The Lie of Inherent Black Dysfunction

by Tami Winfrey Harris


Over the weekend, President Obama took time out of addressing graduates at the celebrated, historically-black, all-male, private college, Morehouse, to remind about black men who make bad choices, chalking up failures to The Man and myriad other excuses.

“We know that too many young men in our community continue to make bad choices. Growing up, I made a few myself. And I have to confess, sometimes I wrote off my own failings as just another example of the world trying to keep a black man down. But one of the things you’ve learned over the last four years is that there’s no longer any room for excuses. I understand that there’s a common fraternity creed here at Morehouse: ‘excuses are tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges to nowhere and monuments of nothingness.’ We’ve got no time for excuses – not because the bitter legacies of slavery and segregation have vanished entirely; they haven’t. Not because racism and discrimination no longer exist; that’s still out there. It’s just that in today’s hyperconnected, hypercompetitive world, with a billion young people from China and India and Brazil entering the global workforce alongside you, nobody is going to give you anything you haven’t earned. And whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured – and overcame.”


But why do a roomful of young, black male college graduates, in particular, need this admonishment against excuse-making and expecting goodies they have not earned? Surely our Commander-In-chief would argue against conservative charges that real racism is dead and that his America is rife with lazy, irresponsible and demanding (black and brown) “takers” Why, then, do his speeches to black Americans so often warn against creeping pathology? (For instance, the 2008 Father’s Day speech that centered on shiftless and absent black sperm donors, instead of men who take the role of fatherhood seriously and are present and active in their children’s lives, whether or not they are part of a married couple.)

Of course, our President isn’t the only person seemingly subconsciously invested in the idea of inherent black dysfunction. In Michelle Obama’s speech to graduates at historically-black Bowie State University, the First Lady complained about young, black students with dreams of hip hop celebrity and urged parents not to accept failing schools. Ta-Nehisi Coates brilliantly addressed hand-wringing over hip hop aspirations in his piece, “How the Obama Administration Talks to Black America.” But it is also worth noting how offensive it is to suggest that the average black parent needs to be told to seek the best education for their children. And why lecture black college graduates, who have clearly demonstrated a belief in the power of education?

Hyperfocus on alleged black faults and how “we need to do better” is an outgrowth of the way black people have absorbed the race biases and stereotypes of the majority culture over centuries, combined with our desire to prove our own decency.

This isn’t just about the President and First Lady. I’ve sat in many a pew and auditorium seat, wedged between other black folk, wondering why a speech meant to inspire me instead sounds like an unspoken accusation or a caution against some sin I never dreamed of committing. There is something about a chance to speak to a room full of fellow African Americans that seems to make the siren song of respectability politics nigh irresistible. And amidst the “show ‘em you’re one of the good ones” boot-strapping oratory is always a clutch of disturbing implied messages: Mainly that WE are the ultimate problem; not centuries of systemic racism or classism or educational and prison systems rife with inequality. And that, deep down, we are who they say we are. That even the best and brightest of us are one good, finger-wagging speech away from every affront to mainstream Judeo-Christian, middle-class, patriarchal American values. (Of course, the only values that matter.)

This sort of thinking reveals itself in many ways. For example, the entire let’s-teach-black-women-how-to-be-marriageable industrial complex hinges on the idea of inherent black, female dysfunction. But this scolding of black America is even more problematic and damaging when conducted by our country’s leader–the person ultimately in charge of education, healthcare, housing and countless other systems. Black people don’t need Barack Obama to lecture us about why education is important for our children; we need to know what steps his administration is taking to ensure that our children have an equal shot at good, accessible education. And we don’t need a black president tacitly confirming the worst ideas of the African American community by using nearly every engagement with us to urge us to fix ourselves.

  • Ask_ME

    Eh…yeah…black folks got problems and they are disproportionate.

    ^^^^The sooner we accept, understand and try to fix that the better off we will be.

    I appreciate anyone bold enough to come out and state the truth. I don’t care if it’s Bill Cosby or President Obama…frankly we need more men like them.

    But why do a roomful of young, black male college graduates, in particular, need this admonishment against excuse-making and expecting goodies they have not earned?

    You have met very many black male college graduates eh?

    The excuse making and expecting goodies or as I call them “entitlements” run rampant with this group.

    It doesn’t matter if the “entitlement” is a great paying job or a fine woman, they carry just as big a chip on their shoulder, if not more so, (because someone somewhere told them they are “good” black men”) than lazy arse Pookie and Ray Ray.

    Also, you might want to keep in mind that the rape allegations against four Morehouse students became public shortly before the President was due to visit. Don’t think for one second that he didn’t hear about it. The lawyer for one of those individual was on the news saying the same old nonsense, “This poor black boy is being punished because he is black. They are trying to lynch this boy and rob him of his future.”

    So, we can sit and pretend that educated black men are somehow exempt from feeling entitled and using their race as excuse for personal failure…however some of us know better.

    I would say this mindset is far worst in this group because they have it in their heads that something is OWED to them because they did what NORMAL people do everyday: Avoid prison, avoid out of wedlock children, go to college and graduate (preferably on time).

    Once again, you can blame the black community for lowering the bar so low for black males. Just doing the minimum and avoiding prison seems to be an accomplishment for SOME, which is why I appreciate the president saying what needed to be said.

  • Guest1234

    Interesting perspective. I can’t say you’re wrong. But, I thought his speech was geared towards a different sort of entitlement. A sort that the grads of Morehouse don’t much suffer from. But maybe I was wrong. Maybe he WAS talking about the complacency of the “good black man” – as you were saying, the attitude that because they aren’t in prison or high school drop outs, they are somehow special. Maybe he was essentially saying that this is bare minimum, folks. Now’s the time to start doing great things. You haven’t done them yet.


  • Smilez_920

    I wasn’t to crazy about pieces of Michelle speech. I saw nothing wrong mostly with Obama speech. He praised these men, he told then they have done great. But what’s he was telling them is greatness does stop here, greatness starts right now, life starts right now and these are some of the things you will encounter.

  • Anthony

    I have felt or a long time that Obama uses speeches to black groups to signal to white America that he will do no favors for black people. I support Obama because is better than the alternative, but I expect little from him that is specific to my community.

  • Brad

    “Ask_ME” – Although I get the intent of what you are saying I am calling BS. I liked the presedent words because he wasn’t chastizing the graduates as you seem to be. A part of what he talked about was them going back into the community to lead. That’s what the whole talented tenth philosophy is about.

    To me you sounds more like some white Warden or prison cell block captain telling these accomplished black men. Don’t get to uppity, yall are nothing special because you beat the odds. So what you worked hard and “earned” your degree. Instead of a pat on the back your logic is “because they are black males” they need a kick in the butt.

    I call BS, because I can promise you that those men growing up black in America no matter who the president is. No matter what accomplishments they have made are well aware that this world, this country ain’t intiteling them to nothing.

  • Smilez_920

    I wasn’t to crazy about pieces of Michelle speech. I saw nothing wrong mostly with Obama speech. He praised these men, he told then they have done great. But what’s he was telling them is greatness does stop here, greatness starts right now, life starts right now and these are some of the things you will encounter.

    Having a degree doesn’t stop you from getting caught up. It might stop you from getting caught up in the street life , but there are issues that black men face outside of those circumstances , that Obama addressed. He told these young men that while there are uncontrollable circumstances you will give outside of college, that you have to take control of your life and take accountability.

    One minute you want him to not lecture you then the next minute you interview him and ask him about ” black love” and how he met Michelle and other bs that has nothing to do with moving an agenda forward that would really help our community. Also if we want to stop being lectured , we need to treat Obama like a politician instead of a brother , uncle , etc… Also stop asking him to speak on non political agendas like the state of the black family, fatherhood and other things of that nature. Stop being so sensitive and actually get it together, you want him to focus on a new black agenda that doesn’t involve lecturing start talking about one and using you votes and power to bring a new one to the table.

    And we all know of he had given a regular ” hog wash” graduation speech the complaints would have been ” make it more reliable, talk about your experience as a black man, to these young black men etc…)

  • lol

    Ask_Me said it all.

    Brad have a seat somewhere.

  • Ask_ME

    I’m sorry to hurt your feelings, but a little humility (which President Obama served up nicely) needs to be smacked across the faces of quite a few members of this bunch.

    The whole idea of the “talented tenth” philosophy is flawed in itself. The only thing it has done is inflate the egos of black men and women who went to college, moved to the suburbs and became employees. The only thing that appears to be talented about these folks is they managed achieve a higher paying job than the other 90%, but then again, this isn’t guaranteed in our modern world either.

  • Brad

    Yea, said it as if the approach to talking to accomplished Black men is one from a prison yard some place. I have a feeling that you look at black men no matter what setting as not only potential criminals but, probably criminals.

    All of a sudden growing up black in this country is one of privilege and coddling. Although it is certainly a privilege to be black, it ain’t always easy.

    You have a seat I prefer to stand up…

  • Brad

    Taking this from another blog I agree this was the jist of his speech and I find nothing wrong with it.

    In the speech, he basically makes two requests of the Morehouse graduating seniors –

    1) In the Morehouse tradition, continue to expect more of yourself and

    2) “inspire those who look up to you to expect more of themselves.”

  • jamesfrmphilly

    racists enjoy blaming their victims. some black people, suffering from stockholm syndrome, also blame the victims of the racists. this is much ‘safer’ than taking on the system of white supremacy.

    obama, sadly, has proven to be a moral coward.

  • Brad

    I think that in some cases the execution is flawed but, not the intent and in some cases it’s hard at work.

    HBCU Community Development Action Coalition

    Launched in 2010, the Historically Black College & Universities (HBCU) Community Development Action Coalition (CDAC) is a national, membership-based non-profit that advocates for historically black colleges and minority serving institutions (MSIs) community through the development of wealth creation, economic viability and sustainable communities.

    Mission Statement
    Our values fuel our passion; commitment and investment in supporting historically black colleges and minority serving institutions.

    We strive to:

    Promote Community Empowerment and Self-Determination;
    Foster Indigenous Leadership;
    Practice Integrity, Equity, Fairness, and Accountability;
    Facilitate Individual, Family, and Community Wealth;
    Champion Diversity;
    Invest in Education and Healthy Communities

  • L

    @Ask_me is preaching today. I almost fell out of my seat when i read this….

    “The whole idea of the “talented tenth” philosophy is flawed in itself. The only thing it has done is inflate the egos of black men and women who went to college, moved to the suburbs and became employees. The only thing that appears to be talented about these folks is they managed achieve a higher paying job than the other 90%, but then again, this isn’t guaranteed in our modern world either.”

    About darn time someone has said this!!!!!!!!!! and no hate, im a college grad but a free thinking one!

  • Ask_ME

    Thank you. I have a Master’s degree. I have seen too much in my life to believe the lie of the talented tenth.

  • Ms. Information

    I am aware that there are black people who need the “come to Jesus” speech about responsibility and doing better. The Obamas are talking to the wrong black people. They are talking to the one’s who got through college and who are trying…why not go to prisons and failing black high schools to preach their rhetoric?

