The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fewer Lectures, Please

Let's get this straight at the outset, I am a fan of personal responsibility. I believe that parents, fathers and mothers, have a duty to raise their children, which includes providing proper nutrition, respect for the law, and the nurture of a desire to learn. I am the beneficiary of the high expectations of my parents, accompanied by their equally high investment of energy and resources to enable my high achievement. (Forever I will be grateful, Mom and Dad.)

That being said, just what are we to make of Sen. Barack Obama's assertion of these values whenever he talks to Black folks? And how do we register the reality that we would almost certainly reject the exact same words in the exact same tone if a White politician had the temerity to utter them? I will avoid being guilty of the same kind of unnuanced criticism that I hate from the right wing, and so I'll not ascribe cynical motives to the presumptive Democractic nominee. Here's how I see it: Obama recognizes that we Black folks are engaging in cultural suicide with our unwillingness to tackle the problems of academic underachievement and paternal negligence and neglect. At the same time, there's no denying that a public dismissal of Jesse Jackson and his brand of racial analysis (even though 90% of the time Jackson's historical and political analyses are on target) helps Obama with White voters who are afraid of what a Black president might mean. As others more astute than I have suggested, Obama may be taking a page out of Bill Clinton's handbook and is having his Sister Souljah moment. Then again, maybe not. But I can't help wondering whether Obama knows that White underachieving children watch too much tv and play too many video games.

What's missing in all of this, even if one accepts the most benign or even altruistic explanation for Obama's speeches, is a policy position or even strategy for addressing these issues with the people who are the real problem. I have already expressed my appreciation for what my parents gave me because of their persistence and insistence on certain positive behaviors. But I never responded well to lectures. And I don't know anybody who does. Modeling of good behavior, yes. Lectures, no. What I would like to hear more of is a commitment to applying best practices and brain power, as well as funding, to the programs that actually work. Tell me how you keep young people from seeing themselves through the lenses of television, movies, and videos. Tell me how to offer alternative visions. Find me somebody who is making this work.

I believe that there is power in words. I just don't think we've got the right ones. But what I do like about Obama is that he knows how to spot a good idea and embrace it and then package it within soaring rhetoric. That's what I'm looking for from him as a candidate. And as a president, I'm looking for the proposal of legislation to go with the words.


rjweems said...

I'm been trying to avoid criticizing Obama's penchant to lecture black people about personal responsibility to score points with white voters. But thank you, Leslie, for hitting this one on the head.

I could be wrong but... said...

I actually like the fact that the Senator is not afraid to call it as he sees it. I think that it is time that our black leaders stop playing "pity" politics. The Senator is a living example of the fact that we have more opportunities than we ever had, and yet as a people we are worse off than we've ever been. We need leaders who are willing to say "arise, take up your bed and walk", and social programs and legislation won't do that. While it is unfortunate that we are unable to count on the parents of today,( who in many cases, have not been properly nurtured themselves ), I think that it is incumbent of all of us to minister to and nurture the next generation.

ninest123 said...

ugg boots, chanel handbags, polo ralph lauren outlet, ray ban sunglasses, oakley sunglasses, air max, tiffany and co, nike air max, louis vuitton outlet, gucci outlet, louis vuitton outlet, sac longchamp, nike free, nike free, longchamp, prada handbags, nike outlet, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, tory burch outlet, ralph lauren pas cher, ray ban sunglasses, tiffany jewelry, kate spade outlet, oakley sunglasses, uggs on sale, louis vuitton, longchamp outlet, replica watches, louboutin outlet, christian louboutin outlet, nike air max, louis vuitton, longchamp pas cher, louboutin shoes, ugg boots, longchamp outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin pas cher, cheap oakley sunglasses, nike roshe run, louboutin, jordan shoes, burberry, prada outlet, air jordan pas cher, oakley sunglasses, replica watches, michael kors, polo ralph lauren outlet

ninest123 said...

michael kors outlet, replica handbags, timberland, michael kors outlet, oakley pas cher, ray ban pas cher, michael kors, michael kors, nike blazer, true religion outlet, true religion jeans, hogan, hermes, ugg boots, lacoste pas cher, lululemon, ugg boots, converse pas cher, nike air max, new balance pas cher, mulberry, michael kors, nike air max, nike free run uk, true religion jeans, tn pas cher, burberry, hollister, vans pas cher, michael kors outlet, coach outlet, ray ban uk, kate spade handbags, coach outlet, true religion jeans, nike roshe, abercrombie and fitch, north face, ralph lauren uk, michael kors outlet, sac guess, hollister pas cher, burberry outlet online, vanessa bruno, michael kors, nike air max, michael kors outlet, north face, air force, coach purses

ninest123 said...

wedding dresses, mac cosmetics, chi flat iron, north face outlet, hollister, iphone cases, nike air max, babyliss, hollister, hollister, instyler, timberland boots, abercrombie and fitch, herve leger, birkin bag, mcm handbags, soccer jerseys, asics running shoes, nike air max, converse outlet, ray ban, valentino shoes, bottega veneta, louboutin, north face outlet, reebok shoes, nfl jerseys, vans shoes, insanity workout, baseball bats, longchamp, ghd, nike huarache, ralph lauren, nike roshe, celine handbags, converse, vans, lancel, soccer shoes, jimmy choo shoes, lululemon, oakley, beats by dre, new balance, mont blanc, p90x workout, ferragamo shoes, nike trainers, gucci

ninest123 said...

moncler, replica watches, ugg pas cher, swarovski, juicy couture outlet, wedding dresses, sac louis vuitton pas cher, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, louis vuitton, canada goose, louis vuitton, pandora charms, supra shoes, canada goose outlet, montre pas cher, karen millen, canada goose, marc jacobs, links of london, moncler, toms shoes, pandora jewelry, canada goose, doudoune canada goose, moncler, moncler, hollister, juicy couture outlet, bottes ugg, ugg boots uk, moncler outlet, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, thomas sabo, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, moncler, canada goose uk, canada goose outlet, coach outlet, pandora jewelry, moncler, canada goose, moncler, pandora charms, swarovski crystal