Obama has ‘genuine love for black community,’ senior adviser says

NEW ORLEANS — Senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett said Saturday that President Obama has “genuine love for the black community,” and that she is not frustrated by the expectations some African Americans have for the first black president.

Obama’s relationship with African Americans came up during a wide-ranging interview session with a group of journalists at the National Association of Black Journalists’ convention in New Orleans.

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Asked whether it sometimes felt as though there was nothing Obama could do to please some blacks, Jarrett responded: “I don’t at all feel like there’s no pleasing black folks.”

One journalist asked if there weren’t times when Obama just wanted to be “unabashedly black,” and not so careful in calibrating his racial identity.

“You know what? He is black,” Jarrett said. “He’s the black president. He doesn’t hide it. How can you hide being black?”

She added that “he is who he is” and doesn’t feel constrained.

Jarrett declined to offer an opinion on whether she thought there was a racial component to some of the public criticism of him by opponents. “I’m not here to assess what the motivation is,” she said.

But she offered: “There is a coarseness to the dialogue, generally.” That extends beyond the president, Jarrett said. Just look at the comments section of articles online, she noted.

Asked about her own future, she said she “absolutely” planned to stay in the Obama administration another four years should the president win reelection.

meridak@washpost.com

 
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