Obama: 'Young Men of Color' Need More Than Basketball and Rap

During a town hall event promoting his White House “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, President Obama encouraged young people to discover their passions to inspire themselves to work hard.

“If nothing’s important to you, then you’re not going to put in the work,” Obama explained.

Part of the goal of his initiative, he explained, was to expose children to more things, not just the things that they see on television.

“Part of the problem with young men of color is oftentimes the only thing they see to be passionate about is basketball or rap,” he said. Obama added that he wanted to make sure that young people were exposed to graphic design, engineering, or law.

Obama also criticized some in the black community for accusing men who try to get educated of “acting white.”

“Sometimes it’s overstated, but there’s an element of truth to it,” he said.

Obama pushed back against the notion that there was an “authentic way of being black” by speaking or acting a certain way or wearing certain clothes.

“That has to go,” he flatly asserted as the crowd applauded, “because there are a whole bunch of ways for African American men to be authentic.”

Obama reminded the audience that Michelle Obama grew up on the South Side of Chicago but still succeeded.

“It can be rough where Michelle grew up, but she’ll talk proper when she needs to,” he said. “You also don’t want to get on her wrong side because she can translate that into a different vernacular.”


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