Tag Archives: race

The Road We’ve Traveled (isn’t far enough)

I just watched Obama’s (just shy of) 17 minute video/commercial/short film directed by Academy Award®-winning director Davis Guggenheim on YouTube.

The video, which was posted on BarackObama.com and YouTube yesterday, provides an overview of the past four years of Obama’s presidency.

According to the description on YouTube,

This film gives an inside look at some of the tough calls President Obama made to get our country back on track. Featuring interviews from President Bill Clinton, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Elizabeth Warren, David Axelrod, Austan Goolsbee, and more. It’s a film everyone should see.

Here’s the video.

Whether you’re a fan of Obama or not, the video makes a persuasive case that President Obama brought us back from the brink of disaster.

I’m certain that few would doubt that former President Bush left the country is a bad way.

The video uses the condition of the country as the starting point for making the case for Obama’s success.

But despite the eloquent narration of Tom Hanks, will this video really have the desired impact?

The Washington Post provided an insightful review of the video and it’s intended purpose.

How many people are going to view this video and come away with the desired impression of Obama?

Will people see this video as a summary of success or pure propaganda?

Regardless, it’s clear that Obama’s re-election efforts will have to confront a more basic issue (again) in 2012.

Race.

Trolling Facebook yesterday, I came across the following bumper stickers:

Really?

Re-Nig? Wow. I. Am. Speechless.

Will the video be able to put a dent in the attitudes and opinions of folks creating propaganda like this?

I doubt it.

No matter how well the Obama campaign casts the past four years, some folks just don’t give a damn.

For them the issue is as simple as black and white.

Despite all that Obama has done, what’s clear is that the road we’ve traveled isn’t far enough.

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Do Black Parents Slack On Their Parental Responsibility?

Note: This is a guest post by a chronic back-seat blogger. She’s always telling me what to blog about, and I’m always like “If you’ve got so much to say, write it your damn self!” And so, without further adieu (and only the most minor edits)…

Kudos to the Nigerian terrorist’s father for trying to blow up his son’s spot before he did any real damage, even though no one listened to him.

Nutso’s father’s actions got me thinking about the difference between Black and White parents and how they deal with their children’s issues.

Of course, this is a generalization, and I’m not suggesting that my observations apply to all parents of the respective races, but in my experience it’s more the rule than the exception.

It angers me that Black parents aren’t as vociferous about advocating for their children who need help with educational or emotional issues, or act like nothing needs to be addressed with their antisocial, depressed, disturbed or special needs children.

When a White parent has a child with special needs, they form or attend support groups, make sure their children interact with other children who are similarly situated, and fight like marines to make sure their children’s educational needs are met.

If their children show signs of emotional disturbance, they take them to a therapist, seek out the school counselor or do something – anything, proactive.

Our people, on the other hand, act like something is wrong with the person raising the issue about their child’s behavior or issue, rather than address their child’s issues head on.

We don’t want to acknowledge  that anything is wrong and can’t stand the thought of airing our “dirty laundry” in a support group.  Of course it’s not easy to accept that your child is less than “perfect” but I feel that perspective is in the eye of the beholder.

Your children look to you for cues on how to respond and if your response is shame and denial then they will feel and believe that something really awful is wrong with them without you saying a word.

If, instead, you treat them like champions and fight the world for them, then they believe it’s us against the world and even if other people don’t understand or get them, they know their parents and family do.

Culturally, whether we are African–American, Caribbean or African there is a stigma associated with mental illness and disabilities that is pervasive with adults in our community, but  I think it’s unacceptable when it applies to children.

It’s almost a furtherance of our self hatred that is being passed down through the generations. It’s as though parents think  if my parents beat me and ignored my needs then why should my children deserve any better?

Like it’s part of our culture to not address our children’s needs because that is how our parents and grandparents were raised. It’s  a new day and that doesn’t hold water anymore.

Get up on your own counseling first and work out those demons so you can be a better parent. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the imbalanced classification of our children (specifically our boys) as requiring special education.

This over-classification partially goes to the failure of the parents of these children to fight for fair classification, and allowing the school system to take charge, and is partially attributable to blatant racism.

More often than not, there is no correlation between the classification and the educational or economic level of the parents.

I have witnessed professional Black parents with absolutely monsterous, troubled children that make excuses for them or act like their behavior is cute.

These same kids will grow up to be the nut jobs that people will say “we always knew something was wrong with him way back when he was a kid.”

It’s our responsibility to address our children’s issues and fight for their rights at every turn regardless of what other people within our community think.