  • Travis

    As a black responsible black man I have to give a great big ole’ “BUCK you OFAMA!!!” When it came to the Wall Street banks, did he preach accountability. Hell no!!! He gave them a fat $800,000,000,000 check with no strings attached. Also, when a few select members of congress moved to introduce articles of impeachment against George Bush and members of his cabinet for supporting and well as committing war crimes (e.g. torture, etc.) in violation of international laws, did Obama preach personal accountability then. No!!! He actually discouraged it in that example. Why is that the only msg. he has for his black voting constituents but no one else?!?!?! Is it because the speech was NOT to appease his black listening audience but was instead to reassure his financiers that he knows who butters his toast. Some of you black folks are dumb ass hell not to mention politically immature to not grasp from where Obama is coming!

    Why does Obama only have “tough love” for us and we drink that tish down like it’s delicious?!??!?! “… what wrong wit dat! he told da trufe didn he?”

  • Tonton Michel

    His intent may be good but his target wrong.

  • donnadara

    Some people will not be happy unless the President says – do what you feel, anything that goes wrong in your life is due to institutionalized racism. He mentioned that they can expect to work twice as hard to get to where they want to go. That is real. Our young men do not need someone to tell them how great they are. They need to be prepared for the real world and understand that failure is not an option. I’m so sick of people taking every speech that the President makes to black people and examining every word to find something to take offense at. By the way, conservatives are angry that the President said that black men need to work twice as hard. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    i’m a little tired of working ten times as hard and getting nothing for it….

  • Memi

    Thank you, thank you THANK YOU!!! This is how I have been feeling and want to express to all those friends and family members that are just blind followers and do not see the danger or the issues with his rhetoric. I will gladly just refer them to this piece instead of getting into arguments over “loyalty” to a man who never claimed to have any for me and mine.

  • Kacey

    I agree completely that these speeches reinforce stereotypes and confirm to whites (and others, because let’s not pretend that whites are the only ones who think a certain way about us) that black people are a blight on society. It is this belief that all black people are lazy, immoral and prone to criminal behavior that cause us to get followed around in stores, stopped by police for walking down the street, scrutinized in the workplace – all with no justification, and we end-up spending much of our lifetime trying to prove ourselves innocent of these things.

    It’s exhausting and demoralizing and it makes me ashamed to see the Obamas continue with this theme every.single.chance.they.get. Even when they are addressing crowds that clearly do not fit into the demographic they are speaking of. The Obamas are simultaneously distancing themselves from blacks while talk back at them and down to them in a misguided, offensive effort to “help”. It’s sickening, but I saw this coming 5 years ago.

  • meme23

    I have consistently been disappointed by the way this president addresses Black people. The only time that he dares to mention Black people is when he is reprimanding them. He never mentions that the Black middle class has been decimated by the recession that he is presiding over. Black unemployment is twice that of white unemployment.

    I rarely mention how disappointed I am with this president because Black people vilify you and white people use it to as proof that he is indeed incompetent. His policies and lack of backbone has caused a lot of problems for many Black people and its time for us to stop blindly supporting him.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    thank you!

  • Tt

    I think some need to hear that just because you have a college degree doesn’t mean the work is over. I work with college and medical students and it is the idea that once the degree is in hand you have it made. This is not the case. Not to mention those who are reading this site I would consider part to the “talented tenth” if you will. Lets behinds some African Americans need to hear this. Of the shoe doesn’t fit pass the message on to the many that certainly fits this. Instead of condemning the president for telling it how it is can we go in our neighborhoods and help those who could use guidance so that this conversation isn’t so prevelant.


    If you don’t like what the pres said or don’t feel it applies, then don’t listen. Simple as that. I am glad he said it. There are too many young black boys and men (including the college educated ones) walking around cocky with an entitlement attitude calling women bs and hoes, quoting rap lyrics and not aspiring to much. Of course there are exceptions, but a large portion of them DO have this attitude of entitlement and prefer to blame everyone else but themselves when things don’t go their way. If you want the President to hand hold you, blame racism and free 20K black men from jail. It ain’t gonna happen. You alone have the power to change your reality. Take responsibility for your own life, your kids and your community. No politician can help much if you don’t do this first.

  • adiatc

    YES!!!!! Very well said.

  • rastaman

    My nephew graduated from an HBCU earlier this month and as a family we were there to cheer him on his personal accomplishment. An achievement in which of all of us had personally invested. His graduation was the culmination of a journey one that could have gone easily awry without his perseverance and our strong support. I say all of that because we need to stop pretending as if the path of the black male in this society is a normal one. Black males are no more dysfunctional than any other group but their behavior is more likely to be prosectued or impugned. Pretending like this is not true is a big part of the failing of those who claim to be in the black male corner especially when we do not arm our sons to deal with the inevitable where is race and gender will be used against him. American society has made a cottage industry of criminalizing black male behavior and whenever people offer suggestions about how we arm young brothers to defend themselves we unfortunatley get the naysayers crawling out the woodwork.

    The excuses he is talking about is the one about the “man holding us down”. Guess what the man has been holding us down for over 500 years but it is no longer an excuse that flies for anyone willing to listen. He was holding us down literally with chains, then it was Jim Crow then its discrimination in housing, hiring, education, drug enforcement, stop and frisk and we will probably not stopped being handicapped in the forseeable future. If you push me down its on you but if I stay down its on me.

    Obama is president and somehow he is suppose to erase 500 years of oppression, Benjamin Disraeli was a jew who happen to be prime minister of Britain in latter half of the 19th century. It was the most powerful nation on earth at the time and in Russia they were having Pogroms and 50 year later Hitler would be gassing European Jews. I say that to illustrate that Obama no matter his position is limited in how much he can impact the lives of his fellow African Americans. He is giving us a living example of achievement not only by being president but being an engaged father and husband. The last 2 are more achievable for most men and I believe they are as an important in our community as having a black president. Plus on a day to day, engaged fathers and husbands have a deeper effect on many people’s lives.

    We can either sit around discussing who did what to whom and when or we can choose to take responsibility for our own futures and the futures of our children. Obama is no Black Jesus, he is not here to deliver us to the promised land, he is one man who has been given a larger platform to be an example; you want to nitpick is obvious flaws go ahead but I would rather look at the big picture. A black man at the very pinnacle of success who did not get there slinging crack rock, entertaining or because of his wicked jump shot.

  • Think Critically


    Black people are dysfunctional. I won’t participate in the delusional foolishness that some black people are participating in.
    Every.single.statistic. is not in our favor.

    Prison. Disease. Lack of education. Economic disenfranchisement. Violence. Broken families, I could go on and on. Can we stop pretending that we don’t have a lot of issues, please? Delusion is not going to solve our problems.

    Black people are waiting for the government to solve our problems and as a result NONE of our problems will be solved. We want the government to prevent us from getting pregnant and having babies that we can’t take care of. We want the govt. to make fathers take responsibility for their families. We want the govt, to take care of our kids once we have them. We want the government to give us jobs, fix our neighborhoods, stop us from killing each other…it goes on and on. It’s a sense of entitlement, plain and simple. This sense of entitlement also extends to many educated black folks as well -to your point Ask_me.

    At what point are we going to take responsibility for the f*ckery in our community? At what point are we going to fix our own problems? And frankly, everyone knows that racism exists, but BLACK AMERICANS are being left behind by every group of minorities. Even Africans and West Indians are doing better than BLACK AMERICANS in this country – they were slaves too, many of them grew up poor. Why are they surpassing us? I mean, seriously – take a look around and realize that if black people don’t accept responsibility for our current situation (because we can’t change the past) black America will be left behind. It really is that simple.

  • Ado

    I agree. I dont think the president is confirming the idea that black people are a blight on society so much as saying hey this is what ppl think of you, but that is no reason you cant succeed in the new worlds you will face…you are men and must act as so, no excuses do better if you fail at one step, keep pushing to the next. Despite the many traps you have seen neighbors and friends fall into in the past,you have come this far and its only time to pull your sleeves up even more. I think it is motivational not because he agrees or confirms stereotypes but because he acknowledges that they exist and he believes that the brothers of Morehouse have been equipped to handle themselves in the face of that type of adversity and be successful like many before them who have faced similar and different issues.

    I think his message is a message of being aware that you have the power with every action to change someone else’s perspective and even if you don’t change their mind, maintain your focus on success and helping those who didn’t make it to this graduation, ok that last one might be wishful thinking but that is where this speech lead me.

  • Ado

    I completely agree with you, it could not be said in a better way.

  • meme23

    No one is looking to Obama or any politician to be a savior. We just want him to enact policies that won’t destroy our communities and turn around a berated us with republxan talking points. We want him to fulfill the promises he made to lure us to the polls to help him get re-elected.

  • Malik Hemmans

    it seems like nobody ever talks about white supremacy… it doesn’t exist

  • lol

    *stomps my feet*

    this gotdamit!


  • lol

    agree with Ado

  • La’netta

    A request to CLOSE COMMENTS!

    Sir, you have said it all. And especially this “We can either sit around discussing who did what to whom and when or we can choose to take responsibility for our own futures and the futures of our children”.

    That right there is a perfect line for a commencement speech.

    Very, very well stated indeed!!!!! Be blessed…

  • Dave

    “You have met very many black male college graduates eh?”

    Have you read clutch? Do you know how many articles highly educated black women have written on this space complaining because their laundry list of accomplishments (which they will happily read off, unasked) didn’t land them “the good man” they clearly feel entitled too? Barack Obama went to Columbia and Harvard. Black people graduate from them schools every year. Would he have even hinted at this message in a commencement address made to them, his alma mater? Let me see: heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell no.

  • ruggie

    As proud as I felt to see the President speaking to Morehouse grads, I had a gnawing, embarrassed feeling as I watched, and this article lays it out perfectly. It was less inspiring and more “wee need to do better” as was Mrs. Obama’s mention of back children wanting to be ballers and rappers instead of wanting to read at Bowie State’s graduation, and Eric Holder’s chastisement of black fathers on Father’s Day at church. Very off sentiments for these events! What’s ironic is that when actual rappers and ballers donate big $$ to the Obama campaign, there’s no mention of the single minded focus on the sports, entertainment, money chasing and pimpin’ ain’t easy lifestyle that got them there. I suppose if you’re just an average black person trying to do better then your role is bear the sins of the race and make up for the deficiencies of people who really don’t care to do better.

