A group of black grassroots activists in Chicago sat and listened to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday, hoping to hear a new and uplifting message. Instead, they say they heard much of the same empty rhetoric that they have grown accustomed to hearing from politicians in Washington.
The activists gave their reactions to Obama’s big speech in a number of eye-opening interviews with the conservative blog Rebel Pundit. Given the president’s strong support within the black community, many of their comments will come as a surprise to some.
J.R. Fleming, a member of Chicago’s Anti-Eviction Campaign, said Obama’s speech was “the same ol’, same ol’.” He summed up the address as a “bunch of talk and rhetoric to give favor to a dying economy in America.”
“And the reason why our economy is dying is the president’s approach is always to place blame,” he added. “It’s not the 1 percent problem, it’s not the 99 percent problem, it’s an American problem. And the problem is patronage, nepotism and cronyism.”
Joe Watkins, the founder of V.O.T.E. (Voices of the Ex-Offender), said Obama has been “more hurtful to the black race than he has been helpful.” He claimed some people will accept his failures due to “symbolic” reasons relating to the color of his skin.
“But those of us at the bottom of the ladder don’t accept that,” he added.
Watkins also criticized the president for focusing so much on raising the minimum wage when too many people don’t have jobs at all. How will raising the minimum wage “going to help people who don’t have any jobs right now?” he asked.
Another activist with V.O.T.E. actually addressed Obama personally, telling him the black community would probably better off if he ended his presidency right now.
“Just quit,” Mark Carter said. “Because if this is what you call helping us, then just stop helping us.”
Watch the video via Rebel Pundit, which already has more than 112,000 views:
It should be noted that just because this particular group of activists are openly critical of the president, that doesn’t automatically mean that they are conservative. In fact, it is possible that the activists are disappointed that Obama hasn’t been far-left enough during his time in office. The video doesn’t provide any insight into the activists’ personal political views.