Attempting to drive back the avalanche of concerns among African-Americans about the paucity of jobs in Black America, President Obama said last week that his initiatives are aimed at all Americans, but they will disproportionately help Blacks.
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While the nation overall is suffering from record-breaking 10.2-percent unemployment, the jobless rate in the Black community is a staggering 15.6 percent, the highest in 18 years. Sadly, economists say, the skid shows no end in sight.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, along with civil rights leaders and others, have accused the nation’s first Black president of forgetting the plight of America’s most underemployed citizens. In fact, Caucus members recently boycotted the signing of the president’s banking restructuring bill until provisions were included specifically to address the dismal inner-city job picture.
Black lawmakers have also been among the president’s most vocal critics of his decision to send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, saying that the estimated $1 million per troop, per year – which the escalation will cost U.S. taxpayers – would be better spent at home creating jobs and otherwise buttressing the U.S. economy.
But, speaking to April Ryan of the American Urban Radio Network, Obama suggested that the criticisms might be somewhat unfair.
To press for measures designed especially for African Americans would be inappropriate and downright illegal, the president said.
“The only thing I cannot do is, by law, I cannot pass laws that say ‘I’m just helping Black folks.’ I am president of the entire United States,” he said in the interview, EURWeb.com reports
However, Obama continued, such initiatives as health care reform and economic stimulus packages are “hugely important” for African Americans.
This is the best of times and the worst of times, Obama said, referring to the opening line of Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities.” The future looks bright, he said, "but it's going to take work. It was never going to be done just because we elected me."
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