Senator Obama’s Critique of Black Fathers: Playing to the White Frame?

CNN featured a news story today about Senator Obama lecturing the Black community today, and especially young Black men, on the need for them to be better fathers. (His prepared remarks are here. Photo: jmtimages) In this part of his speech in a predominantly Black church, Obama sounded much like Bill Cosby recently, and like most of white America, on the issue of “failed” black parents. Whites have been blaming the Black community for its supposedly self-generated “families” problems since at least the late seventeenth century, without of course dealing with the extreme circumstances that a highly racist and discriminatory system creates for all Black parents, past and present. According to CNN:

Barack Obama celebrated Father’s Day by calling on black fathers, who he said are “missing from too many lives and too many homes,” to become active in raising their children. “They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it,” the Democratic presidential candidate said Sunday at a largely black church in his hometown.

Obama does not deal with the racism these Black men face in his speech. What is always striking about such one-sided critiques, no matter who makes them, is that this problem is not a “Black fathers” problem. In the first place, this is a white-American and general American problem. He could have raised it in a much more balanced way. Why did he not address his sermon to all young men, including the large numbers of the “irresponsible” young fathers who are white? And, perhaps more importantly, where is the strong critique of a racist society that cannot provide decent educations and decent-paying jobs for young black men, indeed for every person who wants to work. Good fathers need decent jobs.

This critique of black fathers would be more honest if the hostile racist settings and racist job environments they face every day got at least equal time in talking about their lives. Why not do that? Is Senator Obama trying now to look more “moderate” to racist white America? Is that the only way to be elected in this country, to play into the white racist framing of black families?


And it is striking, if the CNN report is a full report and the website official speech is accurate, that he did not celebrate the fact that the majority of young black parents somehow, in this still highly discriminatory society, manage to create supportive home environments and to raise kids who do not “get into trouble.” Why not celebrate with equal time all those successful black fathers of all ages, past and present, especially on fathers’ day? This is a day to celebrate fathers.


And then of course there are all the black mothers, who have to deal with fathers who die young, get ill or disabled from lousy work conditions, or who end up in the crime/prison world because of getting involved in the drug economy, one of the few places that men of color can find jobs these days. Fortunately, Senator Obama does mention their struggles and importance but does not really celebrate their courage and he once again does not bring up the gendered racism they face every day.


The CNN reporter comments thus on Obama’s speech:

The issue adds to his family values credentials and lets voters see him delivering a stern message to black voters.

Notice here the white racist framing of the story. Like a fish in water, the reporter (or editor) does not even see the racist thinking in this sentence. The first “voters” word of course does not mean “voters” but actually means “white voters,” as those are the ones who want to see him preach like a white person to African Americans about their “family values” problems.


It is very sad that the very people who have had to work much harder on the average over four centuries of white-imposed oppression just to keep their families alive and surviving—those who were enslaved (for 246 years) and legally segregated (90 or so years)—than average whites had to work over that same 336-year period, get no credit for maintaining families and “family values” under such extreme circumstances to the present day. It is time to write more about the heroism of Black parents, like Robert Staples, fathers and mothers, in the past and the present, and to cease these one-sided playing-into-the-white-frame distortions of Black families and Black history. There is much more to this story than the “family values” and “broken families” rhetoric ever reveals.

According to CNN, Senator Obama accented another classical white-framed approach, to mention injustice but to play it down and to play up individual responsibility:

“We can’t simply write these problems off to past injustices,” Obama said Sunday. “Those injustices are real. There’s a reason our families are in disrepair … but we can’t keep using that as an excuse.

He did not, unfortunately, spend any time on these “injustices.” (And where is the word “racial” for the injustices here?)

In my view, such preaching about family issues is OK, but only if the real world of extensive racial discrimination, few decent jobs, and a still white-run racist society are brought in and given at least equal time with preaching one more time about the “problems” of “family values” in black communities.

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Comments

  1. I just wanted to say thank you, Joe Feagin, for your lucid description of ongoing American racism. You’re one of the only people out there who speaks about, in plain English, the deeply-embedded ongoing racism in our society. You really do keep me sane.

  2. PhilMorBru

    Thanks for this probing analysis. I’ve only been reading you for a few weeks and I’m glad you are here.

    Not to detract from your race analysis on this story, but I feel that I should point out that by saying “Good fathers need decent jobs” you are assuming “traditional” gender roles where the mother takes care of the kids and the father “provides.”

