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Vivian Norris

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Dear President Obama: Channel Your Mother, Immediately!

Posted: 01/09/10 10:17 AM ET

Stanley Ann Dunham Obama Soetero was both an extraordinary, yet somehow very "normal" human being. She lived through decades of social and cultural changes, both in the United States and abroad, and she was often a few steps ahead in terms of how she lived, and the kind of work she did. Her son is often walking in her footsteps. And he needs to connect with her wisdom and turn towards her life as a model for how he can help pull our country out of this mess. Immediately please.

Ann Dunham was, more often than not, a single working mother. She knew what financial hardship was. She sacrificed often for her children, to send them to school, stopping her own studies to make sure they completed theirs. She also was the daughter of a working woman. Both women worked with banking...in the case of Obama's beloved grandmother, she rose to become Vice-President of a bank, during a period when few women worked in banks beyond teller and secretarial jobs. His mother worked for the Ford Foundation, and Women's World Banking as an expert in microcredit...providing small loans to the poor, almost always to women, and almost always paid back, on time, in full.

These were people with no credit ratings, no collateral, and the loans were made based 100% on trust!!! The very word "credit" comes from the word "credire" meaning "to trust"!

But these were not simple consumer loans, but loans which allowed women to create small businesses to help feed their families, send their children to school, and access health care (and, on occasion, enjoy buying a trinket or two). Obama recognized his mother's work by awarding Nobel Peace Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank, the Congressional Medal of Honor this year. Obama raised his glass at the Nobel dinner and toasted his mother, and he knows she taught him well.

But he needs to get back to the basics of what people need, and how they want to live and provide for their families. The banks and credit card companies are gauging them to death. There is no trust left except in parts of the local banking system, with credit unions (Keep going Huffpost for pushing people to change to credit unions!!). There is no credit available and small businesses are failing because of the pulling back of credit lines even with no justification and clean credit histories. Muhammad Yunus has me with Ben Bernanke and several financial entities to see about helping credit unions merge with the likes of a Grameen Bank model.

Please President Obama...don't listen to the banking tennis buddies...channel Stanley Ann, that vibrant spirit watching over you! She is in you and you will do the right thing. We need you to! And then make banks about serving human interests not greed!

(In late January, the Sundance Film festival will be premiering Gayle Ferraro's documentary "To Catch a Dollar" highlighting the work of Muhammad Yunus and Grameen America to help the poor in the United States).

 

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