January 24th, 2009
12:30 PM ET
8 years ago

Will Obama have to be better because he's black?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/01/24/obama.pressure/art.obama.jpg caption="President Obama strides into history as the nation's first black president."](CNN) - Just days before he was sworn in, President Obama was giving his daughters a tour of the Lincoln Memorial when one of them pointed to a copy of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address carved into the wall.

Obama's 7-year-old daughter, Sasha, told her father that Lincoln's speech was really long. Would he have to give a speech as long? Obama's answer was completed by his older daughter, 10-year-old Malia.

"I said, 'Actually, that one is pretty short. Mine may even be a little longer,' " Obama told CNN recently. "At which point, Malia turns to me and says, 'First African-American president, better be good.' "

The story is light-hearted, but it touches on a delicate question: Will people hold Obama to a different standard because he is the first African-American president?

Full story

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (181 Responses)
  1. mark nigeria

    Of course! After all he had to be several times better than his competitors just to be considered an equal. It's the story of each person that's part of a minority group.

    January 24, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. Happy Camper

    CNN really needs to stop with the racial agitation.

    January 24, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. dems be dopes

    I'm not an Obama supporter by any means, tax evader to run the treasury, funding overseas abortions, closing Gitmo without a plan, and it will get worse...

    But headline like "Will Obama have to be better because he's black?"
    has no place in in this day and time.

    However CNN seems to think there is.
    Then again, this is CNN.

    January 24, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  4. Tony

    With all the consant hoopla about being the FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT (rather than the first Bi-Racil) president, he sure as hell had better be, but any moron could be better than BUSH!

    January 24, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. Ignored in GA

    You can bet that many people will hold President Obama to a different standard. Whether because of his skin color or his political leanings he will not be able to do anything right, the same as when President George W. Bush could not do anything wrong.

    January 24, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Jaime G

    Absolutely because he is black, he is different, he is new, and so many of us believe he can make that change he has promised. So the answer to the question is yes.

    January 24, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  7. Byron Lott

    People are looking to President Obama for a good solution to the real economic and political problems facing the entire world today and the color of his skin should not differ him from any other person. He is obviously very intelligent and his campaign speeches presented possible solutions to calming the world down so that realism and honesty can prevail. We must all live together on this earth and use the world's resources to help each other to live better lives, not to intinidate and destroy each other.

    January 24, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. Obama 2012

    Of course he will be. That is the way it has always been for African Americans. They always have to be better to even be considered as knowing what they are doing.

    People have less tolerance when African Americans makes mistakes than any other race.

    It's sad and pathetic, but true.

    January 24, 2009 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. roger in ga


    January 24, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. Sharon Jacobs

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! Oh my God every black child has heard over and over again from they could understand words, "because you are black your have to work twice has hard, do twice as much as white people". And that wasn't even advise about how to get a head, it was advice on how to get into the game. This has been a burden we have had to carry since the beginning of our time here in America. What a heavy weight for a child to carry. And until you walk in our shoes you will never fully understand how heavy this weight is. But amazingly so many of us have made it, what a miracle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 24, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  11. Mata

    It has nothing to do with race!. It has to do of being a "human being" first!. President Obama is that "human being" and let him do his job, I wishing him all well.

    January 24, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. bibi

    No. He will be criticised much harsher. Remember the saying ' a black person has to be twice as good than his white colleague.

    January 24, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  13. adam

    The short answer is yes. Blacks can do the same thing as whites and would be judged by a totally different standard. There are stereotypes about every skin color, people need to step outside their ignorance and understand that there are substandard people of every color. YES, the black president will be held to a different standard than the white president. Hate and ignorance knows no color.

    January 24, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. Dr. Bill

    That's how America works. You can't be black and only perform average, it will be seen as preforming below average. Although, I would say in some envrionments that is starting to change, but the expectation still remains the same.

    January 24, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Lisa

    This is a very stupid question CNN. President Obama is going to be a good President because he's a great American. Obama’s partial black race or partial white race has nothing to do with his great use of people and his mind.

    I am going to started to watch Fox News, this looks like something they would do.

