*President Obama last week shot back at a growing chorus of African American critics who charge his administration is not doing enough to reverse the skyrocketing unemployment rate among African Americans or otherwise help Blacks pull themselves out of the current recession.

Critics in the Congressional Black Caucus and among various civil rights groups have been demanding more “targeted” aid specifically designed to benefit the nation’s minorities.

However, the nation’s first African American president continued to insist that it would either be inappropriate or illegal for him to attempt to push legislation specifically designed to aid Blacks.

Instead, he told April Ryan of American Urban Radio Networks, “The only thing I cannot do is, by law, I cannot pass laws that say ‘I’m just helping Black folks.’ I am president of the entire United States.”

Simultaneously, the president insisted that the health care reform bill which recently cleared the U.S. Senate “will be hugely important” for Blacks as will the billions of dollars in aid to states and cities included in his economic stimulus packages.

Nevertheless, civil rights groups and Black members of Congress are still pressing demands that Obama do more for Blacks and other minorities citing the billions the president is spending on unpopular and questionable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, the Black unemployment rate stands at its highest level in nearly 18 years – 15.6 percent. Meanwhile, economic projections from leading economists suggest the rate will climb even higher even though there are some indications the economy is beginning to improve.

Asked to comment on the state of Black America, Obama paraphrased author Charles Dickens saying it continues to be the best of times and the worst of times. Still, he said he was optimistic about the future. “But it’s going to take work. It was never going to be done just because we elected me,” he said. (source: Taylor Media Services)