President Obama has rebutted recent criticism from actor Danny Glover and some members of Congress that he has not done enough to help the African-American community since taking office, Politico reports. Obama said he wasn't surprised to hear that there was "grumbling" among black Americans because the country "just went through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."
Talking to American Urban Radio Networks reporter April Ryan on Monday, the president said the complaints of a high-profile few should not be given undue weight. "If you want me to line up all the black actors, for example, who support me and put them on one side of the room and a couple who are grumbling on the other, I'm happy to have that," Obama said, adding that polls show African-Americans express "overwhelming support" for what his administration has tried to do.
The president insisted he is "optimistic about the long-term future of the African-American community, but it's going to take work."
Glover, known for his activism along with his acting, said recently that "the Obama administration has followed the same playbook, to a large extent, almost verbatim, as the Bush administration. I don't see anything different. . . . What's so clear is that this country from the outset is projecting the interests of wealth and property."
Earlier this month, 10 members of the Congressional Black Caucus criticized the administration for not doing enough to help African-Americans through the bleak economy. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said members of the CBC were lining up meetings with the president's advisers to exert their power.
The CBC members cited a number of areas they wanted Obama to focus on, including efforts to reduce foreclosures and to provide more aid to banks that lend to African-Americans.
In the interview Monday, the president acknowledged the difficulties: "We were some of the folks who were most affected by predatory lending," he said, using the plural ****oun to refer to black Americans. "There's a long history of us being the last hired and the first fired. As I said on health care, we're the ones who are in the worst position to absorb companies deciding to drop their health care plans. So, should people be satisfied? Absolutely not. But let's take a look at what I've done."
Obama added that he cannot pass laws "that say I'm just helping black folks. I'm the president of the entire United States. What I can do is make sure that I am passing laws that help all people, particularly those who are most vulnerable and most in need. That, in turn, is going to help lift up the African-American community."
Get the new