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Obama’s Pledge to Help Black and Hispanic Boys Elicits a Range of Reactions

President Obama’s pledge yesterday to marshal an array of government and private resources, including more $200 millions of dollars, to help improve the life chances of Black and Hispanic young men elicited a range of eyebrow-raising responses across the media landscape.

While Don Lemon on CNN offered a teary monologue about overcoming challenges in his life, Bill O-Reilly on Fox News said the president needed to enlist “gangsta rappers” like Jay Z and Kanye West to fix young Black males.

“You are going to have to get people like Jay Z, all right, Kanye West, all of these gangsta rappers to knock it off. That’s No. 1,” said O’Reilly, who attended the launch of President Barack Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative Thursday, and then had Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett on his show.

Young men “idolize these guys with the hats on backwards, and the terrible rock — rap lyrics and the drugs and all that,” O’Reilly said. He urged Jarrett to ask “gangsta rappers,” athletes and “tattoo guys,” to go on television and tell those who look up to them to “knock it off” and end their destructive behaviors.

O’Reilly also had some advice to reach girls. He said he wanted first lady Michelle Obama to come on his show and say, “You teenage girls. You stop having sex. You stop getting pregnant.”

In fact, teenage pregnancy has plummeted in recent years to all-time lows — with the biggest drops seen among Hispanic and African-American teens.

Obama spoke in a remarkably personal manner as he talked about the need for an initiative to change the plight of Black and Hispanic males.

“I didn’t have a dad in the house. And I was angry about it, even though I didn’t necessarily realized at the time. I made bad choices. I got high without always thinking about the harm that it could do. I didn’t always take school as seriously as I should have. I made excuses. Sometimes I sold myself short,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House.

“And the only difference was that I grew up in an environment that was a little bit more forgiving,” he continued. “So when I made a mistake, the consequences were not as severe. I had people who encouraged me, not just my mom and grandparents, but wonderful teachers and community leaders. And they pushed me to work hard and study hard and make the most of myself. And If I didn’t listen, they said it again. And if I didn’t listen, they said it a third time and they would give me second chances and third chances. They never gave up on me, and so I didn’t give up on myself.”

Obama mentioned the words he said after the George Zimmerman verdict last year, about the need to do more on behalf of Black boys. He pointed out that he was joined at the announcement by the parents of both Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis.

After listing the many problems Black and Hispanic boys face and statistics showing how much more likely they are to wind up suspended from school and behind bars, the president pointed out that researchers and educators have identified the efforts that can turn around the lives of boys.

“What we’re talking about here today with My Brother’s Keeper is a more focused effort on boys and young men of color who are having a particularly tough time. And in this effort, government cannot play the only or even the primary role. We can help give every child access to quality preschool and help them start learning from an early age, but we can’t replace the power of a parent who’s reading to that child,” he said. “We can reform our criminal justice system to ensure that it’s not infected with bias. But nothing keeps a young man out of trouble like a father who takes an active role in his son’s life. In other words, broadening the horizons for our young men, giving them the tools that they need to succeed will require a sustained effort from all of us. Parents will have to parent and turn off the television and help with homework. Teachers will need to do their part to make sure our kids don’t fall behind and that we’re setting high expectations for those children, and not giving up on them to help young boys at risk of dropping out of school.”

After his speech, MSNBC posted statistics from a recent CDC about father involvement, under the headline “Debunking the ‘absent black father myth.'” The CDC report showed that of those Black fathers who are involved in their children’s lives, they are more active and engaged than fathers of other races. But the fact remains that far too many Black children are growing up without the involvement of their fathers.

On CNN, Don Lemon reported from the White House that he had been moved by the president’s words. He described the advice he gives to young people who ask him how they too can make it as a “strong, Black man” or woman or gay person in the news business.

“I always say stop looking at yourself as other,” said Lemon, who has been attacked by many Blacks for comments about the Black community that many felt missed the proper context. “Yes, we get racism. Yes, we get bigotry… Yes, you can be aware of who you are and you can be proud of your identity and all of those things, but concern yourself with being excellent and then, before you know it, all of those things that you thought were hindrances will be your silent motivators and you will have made it, and you will be doing it, and working in your career and you’ll look back and say, how did I do this?”