  • Travis

    I agree with your assessment but the damage is already done and pretty much water on the bridge. It was the 2008 election campaign when we should have bought a clue. Obama refused to support any initiative to investigate any of the Bush cabinet members including Bush himself on war crimes. This spoke volumes to me. A political system w/ no accountability is a system not worth having. The American people ‘en masse’ voted for a black man because that’s how badly they wanted change. I think that vote was a mandate by the people telling Obama, we want all the Bush cabinet members to held personally accountability for the crimes against humanity they’ve committed in our names. To say that he wouldn’t have gotten elected if he had of supported an investigation of the Bush administration for war crimes and racketeering is nonsense. Him disavowing to hold the Bush administration accountable was his nod and gesture to the power elite that he was their “man for the job” which he has not failed to prove in every chance he gets (e.g. abandoning teachers, ignoring school privatization, extra-judicial “kill-list”, filling his cabinet w/ Wall-Street bankers, continued deregulation, etc.) Cynthia McKinney (Green) or Dennis Kucinich (Democrat) were the true populist candidates. That’s who blacks should have supported. Instead, we went for “smoove” (a.k.a. Obama). Black people have proven in our support of Obama that we don’t understand power nor do we understand politics as they operate in this country. We got a long way to go but we can start by doing a better job of informing ourselves. Stop getting your news from mainstream news sources which are all corporate owed. Try,,, Frontline (PBS), etc. Also, read, read, read, and read some damn more. Staying informed is half the battle. If you don’t have time to read, watch documentaries on any topic of interest. That way you can build a more profound understanding of any one or more topics. is a great website that allows you to search of any particular topic to locate related documentaries. The barbershop and mainstream news source cannot be our primary and often only source of information.

    Lastly, I’ve concluded sometime again that the Republican party is pretty much sunk and this point. White middle/upper class Americans no longer have the numbers to vote conservatives into office. So I ask, does that mean the neo-conservative agenda dies??? Hell no! Power surely would not allow that. So then how does the neoconservative agenda gets advanced without support of it’s traditional Republican backing who is growing increasingly unelectable? Easy. You package a pro-corporate, neoconservative agenda in a pro-liberal, seemingly progressive package (e.g. OBAMA). Obama has proven not to be the “lesser of two evils” but instead has proven to be the “more effective of two evils.” Newsflash, both parties and supported by the same financiers. The “two-party system” is a myth… an absolute illusion. Black folks better wake up and start taking a closure look at the 3rd party to the extent that their not financed by the same corporate backers who finance both mainstream parties.
    I’ve said enough. Lol. I am done. ;-)

  • GeekMommaRants

    Ask me: You hit the ball out the park, Girl, GO!!!

  • GeekMommaRants

    Brad, AskMe is correct. Think about Jesse Jackson Jr, and Kwame Kilpatrick, then you will understand what she meant.

  • Melanie

    It would nice if the POTUS and FLOTUS did not feel the need to have a Sister Souljah moment every time they get up to speak to a black audience.

  • lol

    since Obama didn’t do what you wanted him to do (indict on war crimes and solve the black communities problems), what do you suggest black folk do about it?

    tell us that instead of writing books about Obama. what will a 3rd party do for black folk?

  • B

    What I don’t understand is WHY did it take so long for to realize Obama has been selling this brand of racial pathology since 2004.

    Go look at his DNC speech in 2004. The ONLY RACE he identified as having a self sabotaging pathology was BLACK PEOPLE!

    He said: Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white.

    Anyone who disagrees with me please show me ANYWHERE in that speech another racial group was singled out as having a racial neurosis and painted as anti intellectual. You can’t because he didn’t. At that moment I knew his deal and he has not disappointed.

    This told white America he was not going to coddle the “Negroes” and a matter of fact he was going to drag us whenever he thinks they are watching. And so began his climb to the highest office in the land.

    Every single President has done the “Shiftless Negro” routine speeches to win favor with the white voters. There is no road to the white house without walking all over black people. Reagan, Clinton, Nixon, Jefferson, Kennedy, Bush and Obama have all done this.My self worth and BLACK pride doesn’t allow me to accept this for ANY president..
    Please note Obama’s mother also abandoned him, but I don’t see him giving speeches about how white women need to stick around and raise their OWN children instead of dumping them off on grandparents.

    You ask yourself if a presentational candidate / president who was white said these things would it be okay…

    “I know some of y’all you got that cold Popeyes out for breakfast”.

    “Take Off Your Bedroom Slippers; Stop Complaining”.

    To Black Enterprise he said ” I’m not the president of black America. I’m the president of the United States of America”.

    Black people showed up for him. Black people stood in lines for hours and this is how he’s speaks to his most loyal and faithful constituency? Yes, we are a constituency.
    Jesse Jackson said he talked down to black people and he was crucified. I guess some people own Jesse an apology. Because he knew back then what some of us refused to see.

  • B

    Auto correct is the devil…lol

  • GeekMommaRants

    I thought both speeches were talking to the entire black community, because we talk about this constantly.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    that is the ‘safe’ way. lets pretend. let’s blame the victims. those that challenged are all assassinated.

  • What.

    Did you really just say that expecting to eventually land a well-paying job after putting the footwork and money into college to get one is an “entitlement”? Did you *really* just compare going to college to get a job- which is what society and pretty much everyone else told us college was FOR -to scoring with a hot chick? Do you not see how disparate and nonsensical that comparison is?

    Also: did you just compare a room full of accomplished young black men, ready to graduate, to four rapists? You do realize that the audience that Obama was giving his speech to weren’t currently on trial for rape, right? Why should they have to bear the burden of someone else’s horrific crime? Because they’re also black men?
    Also, why should these young men not be allowed to celebrate in their accomplishment of finishing college? Getting into- and staying in -college takes work, and if you already had to work ten times as hard as your middle-class and/or white peers to get out of negative surroundings to *get* to college in the first place, that’s worthy of commendation, not scorn for…well, for being black and not meeting some unnamed standard of perfection, in your eyes.

    I’m mystified that your comment is getting so many upvotes.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    “We can either sit around discussing who did what to whom and when or we can choose to take responsibility for our own futures”

    i can do both….and a few other things at the same time

  • What.

    Some of the comments here look like they were pulled straight from the Stormfront messageboards, damn.

  • Tam

    Yes they do……

  • a

    This president and his wife may single out young black men for scolding but please don’t believe they have respect for struggling black women. It is simply easier to attack black men because you will have the support of whites and most sisters. The Obamas are too smart to single out black teen moms, an alarmingly high STD rate or the fact that the fastest growing inmate population is young black women. Black women will not tolerate it and sisters represent his strongest base.

  • JuciyBee

    I wish Obama would’ve talked more about blacks actually owning businesses instead of giving money to others. I wish he would’ve talked more about black entrepreneurship in general, this message would be more beneficial to the black community.

  • Nope

    Agreed oow children and education are two big problems facing African Americans. They are two big problems that will always hold us back.

    These are problems that we can work on ourselves but people are waiting on the president to create policies to fix the state of black marriage and funding to fix black schools. Cosby and Obama call black people out on these things. They are community problems not problems that we need the government to solve. And if folks are going to sit and wait on these policies, they will be waiting (and still whining probably) for a long time.

  • What.


    I have no honest idea what that screed against educated black men had to do with the content of my comment.

    Also, before (or perhaps, after) anyone makes any assumptions: I’m not a black man. I’m a black woman who hates to see black men continually thrown under the bus and expected to bear the burdens of others’ shortcomings on the day we should be celebrating one of the highest achievements of young adulthood.

  • Danté

    So what should he have said instead? What message should he have given these people? Why is it that when a black person (especially one in a position of power) talks about how we need to “do better” or about personal responsibility, he (or she) is automatically branded as being some sort of sellout? What Obama said is 100% true.

    Of course racism still exists. But simply talking about how complex the deep-seated issues of racism affect our daily lives will not solve anything. It merely perpetuates America’s stereotype that black people see themselves as helpless victims. Should we not be looking for ways in which to do better for ourselves? Should we not speak on issues like personal responsibility for fear that we might forget our struggle?

    I’d much rather listen to Obama talk about not making excuses than listen to Jesse Jackson’s old played out ass. Come on black people, we need men like Obama to keep it real with us.

  • GeekMommaRants

    Well, what happens when highly educated blacks like Jackson, Kilpatrick, Barry, etc and the like become indicted? They are criminals just like Pokey and Ray-Ray. Right? So POTUS was speaking to this all to real situation and so of us are offended and insulted. Personally, I’m tired of “Millionaire for decades is broke” “Successful so and so has been sentenced” Play this shit off, keep on.

  • DD

    Its as simple as this people. These are not even President Obama’s words. This speech along with so many others were probably written by a young white male speechwriter who does not realize nor appreciate the significance of the Historically Black College experience, let alone the Morehouse College tradition of excellence. The question we should be asking is where are the HBCU grads in this White House? Where are the HBCU grads in this cabinet? Where are the jobs for these newly graduated exemplars of excellence from Morehouse?

  • Cocochanel31

    thank you! I’n auck of the over criticism as well! Those Morehouse men worked hard to cross that stage! Save the admonitions to the brothas in jail! For once can the Obamas praise and uplift a roomful of blacks without bashing the degenerates? We ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THEM..go out and do something besides TALK !

  • The Artist

    Well, I think the President made a good point. Just because these are young educated black brothers, doesn’t negate them from the real world and the challenges they will all face as black males. Yes, there will always be racism but we must tear ourselves away from the whole…the man is trying to bring me down mindset. I see a lot of young educated people easily falling into this mindset, due to the lack of jobs after college and accumulating debt.

  • What.

    “For once can the Obamas praise and uplift a roomful of blacks without bashing the degenerates? We ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THEM.”

    Exactly. It’s embarrassing seeing people trot out these same tired statistics as though they’re not common knowledge to the entire world at this point.

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    I think there is something to be said about rehashed and oh so cliched talking points…and yes the Obamas are guilty of that. There is a certain comfort in admonishing & grouping black constituents as a whole that makes whites or the culture of power very comfortable.

    I’ll admit: I have mixed feelings about the Obamas. They are inspiring but at the same time I’m not inspired to fully trust them. After all; they are still politicians.

    Black college graduates more now than ever need a speech on capitalism, globalism, entrepreneurship and true empowerment that will have a lasting effect on their communities. It’s no longer about a job as much as it’s about making yourself marketable.

    Many college graduates are disillusioned when they find that their job prospects are dismal and many find themselves underemployed, in a mountain of student loan debt, and envious and resentful of college and high school drop outs such as Beyonce, Jay, Baby, Wayne, Drake just graduated high school a few months ago, Steve Jobs, and didn’t the founder of Tumbler just sell his company to yahoo for $250 million all while dropping out of high school? There are countless examples that run contrary to the benefits of a degree.

    I know that parents of graduates are proud but a Bachelor’s is no longer the security seat it once was and it certainly does not prepare graduates for the NEW economy of part time, per diem, freelancing, adjuncting, and all those other code words for NO BENEFITS. If the Obamas gave a speech on that then I’d rea

    Great comments Clutch community.

  • Cocochanel31

    YES GREAT POST!~ LEt’s start empowering black people and giving them IDEAS!

  • Job


    I think BeReal was being sarcastic and agreeing with you by saying that after posters like Ask_Me go and rain on the parade and belittle the accomplishments of hardworking men by calling them “average” and “entitled”, you can’t really these say expect them to come back do the community any favors.

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    “If the Obamas gave a speech on that then I’d be more inspired trust their leadership.”


    Instead cliche talking points I recommend reading Rich, Dad, Poor Dad. That book will prepare you for the truth of the economic reality we are now living in.

