President Obama wants to make something very clear: he is not just the president of “Black” America,” but the entire county.
In his cover story for Black Enterprise magazine, Obama responded to criticism that he hasn’t done enough for the Black community, stating that his job is to help the nation as a whole. “My general view has been consistent throughout, which is that I want all businesses to succeed,” he said. “I want all Americans to have opportunity. I’m not the president of Black America. I’m the president of the United States of America, but the programs that we have put in place have been directed at those folks who are least able to get financing through conventional means, who have been in the past locked out of opportunities that were available to everybody.”
According to a job report released for the month of July, there has been a slight bump in the number of jobs created, and given the depressed state that the economy was in prior to his presidency, Obama outlined his progress. “The first thing is to understand that we have just gone through the worst financial and economic crisis in our lifetimes, and my first job as president was to make sure that we didn’t slip into a second Great Depression,” he said. “We were losing 800,000 jobs a month. Banks were locked up. Credit was frozen. The auto industry was about to go under. And because of the steps that we took, we have now seen two straight years of job growth, 4 million jobs created, [the] strongest manufacturing growth since the 1990s, unemployment has started to come down, and the auto industry is back. All of those steps that we took had an impact on black businesses just like they did businesses generally.
“The African-American community ends up being hurt during recessionary times more than the population at large. [The] African-American unemployment rate is still way too high. You had a credit crunch for small- and medium-sized businesses that disproportionately impacted African-American businesses. But part of what we have been able to do is to specifically focus on disadvantaged businesses, disadvantaged communities. The Small Business Administration, for example, which is a significant source of financing for minority- and women-owned businesses, has stepped into the breach by expanding their loan portfolios and cutting their fees at a time when a lot of banks and other financial institutions just pulled back. Some of the work that we did legislatively, like the New Markets Tax Credit, makes a huge difference specifically for African-American businesses.
Throughout his term, the commander in chief has fended off bi-partisan criticism surrounding everything from immigration, to health care reform. Nonetheless, the president feels that he has done a pretty good job, as it relates to Black citizens. “I’ll put my track record up against anybody in terms of us putting in place broad-based programs that ultimately had a huge benefit for African-American businesses,” he remarked.
Being known as the first Black president, may have put extra pressure on the POTUS, but according to actor Morgan Freeman, his race should be re-examined, since America “conveniently forgot” that Obama is bi-racial background.
Yet the question remains, should Obama be expected to pay special attention to the Black community?
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