Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama and the ‘Hood

Last night I tuned into D.L. Hughley's CNN show to see Hughley bid adieu. It's not that I was a fan of the show. In fact, last night's show was made up of "best of" clips of previous shows that simply confirmed why the show was being canceled in the first place. But I did tune in with the expectation that Hughley would do or say something completely outlandish or over-the-top.

But anyway, the show proved to be pretty uneventful. There was a segment that stood out though. In one episode, Hughley asked his guests Stephen A. Smith and Michaela Angela Davis what President Obama's presidency meant to "the streets".

Both guests were in agreement that his presidency would have a profound impact on the streets. In fact, one guests stated something to the effect that now "brothas in the street" would know the importance of having discipline, morals, and values. I think it was Hughley who told a brief anecdote about children who were mis-behaving on a train, but who then quickly repaired when Barack Obama and his children were invoked.

I don't know. I'm still pretty incredulous about the whole conversation. I mean, I agree somewhat, but there is a lot more work that still must be done at the grassroots level. Take the following as a case in point.

A few days after President Obama's historic win, I gave an assessment to a group of eighth grade boys at an inner city charter school. For the most part, the group's performance was absolutely pathetic. If I remember correctly, all but two failed miserably. Nevertheless, on all the papers, with no exceptions, was some form of "Obama '08." In big letters, in little letters, his name was everywhere. But one paper stood out.

Not only did this student write Obama all over his paper, but he also drew a fairly good likeness of him and the back of his paper featured a pretty good Obama rap. But the student didn't answer one question. He didn't even attempt the assessment.

The students are certianly inspired by Obama's victory, but they seem totally oblivious as to what got him where he is now. Obama's discipline, morals, and values are all good lessons to learn, but who is going to take them back to the streets and teach them. Those who are in most need of this message will not receive it simply by osmosis.

Brothas in the street are undoubtedly proud of Obama's accomplishments, and certainly his path to the White House is a blueprint for success, but unless there are people on the ground re-iterating this message and modeling this message, then I'm afraid it goes for naught.


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