(NNPA)—Much of America is still in the emergency room trying to recover from their economic wombs inflicted while Barack Obama was serving as U.S. senator for the great state of Illinois.


It is no surprise that if pain can be found on the body politic of the U.S. citizenry, a more severe economic discomfort is being felt by African-Americans. This represents a long tradition dating back to slavery: the last hired, the first fired and the least likely to be awarded a contract.

So Americans of African descent are rightfully outraged that the dream for too many is still deferred or—if attained—seems to be slipping away. But before African-Americans—join the chorus of premature judgment on this president, from my position as president of the National Bankers Association, I would like to share an up-close view of what President Obama has done to defend and advance the economic status of Americans who were hardest hit by this recession. I either attended his press briefings at the White House or spoke with his appointed team at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Here’s what I know to be true:

•African-Americans—and other ethnic minorities—have been invited to help shape public policies designed to bring the U.S. economy back from the brink.

•I watched the president sign legislation that would protect the most vulnerable from credit card rip-offs.

•I watched the president force through a stimulus bill that saved millions of Americans’ jobs and will create millions more before its capacity has been exhausted.

•I watched this president instruct the Department of Housing and Urban Development to use the full power of government to nip the trend in home foreclosures.

•I watched this president lead an opening up process that caused one-third of the minority banks in our association to receive TARP funds. I, along with several minority banks, have spent numerous hours at the Treasury Department making sure that minority banks received fair but not preferential treatment.

•I attended a press conference last Fall when President Barack Obama released his plans to shore up the capital positions of community and minority banks so that lending could flourish again and jobs can be created all over America.

I think the ancient maxim: “Rome was not built in a day” is the most fair and accurate way to assess the performance of this president. His broad, visionary agenda, designed to transform America and reconnect her with her historical greatness, motivates him every day. But just because he ran one of the most flawless campaigns in U.S. history is no reason that Americans—Black, Brown, Red and White—should not be a little more patient and a little more supportive of a human being who continues to defy the odds with results but who is constantly judged against unrealistic expectations.

(Michael Grant, J.D. is president of the National Bankers Association.)

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