Today President Obama made a speech to the nation’s children about the importance of education and what responsibilities they, the individual student, have to themselves and to this country and how education can help them achieve any goals they may have for themselves. I have not heard the speech in its entirety, nor have I read the transcript that was released by the White House over the holiday weekend, but I have been privy to a LOT of discussion about the speech via my friends (and their friends) on Facebook. Most people are amazed that there is even a controversy brewing over the fact that the President of the United States of America wants to address the children about something so fundamentally important as education. But the underlying debate is whether the controversy is based on politics or on racism. Either is equally dangerous if you ask me, but one hits a little closer to home for me.
So here we are in September 2009, almost a year after this country elected Barack Obama as the first African-American President. And in this first year, there have been no scandals of unfaithfulness (Kennedy / Clinton), no scandals of wiretapping and conspiracy (Nixon), no terrorist attacks on our soil (Bush), and while the war is still waging overseas, no new wars have broken out – although North Korea has flexed. The economy, slowly but surely seems to be turning around – it will be a LONG process people, be patient. Unemployment is slowly turning around also – not as fast as someone who has lost his/her job and is looking for one might like, but there are jobs out there and more are opening up nationwide. I knew when I voted for Obama that he was not a miracle worker. I was aware of the fact that all of our problems didn’t START with the Bush administration, and therefore, did not expect all the solutions to be found in the Obama administration. It is going to take time to rectify the problems our nation faces – and patience is needed.
However, people who don’t think as I think politically/emotionally/rationally…have tried to cloud the issues for the last 10 months. Did we have to spend days of news attention on the fact that President Obama took his wife to NYC to watch a play and while they were there, she drank a glass of wine? Really? Do we really have to hear about how Mrs. Obama’s walking shorts were not appropriate to wear while touring the Grand Canyon on vacation? You want me to believe that in sweltering heat, you really are going around in a sundress, sandals, carrying a parasol? Pa-leeze! And PETA has to protest because Obama swatted at a fly during a press conference? He didn’t even kill the fly, just swatted at it! Geesh. And now, finally, most recently, are there people in this country who are seriously “threatened” that Obama is going to “indoctrinate” their children while giving a speech about the importance of education? Excuse my French but, what the hell?!
I understand that all the noise is being made by a small group of people – but they sure are making a LOT of noise. And while most of the people making the noise don’t look like me, there are some who do look like me who feel the same way. (They are just a little less vocal about it). But every White person doesn’t hate Obama, neither does every Black person love him. Just putting that out there. People have said that the controversy is not about race, it’s about politics. Hmmm…really? How can it be about politics when the controversy started before the text of his speech was even released? If you don’t know what I am going to say and yet you are all up in arms at the thought of me saying anything, how is that politics?
I know there is a faction of people in this country who want to make everything about race. I have people in my family like that. (and yes, racism exists both ways and neither is right). And everything is NOT always about race…but from my perspective as an educated, employed, never been on welfare, never been on drugs, no illegitimate or legitimate children, BLACK woman: some things are. When Obama was elected, I knew he and his wife and his children would be scrutinized as no other First Family would be – but even I didn’t expect the microscopic intense attention paid to their every word, action, deed, thought, outfit…I couldn’t do. I have always said that we (Black folks) have to be twice as good to be considered half as worthy. And the older I get, the more I am finding that to be true.
I did listen to some of President Obama’s speech today. I was impressed with his humbleness as he talked about being in Indonesia with his single mom and her waking him up each morning at 4:30a to teach him his lessons. I listened to him tell the children that “your circumstances of today do not have to determine who you become” and thought “exactly!”. He also said (paraphrase): Your failures are not to define you, they are to teach you. Each failure is a lesson in what not to do to be successful. Powerful! Why would anyone NOT want their children to hear such encouraging words? I don’t know.
What amazes me also, these same parents who want to pull their children from school to avoid having them listen to the President will allow their children to listen to all kinds of negative music lyrics, or watch crazy/stupid TV shows and/or movies or go online to various websites that are not positive…you don’t think those are avenues through which your children are being indoctrinated? I’m just sayin’.
It may just be about politics…maybe. I tend to think that if the package delivering the message was packaged just a little differently, there would not have been the controversy.