USAfrica: Biden and Blacks? so far, so good. By Chido Nwangwu


Special to and USAfrica magazine

By Chido Nwangwu 

In politics, the common saying is that there are no permanent enemies or permanent friends but there are only permanent interests! To a great extent, this is true especially regarding the politics nations and groups play. It is probably true for some individuals and groups whose commitments are only determined and calibrated by the barometers of short term, tactical interests. 

On the other side, I do know that movement politics are about loyalty and commitment to shared interests.

And, so has it been between the Democratic Party of United States and the African-American community since the 1950s to date.

African Americans constitute without a doubt the most loyal support group for that party. One of the men, one of the leaders of the United States who, even before being sworn into office on January 20, 2021, shown an extraordinary appreciation for that support is the president elect Joseph Biden —  as represented by the facts and the composition of his cabinet, so far! 

The man appreciates the fact Black Americans and recent immigrants were vital, valuable and critical to his victory, ratified victory over the incendiary and divisive antics of President Donald Trump. And, Biden promised African-Americans “I got your back.”      

First of all, he went into the elections with a Black woman as vice presidential candidate — in the person of Senator Kamala Harris. It was a history making pick. 

Second, for the second highest position in the very influential and important U.S Treasury department, Biden did not only pick an African-American he chose a Nigerian-American, Adewale Adeyemo.

Among the other key members of his financial economics team is Cecilia Rouse, who would be the first Black official to serve as chairperson of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Third, Biden has nominated longtime diplomat Linda Thomas-Greenfield, an Africa issues specialist and former Foreign Service officer, to be ambassador to the United Nations. 

Fourth, only a few hours, Biden stated “Today (December 9, 2020), I ask Lloyd Austin to once more take on a mission for the United States of America—this time as the secretary-designate of the Department of Defense. I know he will do an outstanding job…. The fact is, Austin’s many strengths and his intimate knowledge of the Department of Defense and our government are uniquely matched to the challenges and crises we face. He is the person we need in this moment.”

If confirmed by the United States Senate, retired Lieutenant General Austin would be the first Black man in history to hold the position.

Biden recalled that “In late August of 2010, I traveled to Iraq for the fifth time as vice president. While there, I participated in the change-of-command ceremony for United States Forces–Iraq. President Barack Obama had charged me with overseeing the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and we were committed to ensuring the orderly withdrawal of our forces and equipment from Iraq. Standing in the garish al-Faw palace, once home to Saddam Hussein but by then part of Camp Victory, I watched as General Lloyd Austin assumed leadership of a national-security priority on behalf of the president of the United States of America.

Just over a year later, in December 2011, I returned to al-Faw palace, joining Austin in a ceremony honoring American and Iraqi service members as our forces left the country.  

General Austin got the job done. He played a crucial role in bringing 150,000 American troops home from the theater of war. Pulling that off took more than just the skill and strategy of a seasoned soldier. It required Austin to practice diplomacy, building relationships with our Iraqi counterparts and with our partners in the region. He served as a statesman, representing our country with honor and dignity and always, above all, looking out for his people.”

Fifth, Biden has promised to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court of the United States.

USAfrica: Biden and Blacks? so far, so good. By Chido Nwangwu
USAfrica: Biden and Blacks? so far, so good. By Chido Nwangwu 2

That would be a significant advancement to have a mix of life experiences in the context of the interpretation and disposition of constitutional and related judicial matters. Without a doubt, there are hundreds of eminently qualified women. I know a couple of them…. 

Sixth, it is important to make special mention of the roles of Black women in the 2020 November elections. Also, deserving of special commendation is the former President Barack Obama for his excellent relationship with his former vice president Biden. 

Of course, there is the U.S congressman, the distinguished Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. Clyburn, one of the  most important  power players within the Democratic Party who, practically, saved Biden from being defeated and distressed during the primaries in South Carolina when it mattered most. It’s the same man who choked off the critical votes the Clintons needed to advance from South Carolina during her competition for votes against Obama. He blunted the Clinton machine, and ensured Obama got the electoral juice to power forward towards nomination. 

Seventh,  I commend Biden’s principled approach of fulfilling his promises, from the onset remembered, as we say in Texas vernacular “the one who brung you to the dance.“ It was a reflection of my initial assessment of him as a decent man of know and public servant of integrity that I entitled and wrote on this page in October 2020 “I voted for America.” Essentially by voting for the better qualities and values of America and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. For me and for millions of other recent immigrants, it was a choice of realistic, productive and equitable engagement with the President who will offer opportunities to all without regard to race, religion and pre-existing conditions. I voted for America because of the words that were spoken on Wednesday June 3, 2020, by James Norman Mattis, a distinguished embodiment of America’s highest dedication who put in 44 years in the Marine Corps, retired as a USMC General and served as the 26th US Secretary of Defense from January 2017 to January 2019, regarding the insensitivity and unworthy handling of the brutal, installment murder of another non-confrontational Black man, George Floyd: “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us…. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.”

Finally, it is accurate to say that we are seeing a cabinet that looks like America.

A new day seems to be coming…..


*Dr. Chido Nwangwu,  the author of the January 2021 book, MLK, Mandela & Achebe: Power, Leadership and Identity,  serves as Founder & Publisher of the first African-owned, U.S-based newspaper on the internet,, and established USAfrica in 1992 in Houston. He is recipient  of several public policy and journalism excellence honors, civic engagement  and community empowerment awards and has appeared as an analyst on CNN and SKYnews. He served as an adviser on Africa business to Houston’s former Mayor Lee Brown.  @Chido247