  3. Joe Author

    PhilMorBru, glad to have you at the site, and glad you like it. Thanks for the insight. I am only analyzing fathers in the too-brief sentence and certainly would not argue for traditional gender roles anywhere. I would, given further analysis, accent that all parents, men and women, need access to decent jobs at decent wages. I agree with the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights on that point. Thanks.

  4. Aaron P.

    When this story broke my wife was shocked, and I simply shrugged my shoulders and replied that it either demonstrates the strength of the white racial frame in America or Obama is attempting to assure white voters of his white “family values” morality. It obviously could be a combination of both, but this really didn’t surprise me. Obama downplayed his race until he was forced to bring it up with the whole Wright fiasco, and now it seems he is eager to again take up the mantle of the non-threatening black man. Through narratives such as this he is able to remind white voters that he is aware of, and has in fact been personally impacted by social problems that have been racialized. It not only supports white racial fears, but validates them by demonstrating that the concerns and fears of whites are his concerns and fears too.
    Yet further evidence that despite the real chance of having the nation’s first non-white male president, we still have a long way to go in terms of race and gender relations.

  5. Sorry but as an African American single mother who got about 10 Happy fathers day wishes yesterday, I think this situation is beyond crisis stage. We can’t deny the fact that this is an issue and he was talking to a black audience. While I don’t agree with all of Obama’s positions and policies. I can’t criticize him on this one because he is being truthful. I know a lot of good fathers, but in general most black fathers are M.I.A. and participation in their childrens lives is AN OPTION…
    and as far a racism is concerned there are IN FACT a few well known celebrities/athletes who have SERIOUSLY dropped the ball when it comes to fatherhood.

    I bet a significant number of the women in that congregation were like me.. getting happy fathers day text messages all day long.

    This is nothing but a black version of ‘bittergate’

    everyone has an excuse for their own pathologies

  6. lou

    Interesting post on Obama and I have to say that this is a clear indication of the white racial frame. Watching how this is being played out in the media today truly bothers me as they are framing it as a ‘lecture’ to African Americans from Obama. In skewed conversations of absent fathers (and in some cases, welfare mothers), the wonderful and positive attributes of African American families are often neglected and/or absent altogether.

  7. Aaron P.

    Shug. I understand your point. However, I think his remarks should have been directed at other communities aside from African Americans. Yes, there are African American men that are absentee fathers. However, there are also white, Latino, East-Asian, Indian, Eastern European, etc fathers that are absent from their children’s lives. I would point out that Census data indicates that of all children living in single parent, female only families, (almost 15 million children) 49.5% of the these children are white (single race, non-Hispanic) were as 33.7% are African American (http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/censr-14.pdf page 15 in pdf view). It should also be noted that the same statistics indicate that single parent–father only families with African-American fathers are also disproportionally high. Granted 1) these statistics don’t measure the rate of absentee fathers, just single female headed households and 2) the rate of African American single parent homes is still disproportionally high compared to that groups approximate 12% of the population. However, the point that men need to be fathers in a traditional hetero-normative sense of the word should still be applied to individuals of all racial/ethnic groups.
    So the real question becomes why is there a disproportional amount of single parent, female only African American families? The argument that Obama made, and hence Joe’s critique, puts the blame on the individual. I think we can all agree that on some level you are right, individuals have some agency in determining what role they will play in their children’s lives. However, the argument that Obama should have made would indicate that there is nothing inherently wrong culturally/morally/psychologically with African Americans that cause them to absent, rather their agency is hindered by a larger social structure that limits their individual agency, and makes it much more difficult for them to be traditionally “good fathers”. African American males earn less than the national average ($7,000 less per year than all other workers (http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/censr-25.pdf)) which makes their ability to be “good fathers” more difficult. Again, this is not an excuse, it is just a fact. There is a larger structure that exists beyond personal choice that serves to limit personal choice. This is the portion of the argument that Obama missed.
    Yes, there are black celebrities that drop the ball on child support (both financial and mental) (although I can’t think of any off the top of my head). I would assume that you are trying to use this point to counter the larger financial constraints argument that Joe is making, as celebrities, one would assume, should be able to make child support payments, be active in the child’s life, etc. I obviously cannot read these individuals’ minds to determine why they chose not to be active in their child’s life, nor does Joe’s critique (or my rebuttal) assume to account for the actions of every individual within society. Certain individuals may certainly, as you say, have their own pathologies that make them bad parents. However, if you are correct and there are many African American fathers that are bad fathers, so much so that the African American family is in crisis, then the problem cannot be attributed to the individual. That is one of the fundamental tenants of sociology: if one person is crazy, that is their own personal troubles, if a significant proportion of a population is crazy, then it is a social problem, with causes that extend beyond the individual.
    I highly doubt that there is some uniquely African American pathology that makes black men bad fathers. This is essentially the argument that Obama is making and unfortunately it is an argument that has been made by white racists for generations. Instead of solely blaming individuals for making the “choice” to be bad parents, a significant portion of the blame could/should be placed upon the structure that limits the ability of these individuals to be good parents.