  • binks

    Bam! And people keep bringing up well he is speaking to the wrong people yes AND no a message is a message and should be delivered in hopes that it passes on to those who NEED it and for those who listen to inspire others. Why are people acting like recent college grads are so far removed from the ills of our community the president and the first lady spoke about….i get that it seems the president and first lady always have these do better speeches gear to us but our community still needs work and rallying. Who care if these talks/speeches are embarrassing or could make us look bad to white people who gives a f*** there is a bigger picture here. But people would rather kill the messengers and message because they don’t like what they hear or want to accept the other half of the ugly truth.

  • Lynne

    This was a fantastic post. I’ve felt this way for quite some time.

    Excellent, Ms. Harris. Excellent.

    Somebody pass me a cigarette.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    they were…..

  • Kelley Johnson

    Yes, because all those statistics are just made up, right?

    I agree with the President 100 percent. Black people love to get upset when the truth is spoken about our community.

    Oh, and by the way, the speech was also very positive. But it makes for a better story to make the story about how you think the president was talkign down to black folk. If you’re so upset about him airing dirty laundry, why continue to push the meme in public.

  • Kelley Johnson

    It’s absolutely true. Black people are attacking him just like Bill Cosby was attacked. They were both spot on.

    Black folk have been hearing about racism and all the excuses that comes with that for decades now and it’s hurt the community. We need more messengers preaching the “no excuses” mantra. Nope, instead we’d rather be patted on the back and told it’s ok our families are broken and have sky high out of wedlock birth rates. We wanna be told it’s ok young black men are dropping out of high school at an embarrassing rate.

    Anyone who finds fault in a message that calls for you to strive to be your best despite whatever obstacles you may face is a person who wants you to be defeated.

  • Jason E (@Fuckthestruggle)

    There is a brick wall in front of me. I cannot pass through or around it. I’ve been trying for 500 years to break it down. Here comes Obama … “Yeah I know there is a brick wall there, but forget that! You should be focusing on getting around that wall, no excuses! If you keep your head down and push forward even you will eventually get to the other side!!”

    So now people are told to keep slamming their head into the wall and ignore that the wall is actually there. Riiiiight. We will definitely get ahead that way!!!

  • BlackBeauty

    Thank you!

  • NOitAll

    Obama is our President and we are his constituents, not his children. He needs to start addressing policy matters the way he does to every other community. The sad part about his speeches is that if some white politician said the things he says to us, we’d be rightfully offended. But because Obama is a “black” man, we treat him like he’s some kind of soothsayer.

  • Kelley Johnson

    I always said it’s no surprise that the first black President is actually straight African by way of a white family. He didn’t grow up with the same kind of inferiority complex to so many black Americans have. He doesn’t need white people to validate their hatred towards him in order for him to achieve. This is how he is so able to keep his cool with all the hatred and bullshit thrown at him on the daily by white folks in Washington and from bitter black political players who are so jealous of him they can’t see straight. He knows they hate him. And so what? He knows they will try to block everything he proposes? And so what? He still finds a way to get done what he needs to.

    Too Black Americans still need the white man’s validation in order to do right for themselves. That’s why so many are angry about this speech. They feel that black people are soooo weak, that you can’t tell a black man to stand up like a damn man unless you get a white man to acknowledge all the wrongs he’s done to that black man. You can’t tell a black students to keep their eyes on the prize and worry about trying to be a rapper, unless you hold all those white record executives accountable for giving us Lil’ Wayne and Chief Keef. It’s so stupid and childish and exactly why black folks can’t get anywhere while Asians and Africans come here and make successes of families in the space of two generation.

    Black folks look absolutely stupid getting upset over this. The idea of personal responsibility should never be seen as condescending or unfair. But see, this is the kind of mindset that lets a community think it’s fine and dandy to have 73 percent of its babies born out of wedlock, but then turn around and wonder why the community’s gone to hell.

  • Kelley Johnson

    The best thing he could do would be to create a law forcing black men and women to marry before they have babies. Including in the law should be mandatory monthly meetings with their kids teachers.

    That’s what’s plaguing the black community. The complete lack of family structure and the lack of parental involvement in education.

    But see, if he really did that people would be mad. Instead, what they want is just more talk about what the white man’s done to us and more money poured into programs to do things for their families that they should be doing themselves.

  • Kelley Johnson

    Well said, well said.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    if black people fought the system of white supremacy with a fraction of the energy that they put into self hate, this war would be over…..

  • Kelley Johnson

    totally and completely on point.

  • Kelley Johnson

    Well said,

  • Lynne

    You’re not getting it, Kelley Johnson. If you told me you were having financial trouble, and I automatically said, “Get off food stamps and work,” wouldn’t you be at least somewhat miffed if you had a job?

    This was not an audience that needed admonishing. As I commented on the post about Michele Obama’s speech at another HBCU, save that type of criticism when dealing with some teenagers in a Scared Straight program. Or take it to some correctional facility.

    The “truth” as you put it is that these are college graduates. They’ve already crossed a big hurdle. How about some words of encouragement? Scolding has its place at times, but not always.


    There is a way over the brick wall. Most people would rather just complain about it and shake their fist in the air than go get some climbing gear.

  • thetruth

    All he did was state the problem and give no answers.

    If he really wanted to say something useful then he would’ve urged these young men to build their own businesses and network with each other. But I guess he didn’t want to seem too “pro-black.”

  • Lou

    Bingo! With this ” Just doing the minimum and avoiding prison seems to be an accomplishment for SOME,
    Yes because they have defeated the odds… Now give me!! Is some response….

  • Lola gold

    President Obama is total right!!! NO MORE EXCUSES… THE RACE CARD HAS BEEN REVOKED!!!!

  • Kelley Johnson

    Here’s more of the bare minimum bullshit from black folks. So because they aren’t in jail and have a degree, they don’t need to be told anything. How dare he expect even more of these black men! They aren’t in jail! leave them alone! I swear, this “unicorn” status black folks assign to black men who have college degrees is as detrimental as the excuses that are made and the coddling of the brothas who aren’t doing shit with their lives.

    Telling black college graduates that they will face racism but should not allow it to stop them and that they should continue to strive for excellence is NOT admonishing. Telling them to be honorable husbands and fathers is NOT admonishing. Telling them to not forget their community once they start making big money is NOT admonishing.

    Sorry, but he talked to them like men and spoke about the expectations of what a man should be. I know that’s become a taboo subject in the black community thought.

  • Kelley Johnson

    There is a way around that brick wall. Immigrants come to this country and can barely speak the language, yet their kids and grand kids make is around that wall.

    Quit wallowing in victim hood. Obama had the biggest wall in history in front of him. And he did it, he became President. But you think it’s wrong for him to tell young black men to keep pushing and be exemplary in their professional and personal lives?


  • Get to the Choppa

    I know your white because there is no such thing as the race card.

  • Travis

    “Lol”, Do you really have to ask? A 3rd-Party candidate is supposed to do the same thing Obama was supposed to do but refuses to… represent your interest, even if you’re too uninformed to recognize those interests. Also, If you consider my extensive response a “book”, then I suggest you read more often. There’s nothing mystical about how I described the current deficiencies of our political system. About doing what “… I want him to do…”. Upholding the law IS his legal job… not some person mandate from me or anyone else. Have you ever heard the oath, “…I do swear to solemnly uphold…”
    Aside from the money issue in politics, youre comment brings to attention another huge problem with our political system which is a non-critical thinking, uninformed electorate. You see, it is becoming grossly apparent that uninformed, non-critical thinking people can be fooled CONSISTENTLY into voting for anyone, hence the vast overwhelming majority of Americans continue election after election, vote Republican or Democrat to no avail. Then after the election, most of us are too lazy and non-critical to follow and learn how the candidate we voted for screwed us over and sold out our interests to their financial constituents. See as a voting constituent, your relevance only matters up until the vote. Beyond that, what you think is irrelevant to most politicians which Obama has proven… no different than the rest. If anything I said lack solid reasoning then please point the flaw in my logic.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    the greatest trick the devil ever did was convince people that he didi not exist….

  • Travis

    Although I understand your sentiment, I disagree. Obama does have power within this system. Any person who can effectively initiate a war without Congressional approval is certainly not powerless. Any man who can effective order and affect your execution via drone without missing a beat is not powerless. Any man who can go to the UN and veto a measure to block the vote on Palestinian statehood is not powerless. Any man who can order a temporary cease in the deportation of undocumented immigrants is not powerless. Any man… this is too easy.

    This notice that Obama was powerless to do anything about mass black male incarceration, depression era unemployment in major urban communities, destruction of the teachers union, etc. is utter garbage. It so obviously is a matter of him choosing not to because he is bought and paid for an supports the interest of his financiers (e.g. Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, etc.)

    The fact that Obama has so clearly betrayed the vote of the black people can be easily and effectively argued by an elementary-aged school child.

    If you wanna pretend or make believe that Obama is powerless… go for it. But deep down in side we both know better.

  • Travis

    Although I understand your sentiment and agree with you to a large extent, I disagree with your assessment that Obama has limited power to impact the lives of black people. That’s much nonsense.

    Obama does have power within this system. Any person who can effectively initiate a war without Congressional approval is certainly not powerless. Any man who can effective order and affect your execution via drone without missing a beat is not powerless. Any man who can go to the UN and veto a measure to block the vote on Palestinian statehood is not powerless. Any man who can order a temporary cease in the deportation of undocumented immigrants is not powerless. Any man… this is too easy.

    This notice that Obama was powerless to do anything about mass black male incarceration, depression era unemployment in major urban communities, destruction of the teachers union, etc. is utter garbage. It so obviously is a matter of him choosing not to because he is bought and paid for an supports the interest of his financiers (e.g. Monsanto, Goldman Sachs, etc.)

    The fact that Obama has so clearly betrayed the vote of the black people can be easily and effectively argued by an elementary-aged school child.

    If you wanna pretend or make believe that Obama is powerless… go for it. But deep down in side we both know better.

  • Travis

    THANK YOU!!! Very cogent assessment of the obvious.

  • Travis

    Are you serious?!?!? I rail against Obama because I consider him a personal traitor to the interest of black liberation. He has consistently supported the interests of his financial constituents over the interests of his voting and community constituents. Not only that he’s a liar. How much respect do you afford a liar?

  • Travis

    But you miss one key point, which is that he can’t run for a third term. So what does he care? Trust that Obama’s loyalty to his financial constituents will be very generously rewarded. Trust me when I say that Obama will not allow himself to need anything for black women… politically speaking.

    His speech was an attack on the black community, not just black men.

  • Travis

    Please define “racism”? “We need men like Obama…” WTF!!! He’s proven to be politically impotent w/ regards to the interest of his black constituency. We need Obama like we need a hole in the head.
    What has Obama done to remediate or address in anyway the trend of black male incarceration and the prison industrial complex that is materializing as a contemporary chattel slave system?

  • Travis

    Not even his words?!?!?!? What? So you want to make him personally unaccountable for what he even says? Wasn’t his speech about being accountable?

  • What.

    Why did you assume that I was talking about the comments criticizing the president? Have you even read my other comments on this post?

  • Ask_ME

    Um…yeah each and everyone of you can miss me this B.S.

