I actually don’t have a lot to say other than point out the fact that this speech in Cincinatti at some NAACP convention it was one Obama’s more average and mediocre, generic speeches.
I think the first half about governmental policies and the socio-economic structures that need changing was wonderful, and I personally think his seagway into the second half about personal responsibility was wonderful as well. However I think he could have driven the point home a bit more. Much like Jesus calling Lazarus from the grave in John 11, the stone had to be rolled away first. The same holds true for those that feel that personal responsibility trumps that of socio-economic disparities amongs the races and the classes.
Moreover, this speech was touted as the “personal responsibility” speech. This article right here which was the number one story at 11pm from the Yahoo! News service clearly focuses more on “personal responsibility” as a key factor, and even pointing out how the crowd cheered when they heard this.
The man who could become the first black president urged Washington to provide more education and economic assistance. He called on corporate America to exercise greater social responsibility. But he also received his most lusty applause as he urged blacks to demand more of themselves. [emphasis added]
I’m all for personal responsibility, but it MUST take place once the egregious disparities are righted. Granted Obama’s policies do attempt to do so, but, for my own personal comfort, I’d stray away from the “personal responsibility” spiel–it comes off as totally uppity.
HA! The irony.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know this is the place to embrace your inner uppity but sometimes, uppity becomes snobish and elitist. Lest we forget his comment about certain Pennsylvania constituents holding onto their guns and religion which I personally believe to be true, but nonetheless elitist as all get out. It’s very easy for us, yes this Uppity Negro included, to sit from our perches of privilege and talk about personal responsibility when in fact we had it so easy.
I got my college paid for by my parents and scholarships–everyone aint got it like that.
And then Obama was clearly preaching to the choir. His audience was more or less made up of people who had significantly more privilege than those he spoke about on the street corner. I guess it’s a Catch-22, as wonderful as it may be, could you seriously see him stopping the presidential motorcade to stop someone on the street and ask them what the deal is and actually try to help them out?
Seems like something straight out of a movie.
My ultimate problem with this type of rhetoric is that it makes white folk feel safe, from the Reagan Democrats all the way to the uber-liberal white suburbanites that I’m currently setting up tent with. It is a problem for me because it doesn’t challenge the middle-class, black or white, and it doesn’t move them from comfortability to compassion necessarily; in effect it coddles them (us). So, what does MSM pick up? The Associated Press entitles their story “Obama tells NAACP blacks must take responsibility” and CNN does the same with their story entitled “Obama’s focus is in responsibility in NAACP speech.” Even MSNBC a bastion of liberalism has called theirs “Obama repeats message of responsibility” and all stories minimize his criticism of the socio-economic structures in place that make the poor, poorer and the rich, richer.
Wow. How convenient for white America. No longer do they have to bitch and moan about the niggers being lazy and shiftless, they finally have another HNIC to do it for them.
No wonder they don’t like Al and Jesse.
Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL
Well, this was just my two cents.
6 thoughts on “A Midnight (well, 11:04pm) Post on Obama’s NAACP Speech”
All of us can do better.
All of us can improve upon past action, no matter how well we feel we have conducted ourselves or carried out a particular task or action, no matter how favorably others have viewed our particular behaviour. So long as we have even the slightest degree of individual freedom to think and act, we can attempt to improve upon past action, however slight the improvement, even the attempt of which is of itself, an improvement on what has gone before.
To assert to oneself othewise would to be fundamentally dishonest with oneself.
It is in this light that I choose to hear Barak Obama’s call to an improved sense of self responsibility among the black male community of this country. The call does not necessarily single out a particular group (although admittedly there is a specific target audience) or a particular group idiosyncracy, it does not imply a failiing on the part of a particular community. It is a call for each and every individual among us, of which ever color or hue, to take more time to evaluate our own behaviour, not that of others, and make a sincere effort to try to address our own shortcomings, and in particular those shortcomings of ourselves that have the greatest negative effect on those near to us, to work on ourselves, our character, day by day and try to be better people than we currently are. It is a call for us to be more self reflective and act positively on what we find in ouselves.
Sure there are wider issues that effect various groups within our society, but these can be seen as outside and not central to the call that Barak Obama has made to us all. To become better, to make more of ourselves, to be better citizens, better neighbors, better parents, better students, better children, better brothers, than we currently are.
This call is nothing more, nothing less, than this. It is a universal call, for an indivdual to take more responsibility over ones own actions, to take a greater degree of control over our own destiny.
There is no need for a debate on the causal factors surrounding societal inequality, or to attempt an objective look at the shotcomings of a particular group. To do so would be to completely miss the point of Obama’s call and would indeed beg the question, am I being evasive, an apologist looking for an escape in trying to divert the conversation away from this very basic but very often very demanding concept of self appraisal and self improvement.
We can all do better, can’t we?
