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July 15th, 2008
05:11 PM ET

Is Obama 'talking down' to blacks?

 Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

Click the play button to see what Jack and our viewers had to say.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The man who could become the first black President of the United States is calling on blacks to take more responsibility for improving their own lives.

Speaking to the NAACP in Cincinnati, Obama got the most applause when he urged blacks to do more for themselves, saying:

"When we are taking care of our own stuff, then a lot of other folks are going to be interested in joining up and working with us and taking care of America's stuff… Teaching our daughters to never allow images on television to tell them what they are worth; teaching our sons to treat women with respect, and to realize responsibility does not end at conception; that what makes them a man is not the ability to have a child but to raise one.”

Obama said the problems that plague the black community aren't unique to them, but "we just have them a little worse."

Obama was criticized by Jesse Jackson for talking down to blacks. But Jackson is clearly in the minority – no pun intended. The largest study ever done of African-Americans – shows 84% of those surveyed say they think blacks need to be "more responsible for themselves as individuals." And other civil rights activists give Obama high marks for balancing his role as a black candidate with the need to speak to all races.

Here’s my question to you: Is Barack Obama "talking down" to blacks, as Jesse Jackson claims, when he tells them they must take more responsibility for themselves?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Kate writes:
I don't understand how encouraging someone, anyone, to be a better parent is talking down. My father left when I was younger and was never around. Even though I am white, I wish someone with such stage presence could have encouraged him otherwise. That isn't talking down to people; it is encouragement that lifts them up.

Rob from Tucson, Arizona writes:
While I will never vote for Barack Obama, I don’t believe he is "talking down" to blacks. All he is doing is stating the obvious. Bill Cosby has been saying this for the last several years as well: just show a little responsibility for yourself and your family. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton both feel a little "dissed" by Obama mostly because he managed to get to where he is without their help.

Gord from Boston writes:
Dead beat dads are not exclusive to the black community. I suspect Obama has the black vote "in the bag" and he is trying to appeal to some white voters. While his message is certainly not Willy Horton, it sounds a bit like the old "tough on crime," hint, hint, line. Obama has certainly thrown a lot of his primary supporters under the bus now that the general election is here.

J. writes:
Absolutely not! I am an African-American male and was impressed with what he had to say. For too long, we have depended on government to do for us what we should and can do for ourselves. The black family is deeply fractured with very few father figures in the household, which is having an effect on our young black males who have no role models.

Rhonda from Lemont, Illinois writes:
He’s telling all men to stand up and be men. The only people who think they are being talked down to are the ones that it hits home with.


Filed under: Barack Obama
soundoff (148 Responses)
  1. Mike McKibben, lady lake, Fl

    If telling black fathers (or white fathers for that matter), that if you want to "father" babies, then you need to be "fathers" to these same babies, then no, I don't feel this is "talking down" to anyone. It's called a reality check, and I'm glan that Sen. Obama had the political savvy and responsibility to say it.

    July 15, 2008 at 2:42 pm |
  2. IFEANYI AZUBIKE Houston, Texas

    Truth is always a bitter pill. People like Jesse Jackson have bought fame by encouraging a culture that has ensured that Blacks cling to yesterday. There is no other way to tell the truth except the way it is, and that is what Barack has done. There isn't a flicker of doubt that a lot of black families have "Sperm Donor"fathers. And if reminding them of the responsibilities of fathers is talking down on them, then I miss the defintion of talking down. According to Othman Dan Fodio, "truth is an Open wound and only conscience can heal it". The truth is that Barack is right, Fathers especially in Black families MUST step up and be FATHERS not BABY DADDIES simple. Jesse can whine all he can and if he wants to practice castration before perfecting with Barack, I put mine up for practice.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  3. Linda in Virginia

    Jesse Jackson has showed us what type of man he truely is. Obama only said what Jesse Jackson should have been saying all along. What is it with all these preachers Jack? Are they really men of God? Or are their egos so out of whack that they don't have a clue what to say and what not to say? And why are so many in the limelight of Obama?

    July 15, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  4. David,San Bernardino,CA.

