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Lonely up there!
African Americans still struggle

What Obama achieved 18 months before (first Presidential win of an African American) was a historic moment. But the expectation that his win will usher a new era and lead to the emergence of African Americans in to US offices may prove to be a misplaced hope. African Americans are in fact struggling too much to survive in the major state wide offices, with their number going down to a disappointing three. Newspapers like Washington Post are suspecting a bleak picture ahead with the possibility of having no black governors or senators by next year.

Historically, since 1870, 123 African Americans have served in the US Congress. Only two blacks, including Patrick and David Paterson have been elected to governorships. And only six blacks – Obama, Burris, Carol Moseley Braun, Edward Brooke, Blanche Bruce and Hiram Rhodes Revels have served in the US senate. A few are in office; but the way they are trapped in scandals indicates that they may not stay in office for long. While New York’s David Paterson (one of the nation’s only two black governors) decided not to run for the next election due to ethics scandals, the only black senator Roland Burris made the same decision. Recently, Rep. Artur Davis lost his bid to be the first black governor of Alabama, which was the latest in a series of defeats for African American politicians for state wide offices this year. More shockingly, he lost by a 62% to 38% margin, that too, after being the favourite in exit polls held in the run up to the election.

It would be too simplistic to consider this as a race problem in itself. Davis in fact lost in counties with a majority of African Americans, and was criticised for not reaching out to his own community and its power brokers. Moreover, seats are less at the top and there are fewer black candidates who are in contention for the same. Also, Obama had the ability to rally a large portion of America behind him. Few politicians of his ilk seem to possess that calibre today.

By:- Akram Hoque

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