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Obama's Comments About Black Fathers: Why the Outrage?

Social Media and Talk Radio reveal that some African-Americans are angry at President Barack Obama for saying, on Father's Day, that children need fathers in the home.

"Black women need to do a better job of raising black children... that's why we have all these problems." -- a comment from a man under "70 Percent of Black Women Single," a wildly-popular 2010 YouTube post that has since been taken down by site administrators.

When I read the comment above I didn't get mad, I became disturbed.

Why? Because I had heard this said in so many words before and, at that moment, I sensed a tangible shift in how our community views the role of the black father.

Not only are some African-American males now saying they don't want to marry the women with whom they have children, a small but growing number also are saying —on social media blogs and talk radio—that they don't even believe men are an integral part of the black American family structure.

To add fuel to the emotional fire, they and some black women are upset with President Barack Obama for saying that all men, no matter their race, should do a better job of parenting and committing to their families.

The son of a single-mother, President Obama has always been outspoken about fatherhood. During his 2008 campaign, Obama told the congregation of  Chicago's Apostolic Church of God on Father's Day that:

"The family is that most important foundation and we are called to recognized and honor what every father is to that foundation.... but if we are honest with ourselves we will admit that too many fathers are MIA (Missing in Action), too many fathers are AWOL (Absent Without Leave), missing from too many lives and too many homes. They've abandoned their responsibilities; they're acting like boys instead of men, and the foundations of our families have suffered because of it. You and I know this is true everywhere but nowhere it it more true than in the African-American community." (See Barack Obama's Speech on Father's Day on YouTube).

Since then and on Saturday, in his weekly address to country, President Obama has continued to speak out on the importance of the family and having a father in a home. The president has even established special programs to bring attention to the problem, including the creation of www.fatherhood.gov.

But, instead of rallying around these efforts—and the high profile, presidential role-model we have in this African-American father, Barack Obama—a surprising number of us have complained and have said, more or less, what the man on YouTube was saying.

You don't have to go far to hear these voices. When the topic turns to Obama's stance on black fatherhood, callers to the Lorraine Jacques-White and Derrick Boazman shows on WAOK-1380 AM radio, for instance, regularly express frustration–even outrage—over the president's views. Last Friday, on the www.mybrownbaby.com blog, talented writer Denene Millner suggested that Obama should not have come down on black men on Father's Day and others chimed in that they agree.

So, yes, I'm disturbed.

In 2011, we do not need to move towards more anger, more self-pity, more finger pointing.

We are too easy on ourselves. Yes, some white Americans "get in our business" too much but we really should not care about what they think (unless they are family members, of course). Yes, some black women don't want to marry the father of their children; some black women have more than one child by a man who, clearly, does not want to marry them; and, some black women are just not good mothers.

But that is no excuse for the black men who embrace an eternally-single lifestyle and, repeatedly, father children outside of marriage. We should "step up," as the president has said, and address our black family problem. We should support our president's use of Father's Day—the day we focus on the father—as a time to hit hard on our need to improve our family structure.

I cannot begin tell you in words what my hard-working, family-focused father, Booker T. Poe, a husband to my mom for 52 years, has done for me and our family. For one, he successfully raised and educated two children: me, a veteran journalist with a master's degree, and my brother, Brian, a successful attorney with an MBA on the side and a husband and father of two girls excelling at top Georgia private schools. I can tell you that a good father and mother, more often than not, lead to good outcomes for the children.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy. Happy Father's Day, President Obama. And Happy Father's Day to all the hard-working and committed providers, husbands and fathers in southwest Atlanta and the larger African-American community.