    Let's just remember that Bill Cosby was criticized and condemned for saying the same things.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  5. Terry, Chandler AZ

    Sen. Obama is delivering a message that should have been delivered 1000s of times over the years. Only he and Bill Cosby have the courage not to pander to Blacks.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  6. Sarah, Cleveland, OH

    Of course Jesse Jackson disapproves of Obama speaking for responsibility, Jackson and his ilk thrive on the cult of victimhood for the black community. Obama is not suggesting that blacks must take ALL responsibility, or that they don't have a right to be angry about the past, merely that they as a community must also help themselves. The black community and everyone can benefit from Obama's message.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:03 pm |
  7. Betty - AL

    No he isn't – telling them to accept responsibility, work, and take care of themselves and their children is not talking down. Not to blacks or whites or hispanics or orientals or anyone else.

    The republicans in the black community will yell really loud about this. Plug your ears.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  8. Michael Cassidy, Lorain, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty, you'll have to forgive Rev. Jackson. Jesse is mad because he is one of those negligent fathers, that Obama speaks of.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  9. Vivian Fauntleroy, Largo MD

    No. Sen. Obama is saying EXACTLY what so many of us have been saying since crack cocaine first burrowed into our communities and enslaved so many of our youth. The broader society is not going to care more for, or do more on behalf of our children and youth than we ourselves do. So if we want our children properly educated, drug free, and growing into responsible adults with real futures, then we had better pick up the beds of our own and place them into the healing waters.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:05 pm |
  10. John Fort Collins, CO

    Jesse Jackson is the one who has been talking down to blacks by insuating they are not competent enough to run their own lives. Barack Obama provides a living example that in today's America, blacks can and should take control of their destiny. So far, governmental bodies at all levels have done a lousy job of solving anybody's problems, most especially the issues faced by black people.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  11. Shirley-Ohio

    Well Jack, to say everything I want to about this question it will take a novel as I am a single mother and both the mother and father to my children, which has not been easy at all. He is not talking down to black people and if they know like I know, they will listen very carefully to what he has to say and start talking responsibility for their actions. Jesse Jackson should be ashamed of himself for even having that thought in his mind.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:07 pm |
  12. Allen from Hartwell, GA

    No, but that doesn’t mean that it’s okay for European-Americans to say these same things. It’s a lot easier to correct bad behavior without someone who thinks they are your superior constantly reminding you of your faults.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  13. Gord from Boston

    Jack
    I was truly suprised that no-one has asked why Jesse Jackson thought Obama was talking down to blacks in the first place, instead the Obama supporters just attacked Jackson as a crack-pot. Dead beat dads are not exclusive to the black community. I suspect Obama has the black vote "in the bag" and he is trying to appeal to some white voters. While his message is certainly not Willy Horton, it sounds a bit like the old "tough on crime," hint, hint, line. Obama has certainly thrown a lot of his Primary supporters under the bus now that the general election is here.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  14. Chicago Bob from Illinois

    Obama has become the leader of the democratic party and as such attained a higher position of influence with authority than any African American before him. He knows he is a role model and is taking that responsibility seriously. This is not talking down - it's leadership.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  15. Cathy in MD

    No, he’s not “talking down” to blacks! He’s telling them what the reality is – for everyone, no matter what color - just like Bill Cosby did a while back in addressing the African American community. He also took a lot of heat for that. Shouldn’t we all take more responsibility for ourselves, for what we say and do, and have a positive rather than negative impact on society? Besides, if Obama didn’t say these things to African Americans, he’d be accused of ignoring them … and being an elitist.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  16. Kate

    I don't understand how encouraging someone, anyone to be a better parent is talking down. My father left when I was younger and was never around. Even though I am white, I wish someone with such stage presence could have encouraged him otherwise. That isn't talking down to people- it is encouragement that lifts them up.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  17. Ann from S.C.