    January 24, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. mike

    I think the public will hold him to the same standard as the rest of the presidents. I do feel the media is holding him to a different standard making him out to be some kind of hero simply because he's black. I for one would like to see the media stop talking about his race. The racial issues facing this country can't go away until people stop comparing people based on race. I do not feel obama is special in any way to me he is just like any other person who has taken the office who has yet to prove himself as president. But with so much celebration of him being black the media has painted as though this is the first time a black man or any minority for that matter, was able to be president but the fact stands a black man could have been president long ago but no one until now that would have a chance has stepped up. I mean Jessie Jackson tried but he's so polarized there was no chance. SO come on let's stop talking about his race and instead discuss what he does right and wrong as we do with all the past presidents.

    January 24, 2009 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  17. Leilani

    Thank you CNN for this article.

    ABSOLUTELY. President Obama has to pay the highest form of the "Black Tax" than any other african american in this country because he's the president. He will be criticized for most every thing he does from this day forward.

    Not every American or non-black American will put the tax on him. Generally speaking, mostly racists are waiting for him to fail . Which in my humble estimation is about 40% of the U.S. population.

    Also, blacks tax President Obama also. They think he should focus specifically on the black community when he is the president of all Americans.

    And I also believe some republicans and pro-lifers are using their political agenda as a disguise for their bigotry.

    January 24, 2009 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. Jim in Asheville

    There is an unbelievable amount of pressure on this man. He has brought some of it upon himself during the campaign by trying to be all things to all people. The media has brought more pressure through the often repeated "first African-American" story lines. Then there is the public. We have transferred our hopes and dreams on his shoulders in an almost cult-like fashion. How can he ever deliver?

    I suspect it will be Washington politics as usual very soon. If real change is needed, then congress will have to change. Unfortunately, the only way to do that with the current system is to enact term limits. If term limits are good enough for our presidents, then surely they are good enough for our senators and house members.

    January 24, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Simmy

    You need only observe the political unheavals in Congress to find an answer to your question. The question almost begs one to say; "Shut the hell up with the added drama injected into an already unsettled society!" Be that as it may, I have full confidence in President Obama, that he will not only do a superb job as Commander-In-Chief; he will exceed expectations. Not because he is African-American, but because he is a gifted American, and God's man for these times.

    January 24, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  20. Deborah,Cincy

    President Obama is right..."a Black President better be good"...hasn't that been the mark for ALL Black People...and thanks to God...Blacks have stand the test of time....

    January 24, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Badger

    All presidents are expected to be better than good. Some just fall short. I'm thinking of an recent president that is a good example of falling very short.

    January 24, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Bill

    I don't understand why people keep referring to as black, he is mulatto.

    mulatto |m(y)oŏˈlätō; -ˈlatō| dated
    noun ( pl. -toes or -tos)
    a person of mixed white and black ancestry, esp. a person with one white and one black parent.

    Why is it so important that be be designated as a particular race or colour, he is human is that not good enough

    January 24, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  23. dijackson1978

    I think this question is unfortunate. Why should Obama be held to a different stand the 43 White men that came before him? I think it is great that America has elected a Black man, but this historic move is separate the potential job that the man-Obama-will be able to perform.

    Obama could be a remarkable success or a remarkable failure. I'm hoping for the former and I am praying for him everyday of his first term in office. Because Obama is the first Black person to hold this office, I think that Americans of all backgrounds will implicitly or even explicitly hold him to a different and higher standard.

    Again, I think this is wrong, but I must admit and be honest as a Black man myself that I do want Obama to be better than the 43 White men who came before him, and I would feel "let down" if he did not live up to this standard. I mean...I would like to have more racial/ethnic minorities hold the office of President (and minorities in general, i.e. women, gays). If Obama fails, the dream of having more minorities become President may die.

    January 24, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  24. diogu

    Here we go again. Racist comments. The American people see Obama as colorless but leave it to CNN, they will bring up racism whenever they can.

    January 24, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  25. SJR

    I think so...everyone will pay closer attention to everything he does just because he is black and God forbid if he makes any kind of mistake, it will be blown way out of proportion.

    January 24, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
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