Posted July. 18, 2009 08:14,
U.S. President Barack Obama yesterday urged African Americans to take greater responsibility for their future.
He said this in a speech at the 100th anniversary convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in New York Thursday six months after his inauguration.
Expressing his gratitude for the courage, vigor and sacrifices of civil rights activists that helped him stand where he was, Obama emphasized the stark reality minorities are facing in the United States.
Make no mistake: The pain of discrimination is still felt in America, he said. By African-American women paid less for doing the same work as colleagues of a different color and gender. By Latinos made to feel unwelcome in their own country. By Muslim Americans viewed with suspicion for simply kneeling down to pray. By our gay brothers and sisters, still taunted, still attacked, still denied their rights.
In a sharp contrast to his previous comments on race over the past two years, he offered the most direct opinion on the matter.
We know that even as our economic crisis batters Americans of all races, African-Americans are out of work more than just about anyone else . We know that even as spiraling health care costs crush families of all races, African Americans are more likely to suffer from a host of diseases but less likely to own health insurance than just about anyone else, he said.
He said getting an education is the strongest instrument to stand up against inequality and the best way to find opportunities, urging black parents to accept their own responsibilities by putting away the Xbox game console and putting their kids to bed at a reasonable hour.
I want them aspiring to be scientists and engineers, doctors and teachers, not just ballers and rappers, he said, adding I want them aspiring to be a Supreme Court justice. I want them aspiring to be president of the United States.
We have to say to our children, Yes, if youre African-American, the odds of growing up amid crime and gangs are higher. Yes, if you live in a poor neighborhood, you will face challenges that somebody in a wealthy suburb does not have to face.
He said, But thats not a reason to get bad grades, thats not a reason to cut class, thats not a reason to give up on your education and drop out of school. No one has written your destiny for you. Your destiny is in your hands.
Obama also sent a similar message on global poverty and underdevelopment, saying Washington will actively help developing countries but that they must step forward to take responsibility for their future and resolve their problems.