Janita Poe June 19, 2011 at 03:55 PM
Greetings Jucifer, AOL Patch requires that you sign up before being able to post a comment. That said, I will share your concern with our Help Desk.
Janita Poe June 19, 2011 at 03:57 PM
Kent: Excellent point. Yes, I think the low rate of black fathers results in men AND women who bring issues into relationships. Gotta go, folks! Celebrating Fathers Day with Dad!!!
Steve O'Conner June 19, 2011 at 04:06 PM
I'll say it again. I have served in the military for a long, long time; and been overseas 7 times for combat. I have worked with people of all races and people from many different countries. I was raised to respect an person that works hard, pays taxes, respects others and thinks of others more then themselves. I am Christian and have had Preachers of all colors. I believe good advice should be taken no matter what they look like. If a person has proven themselves it would be a good idea to listen to them. I am glad Obama has talked about this problem many times. If a white person had said those things that many of you agree with, that person would have been called racist. I was special forces for 15 years, and all I could think about while at war was coming home to America, not many Americas. We all need to get over ourselves and become a one nation (hopefully under God) that simply call themselves Americans and work hard to make this a better place for our future children. It is going to take work, not give me, what about me, give me, I, I, I, me, me, me. I loved the military so much because of the team work from people all over the country and world. We worked together, so it can be done. The truth can hurt sometimes, but make changes to make ourselves better and better is a good thing.
jucifer June 19, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Janita, I can write a comment and press submit and then I get asked to sign or create an account and in that process the post gets lost and people like me and Steve lose the comment which will never be able to be recreated and is replaced with frustration. Who knows we may have had enlightening things to say about this issue but now we will never get to see them.
Steve O'Conner June 19, 2011 at 04:07 PM
People that are hurt by what Obama said need to look deeper into themselves and see if they need to change. We think of ourselves to much insted of looking to see how our actions are hurting or helping others. I do hope one day we can all work together and move forward. It takes work for happiness. God Bless
Marcel Armstead June 19, 2011 at 04:14 PM
i find it remarkable that black men. are 100 percent to blame for there not being fathers not black women for choosing men that are irresponsible alot of times i e. hustlers, jailbirds. uneducated men. etc. i jus find it remarkable those kindof dudes got multiple kids all the time wit nuthing going for them. until black women pick the proper men like there white and hispanic counter parts the father issue will never go away. it will always be high . those dudes dont care wat obama says wat jesse jackson says wat al sharpton or anyone else. there gonna make babies and get pleasure from women. there not gonna tell a woman im not man enough to have sex wit u even tho, they kno there not. so its up to women to pick the rite men u hold all the cards
G Brown June 19, 2011 at 04:24 PM
It is very difficult to provide for family or be there, when justice slaps u in the face. President Obama needs to restructure the justice system, from the police to the Judge. A lot of black women don,t want a felon to raise their child, even if he is the Dad. The justice system is incriminating black men, like its a game, destroying families. White Judges and prosecutors has convicted many wrongfully, DNA testing has proved that. So President if you are concerned, go to the root of the problem, don't be blind to the facts. Happy Father Day to the Dads that been there, but not @ home.
Steve O'Conner June 19, 2011 at 04:37 PM
G Brown Please look at the problem he was talking about. People of all colors have been wrongfully prosecuted, and people of all colors have been set free that should be in jail. People use the race card when that had nothing to do with it. And so on. I have seen many black men rewarded money because they somehow got hurt while robbing people. I have seen many white men get away with things. This is not a one sided thing. It is a good lawyer with no morals thing. The true issue is the American family has become a joke to the world. We have the highest divorce rate and the highest fatherless rate in the world. That is a problem....... If we can't look at ourselves, insted of blaming all the time we will never grow and change into better people to make a better country
Steve O'Conner June 19, 2011 at 04:53 PM
Why is it that we have learned to blame before we look at ourselves. I do beleive this is how we are teaching our kids. I saw on the news: A girl posted on facebook that she wished her teacher would have been killed by Bin Ladin. The teacher was a former military man and a war hero. She got 2 days suspension. Then on the news with the news on her side and her mother on her side. I would have gotten spanked everyday for a year. And most likely had to work for the teacher (mowing lawn, washing car, ect.) for free. This is what is going on. She got a bad grade and misbehaivs in class so the teacher did somthing about it. and then she wished him dead on facebook. Do we not understand that we need to punish our kids when they do wrong AND take responsibility when we mess up. NOT BLAME ANYTHING UNDER THE SUN TO MAKE OUR MISTAKES LOOK GOOD OR NOT OUR FAULT.
