Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blacks Missing from U.S.-Africa Business Forum

By Raynard Jackson

President Obama hosted the first ever U.S.-Africa Business forum last week here in Washington, DC.  Leading up to the conference, the U.S. Commerce Department announced:, “On August 5, 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce will co-host the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Forum, a day focused on trade and investment opportunities on the continent. The U.S.-Africa Business Forum will be part of President Obama’s U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the first summit of its kind, and the largest event that any U.S. president has ever convened with African heads of state or government.”

I must admit that the various panels consisted of executives who all had a track record of great achievement. Panelists included Americans, Indians, Africans, and women.  But, I couldn’t help but notice that there was not one Black American on any of the panels.

Not only has the first Black president continued to ignore his most loyal voting block, the Black community, but by his actions he has made it perfectly clear to African leaders that Black business leaders are totally irrelevant within the U.S.

There was not shortage of Blacks who could have fit the bill: Ken Chenault, CEO of American Express; Dick Parson, former CEO of Time Warner; Dave Steward, CEO of World Wide Technology ($ 6 billion in annual revenue); Junior Bridgeman, owner of 195 Wendys (doing more than  $ 500 million in annual revenue); Bob Johnson, CEO of RLJ Holdings, who has already invested money in hotels in Liberia.

There was one panel that had five African presidents:  Macky Sall (Senegal), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Jacob Zuma (South Africa), Jakaya Kikwete ( Tanzania), and Moncef Marzouki (Tunisia).  The panel was moderated by Charlie Rose.  I guess the White House has never heard of Black interviewers such as Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Michelle Norris, or Gwen Ifill.

The first question Rose asked was about the ebola virus.  The presidents seemed to have been quite offended by the question and pushed back that America only views Africa in terms of the negative.

The blame is totally Africa’s fault for the negative portrayal they receive in U.S. media. African presidents come to the U.S. and rarely, if ever, engage with the American media and definitely not with the Black media.

Kagame admitted as much when he told Rose, “We [must be] able to own up to our weaknesses, our mistakes and own up to our solutions and contribute to our solutions. We can’t even tell our story.  We even depend on others to tell our stories which leads to distortions.”

When the president of Cameroon landed in the U.S. on his presidential jet at Andrews Air Force Base (where Obama’s presidential jet is stored), there was a huge story written about his arrival in the Washington Post. No, no it was not on the front page. No, not in the business section, But on the gossip page.  There was not one mention of the president’s name.  The full page story was all about the president’s wife hair.  Yes, you heard right, her hair; and the author of the story was a Black female.

This is how irrelevant Africa is viewed by the U.S. media.  This is what happens when African presidents and their U.S. based ambassadors have no meaningful engagement with the media.

African can’t continue to demand to be a player on the world’s stage in the 21 st. century and yet govern and lead with a 20th century mentality.  In many ways, having a media strategy is just as important as having a military strategy.

Controlling how you are perceived in the global market place has a direct impact on the investment community throughout the world.  One needs to look no further than Equatorial Guinea to prove my point.  It is one of the most corrupt countries on the planet; and outside of the oil industry, it’s almost impossible for them to get investment in their country.

I didn’t see or hear one media interview with any of the presidents during their stay in the U.S.  The daily media coverage was focused on all the traffic problems being created by the street closures because of the various presidential motorcades.

Obama spent more time discussing the unemployment rate in Africa than he has the unemployment rate within the Black community here in the U.S.  He talked about targeted incentives for investment and job creation on the continent of Africa; but can’t find the time to create opportunities for Blacks here at home.

Obama even created the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.  According to the White House, “through this initiative, young African leaders are gaining the skills and connections they need to accelerate their own career trajectories and contribute more robustly to strengthening democratic institutions, spurring economic growth, and enhancing peace and security in Africa.”

How about a similar program for Blacks in the U.S.?

Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site,  www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @raynard1223.



Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Making History is not Enough

By Raynard Jackson
In many ways Obama’s presidency has been historic.
On June 19, 2008, Obama became the first major-party presidential candidate to turn down public financing in the general election since the system was created in 1976.
On Thursday, August 28, 2008, Obama became the first Black to be nominated by a major U.S. party.
On November 4, 2008, Obama won the presidency with 365 electoral votes to 173 for Sen. John McCain, becoming the first Black to be elected president of the United States. Earlier, Obama won 52.9 percent of the popular vote to McCain’s 45.7 percent.
Sonia Sotomayor, nominated by Obama on May 26, 2009, to replace retiring Associate Justice David Souter, was confirmed on August 6, 2009, making her the first Hispanic Supreme Court Justice.
On October 9, 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced that Obama had won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”
On November 6, 2012, Obama won 332 electoral votes, exceeding the 270 required for him to be re-elected as president. With 51.1 percent of the popular vote, Obama became the first Democratic president since Franklin D. Roosevelt to twice win the majority of the popular vote.
During his second inaugural address on January 21, 2013, Obama called for full equality for gay Americans: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” This, too, was a historic moment. It was the first time that a president mentioned gay rights or the word “gay” in an inaugural address.
But for all of Obama’s firsts, at the same time, he has left people scratching their heads, especially Blacks.
How could the first Black president not even interview a Black female for either of the two Supreme Court openings he had to fill? After all, Black women were the largest voting bloc for both of his presidential elections (96 percent in 2012).
Obama promised during his 2008 campaign that his administration would be the “most transparent in history.”  According to a recently released report by the Associated Press, nothing could be further from the truth.  The AP calls the Obama administration “the most secretive presidency in American history.”
The AP analyzed 99 federal agencies over six years.  According to their report, “the Obama administration censored more documents and delayed or denied access to more government files than ever before.  In 2013, the administration cited national security concerns a record 8,496 times as an excuse for withholding information from the public. That’s a 57% increase over the year before and more than double the number in Obama’s first year in office.
According to several media accounts, Obama has launched more than 390 drone attacks in his almost six years in the White House, eight times as many as the Bush administration; and there have been more than 2,400 people killed in these air strikes, many of them civilians.
Obama has signed at least three executive orders giving entitlements to homosexuals, at least two giving entitlements to those in the country illegally, and zero specifically for Blacks.  Obama will go down in history as the first U.S. president to totally ignore his largest voting bloc and be allowed to get away with it.
Obama will also go down in history as one of the most lawless presidents in history (Benghazi, I.R.S., NSA, etc.).  He has done more damage to the U.S.’s standing in the world than any other president in history.  No one fears Obama.
Russian President Vadimir Putin thumbs his nose at Obama and marches into the Ukraine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has total disdain, publically and privately, for Obama.  Foreign leaders – including the presidents of Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador – are not afraid to chastise Obama while standing on White House grounds when they disagree with his policies.
Obama seems to think our sovereignty should be sublimated to other countries or their people, i.e., illegals in the country telling America they have a right to be in the U.S., feeling entitled to be in the U.S. even though they crossed our borders illegally or overstaying their visas.
Obama thinks he is the president of the world, not just the U.S.  This is one possible explanation for why he is so hell-bent on trying to give amnesty to those in the country illegally or unilaterally trying to make homosexuality a universal entitlement.  He and the Democrats really believe that we are responsible for the plight of the world, even at the expense of ignoring our own citizens who are in dire need of jobs, food, housing, education, and a crime free environment.
So, indeed Obama’s presidency is historic, but not for all the right reasons. 
Raynard Jackson is president & CEO of Raynard Jackson & Associates, LLC., a Washington, D.C.-based public relations/government affairs firm. He can be reached through his Web site,  www.raynardjackson.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @raynard1223.