  8. Seattle in Texas

    Heh Shug, welcome and thank you for sharing you’re thoughts. It’s not easy being a single parent and I am sure you get many more Happy Father’s Day thoughts from many of us here too!

    To keep this short, I can only say that Obama gave a similar speech on Martin Luther King’s Day and I don’t recall the criticisms, but maybe he might have addressed the larger social issues too. What came to mind with the speeches instantly was Malcolm X and I know Malcolm was not operating out of a white frame…but then again, he wasn’t running for president and had the freedom to speak more openly and in much greater depth…. Obama just can’t go there and some may be following me here…about as far as he can get to that point is within the speeches he has already gave. I don’t want to see him be taken away. He’s walking a fine line in so many ways. Call it serving or operating out of the white racist/racial frame, and it may very well be—right or wrong, I do think he is trying to send a message, but he just can’t complete it or communicate it in any other way for many obvious reasons. That is my taking of it, right or wrong and it may change…who knows….

    Hmmm…but an older song performed by some classy artists for those who like a little music here and there too and RIP Left Eye: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-n-jZJhpT4&feature=related

  9. Ryon

    Hi Everyone,

    Dr. Feagin raised an excellent point in this post.

    But what’s missing from our discussions is that some women actually want female-headed households, which, in turn has nothing to do with the father, and more to do with the choice of the woman (Edin and Kefalas 2005).

    As for you being pissed Spencer….I think these middle of the road type of speeches is what I’ve come to expect from Obama.

    rjc

  10. Has Obama or any liberal or conservative advanced anything but empty rhetoric and no ideas except make those men come home and marry the girl. People like Obama are part of the problem when it comes to this issue. I have yet to hear a plan of how to deal with these issues with the seriousness it deserves as a complicated problem that can’t be solved with a slick speech. White american out of wedlock births are nearing 50 percent and rising and where is the debate for …

    1. Enforcement of child support laws
    2. Setting up an infastructure that will benefit the child and parents
    3. DNA services to identify paternity
    4. Parenting lessons for single mothers and fathers
    5. Pentalies for lying about paternity
    6. Sexual Education for kids and teenagers
    7. Counseling by trained professionals to deal with the mental problems of why young women want babies before their time
    8. Why do men and boys feel the need not to take care of their offspring

    Obama’s rhetoric and assertions are just simplistic rants that have no intellectual currency but are based on anger and emotion. Single -Parent children are now an American problem and does not have a racial or cultural malfunction. Obama needs to stop watching “Bring the Pain” and more on substance. We can’t even get tyhe states to make payment of child support a national issue. Like Paul Mooney said once, Black Folks love to entertain, and Obama’s song like all other songs I have heard on this topic the past 30 years is boring.

  11. Ryon

    Hillary Clinton would never make this speech to white women on mothers day.

    Michelle Obama, would never EVER step into a black congregation and make this speech to black womens on mother’s day.

    The question was must ascertain is why did Obama?

  12. Seattle in Texas

    Obama is supposed to address racial issues, then he’s not, then he is, then he’s not. Obama is a black man who is running for president, he’s supposed to be flawless, all knowing, superhuman anything less only provides assurances that he’s not fit to be the next leader of course…just as somebody else had earlier predicted would happen in an earlier blog.