Lemon said, “this has nothing to do with what white people think about you, this has to do with what you think about yourself.” He added that this is “one of the reasons, as a gay person, that I came out. I wanted kids who may have been dealing with that to realize, that guy on television is a normal guy. He’s just like me. It is okay.”

“So this has nothing to do with being an Uncle Tom or being white or not being respectful of your race,” Lemon continued. “This has to do with personal responsibility, with what you think about yourself and that you can achieve. Who cares, who gives a damn about racism? It is always going to be there. It has been there since the beginning of time, so you must figure out how you can achieve regardless of that, in spite of that, and that’s what the president was saying.”

What people are saying

10 thoughts on “Obama’s Pledge to Help Black and Hispanic Boys Elicits a Range of Reactions

  1. must read and watch our President.

  2. Theresa 'Tammie' Parrott says:

    How can you resolve a problem when you don't talk about the root cause of the problem? Yes, American education is needed in order to survive in the American society, but that's just a piece of the puzzle. The other part is teaching them about self and how America really works.

    America was conceived by racism, violence and greed. The American system was not designed for Black folks. We are first human beings before anything else. Most of us are descendants of African people who happened to be dropped off in America. Our children need to be taught OURSTORY and the real facts of HISTORY! OURSTORY didn't begin in America, it started on the continent of Africa. That's the only way to save our children. I don't want to see our children ASSIMULATE into American society. I want to see the INTERGRATE into American society.

    When you ASSIMULATE into American society, one becomes engaged in the same mentality that oppressed Black people in the first place. You become Obama, Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Susan Rice. People who have endoctrinated themselves in the same ideology of the founders of America and the former colonial powers. The West want everyone to adopt their evil ideology or your called a terrorist, communist. They go around the world killing people who refuse to abide by THEIR way of life.

    Remember what happened to every Black man who stood up for truth. Not only were they killing Black men in this country, Medgar Evers, MLK, Vernon Dahmer, Malcom X, Fred Hampton and countless others, the same thing was happening in Africa. Patrice Lumumba, Steven Biko. Mandela was jailed for over 20yrs. It has not stopped. On the first Black presidents watch, Muammar Gaddafi was killed.

    If you read the history between Iran and the US, you will see how arrogant this country is towards goverment around the world who refuse to side with greedy capitalism. Obama will have a summit with Africans leaders in April. He invited all leaders EXCEPT Robert Mugube of Zimbabwe. Talk about divide and conquere! You have no people of color, beside Obama on the G8, G20, the IMF, World Bank or the Federal Reserve. How can you have economic justice when you have the old colonial powers and America controlling world economy? When you don't have a voice?

    Obama had no intentions of addressing this issue, he was forced to. He had no intentions of address the drug laws, until he was forced to. Rand Paul and father started talking about it, and the Democrats are scared. They never talked about it. Now that a Republican is talking about, now they want to address the problem.

    Al Sharpton is onboard with the NFL to fine players for using the N word. The problem is, when C Delores Tucker was fighting the rappers because of their filty lyrics, what was Sharpton doing then? He sided with the rappers that used foul language towards our elder Mrs. Tucker. Obama elevates JayZ, has Obama listened to the lyrics in JayZ's songs? They love Beyonce, is that an image you want for your daughter? I think not! It's all about money! You can't want to save our boys then turnaround and elevate those who assist in the destruction of their own people.

    Why are we still waiting for the government to solve OUR problems? The same mentality who sent an influx of drugs and guns into the Black community in the 80's and 90's, created the prison industrial complex, the war on drugs, you want to help resolve the problem or looking for their help in educating our kids. Get real!

    Beware of the wolf in sheep clothing!

  3. Dmax Lomax says:

    How short sited are some of these conservse are. Bill O talking about Jay-Z and West, but clearly forgot about the police brutality and a few other things. What are conserves obsessions with those 2 guys, lol. Could it be they help win elections, hmmmmm.

  4. You, with the racist flag, said this: "America was conceived by racism, violence and greed. The American system was not designed for Black folks."
    Qualify, any of that!

