Obama offers rules for success as he expands program for young minority men
July 21st, 2014
01:19 PM ET
9 years 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.

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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. Rudy NYC


    @Rudy- If your comment wasn't directed at me then why send it to me. Your spinning again.
    Yet, another stupid comment. You're conflating, confabulating, and confused. My comment *was* directed at you, smith. Does everything have to be an attack with you? Apparently, so. But, if you still think that it was an "attack", then carry on. I can't stop stupid.

    The comment was an observation of the FACTS. Perry is being a blatant hypocrite. He does not deserve the praise that you heap upon him.

    July 21, 2014 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. salty dog

    Off the deep red end, didn't agree 100%, but your comment lacked the bite you've had on your posts recently. You were sounding a bit like one of the " usual suspects"? I like the more independent Smith.

    July 21, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  3. salty dog

    JD, your correct, but its all we have, its very frustrating to me, but I'm ten years out from retirement, this is about all I know (machine shop), even with a journeyman's card, it ain't what it used to be. I'm in the best place in the area, we simply don't make anything anymore, and its affected us badly, they were ready to outsource our military projects, to other countries, come on man, your killing me here. Work ethic isn't what it used to be, I see it everywhere, were spoiled, the same thing I used to hear thirty years ago

    July 21, 2014 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  4. ????

    We do not need another government program. We need fro the climate in this country to be such that businesses want to hire people.

    July 21, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. rs

    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.
    Let's see, he grew up in a broken home; went to ivy league college; got a law degree; published a law review; became a U.S. Senator; was elected twice by a healthy margin to the highest office in the land. So far, he sounds pretty successful. While President he passed sweeping health care reform act which got 11 million Americans affordable health insurance-74% of Republicans who got their insurance this way like it; he shut down the disastrous Bush war in Iraq; got Osama bin Laden; will close down the war in Afghanistan this year most likely; cut the national deficit in half; successfully battle for civil rights and against DOMA. We could go on. The economy has significantly improved. Unemployment is below the point he took office; the economy is making 255,000 jobs a month; income is up; Market in record territories (good for us who lost our shorts under Bush).

    Republicans? 6 long years of doing nothing- except attack women's rights, civil rights and voting rights- and that's after 8 years of Bush. You guys are toast.

    July 21, 2014 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  6. salty dog

    Sorry, DJ not JD.

    July 21, 2014 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. smith

    salty dog

    There are Smith, I spend a fortune on cookies and chips, ha!

    Back in my day it was pizza, wings, and dr. pepper.

    July 21, 2014 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. smith

    @Rudy-Well duh, I stated to rs that the GOP was playing politics with the border issue last week. However, he is doing the right thing now.

    July 21, 2014 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  9. Lynda/Minnesota

    Well, he did grow up to become President of the United States. A tribute to his upbringing, certainly. It is not an achievement any one of us on the CNN ticker can relate to (although we are quite adept at displaying our disdain at the handful who HAVE become President of the United States).

    July 21, 2014 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Rudy NYC

    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.
    He's sure heard enough of it to write a book. But, name calling? Uh, you're projecting again. I'm just pointin'

    July 21, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. Gunderson

    Ye Gadds,
    Old Gunderson know Education hard thing but this is rediculous. We already have Education in country, called Pre School Kintergarten , Grade School, High School, College, etc. Old saying, maybe you've heard of it, First you get Degree then you get Education. Too bad so many of you skipped Education. Aw, hey, Salty Head, Military make some things overseas for many years. A few more years of "Good" Democrat Politics and everything go overseas. Careful what you ask for, you just might get it. Sorry, education up to bat !!

    July 21, 2014 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC


    @Rudy-Well duh, I stated to rs that the GOP was playing politics with the border issue last week. However, he is doing the right thing now.
    I could care less about what you posted to "rs". Do you know how big of a fool one would have to be to assume that everyone else reads what someone might post to everyone else?

    Besides, if you really were so critical of Republicans last week, then why *were* you heaping so much praise on Gov. Perry this week? Gov. Perry was the biggest critic of Pres. Obama last week, and now this week he's your hero? Ah, that's the independent in you. I accept that with a smile on my face.

    Allow me to thank you again, for so emphatically distancing yourself from being labeled a moderate, or even holding moderate views and opinions. You, smith, are an "independent." But, you don't like it when I call you an independent, do you?

    July 21, 2014 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  13. Chris..E.al

    Kids are the future of america . American kids . THE Lord knows 0UR kids need help TO . The entire world is a in need but lets take care of our own for a spell . All colors i have no prob with lunch programs or headstarts if you do something wrong with you repubs would pass anything like that in a min but dems pile on pork .

    July 21, 2014 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    Take care of our people–not Russia, not plane.

    July 21, 2014 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
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