    If talking down means speaking to another as if he/she is lacking in knowledge, then maybe Obama is talking down to African Americans. Whether he was or not, I think he was telling them what they need to hear, and they need to hear it from a person of their own race. As a former teacher in an urban, all black school, I've seen first hand what happens to children who have no one to give them the guidance they need. It breaks your heart.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:09 pm |
  18. Ilona in AB

    Why would any think Obama was talking down to anybody unless they are guilty of say "being a dead beat father" and don't give a rat's behind.
    Jesse who?
    It is time people take more responsibility for themselves and quit figuring the world owes them (and their fatherless children) a living.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:10 pm |
  19. sandy in Ohio

    Jack, Phil Graham called us a nation of whiners when what we have become is a nation of people who never want to take responsibility for anything. I see an awful lot of parents in the white community who want someone else to be responsible for their children. Obama is right and I think he is just calling on fathers and mothers to take control of their children and their lives.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  20. Marc

    I actually think his advice is long overdue. Who else has the ability to make an impact or to make a difference to society like Barack does? He's seen it first hand, lived it and now wants to continue helping others improve their lives and the state of social affairs in the USA.

    For many reasons, Barack Obama has arrived on the political scene at the exact right time in our history. President Obama will go down in history as one of the best Presidents of all time.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  21. Don Ferguson

    Jessie Jackson is so yesterday. He should shut-up already. The question is often asked, "Is race an issue in how you will vote?" I'm a white guy and race is definitely an issue with me. It's a positive, not a negative. When I encounter a black candidate, who is intelligent, speaks to me like an adult, and with good grammar, I favor him with my vote. I was in Philadelphia when we elected the first black mayor. Having a black president, who sees the broad picture, and does not constantly play the race card as a knee jerk reaction, would be a wonderful thing. Get out of the way, Jessie.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  22. james tilton

    I didn't see it as talking down to blacks I saw it as calling them to b accountable and responsible...he could just as well pointed the finger at most americans as far as i'm concerned but i think he is the only one who could say what he said justifiably ...I'd like him to do the same toward all nare-do-well's who some how think they are intitled to a free ride through life, that they don't have to be responsible or account to anyone but themselves...there are way too many

    July 15, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  23. Tom - Las Vegas, Nevada

    No, and the populace in general would be a lot better off taking a little more responsibility upon their own shoulders.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
  24. Aaron B.; Champaign, IL

    Why is it that whenever someone in politics is telling us the truth, telling us the way things actually are rather than spreading glitter over a pile of manure, they're "talking down" to us? But whenever they feed us garbage, and tell us what we want to hear, they're "inspiring" or "uplifting"?

    July 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  25. Mike - Pueblo, CO

    When people do not own up to their societally damaging behaviors, SOMEONE needs to talk down to them! Jesse Jackson apparently doesn't have the "nuts" to do so... that must be why he wants Obamas.

    Mike

    July 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  26. lee from laverne, ca

    well said mike; i totally agree, as does everyone i've spoken to about this. sometimes the truth hurts, and politicians do not usually take that risk. it's refreshing.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  27. Keoshia Walden

    How is stating the obvious talking down to some one. What Barack Obama said is common sense that people of all races and ethnicities would find to ring true. Why is it that when it is directed to my black race that some feel that it is talking down to us. If we can't take good advice then their is a problem here. Myself and many other black, white asian, latino and other races can take his statements and see the truth in them and the good that he meant by it. It's time for us as black community to be able to hear these things. He said nothing negative. He sure as heck didn't imply that all black men are not taking care of their responsibilities. We are all smart enough to know not every black man leaves their families, just like all white people are not racists and all hispanics are not here illegally.

    America 08

    July 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  28. Jan Patoka Illinois

    This is all well and good , Its an important issue and needs tending too. Acknowledging it is great on occasion by the presidential candidate but this issue is not what we want to hear about at this point and time! What is he ACTUALLY going to do if ELECTED, and HOW is he going to do it ? And I'd like this in DETAILS before NOVEMBER.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  29. Shapearl-Chicago

    Absolutely not, Obama is stated that he will handle the injustices done to the African-American community that are systematic based, such as healthcare, jobs,and education. However with the help that he provides to us as president, he is also commanding that we rebuild our family structure, by reading to our children, hold our children accountable for their behavior, for us to have more pride in appearance and for us to work harder in school. Obama is not talking down to blacks he is talking up to blacks, he is letting us know that we have come from greatness in Africa, born from Kings and Queens and we are standing on the shoulders of Dr. King, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas and others and we must show that side ourselves to the world.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  30. Sandy in NE

    Mike,

    I agree with Mike. Some Americans need a reality check.

    McOld just doesn't get it. He stumbled so badly on his speech this morning, I felt a little bad for him...no not really!

