you listen to the Carl Nelson Radio Show (1450 AM, WOL in Washington, D.C. and, and you should definitely listen, you have heard conversations regarding whether Black people should critique the president’s actions, or the lack thereof, when it comes to specific Black issues. Nelson’s show is one of the best on radio and the Internet, with very intelligent callers and astute guests who are engaged in action-oriented solutions to the problems we face in this nation. The callers’ comments are riveting, passionate, and intellectually stimulating. They deal with substantive and relevant issues that affect us politically, economically, educationally, and socially, which is probably why so much is being said about our president.

On the question of whether President Obama is doing enough for Black people, there are two opposing sides. But more important is Nelson’s open forum through which both sides can be heard. Recent callers discussed the economic state of Black Americans juxtaposed against the backdrop of having a Black president. One caller noted that we are too sensitive about critiquing Barack Obama, specifically on what he is not doing for Black people and what he says to us as opposed to his statements to other groups. The brother pointed out that we must be willing to engage our “friend,” the president and, in fact, we have an obligation to do so.

The caller ended with a statement related to what I have written about for a while now regarding our involvement in the political game. He said Black people are too emotional about politics, especially now that a Black man is in the White House. Our emotions cause reluctance and even fear of saying anything negative or critical about the words and actions of Barack Obama. And the caller was right on point.

Blacks are the “friend” in the most need, and we are looking for our “friend” in the White House to help fulfill some of our needs. When some Black people ask, “Is he a friend indeed?” others get uneasy and uncomfortable. What sense does it make for Black people to celebrate the rise of a Black man to the presidency yet receive little or nothing from that presidency, especially when Black votes played a significant role in making it happen? The answer is “none.” But, our emotional involvement in politics keeps us from doing what other groups have always done: advocate for ourselves, especially now that we have our “friend” at the top.

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