“I’m all for personal responsibility, but it MUST take place once the egregious disparities are righted”
This is the only statement I take issue with in this post. Let’s be honest…do you REALLY think that these disparities will be righted? I mean, honestly. I, for one, don’t have that type of faith in the powers that be to make this happen. But this will not stop me from acting like I have sense (i.e. personal responsbility, accountability, and all things in between). If we are going to wait for disparities to be righted, we may be waiting forever. Then so what does that mean about our personal responsibilty? Do you continue to play the blame game because things aren’t going our way? When have they really ever gone our way? You have to play the game with the cards you are given, learn the strategy so you can outmove, outplay, and outsmart the opponent. I don’t expect people to play fair, but that doesn’t (and won’t) stop me from playing with a sense of integrity (responsibility).
Honestly, I agree with you 100%. In one-on-one’s with my friends and in specific cases, I’ve argued the “personal responsibility” bit down to the wire. You’re EXACTLY right, we all can do better. But, be aware, you started your post by saying “In this light I choose to hear Barack Obama’s call…” which means that you read into it what you wanted to hear, he didn’t say that from his mouth what you got from that.
That’s a problem all speakers have: just how will the audience interpret their words.
And yet again, most of the black people who are cheering this type of speech are those are sitting from perches of privilege, myself included. It sounds good to me and you, but seriously, what about Pookie and Shaquana on the street corner.
How about this–
I met someone at an emergency women’s shelter in Philly last week, and her husband had died in Iraq, and she had a lively 7 year old and an 8 month old baby, do we really decry personal responsibility to the thousands of single women in her case across the country? I’m more concerned about the implications this has with white onlookers who DO NOT understand black culture and nuances amongst black people that we share covertly with each other (that was clearly evidenced with the Jeremiah Wright controversy).
I think because he didn’t spell it out even quite like you did, but rather seemed to focus on the stereotypes of young black men being deadbeat daddies, and about whomever on street corners, it comes off as great speech for white onlookers and elitist speech among the black community.
If I can use the metaphor of Jesus and Lazarus, Jesus told Lazarus to come forth, but ONLY after he removed the stone. It seems as though you’re advocating that those who are under the oppression of governmental forces that have certain segments of our society in a socio-economic tomb (or cave) to merely adapt a “cave mentality” that will just allow them to survive in a cave.
I think it’s HIGHLY elitist to suggest that.
What’s the point of telling folks to do better when even if they do their chances of still ascending are still slim. Why is it that everyone seems to be focusing on the “personal responsibility” part of the speech and not the first half about socio-economic ills as a result of the government.
Do I honestly think that these things will change?
HA! I honestly thought I wouldn’t see a black man nominated for the president until at least 2050 at the end of my life—but wait—I forgot, this is a man, who happens to be black that’s running for president.
I just wanted to draw your attention to a website– http://www.obamatracker.com
This site posts dozens of stories regarding Barack Obama daily, from all different news organizations. We currently have over 3,000 stories, and we’re only adding more as they come! It’s a great resource for finding out anything about Obama.
“What’s the point of telling folks to do better when even if they do their chances of still ascending are still slim”
So what do you suggest? That people just do “whatever”, be underachievers, lazy, just because societal norms don’t work in their favor? Okay…I buy that you have a problem with the personal responsibility speech, but how do you suggest people conduct themselves in the meantime while these disparities be righted? Should they be irresponsible individuals of society, which would only further the stereotypes, disparities, etc? All I’m asking is that you flip the coin and see what the lack of personal responsibility will get
“It seems as though you’re advocating that those who are under the oppression of governmental forces that have certain segments of our society in a socio-economic tomb (or cave) to merely adapt a “cave mentality” that will just allow them to survive in a cave”
No…I’m not advocating that they adapt to a cave mentality” (but unfortunately some will do just that). What I am saying is, we all recognize that there are disparities, but does that mean we [all] just sit back and let them dictate and determine EVERY aspect of our lives. I am not expecting something profound to take place…Personal responsibility can run the gamut.
“I think it’s HIGHLY elitist to suggest that”
I understand that’s what you think, but I don’t think it is elitist at all. For it to be an elitist attitude then you would also have to call countless others in our history elistist as well. For they recognized the disparities, determined themselves in spite of, and thrived/achieved great things…one of which was to go back and fight the disparities so others may have the same opportunities.
“HA! I honestly thought I wouldn’t see a black man nominated for the president until at least 2050 at the end of my life—but wait—I forgot, this is a man, who happens to be black that’s running for president.”
Touche…but as POTUS, he stills has a lot of the good ole boy network to get through to implement certain changes. I guess I don’t know if these disparities will be righted to the satisfaction and at the number that people think.
Well, I am in fact calling many others elitist. I’m not out and out saying elitist is a bad thing, but rather just a POV. i’d rather this discussion (not just between me and you) take into consideration the lens through which we view Obama.
Although I side with DuBois, my father who rew up sharecropping sides with Washington and calles DuBois elitist. Seeing your name, i’m sure you side with Dubois as well, lol.
I think that we MUST make this a “both and” situation that doesn’t focus on governmental responsibility over personal responsibility or defintely vice versa.
it is only in this light where I will entertain the concept of spersonal responsibility.”