    Eric, why is it that out of wedlock births are necessarily problematic? (We shalt not have bastard children) What does this say about children born and raised in gay and lesbian families? What does this say about many other types of diverse families who just choose to not marry? (Paula Rothenberg for example) What if it is better that a bunch people just didn’t get married in the first place? I bet divorce rates would go down dramatically and all the negative effects that follow…haha. I happen to have mixed feelings about support enforcement laws and am against the idea of forcing people to stay together when children would be better off living with one parent or the other…sexual education for the younger population is a good thing–especially with HIV and so on…I’m not sure about #7, Lincoln’s wife was 14 years old–societal perceptions have changed in this respect making such ideas social problems, etc., perhaps slowing down various types of otherwise potential maturity (likely due to demographic changes in longevity and life spans, etc.) But there is a significant difference between white fathers and fathers of color who do not, or cannot, support their children–the former has white privilege which allows them many opportunities to step up to the place while the latter overhwhelmingly is faced with many institutional and structual barriers, etc. (go live in a black ghetto in Detroit just for a month or so) and I would say thankfully we cannot get the states to make support enforcement a national issue…This nation does not want the fathers of color who are down or living in complete despair to pull themselves together–it wants them to believe they can’t and internalize it. You know what, before I go off on my own rant here on that, I would prefer to argue this nation needs to quit stigmatizing the concept of “welfare” (from what I am seeing up here–the folks in the higher social classes pay for very little and ask for much–whereas down below, they ask for so little but pay so much. Example with relation to higher up, research grants, travel grants, etc., and god knows how many tax breaks…do they even pay for anything? You know? I don’t really know) and care about and for its citizens as human beings–channel the wealth and opportunities down…well, eric if the song of the Black Folks is so boring, why don’t you sing one for us that is better…I would imagine 30 years of listening would allow you to present one that is inherently revolutionary with quick, easy solutions, etc.?

  13. Peace Aaron,

    I think yes part of thinking critically about this issue is taking both sides into consideration yes. And of course white racial frames dominates the world not only african americans. I guess I’m less willing to accept that analysis in this case because of what I see everyday outside of the theoretical sphere. My grandfather .. my father… some of my uncles.. and some of my cousins (i’d say 50/50) have fathered children they have nothing to do with. Some were the result of infidelity with their wives and some were just unplanned.. but the fact is those children are growing up fatherless.
    This is an accepted norm in our community and although I’ve been complicit in that cycle i can’t ignore it’s impacts. I wish more brothers outside the spotlight would speak as passionately to this issue we face as a community. It’s at least worth the discussion. In our schools in our church’s in the barbershop .. somethings gotta give

    the two celebrities that came to my head when I made the original post were
    Isiah Thomas http://www.nypost.com/seven/02112007/news/regionalnews/isiah_ignoring_n_y__based_son_regionalnews_elizabeth_wolff.htm

    Karl Malone
    http://bleacherreport.com/articles/20619-Karl-Malone-Dead-Beat-Dad–300408

    and while yes there are serious inequities relating to job opportunities etc. I believe that if we compared father absenteism (sp) to some other african men in the diaspora like hell even haiti, I’d probably put my money on those third world brothers..

    just saying…. I could be totally wrong in that assertion

  14. Seattle it’s hard to call….

    I don’t give any politician black or white.. I’m not saying you guys shouldn’t criticize or analyze .. just reminding all of us that our kids are DYING IN THE STREETS for lack of guidance from their fathers.. this is truth.

    far as obama .. i don’t know.. i’m more jolted when he stands before AIPAC and declares that Jerusalem should be part of an undivided Isreal.

    Re-building the temple anyone???

    but i know the whole point of this blog is racism lol

  15. I understand why we black folks are sensitive to criticism about our lifestyles; albeit constructive. When analyses and cultural criticisms appear to be unbalanced and conveniently discount social, economic, and political deficiencies that create the problem, the ‘victim’ tends to get more offended when the blame is placed squarely on them. The unfortunate consequence of this type of critical analysis from Obama — though somewhat on point — is that it can get lost if it isn’t balanced by an understanding and an appreciation of the systemic problems (indiscriminate arrests and sentencing, inequities in pay, etc.) that contribute just as much to this plight. I get that.

    Still, I think that critics of Obama should stop and really listen to the message he was trying to convey; regardless to how poor and incomplete the delivery might be. Being a child whose father bailed on him, I can see why he internalizes this so much. Besides that, I think he’s ultimately saying that some of the self-destructive behavior we engage in contributes to the disintegration of the Black family just as much as the other nefarious forces that exist in this society. It’s no longer Jim Crowism. Now it’s B.E.T. It’s no longer the Klan terrorizing black folks. Now it’s young black teenagers. It’s no longer the racist power structure that works assiduously to keep blacks out of college. We’re the ones voluntarily dropping out of high school. Simply put, in many cases, we’re the ones self-imposing things that threaten our advancement and indeed our very survival.