    Obama's speech was great.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:18 pm |
  31. Sammie from Midlothian, VA

    No, I don't believe Sen. Obama is "talking down" to blacks. He is stressing accountability and responsibility by individuals. Blacks shouldn't be excluded from ownership of their actions anymore than any other race. I applaud his efforts for confronting this issue and also saying he would continue to stress personal accountability. Rev. Jackson was dead wrong in uttering the comments he made. Even without the social injustices that exist, individual responsibility and accountablility are important. The majority of Black people understand that, it is only those with a 'victim' mentality who agrees w/Rev Jackson that believe differently.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  32. Allen L Wenger

    No, he's telling them the truth. That's why this is the campaign for change, no politician has ever tried truth before. No politician has ever won an election based on truth. We have had many presidents elected by pandering and some on how well they lied, but never have we elected one based on truth.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  33. Matt Callaway in Omaha, NE

    What Obama has been saying about and to the black community could, and I believe should, very well be said about and to the entire country. Sons and daughters of the nation should grow up learning to respect themselves. They should grow up learning to respect family and be willing to work hard to strengthen, be involved in, and preserve their own.

    A strong future for our nation depends on how well we raise the next generation and what kind of world we leave for them to inherit. We would all be well-served to focus more on both.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  34. J. Weidenbach

    No, Jack, he is not (talking down to blacks). And as he stated, he's addressing all Americans. His words are inspiring, they are asking people to look into the mirror, not to place value on superficial things that is pumped through superficial media exploitation, but to do meaningful things, to develop oneself and good manners, to learn, to contribute to society, to make a safer and better life for one's own family, neighbors, and for others. Parenthood doesn't require a permit or a license; if you are a parent who's been through the school of hard knocks (or not), how about readjusting some values to create a healthier, more educated, better life for your child? Children are the future of America. Obama is suggesting a better America, and it starts at home.

    JFK said "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

    Why would anyone (rich/poor, black/brown/white/orange, educated/uneducated) give their kid a commercial soft drink for breakfast instead of fruit? Why would any parent purchase a non-educational video game instead of a good book and toothpaste?

    The Senator, who's been around the world (and the "blocks" of hard knocks) has seen it all, and is quite aware of areas of improvement in the U. S. and the world. I see his message as wise and inspiring.

    P. S.: I work with wonderful toddlers and children, and "high risk teenagers". If it's of any importance, I am a white, middle-aged mom.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  35. Patricia

    This site hasn't posted my comment, so I am going to try again. Sorry folks.
    Not being a black woman, I don't know how a black person would feel about Sen. Obama said last night. However, much of what Sen. Obama said has been said by others including Bill Cosby & I haven't heard black people say that Mr. Cosby was "talking down to black people". The black community knows what it must do to generate more pride in it's young people & I think Sen. Obama is the role model of Martin Luther King's Era. Dr. King would have said that Sen. Obama is what he climbed the mountain to see.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  36. Bob from Richmond VA

    Jack, I don't think Obama is talking down to black americans saying what all Americans need to hear – take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Absentee parents are a national problem, and it's about time someone stepped up to the plate to address it. Jackson is offended because Obama is clearly breaking away from black politics of the past that Jackson has lived in and promoted. That angry 'you owe me' rhetoric has solved nothing and it needs to be replaced with honest, straightforward communication of what is expected of us – all of us – as citizens in a free country. This is the beginning of the best thing that has happened in the United States in a long time.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:23 pm |
  37. Tearched Scott Chicago, IL

    Jack,

    As a African American, I see Barack Obama speaking nothing but the truth. If he has to "talk down" to other African Americans it is because of a failing in education and home parenting. There are so many who need to listen to his advice. Unfortunately the United States government can't take care of all our shortcomings. We have to work on them ourselves and stop fighting each other to get there. The Rev Jesse Jackson's statement was wrong, but I could not see why he would apologize if that is how he really felt. I really hope that people took to heart his message that he gave at the NAACP meeting.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:27 pm |
  38. Sandra fromTexas

    I am not black, but I don't think he talks down but rather with all of us. He has not said anything that would not apply to all our communities.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  39. Jan

    Jack, don't you know that for some, Obama can do no wrong!!

