Obama: Re­sis­tance to mi­nor­ity use of fed­eral pro­grams is racism.

Trump holds meet­ings with black lead­ers

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE BOYER

In an exit in­ter­view on race re­la­tions dur­ing his two terms, Pres­i­dent Obama said racism is ev­i­dent to him when Amer­i­cans sud­denly voice op­po­si­tion to long­stand­ing fed­eral pro­grams “as soon as African-Amer­i­cans or Lati­nos are in­ter­ested in avail­ing them­selves” of the ben­e­fits.

“I’m care­ful not to at­tribute any par­tic­u­lar re­sis­tance or slight or op­po­si­tion to race,” Mr. Obama said in the in­ter­view pub­lished Tues­day in The At­lantic.

Then he added, “But what I do be­lieve is that if some­body didn’t have a prob­lem with their daddy be­ing em­ployed by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, and didn’t have a prob­lem with the Ten­nessee Val­ley Au­thor­ity elec­tri­fy­ing cer­tain com­mu­ni­ties, and didn’t have a prob­lem with the in­ter­state high­way sys­tem be­ing built, and didn’t have a prob­lem with the GI Bill, and didn’t have a prob­lem with the [Fed­eral Hous­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tion] sub­si­diz­ing the sub­ur­ban­iza­tion of Amer­ica, and that all helped you build wealth and cre­ate a mid­dle class — and then sud­denly as soon as African-Amer­i­cans or Lati­nos are in­ter­ested in avail­ing them­selves of those same mech­a­nisms as lad­ders into the mid­dle class, you now have a vi­o­lent op­po­si­tion to them — then I think you at least have to ask your­self the ques­tion of how con­sis­tent you are, and what’s dif­fer­ent, and what’s changed.”

On the eve of Mr. Obama’s fi­nal event Wednesday for an ini­tia­tive aimed at men­tor­ing young black men, Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump was meet­ing with sev­eral prom­i­nent black lead­ers at his tran­si­tion head­quar­ters in an out­reach ef­fort to jump-start eco­nomic re­cov­ery in black com­mu­ni­ties. Among them were Pas­tor Dar­rell Scott of Cleve­land, for­mer Bal­ti­more Ravens star Ray Lewis and for­mer NFL le­gend Jim Brown, who founded the Amer-I-Can pro­gram to help young peo­ple caught up in gang vi­o­lence.

Mr. Scott said the pres­i­den­t­elect gave them “a ver­bal com­mit­ment” to in­cor­po­rate the Amer-I-Can pro­gram into his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“To me it’s a match made in heaven,” Mr. Scott said. “Rather than go­ing out and in­vent­ing a ve­hi­cle to en­hance the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, we have a ve­hi­cle in place that we need the coun­try to get be­hind so we can af­fect pos­i­tive change in our com­mu­ni­ties. We’re go­ing to en­er­gize and em­power this model, put the gov­ern­ment be­hind it, put the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion be­hind it, put the African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity be­hind it, put the Amer­i­can com­mu­nity be­hind, and we’re go­ing to get busy.”

Mr. Lewis said Mr. Trump is fo­cused on ur­ban devel­op­ment and job cre­ation.

“We talked about what en­trepreneur­ship re­ally looks like from the in­di­vid­u­als them­selves,” he said. “He’s wide open to re­ally help­ing us change what hasn’t been changed. Black or white is ir­rel­e­vant. The bot­tom line is job cre­ation and eco­nomic devel­op­ment in these ur­ban ar­eas to change the whole scheme of what our kids see.”

Mr. Trump also met with hip hop artist Kanye West, whom he de­scribed as an old friend.

Af­ter eight years in of­fice, the na­tion’s first black pres­i­dent said in the mag­a­zine in­ter­view that he’s not sure how much of the op­po­si­tion to him by Repub­li­cans can be at­trib­uted to racism, and how much of it was sim­ply par­ti­san­ship.

“I do re­mem­ber watch­ing Bill Clin­ton get im­peached and Hil­lary Clin­ton be­ing ac­cused of killing Vince Fos­ter,” he said. “And if you ask them, I’m sure they would say, ‘No, ac­tu­ally what you’re ex­pe­ri­enc­ing is not be­cause you’re black, it’s be­cause you’re a Demo­crat.’”

Au­thor Ta-Ne­hisi Coates of Bal­ti­more con­ducted in­ter­views with Mr. Obama over the past year at the White House and on the cam­paign trail. In the ar­ti­cle, Mr. Coates said he con­veyed his con­cern to Mr. Obama that Mr. Trump would use the gov­ern­ment’s post9/11 sur­veil­lance pow­ers to ha­rass black ac­tivists, a fear the pres­i­dent down­played.

“Keep in mind that the ca­pac­ity of the NSA, or other sur­veil­lance tools, are specif­i­cally pro­hib­ited from be­ing ap­plied to U.S. cit­i­zens or U.S. per­sons with­out spe­cific ev­i­dence of links to ter­ror­ist ac­tiv­ity or, you know, other for­eign-re­lated ac­tiv­ity,” Mr. Obama said. “So, you know, I think this whole story line that some­how Big Brother has mas­sively ex­panded and now that a new pres­i­dent is in place it’s this loaded gun ready to be used on do­mes­tic dis­sent is just not ac­cu­rate.”

The au­thor wrote that Mr. Obama, who in the past has op­posed the con­cept of repa­ra­tions, now seems “more open to the idea — in the­ory, at least, if not in prac­tice.”

“The­o­ret­i­cally, you can make ob­vi­ously a pow­er­ful ar­gu­ment that cen­turies of slav­ery, Jim Crow, dis­crim­i­na­tion are the pri­mary cause for all those gaps,” Mr. Obama said, re­fer­ring to gaps be­tween whites and blacks in ed­u­ca­tion, wealth and em­ploy­ment. “That those were wrongs to the black com­mu­nity as a whole, and black fam­i­lies specif­i­cally, and that in or­der to close that gap, a so­ci­ety has a moral obli­ga­tion to make a large, ag­gres­sive in­vest­ment, even if it’s not in the form of in­di­vid­ual repa­ra­tions checks but in the form of a Mar­shall Plan.”

But the pres­i­dent noted that coun­tries such as South Africa and India haven’t “fun­da­men­tally changed the struc­ture of their so­ci­eties” with af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion pro­grams.

“The bot­tom line is that it’s hard to find a model in which you can prac­ti­cally ad­min­is­ter and sus­tain po­lit­i­cal sup­port for those kinds of ef­forts,” Mr. Obama said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Obama said he still see signs of racism in the U.S. in the form of op­po­si­tion to so­cial pro­grams.

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