    Rather than painting black folks as sad and pathetic victims of circumstance, Obama’s speech (at least I think) seeks to empower us to control our own lives. He lays out a challenge for parents to play a more active role in determining how their children are raised. Further, the way I see it is that he’s trying to urge us to be more actively engaged in promoting our OWN development. Frankly, I see nothing about as being Uncle Tom-ish. If anything, I’d say he’s using his “bully pulpit” in a responsible and necessary manner.

    I’m just sayin…

  16. Glenn B.

    Dr. Feagin et al.,

    Please forgive me for coming late to the party. The website is fabulous and I am glad to now be a part of it.

    As for the Obama speech. I am as infuriated as any of you. Obama is not ignorant of any of our points. He and his staff are exceptionally aware and capable. That is part of what is so disturbing about this latest installment of this type of rhetoric.

    Even more frustraiting is that this speech was a calculated effort to improve his standing among white conservatives, especially white men.

    This is very disappointing for several reasons. First, I do not believe that 400 years worth of black ancestors and liberation fighters struggled just to see the first black president criticize the black community just to get in better with whites.

    Secondly, if race sacrificing (i.e. sacrificing black communal interests to unite and promote the interests of white policymakers – Derrick Bell, Silent Covenants, 2004) is one of Obama’s preferred means for advancing his policies and/or legacy, that does not bode well for people of color in this country.

    I am very hopeful for the Obama presidency, and I am glad to use whatever influence I can muster to make it happen. I hope and trust he is willing to use his much greater influence to benefit the racially and otherwise oppressed in meaningful ways.

  17. Ryon

    Hi Everyone,

    Great choices (i.e., going to college, landing a great internship, etc.) are oftentimes the results of more than one option. Unfortunately, poor blacks (and its important to distinguish them from middle class and upper middle class blacks) have never/do not/and unfortunately, will never have those types of options.

    Andre, you argue that BET and a culture of poverty is largely responsible for the social ills that affect black america. My response: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x45pi5_boondocks-hunger-strike-against-bet_politics.

    We must remember that greed, capitalism, and racism knows no color, gender, or class.

    rjc

  18. Seattle in Texas

    Shug, I see where you are coming from and generally stay away from the Israeli type stuff. But I realized that it might have seemed as though my thoughts on Obama were directed at your post and they weren’t–I tend to write in block style and it just doesn’t work too well on here so I apologize if it seemed the second part was speaking to you directly. How people vote makes no difference to me. But keep sharing your thoughts, even if others see things differently, or the same. Andre, I follow what you are saying…and Glenn, I see your points too…. Hmmm, the election is pretty much right around the corner so we shall see and much work to do in the meantime….

  19. Hi Ryon,

    We must remember that greed, capitalism, and racism knows no color, gender, or class.

    I’ll bite. Admittedly, B.E.T. is usually the red herring upon whom I like to cast blame. Well, that and George Bush. But ultimately, you’re right: black folks aren’t the driving force behind some of the nonsense you see on B.E.T. even if seeing nothing but black faces on the station would suggest otherwise. Besides that, the revenue generated from the junk on that station is not just from the viewership of us. It’s a product of national…nay, international marketing segments. That said, I withdraw my B.E.T. shot.

    Still (and getting back to the ultimate point of this post), when we examine the state of black America: I stick to my guns in thinking that an introspective look at ourselves is just as critical to the discussion as examining structural racism is. So — in Sen. Obama’s defense — airing dirty laundry can be a necessary thing if it leads to self-empowerment.

  20. Ryon

    Hey Everyone,

    We still have to remember the following…

    First, there’s a 2.2:1 female to male ratio in the black community. If we begin to factor in personal choices, education, and sexuality alone, the ratio is even higher. So, unless black women do not want children, then the black community will always have a high amount of single parent families.

    Second, (again) Obama ignores the fact that lower class women (black and white) are intentionally putting motherhood before marriage (http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/9733.php and http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/marriage/interviews/edin.html).

    Third, Obama was too dismissive of the structural impediments that black men face. For example, history shows us that blacks have largely been the victims of inadequate school systems, right? Well, prior to 1960, they (black males especially) could rely on manufacturing industries for solid, well paying employment….employment that was crucial to their self esteem and ability to provide for their families. Since the 1970s, and really after NAFTA, those jobs have moved overseas with no suitable employment to replace these positions.

    And, for Obama to make that speech on one day, and then the next day say, “oh, yeah…I really didnt mean all that stuff I said about NAFTA….it aint really that bad” is troubling….very very troubling.

    That make better sense?