    July 15, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  40. Randy, Salt Lake City

    No.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  41. MONICA

    He is not talking down to blacks. If the shoe fits wear it. Mr. Jackson just likes to have the limelight on himself. With his reputation and history of fathering a child out of wedlock, I am sure he flet Mr. Obama was speaking directly to him.

    Tired of all the excuses of why people are not doing well. Just look in the mirror and you will see the reason why.

    Monica
    Richmond, VA

    July 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  42. Annie

    Why does he only make comments like his when speaking in front of black crowds and not part of his normal speeches? Is he afraid that whites, Hispanics or other races will not too kindly to his preachy insinuations but that the black community will? They didn't seem to like it too well when Bill Cosby told them the same thing so what makes it any different now? By the way does he attend many black functions anyway lately or just when he feels they need a lecture?

    July 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  43. Kevin in Denver

    "be responsible for yourself" – Isn't that the same message all our preachers, teachers, parents, and bosses send all the time. They call it building character. How does it become "talking down to black people" when Barack Obama does it. The question is silly.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  44. Robert (Chicago)

    What Rev. Jackson meant was that personal responsibility must be paired with governmental action. Personal responsibility won't brings jobs back form china or fix crumbling schools and infrastructure. A bold assertion with no suggestion of what he will do as Pres. to fix the problems is "talking do to"

    July 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  45. David Paquette, Maryland

    I think he's saying what the majority of the country is thinking. The citizens of the U.S. are tired of certain groups not contributing as much as they should – whether those groups are black, white, or green – and I credit Obama for having the guts to look a group of people in the eye and say, "We can do better, it's time for us to start doing better."

    July 15, 2008 at 3:29 pm |
  46. Doug from Akron, Ohio

    Jack,

    I think it's important to look at where the majority of these claims–or perhaps accusations–come from. Apart from a few exceptions, it seems as though many of these comments on Senator Obama's co-called condescending attitude come from outside the demographic he is 'talking down to'!

    July 15, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  47. Bill from Alabama

    Yes and no! If Obama is directing this toward a certain race,then he is incorrect and could be perceived as talking down to Blacks,but if he addressing all of America to be more responsible,as parents,and to raise their children,then no. He is right on! Far too many children under 19 are being cared for by single parents,or grandparents. This is across the board in America,and does not find boundaries within a particular race. Very few children are entering the world as a planned pregnancy! Most are as a result of mere recreational sex! The thought of a child resulting was the fartherest thing from their minds,at the time. It is a different day and age,and we need someone to address these problems,and the welfare mentality we have come to expect. Many taxpayers ,especially those who were responsible parents,find it very objectionable to have to bare the financial burden of birthing,feeding,and raising someone else's child,on their hard earned tax dollars. This is a problem that should never had occurred! It is especially a problem,when the responsible taxpayer planned and is raising their children,and who only had as many children as they could afford,and both have had to work to support them,only to have to pay taxes,because some mother wants to stay home,not work,and raise 12 kids at the tax payers expense. Anyone would cry....No fair!

    July 15, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  48. Bushwhacked in Eugene, OR

    No, Jack, he is NOT talking down to anybody when he suggests taking responsibility for one's own life and one's own actions. I've always felt Bill Cosby was doing a wonderful service to the community with his efforts in this regard. I certainly agree with Senator Obama that this is not the dream Dr. King had in mind, or what he gave his life for.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  49. Bill

    Jesse Jackson is an idiot.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  50. Arcayla Griffith

    I don't think speaking the truth is talking down to anyone. I think he spoke of black fathers because he was in a black church and statistics show that blacks have the highest rate of single parent households. Although this should apply to all deadbeat fathers. Jesse Jackson has a child out of wedlock that he denied at first so I can see how he may have been a offended. I say if the shoe fits, then you should wear it.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  51. jean thornell

    i agree with the comments by obama..all men should stop making babies with no afterthought as to support or hands on guidance and love. if children did not need two parents to raise them they would not need two parents to create them..i am not voting for obama but his statements make sense. maybe someone will pay attention and and tstart to think with the right head..

    July 15, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  52. alex downs, long beach CA

    Obama is doing two things here. First, he's positioning himself for the general election and Clinton's white voters. Second, he is speaking truth to the black leaders at the NAACP.

