Recently, President Obama sat down for an interview with Black Enterprise. During the conversation, the president was asked about the criticism from some Black folks who assert he hasn’t done enough for African Americans.

While the President has often shied away from speaking specifically on race, he has said that his policies would help all Americans, including blacks. But in the Black Enterprise interview he took it a step further.

Peep the excerpt:

How do you respond to criticism that your administration hasn’t done enough to support black businesses?

My general view has been consistent throughout, which is that I want all businesses to succeed. 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. So, 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.

The resurrected financial services industry hasn’t stepped up in terms of providing adequate capital to small- and minority-owned businesses.

There is no doubt that American taxpayers stepped in and pulled the banking industry out of the fire. It was controversial. It was messy. Ultimately it was the right thing to do for the economy. But it is true that once banks got back on their feet they haven’t been as aggressive in lending to small and medium-sized businesses as we would like. And I’ve had conversations with the major banks about this issue. What they will say is that some of the additional regulations have impeded some of their capacity to lend. We don’t see major evidence of that.

President Obama has had to walk a tight rope. As the first African American president folks on the left and the right have been watching to see if he gives preferential treatment to minority groups, but he’s consistently tried to frame his policies to affect all Americans.

But is it enough?

Do black folks want President Obama to be the president of black America or of all America?

Speak on it! 

*Photo via Luke Sharrett/The New York Times

  • befree

    Part 2 of my comment…

    Part of the Recovery Act attached the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (1987 Act) program. DBE programs aim is to make sure disadvantaged contractors have a fair opportunity to compete in the public works bidding process. Under DBC the national goal is at least 10 percent of federal highway and transit funds go to persons who qualify as disadvantaged small business operators. All black businesses were asking was it be ENFORCED. Enforcing the law is the primary job of the executive branch, right? All the Administration did was make a suggestion (in a letter) and not enforce. What about withholding the stimulus money if DBE was not being enforced? The language in the stimulus bill stated it was supposed to go to disadvantaged communities hit hardest by the recession. That’s us.
    You can’t just mandate that money goes into disadvantaged communities and not follow up. This is a perfect example of people touting an empty accomplishment without actually seeing if it actually made it to our communities. These were REAL jobs that should have been putting black folks to work. When a black reporter asked him about Black unemployment and his response was “a rising tide lifts all boats” disgusted me. If the tide doesn’t come in, nothing is going to rise. Like I said, pass any bill you want, but if it’s NOT making to us…. It’s WORTHLESS. How is it unreasonable to ask an Administration to enforce a federal Act? It’s not.
    Also part of Recovery Act money requires stimulus recipients to submit detailed data every 3 months about the progress of their projects and the number of jobs funded and their top salaries. It’s obvious who was getting their fair share and who DID NOT from the data.

    Honestly, doesn’t matter now because the money gone and so was an opportunity to put some black folks BACK to work

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    • Joy

      befree: Thank you for your INTELLIGENT reponse as to exactly what you want the President to do. You made some valid points about the Recovery Act

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    • Leena

      I wonder if the problem is federal vs states rights at this point. Maybe something needs to be placed that dictates how states distribute things received federally.

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  • Echidiime

    As a card carrying, Starbucks drinking, NPR listening, ACA-supporting, composting and recycling New England liberal, you better believe my vote is solidly for Obama.
    I don’t do Republicans and/or Independents – sorry Mittens (…and Cornel West)

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  • Gigi Young

    Ha! Why else did 98% of black voters turn out for Obama back in ’08, if not for the hope that he would lead us into the “Promised Land” mentioned by MLK? Obama stood on the backs of the Civil Rights leaders (who, incidentally, have been playing black America since the 70s), he did his code switching thing when speaking to black people to curry their vote, he’s profited from the pussyfooting media’s “OMG, anti-Barack=anti-black” rhetoric, he’s made friends with the proper names in hip-hop culture, name-dropped all sorts of stuff to seem “down”, etc etc….yet, any mention by black folks that they should reap the benefits of their time, grassroots efforts, money, and so on–just like the wealthy gays, Jews, Liberal elite, Hollywood Democrats, and immigrants–other black folks start spouting stuff that sounds exactly like Republican claims that black folks want a handout. So what is it? Either you voted for Obama because as a black man who claims solidarity with black America, you assumed he would hold the black American agenda close to his heart, OR you voted for him because you agreed with his politics, sans his ethnic background.

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  • http://Har Neemah

    Obama is not black! He is biracial. Black America is still waiting for their first president.

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  • Kacey

    No, I don’t expect him to be the president of Black America, but I also don’t expect him to simply take the black vote for granted and continuously scold and rebuke black people. He takes a certain patronizing tone with blacks that has bothered me for a very long time.

    Like many, I’m just not as enthused about this election as I was about the last. I’m not a Mitt Romney supporter but…I just might not bother to vote. It doesn’t seem to matter either way.

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    • Mademoiselle

      Therein lies the crux of this year’s election. Romney alone isn’t a sure thing (much like McCain wasn’t), but the idea of an Obama administration motivated a lot of the “spectating” constituents to vote for “Hope” back in ’08. It’s 2012. Black people already know what it feels like to learn their hopes were pinned to a helium balloon–that hope flutters away in the wind to land somewhere no one cares to go looking for it. Obama just may realize that when he IS that bag of fleeting air, black people just might not come looking for his behind. If he believes he can win an election in a good ol’ boys club without keeping the motivation alive for the people who gave him a boost over the fence, then more power to him. I venture to say, though, without them, Obama is no more a sure thing than Romney, and that’s just on politics alone. When it comes to strategy and counting the chips that are stacked for and against you, he just might be fooling himself on how guaranteed his success may be after he alienates his constituents back into a “spectating” position.

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