    Nobody owes you anything in this world. Those of you who believe the world is going to stop and salute you because you graduated from college and managed to avoid prison are in for a HUGE wake up call.

    I don’t know what world some of you are living in but NOBODY should feel entitled to a cookie for doing the ish they SHOULD be doing anyway!

    I don’t have the least bit of sympathy for any black male (or female) who sits around thinking they are significant or special for doing the SAME ish that millions of people do every year and every day.

    You graduated from college? Great!

    You didn’t go to prison? Great!

    So now you’re entitled to a well paying job and the finest of women??? Uh…no. That’s NOT the way the world works.

    Most people who have something to show for their lives WORKED for it. It wasn’t given to them. They WORKED and ACHIEVED that success.In the world we live in we DO compete for jobs, potential mates and everything else. Either get with the program or STFU and create your own program. Otherwise, stop sitting and thinking the world is going to rise and shine on your arse…because that simply is NOT coming to happen.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    “Most people who have something to show for their lives WORKED for it. It wasn’t given to them”

    ever hear of LAND GRANTS? white people were GIVEN land. they did NOT work for it. ever hear of the GI Bill? ever hear of the marshall plan?

    there is a LONG history of WHITE PEOPLE being GIVEN assets.

    please stop listening to right wing media and crack a history book.

  • Ask_ME

    Sweetie, I hate to be the one to bring you the bad news, but there isn’t anything special about graduating from college and becoming someone’s employee or in this day in age…becoming a member of the rat race.

    You see, outside of the black male collective (and probably the black community period)…this type of thing (i.e., going to college and graduating) is considered NORMAL.

    It’s special and significant to you because the bar is so low for black males. You feel the need to receive packs on the back for getting with the SAME program that everyone else has been on for decades now.

    There are people like me, who volunteer for organizations like the Boys and Girls club because I honestly like giving back and helping my community. I don’t expect an award, praise or a round of a applause for doing something that 1). Feels good to me and 2). Is coming straight from my heart.

    The fact that I am giving these kids hope for the future is an added bonus on top of all the other benefits I get from this activism.

    Then there are people like you, who feel the black community owes you some type of special recognition because 1). You have the “potential” to be a higher 2). Walk around feeling you are entitled to the finest women while looking down your nose at Pookie and Ray Ray who you obviously envy and 3). Because you are a SELF-proclaimed “good” black man.

    ^^^Yet you cannot seem to figure out why I (and probably others) are NOT impressed with you.

    Child please!

    REAL good citizens of the black community don’t need parades in our honor. We just do what needs to be done and we keep it moving. We don’t sit around feeling entitled to anything for doing good things for ourselves, for others and for our community. The REAL award comes from the fruits of this labor of LOVE.

  • Travis

    Great observation.

  • Travis

    The “devil” doesn’t exist. Prior to the 300 BCE when the Christian faith came into existence there was no such thing being defined as such.

  • Danté

    “I cannot pass through or around it.”

    Defeatism at its best.

    Yes there is a brick wall, nobody is denying that. But if we adopt the mentality that we cannot pass that wall, what are we left with?

    You offer no alternate approach. Again I ask, what message besides “there is a brick wall we cannot pass” can you present?

  • Danté

    Obama is not the head of some black leadership organization. He is the POTUS. Yes, he is black, but as the POTUS his focus cannot be solely on uplifting black people. He didn’t run on that platform. his message was “change,” and we took that to mean he would somehow eradicate the American white supremacist structure and work some kind of miracle for black people. If anything, Obama’s inability to do anything for black people should serve as a message that if we are to overcome the obstacles we face, we have to look to ourselves and stop relying on “black leaders” to save us. We are the masters of our fate, not Obama, not Jesse Jackson, not Michael Eric Dyson, not Cornel West. You, me, and our fellow black people.

    If there’s anything white conservatives and black people have in common, it’s that they all find fault in everything Obama does and says.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    the system of white supremacy has convinced black people that it does not exist and we are just lazy….

  • aziza123

    Why does he only speak about young black irresponsible men? That’s just addressing half the race….

  • aziza123

    The only way to combat a system is to build one yourself, and compete with it. But you claim that black people are lazy (comment below)…..talking about self hatred…

  • Bernetta Hardy

    Thank you Tami!! I agree 100%!!! I’m so tired of Africans Americans, particularly those from the Civil Rights Generation, lecturing young African Americans about being focused and responsible. I find their arrogance appalling, it stinks of their own self importance, as though their success is based solely on their being focused and the rest of us only harbor Hoop Dreams. I am constantly amazed at African Americans who are surrounded by loving, educated ( or not), hardworking, intelligent African Americans, yet continue to perpetuate racist phantom “problems of the black race.” Systematic institutional racism, including legal and social practices, have ALWAYS been the dominant source of African American underachievement ( please see Chicago public schools shut downs). Perhaps, in the future, we will start seeing ourselves as we truly are ( ambitious, beautiful, hardworking, intelligent), instead of accepting society’s vision of ourselves.

  • Adonis

    Thank you James, thanks you.

  • Rodney

    The problem in all this, we overlook the challenges BM have to overcome to just be average middle class.

  • Rodney

    And we conveniently forget the privileges of being white & having opportunity & coming from an intact community.

    @ASK_ME needs to eat a fat one.

  • Wanda

    “I always said it’s no surprise that the first black President is actually straight African by way of a white family. He didn’t grow up with the same kind of inferiority complex to so many black Americans have.”

    How is the President a “straight African”?

    His biological mother is white.

    He was raised by her, her Indonesian second husband and mostly by his white grandparents, in Hawaii.

    In his book, he says he only saw his Kenyan biological father one time in person.

    How does that make one a “straight African”?

  • Wanda

    I have been a big political supporter of the President and the First Lady, BUT I am not blind to the fact that they appear to be somewhat condescending and patronizing when they speak to Black audiences.

    I still can’t forget that “take off your bedroom slippers” comment years ago. Ugh!

  • Job

    Haha. Kids born to rich parents worked sooooooooo hard for all the material wealth they inherited just by being born. Wow she’s really delusional.

    And by the way the majority of Americans do not possess a bachelors degree. So what these men accomplished is beyond what is normal.

  • Tam

    @ DD
    Maybe these aren’t his words because he has speech writers, but the obvious next question would be can he read? If he can than he knows the content of the speech and read it anyway. Whose fault is that?

  • Ask_ME


    How in the world did this conversation translate into the typical “angry black boy can’t get the woman he wants so he rants about taking his resources, which nobody ever said he was obligated to give, to another community” rant???

    I didn’t see not a single person (including myself) bring up interracial relationships or distribution of resources as related to community outreach. I didn’t see a single person (including myself) say any black man is obligated to marry a black woman or give up his resources. All this came from you based on arguments that NOBODY HERE PUT FORTH.

    Let me be clear for folks like you, who desire to have your ego stroked BEFORE you feel any obligation to YOUR community…

    Nobody is begging for your help! Nobody!

    Once again, I believe community activism is a LABOR OF LOVE, Those of us who do it out of the kindness of our hearts and don’t expect any type of recognition for the task do it because it feels great to us, it matters to us, and we actually care.

    I married out yet I still give back. I don’t care who/what someone marries/dates. That is not my business. If you want to marry out and distribute your wealth to that individual’s non-black community that is YOUR business.

    Nobody is going to beg you to help the black community. Nobody is going to throw parades in your honor for helping the black community. Most people who contribute to the charity of others don’t do it for the recognition. Do you understand that????

    So if you think someone underprivileged or the black community in general is going to bow down to you because you graduated from college and became someone’s employee you are sadly mistaken!

    Black people have enough on their plates without elitist like you feeling as if they owe you a cookie for giving back. Get over yourself.

    Once again, nobody here is telling anyone where to put their resources, who to marry or any of the other B.S. you decided to throw in the conversation.


    These comments are a perfect example of why the black community stays in the same rut, year after year. Excuse making and getting in your feelings when someone tells you to take responsibility for your own life and community. You (and your constant negative thinking about life) are your own enemy.

  • Youwishyoucouldbeme

    Ask Me. With all due respect, I think you are mistaking one thing for the other. First and foremost, I believe that many graduates in this day and age believe they are “entitled,” to a well-paying job and personal fulfillment. Sadly in this day and age, we use the term “entitlement,” for what used to simply be a reality. Once upon a time, a person could graduate from college and expect to find a steady, well-paying job in the government or a corporation. Just like once upon a time before that, some people didn’t even have to go to college, and could get good work right out of high school. But times have changed. Not only are there more college graduates in the U.S. There are also more college graduates globally, jobs have been outsourced, corporations have downsized or shrunk altogether, many small businesses fail, and more students are saddled with student loan debt than ever before. So, actually, times are tough and somewhat depressing for many recent graduates, whether they graduate from college or graduate/professional school. The competition is fierce as President said. And although I grew up with an upper middle class or upper class background, I know many Black men (and women) who are the first ones to go to college in their family. And the expectation placed on them is so unrealistic, like they are going to take care of the entire family. So maybe some of this “entitlement,” although I agree with you that they did what they were supposed to, is also many layers of people placing entitled expectations on them. I think that graduation should be a time of encouragement and not tearing down, even for those that did what they were supposed to. The other point is that when we celebrate these accomplishments, I believe we need to encourage these young men to give back. The seed of philanthropy needs to be planted early and often in our young people, because this is how other communities continue to thrive. They invest in their young, even the screw ups, and help them become better.

    Today, graduates may not be entitled to well-paying jobs, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get them. However, if they do, they should invest in more than themselves. Give back by volunteering with and mentoring young men who don’t have fathers and by being a positive presence of what success looks like. If people see success then it becomes something to strive for, instead of these other issues we constantly talk about.

  • Ask_ME


    I just love the contradiction in your two paragraphs. You ignore the reality that MOST people don’t have rich parents and you acknowledge the reality that MOST people don’t a bachelor’s degree in the same breath. SMH.

  • No_chaser

    ALL OF THIS!!!

  • Ask_ME

    “So maybe some of this “entitlement,” although I agree with you that they did what they were supposed to, is also many layers of people placing entitled expectations on them.”

    ^^^This I can understand. However, there are black men right here on this blog that have basically stated, “The black community needs to bow down before I feel the need to give back.” These “men” repulse me. I call it entitlement because that’s exactly what it is in most cases.

    Community outreach and charity is a labor of love. I’m not sure if it is something that can be taught. For far too many in the black community charity looks like this….

    What can you do for me before I do anything for you? How about stroking my college educated ego before I go out and mentor some underprivileged black kids? How about sucking my — before I mentor your son? How about rubbing my back before I volunteer my time at the local Boys and Girl’s Club?

    ^^^The best thing the black community can do is throw these folks right under the bus and keep it moving.

    Just imagine if all the charity-minded people who started HBCUs post slavery shared this mentality.

  • tina

    These young black men already realize the value of education and aspiring for greatness. They know about the completion through job searches and internships. He should have expressed pride in their choices and achievements.
    It wasn’t a bad speech it was just given to the wrong group of black men. No not all black men are living the same american experience. When he’s traveling around the country speaking at $40k dinners, come down into the black community centers, into the recreation centers, the high schools and give that speech.
    I love my president but not everything he says or does is completely right or wrong. But in my opinion he was wrong.

