June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day from Barack Obama

Saw this today.

Obama is taking a super risky strategy, and I'm loving it! This is awesome! Yes, I'm a liberal, but I also have some conservative leanings, and I hate the victim mentality. Of course Obama is not the first African American person to empower his people by creating a message primarily of responsibility: Bill Cosby did it, and Malcolm X did it before him. But Obama, to my knowledge, is the first outward proponent of this "responsibility" philosophy to simultaneously:

a) Have a strong standing with black people
b) Have a strong standing with white people
b) Have the charisma to say what he says while connecting with people

I was surprised that Cosby wasn't able to connect with people, especially after he put his money behind his words by paying for kids' college tuition (which I thought was awesome). Malcolm connected with people, but he got pushed out of the mainstream because of his more incendiary public statements. Obama has a special gift of oratory and connection that allows him to truly connect with people, AND he has a good standing in both communities. He's getting some great opportunities, and he's really using them well. I hope it'll help him win the presidency.

By the way, I'm waiting for more Asian American leaders to tell it like it is. I'm waiting for one of our leaders to stand up on Father's Day and say, "You know what, we gotta end this IR disparity! Together! Once and for all!"

(That's a joke. Kind of.)

From the beginning of the article:

CHICAGO — Addressing a packed congregation at one of the city’s largest black churches, Senator Barack Obama on Sunday invoked his own absent father to deliver a sharp message to black men, saying “we need fathers to realize that responsibility does not end at conception.”

In an address that was striking for its bluntness and where he chose to give it, Mr. Obama directly addressed one of the most delicate topics confronting black leaders: how much responsibility absent fathers bear for some of the intractable problems afflicting black Americans. Mr. Obama noted that “more than half of all black children live in single-parent households,” a number that he said had doubled since his own childhood.

“Too many fathers are M.I.A., too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes,” Mr. Obama said to a chorus of approving murmurs from the audience. “They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”

Accompanied by his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, who sat in the front pew, Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee, laid out his case in stark terms that would be difficult for a white candidate to make, telling the mostly black audience not to “just sit in the house watching ‘SportsCenter,’ ” and to stop praising themselves for mediocre accomplishments.

“Don’t get carried away with that eighth-grade graduation,” he said, bringing many members of the congregation to their feet, applauding. “You’re supposed to graduate from eighth grade.”

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