  21. Seattle in Texas

    Eric, still jamming out both musically and politically while waiting for your better tune…where’s it at? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQyiCf8Gvjc

    I have thoughts on the post by Ryan and agree with only a part of it. But the two questions that stand out the most at this very moment are, why it is assumed black women are only limited to dating black men? (not to discount or dismiss the many historical and contemporary injustices black men face every single day, etc. because that point is one I agree with) And two, why should marriage necessarily be put before motherhood? This is suggesting single parents or other types of families that can’t get married are some how inadequate and/or inferior and the traditional family model is superior. Furthermore, it seems to imply that children born into homes with only one parent or where the home was broken up later are mistakes…no child is a mistake, though our society does seem to imply that in many ways by stigmatizing broken and single parent families. Why can’t the government re-distribute the wealth and allow all folks to have an opportunity to live a decent and healthy life? The questions could continue…. I know you were critiquing Obama, but I am curious about a couple of the underlying assumptions you are relying on to critique him. If the government is supposed to be like a parent to her people, that parent is failing terribly too.

  22. Seattle in Texas

    …and I am pretty hard core “pro choice” meaning women should have equal access to abortion, but they should also have the equal right to make the choice to keep her child without social class coming in the way of that decision…when disporportionately women of color are encouraged to abort and/or undergo “exploratory” but so-called “safe” birth control, etc., to prevent pregnancy–it’s that’s no different than eugenics as far as I’m concerned. And then to blame and shame those that do decide to keep their babies? Shame on those that shame! Just the same when any argument is made that concerns when “who” should and shouldn’t have children–there are very few cases and circumstances I would actually agree. I think our society needs to change. And age was brought up earlier–I’ve known single teenage parents who were outstanding mothers (and in some cases fathers when they were around and/or involved) and women who have been married and had children in their later years who were terrible parents and hated parenting…and what about the wealthier folks who don’t even parent their own children and hire other people to do it for them (I’ve only known white folks who do this though–maybe there’s others, I just haven’t seen it)? Those children grow up with pretty much absent parents too and that’s acceptable? And the wealthier parents who hire other people to raise their own children get the credit for being “good” parents? Hmmmm, I don’t buy it. What “good” is is subjective and dominated by eurocentric and ethnocentric beliefs–anything outside of that is “abnormal” or “bad” or “dysfunctional”, etc. , which is necessarily and inherently racist in and of itself…. Done.

  23. Seattle in Texas

    I was just reading this bit of news from Yahoo and it took me back to both this post and Andre’s thoughts above on the speech Obama gave. I happened to think Andre was hitting very close to where Obama was coming from. This is a selfish nation centered upon greed and cut-throat competition–nobody is going to help others or watch out for their best interest unless there is a vested interest in it for them of course… (some will, but very few and they are rare in my opinion). Plus, this is a nation that swims in Free Will ideology, which essentially justifies the injustices through blaming the victim. While I am not a Free Will advocate by any means, I do believe people can change the course of their future and our future as a nation though minor decisions and actions, etc. regardless of who insigificant they may seem (and with many–collective action and/or resistance is very powerful). But while the article focuses on religion, politics, etc., this brief section is related to the discussion above:

    “He preached individual responsibility, saying he knew he risked criticism for ‘blaming the victim’ by talking of the need for parents to help children with homework and turn off the TV, to pass on a healthy self-image to daughters, and teach boys both to respect women and ‘realize that responsibility does not end at conception.’ But Obama’s main message was the government’s duty to address what he said are “moral problems” — such as war, poverty, joblessness, homelessness, violent streets and crumbling schools — and to employ religious institutions to do it. ‘As long as we’re not doing everything in our individual and collective power to solve the challenges we face, the conscience of our nation cannot rest,’ he said.” from: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080706/ap_on_el_pr/obama;_ylt=AovxtKYO2cAo2BvzWEZ6cIas0NUE

    My own small criticism and concern of the excerpt above is with relation to having religious insitutions responsible for employing change, etc. But this is a whole different discussion…. However, this article in general a prime example of how he is trying to combat doubt and fears related to the Muslim rumors (so very sad both for he and our Muslim communities–as while he is a Christian, I do not believe he is anti-Muslim). But at the same time, he is providing genuine assurance that their own religion and beliefs are not, and will not be in any way, jeapordized, and they too will have a moral place and fundamental role in making this nation a better place, etc. A whole different topic….

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080706/ap_on_el_pr/obama;

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