The Obama administration wants African-Americans to know it feels their pain and wants to cure it.
After a summer of criticisms from various corners of the African-American community about a perceived lack of attention to unprecedented high levels of unemployment and other economic woes, the White House hopes to change that perception by shining a light on policies that administration officials argue have benefitted African-Americans.
On Wednesday the White House will host an “African-American Policy in Action Leadership Conference,” during which civic, academic, social, state and local leaders will meet with administration officials to discuss the issues that are most important to African-Americans, such as job creation and training, access to capital for growing businesses, the American Jobs act, protecting civil rights, community development initiatives and strategies to target poverty.
“Many of the people who will be attending have been working with the administration since day one on a wide range of issues of concern to the African-American community, but now that we’re three years in, we thought it was important to bring everyone together and make sure that everyone is up to speed on what we’ve accomplished so far,” said senior advisor Valerie Jarrett in a conference call with reporters. “It’s been a very busy three years and people tend to forget the progress that we have made, but as the president always says, we still have a very long way to go, so it’s important that we continue to challenge ourselves collectively and individually to come up with new ideas and that’s what [the conference] is all about.”
Throughout his tenure at the White House, Obama has been very careful to couch his policies as benefitting everyone without targeting specific demographics. Jarrett acknowledged that African-Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the economy and said it’s important that the administration tell the story of how the administration’s efforts to improve it have aided Blacks. She also said that the administration will release a report on Wednesday that demonstrates “the clear connection between need and the programs that we have developed to address those needs.”
Gene Sperling, who heads the White House’s National Economic Council, said that Obama has fought for economic policies that have a broad impact across the nation but have been “carefully designed to make sure that those who’ve been hit the hardest in this recovery, and those who’ve struggled have been particularly looked out for” and have impacted millions of African-American families, such as the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit and student loan programs.
(Photo: Pete Souza/The White House via Getty Images)