But America is also this: a long history of using policy—not just name-calling and thuggish law enforcement—but actual policy to disadvantage African-Americans. It isn’t just that it “turns out” that African-Americans are disproportionately uninsured. It’s the result of a virtually unbroken run of policy decisions stretching back to the Virginia black codes of the 1650s, through the Illinois black laws of the 1850s, through the redlining of the 1950s. When the Blair bill died in the 1890s, for fear of generating an educated, and thus empowered, class of blacks, it was policy. When anti-lynching legislation was repeatedly killed throughout the first half of the 20th century, it was policy. When FDR lured Southern senators into supporting New Deal legislation by excluding blacks, it was policy. It’s true that it would be unwise for Obama to offer up a black agenda. It’s also true that America, to the detriment of blacks, has long had one.