alison armstead June 19, 2011 at 07:16 PM
Instead of putting blame on black women, focus on your issue. We all know there are mothers put there, who are no good and horrible parents and that is their issue, but as MEN focus on your own issue and fix that. "My babymomma is a b****" is not a valid reason for not taking care of your kid. So what if she is, your kid has to suffer cuz u don't want to deal with her crap?? Understand, that I would walk through hell to see to mine, and NO ONE would be able to stop me. I know my husband loves me with all his heart, but I also know he would fight me tooth and nail, exhausting any & all resources if I told him he could never see these lil girls again. I know fathers, white and black who refused to give up and had to deal with more crap then u can imagine, but they dealt with it, got multiple jobs to pay for lawyers and did whatever they needed to see those kids. Its cowardly to walk away cuz the mother is a jerk. You can't fix her, but you can fix you.
Neale June 20, 2011 at 03:26 AM
I would like to send a shout out to those under-recognized brothers who are being actively kept out of their children's lives. Folks love to talk about men who aren't spending the time they should with their kids, but there are more good fathers out there being blocked from their children than I think is generally realized. I have been in a custody battle over my daughter for over a year now. Despite the fact that I have always spent much more time with her than her mother, her mother has been trying to minimize my time with her in custody. Her parents were divorced when she was a teenager, and her father only had every other weekend with her. "and that worked out just fine" That is what's "normal" to her. Her reality makes a father who wants to spend as much time with his daughter as possible seem totally out of line. I thank God for President Obama and others who recognize that a father is an integral part of the development of his child. Father's are not casual options or conveniences. Fathers are the halves that make their children whole. They show their daughters what the unconditional love of a man looks like. They show their sons that being a man is something entirely different than is being so broadly portrayed in modern culture I wish that more men would come to understand how vitally important it is to their children and themselves for them to be involved. And I wish more women would expect and encourage this involvement
Perry Freeman June 20, 2011 at 05:02 AM
My Brother what we should be outraged about is the simple fact that anyone should ever have to focus on us taking care of our children...Yes, you do have a right to comment (favorable or not), however the reality of it is that then Candidate Obama was right on time...Often times we take to things to personal, or just the wrong way...Instead of us (or you) having a serious conversation about how we can be better fathers, help get other fathers engaged in their children lives, we find ourselves debating an entirely different subject...Far too long we have focused on the messenger and not the substance of what is being said...Let us stop the debate about who said what or why we believe it was said...Our children are suffering because so many of us has fail to be there for them...Basically we allow the streets, the judicial system and the mom to do what we have failed to do...Please note, the President is just telling us (brothers) keep our children away from the Judicial System and step up to the plate...Regardless of what one may think as too why he spoke out when he did, it is so very true, and so very painful...
Perry Freeman June 20, 2011 at 05:07 AM
My brother, my heart really bleeds for you..Trust me, you are not alone...Have you tried (www.nationalfamilysolutions.com)...Check them out...I do believe they can help...
David Boutté June 20, 2011 at 05:12 AM
I have no problem at all with "fathers" being called out for not being true fathers to their children. The only thing I have an issue with is the increased use of Father's Day, especially in our community, to focus on the negative. Father's Day is the one day out of the year that we choose to universally honor our fathers; so, for the dialogue surrounding this one holiday, I'd prefer to see a focus on the positive.
Perry Freeman June 20, 2011 at 05:23 AM
My brother, let's honor those fathers everyday, but let us speak out everyday...I grew up without a father, most of the kids I grew up with was the same way...Perhaps my judgement is just a little bit cloudy of Father's day and who should the focus be on {The father who is there or the child wishing he or she could celebrate with dad of Father's day}...
David Boutté June 20, 2011 at 05:32 AM
I agree that we should honor those deserving fathers every day. My comments were simply within the context of having a special day---or a holiday, that is specifically set aside for fathers.
Janita Poe June 20, 2011 at 09:37 AM
No matter the view, GREAT comments from every here. Also, I personally think we need to reform the justice system because it simply is causing too many long-term, systemic problems for our families. Ironically, Noah's Ark Walk for a Change (a prison-reform organization) is launching a 7-day walk today. New conference is 11 a.m. at the county jail, 901 Rice St. The 139-mile march begins at noon. See our stories in www.cascade.patch.com.