  • AJW

    We have some black skinheads on this site.

    All I ask is that when discrimination hits your life, DO NOT. Repeat DO NOT come crying to the blacks in the community who GET IT. Please go run to you white spouse, friends, significant others & co workers & ask them to rally for you. Stick up for you. Go to them when you get passed over for a deserving raise & ask THEM why you didn’t get it. Ask them to give up their promotion to the more deserving you & see what they say. Ask your white boy/girlfriend if they are willing to march on your behalf to end white supremacy & see what they do.

    I am so utterly sick & tired of these white identified blacks who do nothing but spew the same tired ass vitriolic racist bull crap that their non black buddies like to say (behind their backs) about the whole race of black people. Guess what? They think the same thing about YOU.

    Anyhoo… When these wonderfully tolerant & accepting folks put out fashion spreads making a mockery of us. Make racist statements about us publicly & commit discriminary hiring practices against us ect, ect. Don’t whine about it. Don’t act shocked when it happens. Just pull yourselves up by your bootstraps & work even harder than you are now. Work till your fingers bleed & you blood pressure is off the charts & then maybe, just maybe you can get that model minority label so many of you desperately want.

    Just don’t come whining to us “race card” pulling blacks when you don’t get it.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    black self hate is tearing us apart….

  • WhatIThink

    The hypocrisy of all of this is so blatant it is ridiculous. Why is it now that after the civil rights movement in America (and all over the world) these corporate shills want to tell us that the primary beneficiaries are going to be Asians and other non African folks. Why is it that they are lumping everyone else with Africans even though the only reason these doors are open is because of the movement and struggle of African peoples? Just like when Obama when out of his way to praise homosexuals and immigrants as the prime example of civil rights, but not one word for black folks. So black folks do all the suffering and struggling and everyone else gets the prize? The point being we are talking about opening doors for people not part of the “current mix” in Western countries and even African countries. Why is it that now we want to bring them into the mix, even after the issues related to the “current mix” haven’t been resolved? I mean without exception, most of these millions of new jobs are not going to be created in India and China. Most of these jobs are going to either be in Western countries or in global companies originally started in the West. This is just another justification for moving the goal posts and setting the expectation that the system owes nothing to black folks even as the current economic system that is making all these “global’ jobs wouldn’t be where it is today without the suffering and struggle of black folks in and outside of Africa. And this is nothing but a ploy to make sure that Africans continue to get denied the benefits of this economic system even as they continue to be a large part of the population exploited by it….. And we are supposed to pretend that everyone who has success just “earned” it and black folks simply don’t cut the mustard? Really? So if I said all the parasite foreigners should leave Africa because they are blood sucking leeches would they agree? Of course not. Its OK for them to leech and suck all the essence of anybody they want when they want but when black folks try and get something, all of a sudden these people are so concerned about “fairness”….

    These folks are sickening.

    Yes there is dysfunction in the black community. But there is dysfunction in all communities, from China to India and in Europe. That has nothing to do with the fact that the people most exploited historically have in no way shape or form EVER gotten “something for nothing” out of the system. If anything the opposite is true. So from that perspective President Obama and other corporate shills need to get their facts straight.

  • Tam

    You do know there are MILLIONS of black people who work and take care of their families, right? I guess you are the exception.
    Hello….Have a seat … and goodbye

  • v

    You said it perfectly. Holding black women accountable for any poor decisions they might make is not something ANY black politician is going to do.

  • m

    The president has a low opinion of black Americans. He believes they lack drive and ambition. He would never give such a speech at the University of Nigeria. The same black Americans who he believes are lazy turned out in record numbes to vote for him. Many waited in line for hours. He really needs to stop talking down to black people.

  • Job

    @Ask Me

    I’m not rich, but both of my parents have masters degrees and sent me to private schools. Did I have to work hard? To some extent yes. But I had it much much easier than my grandparents did. Why? Because by default I had advantages that most other people don’t have. So for me graduating college wouldn’t be a big deal because I already had much given to me.

    What if I had been born into a family in a rough neighborhood? Would I have accomplished as much? Not likely. Why? Because I would not have built in advantages. Going to college would be a HUGE accomplishment. So those who have to overcome great odds should be applauded.

  • a

    Because he has no desire to anger black women. He knows better.

  • BlackBeauty

    You are talking apples and oranges!

    The President does not have a low opinion of Black Americans, The President never said he thinks black americans are lazy! He only stated that which is true!!! Why is that so hard for some of us to hear?

    It is past time for us to acknowledge that there are some issues, and we need to address them. Someone has to step out and tell the truth! Not talking about all black people, but far too many are not productive. This is the truth! Far too many black parents are not parenting.

    And speaking of Nigerians, the ones I know who have come to the USA for education and opportunity are all doing well. They took any job, they took advantage of education, they worked hard. They were a success! They are black.

    No matter if black people stood in line for hours to vote for him or not, it has nothing to do with many of us not taking advantage of the opportunities that are out here for us, and the opportunities are out here IF you want them.

    What makes the difference in those black folks who have educated themselves, (self & formal), works hard at whatever they do, and make a positive contribution to themselves, their families, and community, and those who will not? They all live under the same racism.

    Stop making excuses. Stop placing blame on everyone except yourself. Accept what is the truth, help where ever you can, and do better!

  • What.

    Have you checked out a website called Stormfront yet? They’d love you over there.

    Stop. Just as I’m not here for racist black women saying horrific things about the accomplishments of black men, I am also absolutely not here for black men trying to ascribe this woman’s vitriol to every other black woman out there. Ask_ME’s comments are awful because she’s a black white supremacist, not because she’s a black woman. Calm that mess down, please.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    “Stop making excuses. Stop placing blame on everyone except yourself”

    can you provide an example of any one here doing this behavior? who, exactly, is it that is making excuses?

    if you cannot point out a person who is making excuses then who are you talking to and why?

    BTW : just WHO is responsible for opening up the opportunities that your nigerian immigrants are taking advantage of? when you come to a place and take advantage of opportunities provided by others, that makes you a parasite.

    the brainwashing is complete…

  • Travis

    I am quite aware that white supremacy and western imperialism exist. I am equally aware that Obama is a corporatist who sees fit to support American imperialism as it exist within the context of European imperialism and white supremacy.
    Droning of Yemen… imperialism
    Droning of Afghanistan… imperialism
    Bombing of Libya… imperialism
    Droning of Pakistan… imperialism

  • Ms. Information

    So people selling drugs and slutting around need the same speech as people who just finished studies?….first rule of speech making…know your audience.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    reading is fundamental….what i said is that the system of white supremacy has convinced many black people that we are simply lazy

  • ghetto intellectual™ (@kwamezulushabaz)

    M, Obama used the same condescending tone in Ghana, so I think its likely that he would give the same tired lazy stereotypical speech to Nigerians too. But he would never attempt this foolishness with white students or AIPAC. kzs

  • jamesfrmphilly

    the obamas have been a big disappointment…

  • Furious Styles

    Yeah. We are a tough crowd.

  • Get to the Choppa

    We might be tough but we are fair.

  • Ask_ME


    Your penis envy of Pookie and Ray Ray continues to cloud your logic and judgement.

    The black community is NOT matriarchal…not by a long shot.

    Black women don’t control the businesses in the black community.

    Black women don’t control the black church or any other institution outside of those created by black women for black women.

    Black men on average make more money than black women.

    Street harassment, degrading music/culture, domestic violence and a whole list of crimes against black women are rampant (mind you, these things wouldn’t exist if black women controlled things).

    Black men control the government, law enforcement and and school boards in just about every black mecca in this country.

    Outside of the home, black women don’t control anything yet folks like you (i.e., disillusioned due to racism and self-pity) want the rest of us to believe that the black community and all things black are matriarchal. I think not!

    Your idea that men who simply have JOBS and went to college are somehow TRADITIONAL and “BETTER” is flawed. It leaves out things like character, personality, habits, background etc.

    I met black men in college who came from middle class families yet these individuals were selling drugs! So you can miss me with this elitist B.S. Your education and earning potential doesn’t automatically put you in the category of “worthy” “good” or “better.”

    Modern day black men are just as NON-traditional (if not more so) than modern day black women.

    Your education doesn’t make you better than the next man. Your earning potential doesn’t make you better than the next man.

    These same black men who think they should be “preferred” over Pookie/Ray Ray sit around bumping Pookie/Ray Ray’s music, rocking their clothing lines, youtubing their videos, repeating their street slang while envying their “romantic options,” and money. You need not think these contradictions have gone unnoticed by black women.

    You say these men feel they should be treated like men of other communities yet they aren’t doing the same things that men of other communities do. They aren’t building corporations. They aren’t employing the black masses. They aren’t building, employing, educating, or doing any of the other things that men of other communities do to better the plight of their lot (and no, I don’t feel they are obligated to do this…I’m just pointing out facts…don’t compare yourselves to other men and their communities unless you can take the bitter with the sweet). Instead this is what educated black men do…

    Graduate college<find a job<grow satisfied with that job<find a home in the suburbs<wait until they are 30+ to marry (if they marry at all)<look down their noses at those "other blacks" while expecting an ego stroke or parade BEFORE any charity is given to those "other blacks."

    Once again, child please!

    Just admit you don't feel you should have to compete at all. I would respect you far more if you just stated what has become obvious. It's not about being treated like men of other communities. It's about feeling entitled and feeling you SHOULDN'T have to compete at all.

  • Ask_ME


    Miss me. If the hard cold truth hurts your eyes close them.

  • Tracy

    Nigerians doing well, not in my city

  • Kelley Johnson

    By “straight African” I mean continental African. His black side is not Black American, but “straight” African. And I am quite aware that he has a white mother.

  • nope

    Really? Nigerians? They are very hardworking people, but their country doesn’t show it. If it were a true as you say Nigeria should look like Sweden or South Korea.

  • nope

    Have you seen what Ghana looks like? It’s not very pretty. He didn’t say that Ghanians or Nigerians were lazy. But both groups need to do better, there’s no reason why these countries can’t look like Sweden or Taiwan.

  • nope

    Why is our community not intact? It should be after all these years! It’s embarrassing that black people have not learned how to play the game after all these years living in America. If you don’t know how to play the game you will always lose.

  • anon

    I wish I could give you 100 thumbs up!

  • talaktochoba

    you’re completely dished–what the President was referring to was the snooty “the-world-owes-me-something-because-i-am-a-Morehouse-alum” attitude graduates there have held since the college’s inception;

  • Get to the Choppa

    And with that attitude they have captains of industry, civil rights champions and educator’s of men and women. I think I will take that type of arrogance everyday over the self loathing attitudes of some of you on this blog.

  • talaktochoba

    captains of what industry, Morehouse grad?

    not even hip-hop!

    and who is the last civil rights champion to graduate from Morehouse–Eldrick Woods?


    do you really think Morehouse graduates would stoop so low as a career in public education?

    that’s the kind of elitist attitude too many of your graduates take, and that is exactly what the President was referring to;

  • Ask_ME


    Don’t hurt them too bad with the truth. God forbid someone should point out that this school has gone straight to hell in the last 2-3 decades.

