By Charlotte Young
As discontent with President Barack Obama’s administration has steadily risen in the black community, Obama took the time to speak directly to black voters in an interview Monday night on BET News.
The Washington Post reports that the interview was “especially timely,” as it aired a day after Obama received negative feedback from members of the Congressional Black Caucus to the speech he gave at their annual dinner. In his speech, he urged caucus members to “stop complaining and march with him.”
Rep. Maxine Waters called his comments “curious” and told MSBNBC that the president “got off script and got a little bit beside himself.”
In Monday’s interview, Obama defended his record asserting that he is working hard to help those in the south side of Chicago to those living in Los Angeles barrios and Appalachia. But he remained firm in his stance to keep government programs issue-focused, as opposed to race, stating that “that’s not how America works.”
“And so when we put forward a program like, for example, the health-care bill, our focus is people who don’t have health care,” Obama said in the interview with BET News. “Now it turns out that the majority of folks who don’t have health care are also working families, and are disproportionately African American and Latino, but that doesn’t mean that it’s only for them.”
The black community has seen unemployment rates of 16.7 percent compared to the national unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. In response, the CBC accused the Obama administration of failing to focus African American concerns and launched a summer jobs tour.
Support for Obama has been slipping across all voter groups. Among African Americans, his 83 percent approval rating five months ago has dropped to 58 percent in a recent Washington Post-ABC news poll.
Obama recognized his administration failure to clearly communicate what they were doing to Americans and also relayed that he understands the frustration and impatience of Black Americans.
“Some of the things, though, that have been plaguing the African American community for too long, those things are going to take years to change,” he said.