K. Belvedere June 20, 2011 at 08:53 PM
Obama only spoke on half of the truth. Yes, it is true that many African American men are not part of the family, but that is also the same for other races. Why is that? Why are these men not part of the nuclear family? And why is there a family to begin with? I think that we should focus on women and their self esteem. The selection process of who we procreate with is the issue. Instead of jumping into sexual relations as soon as you get the late night booty call....why not actually get to know the person? A persons self worth and personal integrity is the only way to change family values. This is not geared toward any race. It happens with every nationality, skin color, etc. The only thing that needs "change" is truly an inside job. However, if the government wishes to create more social welfare programs, get to the source. Teach women how to empower themselves
K. Belvedere June 20, 2011 at 09:06 PM
The only person blind to the facts is you. You claim that the American Justice system has wrongfully convicted black men. You claim that DNA analysis is wrong, but you are the one in the wrong. Yes, it is true that women do not want a convicted felon to raise their children. Why? Because they are acting in the best interest of their children. I know many black judges, lawyers, police personnel who have all been part of the process to convict black men. The reason why they are convicted is because the jury has found them guilty; a jury of their peers. The state has shown enough evidence to prove by the highest threshold that a person is guilty. They put that decision in the hands of the jury. Black men and women serve on juries. A lawyer cannot remove a prospective juror during voire dire solely on the basis of their race. Batson v. Kentucky. Do not be a mouth piece. Learn the truth before you spread your ignorance.
Janita Poe June 21, 2011 at 12:38 AM
K. Belvedere: Thanks for sharing! Re "also the same for other races:" 1) They can address their issues, let's address ours, 2) I'm sorry but our single-family situation is off the charts compared to other races. WE are the community with the most serious problem, by far. As for the self-esteem issue for women, I agree with you in every way; I even wrote about that problem on Facebook today. Finally, not only should we not jump into sex relations (see my comment in this stream at 11:32am on Sunday, June 19, 2011) we no longer respect that at the end of the day sex is about reproduction. If you want to engage in it before marriage, be read to accept that you may bring a child into the world.
Beverly Williams... June 21, 2011 at 12:49 AM
Okay, Single women raising girls with some help from father, is okay, But we as women, should take more pride in ourselves, because it's take a mother to give birth to a child and raise them with the help from family members, and the little help she gets from their dad and have them grow into fine young ladies with high school diplomas and college degrees and continues to go further in their career. With that being said, a dad is alright, but its take a real man to be a father, someone that's not afraid of responsibility, and knows his place on earth that God created for us to live on and enjoy everything that he placed on earth. So to all those wanna be dads/fathers, like myself and a lot of other single moms that can keep their head above their problem, even if dad/father is not in your childs life, know one thing we have a father in Heaven, and he dont sleep and in ours lives thats only FATHER we need.
David W. Johnson Jr June 27, 2011 at 06:29 PM
REBUILD THE VILLAGE by: David W. Johnson, Jr. Murderers attending colleges with our children Murderers walking in our schools off the streets Just what is it going to take for us to start caring? Children’s lives are at stake, forget being discreet Parents get up and walk your children to school Mothers instead of birth control, parental control Thanks to not caring, neighborhoods are cesspools Neighborhoods and our children, we best get a hold Stop waiting for the police to bring law and order Live the way we should, police would be elsewhere Adults are the reason children’s lives are in disorder What we are doing to our children is beyond unfair Get children from in front of the televisions, please To know their future they must first know their past Watching 53 MTV is not the road to college degrees 52 VH1 is taking them down the wrong road fast Adults lift you heads and open your eyes to reality Reality is, our children are gasping for breaths of life To get it, adults we must develop a better mentality Come together; take our children from the lowlifes Show children Black Museums and the Smithsonian Our children do not know or care about their history Baltimoreans why should you dislike Washingtonians Until we stop hating and killing we will never be free For our children let us start to, “Rebuild The Village”
reXteryalizer August 02, 2011 at 06:21 PM