    The psychological devastation of the racist policies of the United States is undeniable and this helped to create a broken psyche among many blacks, The continued soft racism in this country carries the pain further by excluding qualified blacks from key positions in our countries public and private sectors.

    But Blacks have to take responsibility for rising above prejudice and hate and getting their psychological house in order. Obama speakes truth when he says Blacks must take responsibility for their reaction to hate and racism, by rejecting it and not letting it cause them to lose themselves to it.

    In spite of the unfairness in this country, Blacks must continue to become leaders and businessmen and fathers and mothers and stay true to their children. That will speak louder than failure and help to erase racism from this country.

    July 15, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  53. Mac

    I don't think he is talking down. I think he is talking about individuals pulling themselves up. The color of someone's skin does not impair their ability to act responsibly not does it entitle him or her to any special consideration. I think that each generation, regardless of color, needs to strive for a better way to live and to instill that in their children by their own behavior. Mac in Texas

    July 15, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  54. Mary Stewart

    He is absolutely not talking down to blacks at all, afterall, aren't white dad's included in what he said ? There are many men, white and black, who are ignoring their responsibilities. Why does everything have to come down to black and white instead of Americans ?

    July 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  55. alfredo

    Jesse Jackson is an "obamination".
    The time for his Mafia-like pressure tactic business is coming to an end.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  56. Joe, LA

    No he is not talking down to them, but he is givng a mixed message. How can he advocate for more money for programs like welfare when he is telling people this message of personal responsibility? If you stay in high school (and beyond) and not have kids before you are ready, you are less likely to go on welfare. If 70% of kids in the black community are born to single mothers, you can see why he is directing this message to the black community.

    More troubling is that he was against welfare reform in Illinois. He's also against school vouchers, which would really help urban schools. What if a responsbile, urban parent wants to send their kids to another school through the use of vouchers? Obama would basically say, "No".

    July 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  57. Sameer Khan

    Obama is only speaking the truth, and truth never sits well with everyone. Jesse Jackson has thrived for decades convincing African Americans men and women that they are incompetent and must continue to dwell on the past. While the community has every right to be angry about the past, they also have a duty to take responsibility for their own actions and move ahead.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  58. Wolf

    Yes....and so what. Bill Cosby has talked on the same subject. But of course, Cosby didn't hold himself up as the Messiah. And on that subject, I see that Obama did not like the New Yorker Mag. Well, what was he involved in BEFORE Trinity and while in Indonesia.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  59. Randy NY, NY

    As a black person..My answer is no.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  60. J shultz Memphis, Tn

    I believe that Tuff Love will be needed by ALL Americans. WE HAVE ALL shown lack of resposibility in this nation. Not only Social and Family Responsibilities....but also Financial and humanitarian. We may not be whinners................but we certainly are immature and spoiled. Time to not only tighten our belts.....but also start to use them for discipline. Seems we have developed a bunch of spoiled and selfish generations whose values are no longer seeded within family, community or church. We have a lot of actors partaking in these values ....but very few practice them.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  61. Quintin

    I am a black Man and i don't feel as though Obama is talking down to black men or any man. His messege is what we all need to hear as a nation because this problem isn't only in the black community. I also think that women have slipped in their role as being a Mother. There are lots of men who have accepted the responsibilty and taken pride in being a father but have not been able to keep the family together because they're not wanted anymore by the children's mother. It seems like more women these days are just as guilty as men of breaking up family's due to infedelity and non-commitment to the family structure. We all need to look at ourselves.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  62. Randi - Boulder, Colorado

    Bill Cosby has been the real leader on this issue, and has been willing to take flak from within his own community for doing so.
    Once again, I wish Obama would broaden his statements on these kinds of issues if he really wants us to believe he is about a different kind of politics. His campaign condoned way too much of the gender-bashing aimed at Hillary Clinton, and I wish Obama himself had taken a much stronger stand condemning discrimination in all forms during the contest with her. Similarly, I wish he would now raise the bar for everyone about personal and social responsibility – there are problems throughout our society on these issues. I think the way he is handling the Jesse Jackson "moment" is potentially divisive, and it does not make me happy to say that.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  63. Foley in Idaho

    No. Senator Obama is just making an observation of fact, and an observation that also applies to every father and mother out there, and not just the black communitty.
    He is calling on people of all races and fatiths to take responsibility, not because he feels others have done enough to fight hardship or prejudice, but because, as the saying goes, If you want something done right, sometimes you just have to do it for yourself.

