President Barack Obama’s comments about personal responsibility during a My Brother’s Keeper event made MSNBC host Toure “cringe.” During the event President Obama told the young Hispanic and black men that is was important to make good choices in life, while admitting that he had make some mistakes himself as a teenager.
The president said, “We’ve got to help you knock down some of the barriers that you experience, that’s what we’re here for. But you’ve got some responsibilities,” during the My Brother’s Keeper meeting. MSNBC’s Toure took exception with President Obama’s belief that the youth themselves should factor personal responsibility into their future plans.
Toure had this to say after hearing the president’s comments:
“I cringe at that. As if effort and excuses have been the problem. No, it’s been structural racism. The accumulated impact of historic discrimination and the advantages of white privilege and the systems perpetuate all that. Going into personal responsibility suggests you can make it if you try, and he [President Obama] knows it’s more complex than that.”
If it were up to the MSNBC host, President Obama would told the My Brother’s Keeper audience to tell the country to “tear down the American Berlin Wall that keeps black men separated from opportunity. That sort of big brother-in-chief would get us closer to the mountain top.”
The president also had this to say during the event designed to aid and guide minority youth:
“We have become numb to the statistics. We take them as the norm. We just assume this is an inevitable part of American life. Instead of the outrage that it is. Part of my message is, no excuses.”
During his MSNBC show Toure detailed the president’s My Brother’s Keeper speech this way:
“And now we have the big brother-in-chief. Speaking in a way only a black president could, from personal experience with language that black boys can connect to. Obama’s biography has always been one of his best tools. But I always find myself depressed by all this because we see how much help black people need beyond the scope of even a president. Yes some of us are violent and too many are incarcerated but there are too few jobs and too many guns and too much of the war on drugs which I see as a war on black and brown young men.”
Toure also pondered how young men can save themselves when walking down the street or driving in a car, and referenced death of Trayvon Martin. “Kids can see the school to prison pipeline, chronic joblessness, and the glass ceiling. It’s less a change in attitude that’s need than a change in opportunity,” the MSNBC host added.
Even folks who loathe the president’s policies have applauded the My Brother’s Keeper event and especially the personal responsibility aspect of the initiative.
What do you think about Toure’s “cringe” at the mention of personal responsibility?
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