  • Get to the Choppa

    You know nothing about Morehouse or it’s legacy, please stick with topics that you are at the very least remotely familiar with.

  • talaktochoba

    really, Choppa?

    well, my son applied to Morehouse–he’s pretty good at engineering and math–but what he saw was so disheartening that when he got home, he really didn’t mind how they turned their noses up at him, seeing as he wasn’t in Joseph A. Banks suits, Brooks Brothers shirts and like shoes;

    and his first question was why did everybody have to go Greek to be black?

    Morehouse nearly turned him off from HBCUs altogether he’d been looking forward to since eighth grade;

    so don’t tell me again what i don’t know about Morehouse;

  • Ask_ME

    @Get to the Choppa

    Please…I know plenty. And anyone that wants to read about the modern day men of Morehouse need only do a Google search or watch the news. The school has gone to hell and even the alum think the legacy has been lost.

  • Get to the Choppa

    @talaktochoba … I don’t know what happen son’s intial visit, but are you trying to say that he was turned away because he didn’t follow the dress code that was set up for prospective students? Because they do not require you to wear a suit everyday Morehouse requires you to ne dressed in workday casual which is dress pants and a collared shirt. I’m also wondering about the accuracy of for story because Morehouse is a liberal arts college, which means that they do not have a school of engineering. But when I came through the AUC, Morehouse had a joint program for engineering with Georgia Tech so are you talking about that?

  • Get to the Choppa

    @Ask Me I am a alum of the school. Just because you read an article or two doesn’t give you a insight on the pulse of the school. Like I said above you know nothing about my alum.

  • Get to the Choppa

    @Ask Me: Just because you write long rants on blog pages and use the emotion of pain to relate to others does not make your point anymore pausible and/or factual.

  • h

    To all of the people who are criticizing the type of men Morehouse produces, do you feel the same way about Spelman?

  • a

    This president doesn’t scold the black community. He scolds black men.

  • maria

    That’s true. You should actually add prisons.

  • maria

    I still can’t forget that “take off your bedroom slippers” comment years ago. Ugh!

    Me either. Obama definitely has issues with black folks which is weird because he surrounded by so many elite black folks.

  • talaktochoba

    my middle daughter, who is now an aeronautical engineer, was recruited by Spelman;

    when she came back from her visit, she couldn’t stop laughing whenever she was asked about it, saying not even Spike Lee could make a believable movie about their airs and carrying-on…

  • talaktochoba

    didn’t take much to smoke you out as an alum, did it?

    you know EXACTLY what i’m talking about, the pretentious snooty airs like they’re still in Reconstruction times and so better than other HBCU grads the world owes them something; now if that brown bag testing, Talented Tenth posing, Scandal TV show putting on is your cup of tea, good for you; just don’t try fool the rest of us who’ve seen this kind of shining before and are not in the least moved by it;

  • Pema

    Oh please, 75% of black babies are born to single mothers. That is the definition of dysfunction. Families are the building blocks of communities. It doesn’t matter that a lot of these men are college educated many (not all) will go on to live selfish, hedonistic lives that do not contribute to the community. There is nothing wrong with giving “tough love”.

  • Get to the Choppa

    You do know that the majority of babies born into single parent household are white. Also the majority of single mothers are white and that statistic is trending upward. Lastly you sound like one those racist website the myth over sexualization of black men even educated ones. These by pure statistics are most not to engage in those ….selfish, hedonistic lives you speak of. Would you say the same of those Spelman women they take courses at Morehouse and Clark.

  • Get to the Choppa

    Talaktochoba: how many kids do you have? You first said your son didn’t like his visit at Morehouse because of the attitude that the men displayed, now you said your daughter did not like Spelman for similar reasons. Also they don’t offer engineering degrees at any schools. So why would they consider any those schools? Your credibility is taking a big hit on this.

  • shlbshl

    Many amens, Mrs. Winfrey-Harris.

    Yes, this kind of tsk-tsking with respect to black audiences has indeed become an unfortunate pattern with the Obamas.

    What I find particularly irksome is that these kinds of speeches seem primarily crafted as calculated dog whistles to white folks, rather than genuine appeals to black audiences.

    I think it was cheap of POTUS and FLOTUS to use commencement addresses as opportunities to freight black youth–black youth who’ve presumably done all the right things –with the black pathology bag in order to score a few political points. These young people are hardly in need of “put down the fried chicken, and pull up your saggy pants” speeches. Why can’t black kids get the Steve Jobs Stanford treatment? The one where they’re encouraged to think outside the box, follow their passions at any cost, and toil away in a garage somewhere until they invent something that will change the course of human history.

  • Real is the new Real

    It doesn’t matter who the majority is, you have to look at it from the ratio perspective. There are also more white people on welfare than black people, but that’s simply because their are more white people in this country.

  • Real is the new Real

    Let’s be real here. There is a ton of dysfunction in the black community. There is a ton of dysfunction in this world PERIOD. We’re not the only ones with these problems, white people are just better about hiding the dirty laundry. College does not make you immune to the problems that ARE truly rampant in the black community. Yes, maybe in the minority that is the middle and upper class black America it may seem that everyone is living a holistic lifestyle, but honestly they’re just doing exactly what people with money always do–hide their dirty laundry. The fact of the matter is that yes, many of the problems in the black community do stem from our past and the institutionalized racism that has stretched right into our futures, but nobody is going to make that change for us except us. So Obama is right, there are no excuses and there are no crutches. It’s not our fault, but we’re going to have to take the responsibility to make it better. Many of us who’ve graduated from these colleges and universities STILL aren’t meeting the “white standard.” Now do I agree with the fact that we should have to live up to someone else’s standards? No, but niggas gotta eat. The problems that we face in the black community, is not a one man job. This isn’t a government fix-all. We all have to do our part. The change that we want to see in our community has to be a grassroots change. However, this just comes from my experience as a teacher in a rural, high-poverty area.

  • Real is the new Real

    You know Gen Y is pretty entitled all in itself. Many of us come out of college thinking we’re owed a high paying job, not realizing that you still have to work hard. I made that mistake as a black female (I didn’t use race as a basis for this). I went to a majority white school and realized very early that nothing was going to be handed to me (including being something as simple as a dorm RA, sheesh!). Things were easier at my small town high school but when I made it university I realized I would have to step it up. So on top of this generational attitude we have black men who also do the things you stated in your comment above. That’s a double dose of narcissism! Your comment was right on–well said, well said.

  • Pema

    @ Get to the Chopper – The reply to function doesn’t work on my computer but I am not referring to black men’s sexuality. I’m married to a black man, I have a black father, and a black brother. However I do see a disturbing trend around me. A lot of black men seem hesitant to take on the responsibility of marriage in a family.

    In addition you need to learn basic math. There are more white babies born to single parent household because there are more white people. Rates are different from actual numbers.

  • BlackBeauty

    “There are more white babies born to single parent household because there are more white people”
    You would think folks would realize that!

  • Pingback: The Lie of Inherent Black Dysfunction | oh, she ventures...

  • Ramblin’ Wreck

    @Get To The Choppa

    Many students from Spelman major in engineering and take their base courses at Spelman, then transfer into Georgia Tech (which is right up the road) to complete their engineering curriculum. It’s called the “2+3 program” among students, but I think it has a more official name among faculty.

    A LOT of my friends did it when I was at GT, which offers Aerospace Engineering, btw.

    And so far, she only seems to have two kids. Just sayin’.

  • h

    When a young black woman CHOOSES to mate with a young black man who has multiple children by multiple women, none of whom he is providing for, should she not be held accountable for her poor decision? Who a woman mates with is one of the most important decisions she will ever make. Choosing to have babies with charismatic “bad boys” hoping they will become Father Of The Year candidates is beyond stupid and has resulted in more dysfunction in the black community than most care to recognize.

  • WhatIThink

    What I find really odd, is that black people have the most unique experience of all populations in America. So why doesn’t the president address those unique experiences that have shaped the black community as it is. Why is it that these people never ever speak of black people BUILDING an identity for themselves and not just trying to just blend in to the American melting pot as fake brown Beckys, aka straight blonde hair weave wearing wanna be Farrah Fawcett fake white black folks. No other population that Obama likes to lump black folks together with have the same experience as black folks in America. They couldn’t even get into America 50 to 60 years ago, but now everybody is all the same. No everybody isn’t. There history is different, their culture is different and the dynamics of how they function is different. America isn’t getting the poorest people of foreign countries to immigrate (except maybe south Americans). They are getting the cream of the crop. And ALL of these people uphold their identity and community as the KEY to their success. I don’t hear Obama telling these folks not to build communities around their own identity and culture. And all of them do and all of them have a strong sense of intra ethnic identity and all of them practice economic protectionism and guess where they are relative to black folks?

    The ONLY people that get told to throw their identity away and just become fake white folks is guess who? And that is the root of the dysfunction in black communities. So many black folks have false and misappropriated sense of self and identity that the so-called “community” is really hundreds of different individual sets of likes, personal fetishes and mini-cults of ego worship, material worship, religious worship, spiritual worship or many other forms of escapist fantasies. Anything except identifying who you are and what you are supposed to be about based on history and culture. And these so-called leaders don’t do anything to address that. In fact most of what they do is preach individual success and individual progress for black folks and never ever group progress and group advancement for black folks.

    But yet and still when it comes to every other group of people, the conversation and expectations are totally the opposite. Latinos are treated as a GROUP not as individuals and expected to act as such. Asians are treated as a GROUP and expected to act as such. And all these people act and function not as mere individuals but as a collective and collectively are doing 10 times better at the BASICS of living in a community than black folks. That is why they are able to hide their dirty laundry better because they are organized and aren’t putting everything out there for everyone to see in such an obvious way, by controlling their public image.

    On the other hand, the black image continues to be abused and distorted with black folks trying to pretend they can get ahead SOLELY as individuals and going nowhere fast. They have NO control over their image as all of their trash is all over the T.V. for everyone around the world to see. And the FUNNIEST PART in all of this is it is everyone else who is getting the money rocking black culture. Yet black folks just continue to promote themselves as the ho’s on stroll getting b.u.t.t. screwed by the highest bidder because EVERYBODY knows black folks ain’t … s**t but hos and (not really) thugs. But what do you expect from the post superfly generation that allowed their identity to be morphed by the white corporate media from civil rights heroes to street pimps and prostitutes.

    The nonsense in all of this is ridiculous.

  • WomanNaturally

    I started reading the comments, & while I can agree with some and agree to disagree with others, I just had to add my own opinion to the mix.

    To those that say that he was “preaching” to the wrong audience, you’re setting up an “us vs them” dynamic. So it’s okay if he gives this speech to Pookie ‘nem, but not to us–those that have educated ourselves & “done rose up”? Because it doesn’t affect us, right? Because we’ve taken steps to get a 4-yr degree (at least), we’re now so far removed from the ills that plague the black community, we are no longer the audience that needs to hear this. Also, when the President pushes & passes policies that affect ALL disadvantaged persons of this country, it doesn’t mean a thing because it wasn’t specifically for the black community? Seriously…GTFOH.