    He's talking about self reliance, not as an accusation, but as a viable option.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  64. PA, Seattle

    Absolutely not!!! It's high time that African-American leaders began helping their community end the "victim" mentality, and start teaching personal responsibility! When black women choose to have multiple children, with multiple fathers, when they cannot even take care of themselves, and black men refuse to take any responsibility for those children (let alone their mothers), and the community as a whole does nothing to prevent the abuse and neglect of those children, it cannot be blamed on slavery, segregation, or racism. Same goes for the black man who chooses to rob the liquer store, or rape and murder their ex-girlfriend, etc..

    I applaud our future president, and hope that he will get even tougher once in office. When we have an African-American holding the highest office in the land, blacks will no longer be able to blame their problems on lack of opportunity due to racism. And President Obama will certainly be the finest role model the black community could ask for.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  65. Khareem Gordon

    He's not exactly talking down to blacks but like someone rightly pointed out, when Bill Cosby did it he was criticized. Obama has become the novelty of the media. He could have preached rev. wright's sermon and everyone would have cheered him on. he would be the kid who is hated because he gets away with what others can't get away with.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  66. Darlene of Tennessee

    As a black woman, I applaud Barack Obama for speaking honestly and candidly about black people. How is telling the truth considered talking down to black people? Black people, black men in general know what needs to be done, they know how to be responsible, but sometimes they fall off the tracks and can't or refuse to get back on track. America and the world needs to get ready for the Change that is about to come.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  67. Tanya from TX

    You know, only an ignorant fool would think that Obama was talking down to them. Most people, no matter their race hate to have someone point out the obvious to them. If telling men and women for that matter that taking care of their children or any other responsibility is considered talking down to them, then they certainly need to hear more of it to help them understand that personal responsibility has no race, color, or creed attached to it.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  68. dennis p, Milwaukee

    Senator Obama is a rare politician, one who chooses to talk adult to Americans, not some refined non-offensive, non-thinking synthesized political spin. When one talks adult to adults, one needs to be direct and being direct will on occasion cause at least discomfort. Today he talked adult to Americans, again, about Iraq and Afghanistan. No complaints there about being "talked down-to."

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  69. Moira in Toronto

    Was Jesse Jackson talking down to blacks? Or was that something different?

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  70. FRANK IN NJ

    no he was right now beside the black fathers stepping up we need the black mothers to stop letting them in every chance they get
    in 2008 there is no need to have children you can not afford

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  71. Delia

    I think Obama is doing a good job raising the awareness among blacks. He is the balance medium weighing in on the racial situation in this country. I don't think Jesse was right. It is high time we take responsibility and do what we need to do for ourselves and build a better America. The challenges are still there but by doing what we need to do will overcome those challenges one day. Our black brothers need to put more effort into family values, raising their kids, be responsible fathers and creating that image as a role model for their kids. I will go on forever on this topic; I applaud Obama for being brave and calling upon us to have a sense of focus and responsibility.

    July 15, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  72. C.L. Fox, Dallas, TX

    Barack Obama is stating the truth, plain and simple. What he says goes for any race. If you are going to produce children you must be a responsible parent by making sure your child grows up to be respectful and obedient of laws. This goes for women as well as men. If that isn't going to be done, then it is best to find a home where the child will receive love and committment to his or her future. This is simply the law of nature even in the animal world.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  73. Deborah

    How can anyone say that encouraging people to be responsible is in any way talking down? I would say he has been talking not just black people, but all people up! As an African American woman, I feel that Senator Obama has used his influence to empower, uplift, encourage and strengthen all groups of US citizens.

