Obama offers rules for success as he expands program for young minority men
July 21st, 2014
01:19 PM ET
2 months ago

Obama offers rules for success as he expands program for young minority men

Washington (CNN) - Setting daily goals. Keeping an open mind. Separating honest criticism from blind "hating."

Those were a few pieces of advice President Barack Obama offered young men of color on Monday as he announced an expansion of his program meant to improve the future prospects of African-American and Hispanic boys.

Obama also argued that too many young boys struggle with a fabricated sense of needing to talk and act a certain way in order to prove their authenticity as a black person.

"African Americans, in communities where I've worked, there's the notion of 'acting white,' which sometimes is overstated, but there's an element of truth to it where, OK, if boys are reading too much, then well, 'why are you doing that? Why are you speaking so properly?' And the notion that there's some authentic way of being black, that if you're gonna be black you have to act a certain way, wear a certain kind of clothes – that has to go," Obama said. "Because there are a whole bunch of different ways for African American men to be authentic."

On Monday firms like AT&T and Citi said they would offer millions for mentoring and skills-building efforts run through the My Brother's Keeper program, which Obama announced in February.

"I've constantly been thinking about how can I make sure that I'm evening out the odds a little bit for other young men," Obama said after describing his own childhood, which he said was forgiving of certain youthful indiscretions.

"What is it that we can do to create structures to give them support, to help them make better choices, and when you do make a mistake give them a hand up so you can recover and move on to the next phase in your life?" he continued.

The nation's 60 largest school districts also said they would implement a newly designed plan the White House says will better support young minority men through their education, including expanding preschool and putting in place early warning systems for students struggling with schoolwork.

Statistics show black, Hispanic and Native American boys and men are more likely to do poorly in school and less likely to get jobs–numbers Obama says he wants to help change during his term in office. Many speculate Obama will use his post-presidency advancing that cause.

On Monday the President answered questions about his own rules for success, saying he wakes up and sets a goal every day, remains open to changing his opinion, and tries to cut through the near-constant criticism of his presidency.

"At some point – to be a man or a woman, an adult, a full grown person – you have to move beyond what other people think," he said. "There are complexities to it. It's hard. But I don't lose track of the fact that treating somebody with kindness – that's a core value of mine."

"And then I just don't watch TV," he added. "That also helps."

In announcing his youth program earlier this year Obama called for new private commitments, saying government and business sectors have a responsibility to ensure young minority men get a fair shot at good educations and jobs.

The commitments the White House announced Monday included $18 million from AT&T meant for mentoring programs, $10 million from Citi Foundation for a new service and skill-building initiative, and $50 million from the collective founded by Laurene Powell Jobs – Steve Jobs' widow – to help design next generation high schools.


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Fair is Fair

    "And then I just don't watch TV," he added.
    ---------
    That's odd... every time a crisis or something controversial arises, he says he learned about it from TV.

    July 21, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  2. salty dog

    Interesting how the rwnj will portray this as some sacrificing for their cause, they don't like the others having the same opportunities. Boo hoo, let's hear the whining, pardon me if I enjoy this just a little.

    July 21, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. just asking

    not sure how much obama knows about success since he's had so little of it in 5.5 years. but he sure could write a massive book on excuses, blaming others, finger pointing, demonization, name calling and campaign fund raising.

    July 21, 2014 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Marty

    It's simple: Stop stealing, stops drugs, stop fathering children with everyone you can. Get a job, pay taxes and take responsibility. Not so hard.

    July 21, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  5. guest

    I will agree that the image of success for young black men (must be reasonable to assume that person got rich by illicit means) leads to confusion about the differences between good decisions and bad decisions. I wont say I understand why, but I know there are underlying reasons why the role models for young black men must appear to partake in illicit activities. Though the trend has been for 'role models' of all races to appear to be entirely illicit and negatively affect people around them. Maybe I am just getting old, and blame kids and their loud music or whatever, but what the heck is with the entire body needing to be covered in tattoos after you get on tv?

    July 21, 2014 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  6. guest

    It's simple: Stop stealing, stops drugs, stop fathering children with everyone you can. Get a job, pay taxes and take responsibility. Not so hard.

    --------

    were you talking about minority males or all the frat guys at the georgia florida line concert or w/e that band name is?

    July 21, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  7. smith

    This just isn't a minority issue but an american issue. We want to be cool, act like were rich, be tough with an attitude, and have a desire to be famous. This greed and narcissism are the problems affecting all walks of life in the US and are the main reasons people around the world think were stuck up. However, this one of many of the prices we pay for freedom. So people need to look inside their selves for their lack of success.

    July 21, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  8. salty dog

    You got him fair, or was that Christie? impeach him to be safe.

    July 21, 2014 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  9. Democrat Junk

    Good for you Mr. President. Now continue to push this message! @ Salty dog....go back to sleep. When you wake up and have some coffee, then blog back in with some unbiased thoughts and not the jibberish like the previous contribution.

    July 21, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. sonny chapman

    Doing those things are SUPPOSED to lead to the American Dream. Why have Repubs. declared War on the American Dream , EXCEPT for those who look like them ?

    July 21, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Marty

    It's simple: Stop stealing, stops drugs, stop fathering children with everyone you can. Get a job, pay taxes and take responsibility. Not so hard.
    -------------------–
    Stop. The "get a job" part is really hard, much harder than you could ever imagine. It's very hard in a tight economy. "When the money gets funny, ........" Do you know how that quote finishes? If you did, then you'd have a glimpse into the reality of just how hard it is.