And JUST one more thing if you will allow// And no disrespect or distain is intended for the OFFICE of our GREAT PRESIDENCY and White House. Respect and honor and a great varity of reasons hold the United States Presidency in our Prayers and hopes for continued blessing and truthfull success. BUT the truth is STILL THE TRUTH . oBOMA does what he has to do~~~ just to get by. Feeding his donors and supporters Un merited fuel, is HIS only OBJECTIVE. this is HIS main OBJECTIVE. The only REASON things get done, is because the people who SURROUND oBOMA, Drape the American Flag around him, WHILE HE shoves it off of himself, in disheveled pride. and NUMB ignorance. While, He admits, Boldly and sneeringly, he has done plenty of COCAINE. Please Use your head and tell us, BECAUSE we need and deserve to know... Why would we want a NUMB cacK heaD in the White House. oBOMA should have stayed *( WHERE HE WAS ) ~ in the cracK house. !
reXteryalizer August 02, 2011 at 06:22 PM
PLEASE go to reXes NEW WebsiTe ~ ! Oboma *( Just like Adolf Hitler~~ In that oBOMA~~~ Demands ! -- [ THE FINAL SOLUTION - ~ For Un~Wanted Children Barak Obama A MURDERER .~Torturing UNWANTED babys on DEATH ROE http://obomanationinfanticide.sharepoint.com/Pages/default.aspx OBAMA supports TAKING a little NEW BORN innocent child.. / BORN. ALIVE ~ sTabing it iN the head & SUCKs ITS BRAINS OUT. He also demands, that a Child SURVIVING a FAILED ABORTION, Has no RIGHT to Life or medical care.
Janita Poe August 02, 2011 at 06:43 PM
ReX, Instead of focusing on what he has or hasn't done, why not look at our own lives and determined what we have done. One thing for sure: He is committed to his wife and children. If you want to conjure in your head that, somehow, he is not, fine. But happy, well-adjusted children are all the evidence you need of two good parents doing what they should be doing.
reXteryalizer August 10, 2011 at 01:05 PM
Oboma has NOT brought CHANGE, In fact ~~ THE ONLY real THING needing CHANGE ! Was Barack Hussein Obama II. Barack Hussein Obama II ( Who hates American Values ) Who who is A " SELF PROCLAIMED Enemy " ~ of responsible, Morally Conscious HARD WORKING Americans. oBOMAS supporters KNOW~ that Barack Hussein Obama II, WILL FORCE YOU to paY THEM, out of your PockeT .... This UN~CHANGABLE fraud, has done His VERY BEST to Inspire VIOLENCE. THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. saying “Bring it on” To his supporters. Oboma ~ Demands Saying “Get ready for hand-to-hand combat with your fellow Americans” – Obama has ALSO DECLARED to his Supporters “I want all Americans to get in each others faces!– Obama demands !
reXteryalizer August 10, 2011 at 01:05 PM
“You bring a knife to a fight pal, we’ll bring a gun” – Obama Cant wait to get everybody involved in some kind OF CONFRONTATION of some sort.... THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. Obama has ALSO DECLARED "Republicans are our enemies"- ** Obama on ACORN Mobs: “I don’t want to quell anger. I think people are right to be angry! I’m angry!” ANGER VIOLENCE and more taxes..... THIS IS OBAMAS Change for america /“Hit Back Twice As Hard”. He commands ! THESE ARE OBAMAS Very OWN WORDS.. *Obama on the private sector: ~~ “We talk to these folks…~ / so I know whose ass to KICK.“ OBOMA wants to KICK your ass / Shouting THAT Republican victory would mean ~ “hand to hand combat” HE IS EXPECTING people to kill & BE VIOLENT / for their immoral CAUSES THIS IS WHAT HE LIVES FOR THESE ARE OBAMAS OWN WORDS.. * Obama Tells democrats: “ I’m itching for a fight.” !
reXteryalizer August 10, 2011 at 01:06 PM
oBOMa is the worst parent that could ever be imagined. He is a murdering evil man. Who teaches his children it is ok to torture ( BURNING a child alive. or ( CUTTING a little baby up into peices. in agony & TORTURE. Just because the father of the child didnt hit the Jackpot before the last second of the delivery date. THIS is the makeup the mentality of most Women todays mothers in the USA. A bunch seX craVed Animals. Who canT stop screwing and partying ... oBOMA is a liar.. He teaches his children to lie. and to hate the United States. He is a racist liar and his children *( WE HOPE ) will learn from HIM.... what Evil trully is. He is a terror to all Children of the World..... and to all christians & good people a disgace and a shame, He belongs in prison...but hell will be happy to take this man who ** JUST LIKE HITLER.. Demands the FINAL SOLUTOIN for Unwanted Children/ Pls dont project your failures of not being commited to your children or determined UN DOINGS in your own life upon reX... reX has facts.... Every single WORD that reX has posted above. is 100 % DOCUMENTED & proven fact.. You have no facts. because every word you say is a lie.. The oBOMAS are not good parents.. NOT doing what they are supposed to do. BUT instead are raising whores and sluts Who MURDER & TORTURE their own little children / for daughters .
Lovely9 August 31, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Well said, and I cannot agree more.
Lovely9 August 31, 2012 at 10:54 PM
I understand what you are saying, but at the same time this needed to be said. I just read the statistics on the black population today in 2012, and its very sad. 42% of the black households have a two parent home, and the Hispanic family percentage is 68%. You have to be responsible about who you are with, and ask yourself the question do you want to be a single parent? Is this man a good man, and will be their to co-parent? or are you both just caught-up in the heat of the moment. Its called personal responsibility, and we have to really start taking this serious, because are community is losing the war with our children. I do not care about politics, but I want to hear the truth, and so lets all step-up.

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