CBC member Maxine Waters reacts to Obama: We're not complaining

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., during her news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, to discuss the House ethics committee investigation. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who's been critical this year of President Obama's response to the high unemployment within the black community, said she found it "curious" that Mr. Obama this weekend told black leaders to "stop complaining."

"I don't know who he was talking to because we're certainly not complaining," Waters said on CBS' "The Early Show." "We're working. We support him, and we're protecting that base because we want people to be enthusiastic about him when that election rolls around."

Waters and other CBC members this year have said Mr. Obama should do more to directly address the black unemployment rate, which is nearly double the national average. The Labor Department earlier this month said unemployment rate among African-Americans was 16.7 percent in August, while the overall unemployment rate last month was 9.1 percent. Among black youth, the unemployment rate was 46.5 percent in August, the government said.

At the CBC's annual awards dinner on Saturday, Mr. Obama told black leaders to "Shake it off. Stop complainin'. Stop grumblin'. Stop cryin'. We are going to press on. We have work to do."

He urged them to "put on your marching shoes" and get behind him.

Waters said she doesn't think the president would speak like that to other minority communities.

"I found that language a bit curious because the president spoke to the Hispanic Caucus, and certainly they're pushing him on immigration... he certainly didn't tell them to stop complaining," she said. "And he would never say that to the gay and lesbian community, who really pushed him on Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

The CBC has been holding a series of town hall meetings and jobs fairs across the country, where Waters said people have been "circling the blocks to get a chance to talk to employers."

"They want to know that we recognize, and that the president recognizes the pain that is in the African American community," she said.

Though she said she was surprised by some of Mr. Obama's language on Saturday, Waters said the president has heard the concerns of the CBC and is energized to address the needs of the black community.

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