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Maxine Waters says Barack Obama is neglecting black communities

August 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A local congresswoman is voicing her frustration with President Barack Obama, particularly when it comes to unemployment among African-Americans.

California Congresswoman Maxine Waters had some strong words for Obama this week, comments that are generating a lot of reaction.

Speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus Jobs Initiative in Detroit, Waters lashed out at the president for spending too much time in white rural communities and not focusing enough on the black urban neighborhoods where the unemployment rate is skyrocketing.

"Our people are hurting," said Waters. "The unemployment is unconscionable; we don't know what the strategy is. We don't know why on this trip that he's in the United States, not in any black communities, we don't know that."

Obama spent three days this week touring the Midwest, stopping in communities where his popularity is declining among white voters.

Responding to a headline in the Wall Street Journal "Obama Aims to Keep White Voters on Board," Waters says African-American voters want to be on board too.

Speaking at a job fair in Atlanta on Thursday, Waters says the president needs to bring his bus tour to the black communities as well as the rural communities, and that he needs to step in and take action to reverse the economic slide.

"We want him to use that bully pulpit to get those banks in there who have profits that they are holding onto, and lend that money in our communities, to our small businesses that create jobs," said Waters.

The jobless rate for African-Americans is almost 16 percent, compared to the national average of nine-point-one percent.

However in some communities such as Watts, which Waters represents, she estimates the unemployment rate is as high as 40 percent.

"We're doing a lot on job creation in our community," said Waters. "For example, the congressional black caucus has come up with 40 pieces of legislation to deal with various aspects of creating jobs. We support an infrastructure bank that the president is alluding to."

Waters is getting support from other African-American community leaders. Earl Afari Hutchinson, president of the National Alliance for Positive Action, agrees that there is growing frustration among the president's staunchest backers.

"There are danger signs ahead," said Hutchinson. "Many people on election day are simply not going to show up and that's a huge danger sign for President Obama and his re-election."

Waters' comments come at a time when a Gallup poll shows support of Obama's handling of the economy down to 26 percent. The White House was contacted, but had no comment.


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