Even Barack Obama isn’t above criticism.
While discussing his recently released memoir, “A Promised Land“, with “The Breakfast Club” — Charlamagne Tha God, DJ Envy and, Angela Yee — 44 responded to critics who say he didn’t do enough for Black people while he was president.
“I understand it because when I got elected, there was so much excitement and hope,” Barack began. “And I also think we generally view the presidency almost like a monarchy in the sense of, [people think] once the president is there, he can do whatever needs to get done, and if he’s not doing it, it must be because he didn’t want to do it.”
Envy then interjected, saying, “We see it with [Donald] Trump because he does whatever he wants to do,” to which Barack responded, “Right, because he breaks laws or disregards the constitution.”
“I think that anybody that goes into public life, they need to understand, you’re going to get criticized — ’cause that’s just the nature of it,” he continued. “If you don’t want that, then you shouldn’t be in that business. The good news for me was that I was very confident about what I’ve done for Black folks because I have the statistics to prove it.”
Barack went on to share a few of the successes of his administration, saying, “By the time I left office, you had seen three million African Americans that have healthcare that didn’t have it before. You had seen the incarceration rate — the number of Black folks in prison — drop for the first time in years. You had seen the juvenile correction system, 30% fewer people in there. You had seen Black poverty to its lowest level since 1968. You had seen Black businesses rise. You had seen Black income go up.”
He added, “So I could just look at the data and say millions of Black folks were better off at the time I left office than when I came in.”
Barack also spoke specifically about Obamacare, admitting that he could understand how Black Americans could feel like there wasn’t a change if they are among the 10 million Americans who were left uninsured due to Republicans “blocking him from doing everything he wanted to do” with Obamacare. “So if you’re Black and you’re one of those 10 million who didn’t get healthcare […] I can understand why they would be upset. How come things didn’t change,” he said.
Charlamagne then asked for the former POTUS to speak about the systemic changes his administration made to help Black Americans rise above generations of oppression.
“Black poverty dropped faster than everybody else. Black income went up more than a lot of other folks. The issue is, we didn’t go around advertising that because, once again, the goal here is to build coalitions where everybody is getting something so they all feel like they have a stake in it,” Barack responded. “But a lot of my policies were targeted toward people most in need. Those folks are disproportionately African American.”
He additionally shared several specific policies his administration put in place to address systemic racism at the legal level as well as the successful outcomes of said policies, including changed sentencing guidelines, which resulted in federal prison population dropping, crime rate dropping, and the overall success of their strategy that proved you can “reduce crime, without expanding incarceration.”
“The truth of the matter is, at the end of the day, there is no way in eight years to make up for 200 years,” Barack shared. “The way I’ve been describing it, ’cause it’s very much how I understand the presidency now, you’re like a relay runner. You’re getting the baton from somebody else, and all you can do is run your stage of the race, and then you pass it on to the next person. And on either side, who you got it from and who you’re passing it to, they may not have the same priorities as you do. You know you’re not going to get everything done that you need to get done, but what you’ve got to do is do your best to get as much done as possible, and I think that’s what we did.”
[via The Breakfast Club]