  5. Jay-Z is a radical, violent, Black racist. What police brutality are you talking about, exactly? I'd like to talk about The Knockout Game, too, while we're discussing racism.
    You are the kind that justifies Black Supremacy by citing supposed White racism. I have never known, and I've know a LOT of people, a White racist. I've known too many Black racists to count! I have been a victim of Black racism for my entire life.
    If you are a bigoted person, you'll find an excuse to be racist. You'll just say, "what about police brutality," as if that's all anyone would ever require you to say. Not so with me. Qualify your justification for racism. Stop calling every existent White person a racist possibility. Maybe racism was not born in the minds of White people, after all?
    Only a racist would justify a racist. Jay-Z and West are well-known for their Black Supremacist racism. How do you deal with that? You say "police brutality." I've seen White police brutality against Whites. How do you justify that?

  6. Obama is an anti-American, Black Supremacist.

  7. Dmax Lomax says:

    Hmmmm, you seem to know Jay-Z I see, NOT. I hope you are not recalling who and what these people are and not know them. Otherwise it's just rubbish in a toilet. Way off subject too.

  8. Russell Lawrence Benford says:

    Cheryle Herman-Perez First off, if that flag is racist, then the Jewish flag is against non-Jews and the Christian flag is against non-Christians by your logic.

    "The American system was not designed for Black folks." — You must have a selective amnesia of history. Start with Plessy vs. Ferguson and the Dred Scott case, 13-15 Amendments, Brown vs. Board, etc. etc. If the American system was inclusive of black people since the Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution for that matter, then such concessions would not have had to be made unlike for white males throughout the history of this country.

  9. Russell Lawrence Benford says:

    And Obama through what programs, policies, systems, institutions, laws has Obama exerted or implemented this supremacy?

  10. Russell Lawrence Benford says:

    Cheryle Herman-Perez Jay-Z is a radical violent black racist. Define is radicalism. What violent acts has he committed? And qualify his racism with examples. But people like Elvis, Tim Allen, Mick Jagger, etc. seem to fly under your radar.

    I'd like to talk about The Knockout Game, too, while we're discussing racism. —- First off, you are wrong to try to insinuate that the knockout game is a black vs. white dilemma. Many of the victims of the "knockout game are black unless you want to run contrary the black on black violence conflation. And what is the difference between the knockout game and assault/battery? Absolutely nothing. Just a media propagandizing to make is seem like black menace. And there are already laws on the books for assault/battery, but now a new category has been created to give even harsher punishment to black youths. Yet another example of the racism rooted in the prison industrial complex.

    What is an example of black supremacy? Give one example in which black people disenfranchised, prohibited, deprived, restricted, or criminalized anything said or done by white people solely on the basis of their skin color.

    Then you proceed to try to get us to believe that you've never encountered a white racist only black racists. First off, any scholar will tell you that quantitative analysis cannot and should not be limited to your own personal experiences. Unless you are provided statistical research over a large sample study which one can formulate a conclusion based on substantiated evidence provide, just what you personally have/have not encountered is inconsequential.

    But ok, what did these black racists do? How did they victimize you??

    White people can only be racists because race that is to say racial identity is a social construct that was created as a result of European colonization and imperialism. White identity and white supremacy are virtually synonymous as no one identified themselves as neither black nor white prior to the colonial era and ideas of superiority/inferiority and dichotomous relationship based on skin color comes solely from that. Black people can only be reactionary to racism.

    So your analysis is even disingenuous because black animosity is only an effect of white racism not a cause. Or to simplify it for you, which came first? Now how people choose to address and internalize is a different debate. If you want to argue the cliche, you can't fight hate with hate, then I can go along with that. But anything other than that is a farce.

    Bigotry and prejudice and racist are not all synonymous. Black people certainly can be bigoted and prejudiced but they cannot be racist. And that is not to say that all white people are racist either.

    And regarding your comments on police brutality., definitely white people have been victimized as well but blacks have been victimized disproportionately. Just google some statistics. Also, while you're doing that, look up how for a long time black people in many cities weren't even allowed to be police officers, sheriffs, etc.

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