June 16, 2007


Obama criticizes absentee fathers in black community (ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/14/07)

Two days before Father's Day, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama presented a plan Friday for lifting up poor families that included searing criticism of fathers who abandon their responsibilities to raise children.

"There are a lot of men out there who need to stop acting like boys; who need to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; who need to know that what makes you a man is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise a child," Obama said. [...]

"Too many black men simply cannot afford to raise a family — and too many have made the sad choice not to," Obama said. "A fatherless household takes its toll. Children who grow up without a father ... are five times more likely to live in poverty and nine times more likely to drop out of school."

Obama's criticism of absent fathers in the black community reprises a theme he has touched on as a senator, first in a Father's Day talk at a South Side Chicago church two years ago. He also introduced related legislation with Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and briefly addressed the subject in a speech he made on a new direction for the civil rights movement in Selma, Ala.

Obama's remarks Friday illustrate the unusual opportunities he is afforded as an African-American candidate to address sensitive racial issues; few white presidential candidates would present such blunt criticism, particularly running in a Democratic primary.

Still, they are not without risk. Bill Cosby provoked charges of elitism and exposed simmering class resentments among African-Americans when he made comments in 2004 sharply criticizing the behavior and values of some poor black people.

...in Tom-Tom than in Mau-Mau.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 16, 2007 7:44 AM
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