    I don't think a person like that Bundy guy on his ranch has ever hired a black person in his life. The thought has never crossed his mind, despite admitting to driving through poor black neighborhoods, and seeing people he figured were out of work.

    July 21, 2014 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    @Marty–stop corporate stealing, white collar drug use, stop fathering children with 3-5 ex-wives, get a job that does not require cheating others, pay U.S. taxes instead of hiding money overseas, take responsibility that you do not contribute anything to society. Does this sound like anybody you know?

    July 21, 2014 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  13. Me

    He is the most offensive person I have ever see as the head of anything.

    July 21, 2014 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  14. Ol' Yeller

    @just asking

    not sure how much obama knows about success

    Uh... he grew up as a mixed race child when there was very little tolerance for that. He overcame the odds and through the hard work of himself, his family, his single mom (who dies of cancer when he was very young) succesfully entered Harvard where his hard work and good grades earned him honors. He returned to Harvard as a Constitutional Law Professor and later became entered politics and worked his way up to become the first African/American ever elected President of the United State of America... twice... both times with over 51% of the vote. He was the first President since D.Eisenhower (the popular War Hero of his time) to garner more than 50% of the popular vote. More than nixon, reagan, poppa bush, and shrub (your parties last several presidents... none of whom ever had to struggle a day in their life and most of which success was only something the ytalked about on the campaign trail as everything had basically been handed to them on a soilver platter since they were wee lads) . He finally got a bill passed to become the first step in getting Health care coverage for all Americans, a dream of many Presidents going all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt... and I could go on and on, but you are just a hater and only project your party's better qualities (excuses, blaming others, finger pointing, demonization, name calling) on to him in an effort to somehow convince other rubes he has NOT been a success, when history will undoubtly show he has... despite the present echo chamber of haters (like yourself) on the right who just cannot stand the fact that he has done a fine job especially in light of the fact the republicants have blocked and critisized him at every turn....
    Did I get anything wrong?

    July 21, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  15. Ol' Yeller

    Marty

    "It's simple: Stop stealing, stops drugs, stop fathering children with everyone you can. Get a job, pay taxes and take responsibility. ..."
    and even become President of the United States of America and we will still criticze and hate on you...
    but we're no racist!!!

    FIFY
    (Finished It For You)

    July 21, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. salty dog

    Been up since 5, Mon. – Friday, when did you get out of bed. I simply think that this doesn't take away from others with opportunities, and think others will argue that, which is fine, or call this special treatment, which it is, but education is the key, and others pass, ad we continue to have education attacked by the gop. The new push is to transfer funding for public schools to private, and charter schools. Then when public schools fail, blame it on the unions, and privatize the whole system. How quickly some forget why we have unions, they are workers rights group, and you've been conned into hating them, thinking your better off without them. Then why did your grandfathers, great grandfathers fight with their very lives for them. Paid breaks, holidays, vacations, and all other workers rights were earned, not given, your rights are given to the rich, you'll never get them back, that's an unfortunate reality

    July 21, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. salty dog

    Welcome back smith.

    July 21, 2014 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    smith

    This just isn't a minority issue but an american issue. We want to be cool, act like were rich, be tough with an attitude, and have a desire to be famous. This greed and narcissism are the problems affecting all walks of life in the US and are the main reasons people around the world think were stuck up. However, this one of many of the prices we pay for freedom. So people need to look inside their selves for their lack of success.
    ------------------------
    It's pretty obvious that yours is not the voice of experience, only that of conjecture and the hypothetical.

    July 21, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  19. O'drama ya Mama

    Fair is Fair

    "And then I just don't watch TV," he added.
    ---
    That's odd... every time a crisis or something controversial arises, he says he learned about it from TV.
    July 21, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Right before I scrolled to the comments a thought popped in my head that there wold be someone who would make a comment on that single sentence. I knew you wouldnt let me down but is that really all you got out of this article?

    July 21, 2014 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  20. The Republican Party Is Dead To Me

    If you're a republican and you want to witness hateful behavior. come watch me vote in the next election. I'll pull eveery lever in front of you and you'll be amazed at the number on your side of the booth get's ignored. Matter of fact, all of them.

    July 21, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  21. smith

    @Salty dog- where did I go?

    July 21, 2014 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  22. Democrat Junk

    sd...You're way off the reservation with your rant. And by the way...you're preaching to the choir about unions as I belonged to one to pay for my education when I was younger. Saw the writing on the wall and moved on after 10 years . My retirement fund is vested and I can accss it at any time now. But if you think that todays union is the same as my fathers union of the 50's and 60's ....then take another toke.

    July 21, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Thomas

    @smith

    =========

    As the would becomes smaller , why should humility and compassion ?

    Thanks smith .

    July 21, 2014 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. smith

    @Thomas- " humility and compassion" are feelings. Only logic, drive, and personal accountabilty will lead you to accomplish your goals in life. Feeling sorry for yourself or others goes nowhere.

    July 21, 2014 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  25. Fair is Fair

    O'drama ya Mama

    Fair is Fair

    "And then I just don't watch TV," he added.
    -
    That's odd... every time a crisis or something controversial arises, he says he learned about it from TV.
    July 21, 2014 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
    _________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Right before I scrolled to the comments a thought popped in my head that there wold be someone who would make a comment on that single sentence. I knew you wouldnt let me down but is that really all you got out of this article?
    --------
    I got plenty out of the article, ODYM. Except 1 thing. Obama is admirably addressing an issue, but what he's directly addressing is a symptom of the problem. What is he doing to address the root cause?

    July 21, 2014 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
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