Why is counseling and therapy something that ‘White people do’ and isn’t considered a viable treatment for helping to heal emotional and mental pain?

So, if your child is depressed because they are ADHD or struggling with autism and are ostracized by other children then he should just suck it up?  How is that helpful?

If the school is trying to classify your child and you haven’t already taken him to see a doctor to diagnose the issue, how can you have an effective dialogue with the teacher?

I don’t have a degree in early childhood education but I can read, I have access to  the internet and a library card, so I research the matter as best as I can, instead of being all “yessum boss” when called in to discuss my child’s needs.

As a parent, I have a ‘challenging’ child, and not only do I fight for her at every turn, but I let everyone know that she is hyper, talkative and energetic before they interact with her.

She has told me that she feels  “wild inside” and I have to deal with her in a very patient, measured way and so do all of her teachers and everyone else that interacts with her.

If she says something rude at a playdate, I make it a point to give that parent permission in advance to reprimand her, so she learns that it’s not acceptable to say every little condescending, tactless comment that comes into her head.

I make sure she feels good about herself without indulging bratty behavior, or turning a blind eye because it’s easier.

When I come across disturbed children (more than just bratty or ill mannered) and I see no action on the parent’s part, I no longer allow our children to interact with them, because that off-the-chain behavior rubs off on other children.

I can’t stand when one of mine comes home sassing me, or asking me why can’t they play video games until their eyes bleed, like so-and-so. Or worse, that this other child said or did something really disturbing and their parents blew it off like “kids will be kids.”

I don’t play that with playdates on home turf.  You can show your little behind all you want when you’re at home, but when you step up in here I demand magic words ( I don’t work for you) and polite demeanor with me and my  children  or you won’t be asked back (they usually comply).

If you’re not going to take care of your kids, who will?  Who’s responsibility is it, the judicial system?

As I said at the outset of this post, ‘Kudos’ to the parents of the Nigerian would-be bomber, for having the guts to alert the authorities to their disturbed child.

More of we, Black parents, need to take a hard look at our own children to make sure we’re getting them the help they need before we have to turn them in.

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Brand Obama

Few of us would have believed that a few years after delivering a rousing address at the Democratic National Convention, that Barack Obama would be the Democratic nominee for the office of the President.  Fewer still would have imagined that this political unknown, four years ago, would arrive in such an audacious fashion on the world stage, and challenge the stereotypes of race in America.

For me, Obama is the quintessential embodiment of ‘being the brand.’  From humble beginnings, he has risen to become one of the most recognized figures in modern history.  Barack did not allow himself to be defined by the circumstances of his birth.  He was not the tragic mulatto, struggling with a sense of identity that plagued him into his adult years.  He accepted that he was a black man in America, and understood that society would attempt to define him by his external color (because he is still half-white despite the fact tha everyone associates him as a ‘Black’ man to the exclusion of his actual racial makeup).

Nor was he a ‘sell-out’ utilizing his white parentage to distance himself from his ethnic African heritage or disassociating himself from other Black people.  Barack has taken care to build a brand identity shaped by hard work, service and unyielding belief in himself and the human spirit.  As a result, his ‘brand’ withstood a vigorous challenge from one of the most recognizable brands in America today, the Clintons, to become the Democratic candidate.

Obama stands as clear example of the individual as the brand.  More importantly, his commanding presence, skillful oratory, mastery of crowds and the media, has been instrumental in defining the Obama brand.

Not all of us will have the opportunity to craft our identities in the same way as Obama.  Each of us will have to find the way to individually, beyond the glare of cameras and the national spotlight, develop our brand and craft our identity.  We can learn lessons from Brand Obama, however, that we can apply to our own brand quests.

For example, Obama was continually assailed from all sides by people who sough to marginalize him or define him by the sin of assumption.  Rather that shirk away from confrontation, Obama took each swipe  at him as an opportunity to clarify who he was.  He rarely shied away from a challenge.  Similarly, each of us, at some point in our lives encounter rumors, stories and outright lies about us.  Rather than to allow them to persist, being the brand requires that you dispel myths, and don’t let them linger.  In this way, YOU define who you are, rather than the wags.

Another example of something we can learn from Brand Obama, is the manner in which he uses the slights against him as a means of advancing his agenda.  When he was beleaguered with the Rev. Wright debacle, Obama took the stage to announce his commitment to eradicate the racial divide in America.

When you find yourself up against difficult odds or circumstances, take the stage and announce how you intend to address whatever issues you might face.  Again, by this approach, you are turning an imagined weakness into a source of strength.

Remember, you are the brand.  Be the brand.

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