    Best believe, some of these young graduates aren’t that far removed from the proverbial Pookie ‘nem, just as many of us aren’t. They’re our former classmates, neighbors, cousins, & sometimes siblings & parents. Our kids go to school with them. Hell, some of us ARE them, even with a college education. The mentality & social pathology of which we assume he is speaking about affects us. All of us.

    About 15 years ago, in my mid-20′s, some coworkers & I were speaking about education & our community & I in my limited wisdom said, “all people want better for their children than they had”. One of the men stopped me in my tracks when he said, “that’s not true”. His wife was a teacher in a “black” neighborhood elementary school. There were parents who didn’t give a damn about getting their kids to school on time; bathing and/or grooming them; making sure their homework was done; didn’t attend ONE parent-teacher conference. I still see that same–exact same–thing happening today. Yeah, I know it happens in other elements of society, but I’m talking about black folks, MY folks. The societal ills that cause a runny nose in other communities, puts the black community in a coma. Some things can’t be legislated & to be honest, we need to acknowledge that as a community, we got so shit to deal with & to stop vilifying those that point it out.

    The premise of his full commencement speech, as I took it, is about being a shining example to the larger society that looks like you & that looks up to you, giving back, & striving for excellence. All things that should be addressed in a graduation commencement speech. Hell, stop trying to find fault with everything.

  • q

    You are 100% correct. This speech was really aimed at whites. It goes back to his 2008 Father’s Day speech. He uses these opportunities to let whites know that he has no intention of giving anything free to “lazy negroes.”

  • talaktochoba

    amazing how educated people can miss so simple a message;

    ever since Reconstruction, Morehouse graduates (along with Howard, Hampton, Lincoln and a select clutch of others) hold themselves superior to the “common” HBCUs and so feel the world owes them something which, when they don’t get, it’s the fault of “the man”, certainly not them!

    this kind is class elitism was amplified with the acknowledgement of the so-called “talented tenth”, which consisted almost completely of lighter skinned blacks who were graduates in the fields known as the “sacred six”–doctor, lawyer, preacher, teacher, and so forth;

    all too often upon achieving graduation/modicum of financial success, this select group made every effort to distance itself from the majority of the former slave populace (read dark-skinned) to the point of creating artificial black social/economic/political barriers that pathetically imitated the white barriers, only to an even greater extent;

    anybody who went through the brown bag test down here in the Big Easy knows what i mean…and one need only look at early black movies to see there was only one type of actress prevalent (the tragic mullatress), and even today, there are fraternities, sororities, private clubs and such either populated overwhelmingly by, or the hierarchy of leadership is dominated by those who subscribe to “talented tenth” foolishness;

    this attitude, beginning with Reconstruction, when most HBCUs were created, allowed the “talented tenth” to achieve not only a modicum success in a virtual vacuum, but to gain some white approval that was really laughter at so pathetic and toothless attempts to imitate their former masters, as well as a comfort to the former masters knowing this group, at the price of a few crumbs off the table, would loyally serve as the best possible barrier to the former slave population gaining any of the social, economic and political power that comes naturally to any group moving in unity;

    all the President was saying is that these pathetic, centuries old and out-of-date practices in the face of the modern global market and rise of domestic and worldwide non-white majorities, must end, and black men, always bemoaning the fact they are not given their due as leaders, must seize command themselves and EARN, not demand respect on the quarterdeck if they are to be captain of their own ship;

    in short, once again, the President’s message, much like the First Lady’s, was totally accurate, on point and visionary…just because you don’t like it doesn’t make it one iota less true;

  • talaktochoba

    @Choppa, the number of children i have is wholly and completely none of your concern, and your concern for my “credibility” phases me even less;

    it will no doubt interest you to know they are all grown, out of college and working on their careers and what you might call good old-fashioned “yellow dog” Democrats–and their mom and i didn’t have to teach them that…

  • talaktochoba

    he referred to the black bourgeoisis atmosphere pervading everything, the clubby attitude affected by almost every organisation on campus down from the administration, as if it were mimicking Rhodes or Cauis or some such-not to mention being told on the phone there was an engineering discipline on campus shared with Ga Tech, only to get there and find he HAD to be seconded to Ga Tech as you mentioned;

  • kiki80

    I agree with you. The mechanism that keeps any segment of society in line is the establishment of social norms. Because of our history, many of us as so worried about the appearance of ‘self-hate’ that we frown on ANY attempt to criticize some truly self-destructive behavior.

    Like it or not, societies keep members in line through a system of reward and punishments. If we shout down ANY attempt to promote good behavior them the BS becomes the standard.

  • Passion

    For those of you who know Christ, it is easier to understand that there is really no man to blame but self. When you begin to believe that someone is truly keeping “you down” it only indicates that your faith is placed in man and not the God who can direct paths and make your enemy your footstool. Yes racism still exists, as the president shamelessly announced but again, because of who Christ is, you can choose death or life, and many (black,white, yellow, and brown) are choosing death and living in it. The cold hard truth is that we are going to struggle as people (with Christ or without Him) but the question is what is the purpose in the struggle.

  • gryph

    black feminist advance and rely on pathology narratives more skillfully than almost any other group of black folks.

  • gryph

    oh, and this wouldn’t be clutch unless someone says that black women need to marry more white men.

  • Ms.Smith

    He was simply telling them that while they have achieved a great accomplishment they still need to think about what’s ahead of them. He was referring to issues that we are facing in our society today and everything he stated was relevant and needed to be heard..I don’t see the problem

  • Libby46

    What’s the significance of the name Becky? Why is that name used to refer to white women?

  • Libby46

    Why is the name “Becky” used when referring to a white woman? This is not a sarcastic question, I’m just curious. Thanks.

  • talaktochoba

    probably that it is easy to say very quickly and through your nose, a machine gun-like squawk still a very popular way for white women to talk that comes off as sounding very superior–a viewpoint that becomes understandable when you’ve been raised to think of yourself as the world standard for feminine beauty and desire;

  • Libby46

    Thank you for the explanation, I appreciate it!

  • ArabellaMichaela

    @Libby 46
    I never gave much thought to “why,” and I am not sure I agree with the other explanation given previously. It does occur to me, however, that I have known more than one office place where it seemed a noticeable number of the white women were named Rebecca or “Becky.” It is a very popular name for whites of a certain generation. Perhaps that is why its become a pseudonym for them.

  • Pepper

    q: So you are dependent on the government huh?

  • Pepper

    Too many single black females willing to have babies without a husband, and too many black males (college educated, or otherwise) not willing to get married. No wonder that in SOME camps black families are falling apart. Parents aren’t setting good examples. It’s not the President’s fault that people make bad choices.

  • talaktochoba

    Passion, this will come as a rude shock to you, but just as there are more than one degree in a circle, there is more than one path to the mountaintop than with your prophet, Christ;

    just as your belief in this particular path does not make it the truest or only path, it does not render illegitimate others’ equallyardent and passionate beliefs, and it is very disrespectful of them for you to take this “my way is the only way” approach to them…and me;

  • Cynthia

    I agree with your comments. With 70% of Black babies being born out of wedlock and also looking at the percentages of “never married” Black women college graduates with babies I find the speech given very appropriate for the Morehouse young men. Do we really think that Morehouse men will not have pre-marital sex, will not marry & divorce and not take care of their families? Really? They may be college graduates but they do the same things as others. I have a friend’s daughter who graduated from Spelman and her husband was a Morehouse man. They had 3 children together before divorcing. He never gave her a penny toward the children who are all now college graduates. There is a rape case right now pending against 3 Morehouse men. I have a friend whose daughter went on a blind date with a Morehouse man and he put a drug in her drink and raped her. She is mentally messed up today as a result. I do have some other examples but this is enough to make my point. I have not heard of one graduate at that commencement ceremony who complained about the President’s message. He was talking to them, not us. We were not the audience. These young men were fine with the message so why are the Obama haters so pushed out of shape.

  • BlackBeauty

    It is a put down.

    It is the same as when some white women and other races refer to black women as “Beulah”.

    It needs to stop both ways.

  • talaktochoba

    yeah, it’ll stop…the day after women stop competing with each other…

  • Nnaattaayy

    No, Mr. President is right for his lecture. It actually applies to our community and to all Americans really. Asians and Indians are being groomed and geared by their parents for those game-changing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics) fields. U.S. does have a shortage of workers in those fields, so foreigners can take up those jobs where we slack. Preference is given to U.S. citizens but if our graduates aren’t choosing those fields others would gladly take those positions. So, we don’t have time to waste on the past. We have to be more qualified to be competitive for the global workforce, we’re up against many nations now

  • Jus

    Excellent post!

  • WhatIThink

    Reading your reply certainly was a good thing and caused me to read the actual speech. So to that point I call out the following:

    “So what I ask of you today is the same thing I ask of every graduating class I address: Use that power for something larger than yourself. Live up to President Mays’s challenge. Be “sensitive to the wrongs, the sufferings, and the injustices of society.” And be “willing to accept responsibility for correcting [those] ills.”

    I know that some of you came to Morehouse from communities where life was about keeping your head down and looking out for yourself. Maybe you feel like you escaped, and now you can take your degree and get that fancy job and the nice house and the nice car — and never look back. And don’t get me wrong — with all those student loans you’ve had to take out, I know you’ve got to earn some money. With doors open to you that your parents and grandparents could not even imagine, no one expects you to take a vow of poverty. But I will say it betrays a poverty of ambition if all you think about is what goods you can buy instead of what good you can do. (Applause.)

    So, yes, go get that law degree. But if you do, ask yourself if the only option is to defend the rich and the powerful, or if you can also find some time to defend the powerless. Sure, go get your MBA, or start that business. We need black businesses out there. But ask yourselves what broader purpose your business might serve, in putting people to work, or transforming a neighborhood. The most successful CEOs I know didn’t start out intent just on making money — rather, they had a vision of how their product or service would change things, and the money followed. (Applause.)

    Some of you may be headed to medical school to become doctors. But make sure you heal folks in underserved communities who really need it, too. For generations, certain groups in this country — especially African Americans — have been desperate in need of access to quality, affordable health care. And as a society, we’re finally beginning to change that. Those of you who are under the age of 26 already have the option to stay on your parent’s health care plan. But all of you are heading into an economy where many young people expect not only to have multiple jobs, but multiple careers…..”

    And if that part is what you are referring to, then I absolutely agree.

  • WhatIThink

    It is slang and a reference to the fact that the name Becky is not one often used for people not of European descent. it rare to find a black woman named Becky, even when most African Americans have European names. It is about the same as Peggy and rarely used for African American females. That is all it means. The negative connotation comes from the context in which it is used. But by itself it simply means white woman.

    But why is it some folks get upset about that but don’t get upset about other forms of slang ? I bet if I said Ray Ray and Pookie nobody would ask what it means.

  • talaktochoba

    WhatIThink, that is precisely what I meant;

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