Living a Black Fantasy: The Obama Delirium Effect

By Glen Ford

Barack Obama’s presence in the White House is bad for Black people’s mental health. Even as the African American economic condition deteriorates by the day, Blacks perceive a world in which their prospects are improving. Something did change for the better for Black people in 2009. The problem is, it only happened in their minds.

There is a world of perception and a world of reality. There is also another realm, a domain of willed fiction that is impervious to reality and treats facts like enemies. It is the Delusion Zone and, judging by the results of a recent Pew Research Center survey [1], large majorities of African Americans have been trapped there for at least the year since Barack Obama took up residence in the White House.
Life in the Delusion Zone is animated by the purest magic, a place where catastrophe is instantaneously transformed into its opposite. Examine an item from the real world Washington Post [2] of January 15, whose headline screams, “U.S. unemployment rate for blacks projected to hit 25-year high.” Contrast that with the Pew findings [3] released the same week, which concluded that “blacks’ assessments about the state of black progress in America have improved more dramatically than at any time in the last quarter century.”
The judgments of a nationally representative sampling of 812 blacks can’t be wrong, can they? Yes, they can. Obamamania appears to destroy brain cells and disable both short- and long-term memory.
Consider that the proportion of African Americans that say Blacks are “better off than five years ago” has nearly doubled since 2007, from 20 percent to 39 percent. What actually happened in the interim between 2007 and 2009? The negative assessment of the Black condition in 2007 compared to five years before, makes sense. Black unemployment in 2002 stood at 11 percent. By 2007, Black unemployment had dropped to 8.3 percent, significantly better than at the height of the Bush first term recession five years before. However, by 2007 the housing foreclosure crisis was casting a dark gloom over Black America, and December 2007 would retroactively be declared the first month of the Great Recession. It was, therefore, rational that only one in five Blacks would rate African Americans as better off in 2007 than in 2002.
The latest Pew poll, conducted mostly in November of 2009, showed twice as many respondents felt Blacks were better off than five years earlier, in 2004. This, despite the fact that Black joblessness stood officially at 15.6 percent in November 2009, and heading higher, compared to 8.7 percent in November 2004. In five years, Black unemployment had nearly doubled, and the housing foreclosure crisis had ravaged Black neighborhoods, with no let up in sight. Any rational five-year assessment offered in November of 2009 would have been as gloomy as the numbers.But Black folks weren’t being rational. Thirty-nine percent of them – nearly twice as many as in 2007 – told Pew pollsters Blacks were better off in 2009 than five years before, when by all economic measurements the opposite was true.
What happened between 2007 and 2009, besides the worst recession since the Great Depression, with Black unemployment projected to hit 17.2 percent by the third quarter of 2010? Obama happened.
Obama-induced chemical imbalances messed up Black people’s minds regarding the gap between Black and white incomes. Asked if the racial gap had grown smaller in the last ten years, 56 percent said “yes” in 2009, compared to 41 percent in 2007. In fact, the racial wage gap had grown significantly. In 2000, Black households made 64.8 cents for every dollar made by whites. By 2008 Black households had slipped three cents, to 61.8 cents on the white dollar – approximately the same size gap as existed in 1989 and 1979. Blacks are worse off, income-wise, than ten years ago, and except for a brief uptick in Black household income during the Clinton bubble-boom of the Nineties, the Black-white earnings gap has remained virtually unchanged for the past 30 years.
ObamaL’aid is a mind-altering substance, a hallucinogen. It makes Black people see progress when they are actually facing disaster. Obama-on-the-brain also behaves like an opiate, blocking out pain. African Americans’ ability to apprehend political and economic danger is compromised by Obama-induced delusion, while the opiate effect prevents Blacks from knowing where and how badly they have been hurt. That’s a fatal combination.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at


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