Media personality Tavis Smiley and Princeton professor Cornel West made Chicago one of the first stops on their Poverty Tour, fueling more debate about President Obama’s economics policies and whether those policies have or have not done the current jobs disparity in black communities any justice. There are two factions of thought in the early Smiley & West town hall talks.
Kyshandra Jackson believes that President Obama is harshly criticized. “They are not really giving him a chance…Things are going to get done, but it is also going to take some time,” she said. “He is doing more than everybody else tried to do.” On the other side, Lamont Robinson, a 29-year-old insurance agent, said “There’s no change going on. So what can we do? I’m frustrated with the president. We know there is money for wars, but our people are suffering. He is disconnected from what is going on in his home town.” According to Washington Post/ABC News poll, most blacks polled (86-percent) still support President Obama even though less blacks (54-percent) believe that he is dealing appropriately with the economy.
As the Tour kicks off, Tavis Smiley said he wants to hear the President say the word poor, to which Robinson applauded. Maybe Smiley and Robinson missed “Are we a nation that asks only the middle class and the poor to bear the burden?” President Obama said that to the National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. It wasn’t the first time he’s said the “p”-word (and the word poverty) since hitting the campaign trail in 2007, but there can’t be very many Americans, even poor ones, who want to hear him say it with every ten to 15 words or syllables.