    Shame on Jesse!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  74. Tracy Chicago, IL

    No way is Obama talking down to blacks, he was speaking the truth that needed to be heard. He was ALSO speaking the truth about the “bitter” Americans that got him labeled an elitist. He spoke the truth about both demographics but the “bitter” Americans didn’t want to hear the truth any more than some in the black community want to. Both groups should listen even if they don’t intend to vote for him.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  75. KJ

    First of all,

    I do not believe that Senator Obama was talking down to African Americans. To piggy back on the majority of the above-referenced comments, someone needs to tell the truth. Jackson has been sugar coating issues along with other "so called" civil rights activists since the deaths of King and Malcolm. The time comes when someone must "air the dirty laundry". For the fathers (regardless of race) that do not take care of their children, you should be "talked down to". The reason this is an issue in the first place is because some black people have a "I don't want you to talk about me or point out my short comings" mentality that has to stop. Bill Cosby said the same things a few years ago and caught fire and brimstone for it!! He also caught a wave of "who is Bill Cosby?? He's already rich, what does he know about struggling or education"? Let us not forget that obtained his Ph.D. AFTER starring in television programs (Electric Company and I Spy) in 1977. So, in essence, he chose to further his education although he was rich to, perhaps, show his children that education is important. I believe that once black people, as a community, begin to accept responsibility and rationally discuss its problems especially when other communities are discussing them in an already negative light, then and only then, will actual change begin.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  76. Jennifer Collins

    If the shoe fits.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  77. Shane

    I think this is great. I don't think he's talking down to the Black community. Doe's seem like he's trying to get the white vote though. It would be nice for him to also address the hispanics about illegal immigration and taking responsibility for their families becoming citizen legally and the white community about hidden racism and inbreeding. Then no one would be left behind.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:05 pm |
  78. aware

    Read Bill Cosby's book: "Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors" if you want to read the source of Obama's comments.

    Obama is never original! :(

    July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  79. Chris

    It's not a question of talking down to folks. It's a question of loyalty and judgement. Should Sen.Obama be discussing this issue in this manner for political gain? Or should he address this issue in this manner once/if he is elected president and cannot use it as a campaign prop? BTW-where are details on how this is supposed to happen? What is the governments responsability to help the black community? I'll bet money that is what Jessie was upset about.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  80. Grant Obioha

    Jesse Jackson is a chump. You can tell him i said it.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  81. John from New York

    No he's not. He's trying to help them, instead of ignore them. I live in a very poor neighborhood that is predominantly African American, and the people there need guidance. They need people to show them a way out of the misery and hopelessness that they experience on a day-to-day basis.

    People who love you tell you when you are wrong. People who don't love you will not tell you anything.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  82. Aaron, Chicago

    Mr. Obama's comments could be seen as condescending. He is telling other people how to live their lives despite having never been in their situation. Mr. Obama is from a completely different demographic than his intended audience: wealthy, Ivy League-educated, and prosperous.

    That isn't to say that his comments aren't correct. All Americans, regardless of race, should learn to take a little more responsibility for their actions.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  83. Dave

    Another important point everyone seems to overlook is that Obama was raised in household without his Dad, a black man. He gives all due credit to his mom and grandparents for creating a loving and nurturing environment for him. But hasn't he earned the right to speak to the issue of single-parent households and runaway fathers without everyone making it out to be a purely political issue? Couldn't this simply be a man speaking from the heart about an issue he feels strongly about?

    July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  84. Linda Richards

    No but Jesse Jackson's concerns are understandable. He did not enjoy the same rights as Obama–and had to fight for some of those he did get. Although we are all responsible for our actions, we don't all enjoy the same resources that allow us the luxury of living life and not merely surviving. Poverty plays a major role in many of our social ills. Linda in Woodbury, NJ

    July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  85. Defoss

    The victim mentality that cripples black folks for years is finally over-
    Obama and Cosby are the only people to challenge that disease. Blacks avoid family responsibilities and are quick to blame the "system"
    it is now time for a Black man to challenge not only blacks but other American too–

    July 15, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  86. Jake

    In my oppinion, Obama was addressing an issue that's obvious to everyone. Why does society have to be so politially correct? He was calling out black men for their stereotype of being disrespectful of women, black women for basing their self image off of what the television says is appropriate, and their overall negetive affect on society. It's something we all see. I'm not racist, I find things wrong with every race, but Obama addressing his own people for their wrong doings is something I would expect him to do. I personally do not support Obama 100%, but I respect him a little more for what he has said regarding this issue

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  87. matt in CA

    He talks down to everybody. He is an equal opportunity elitist.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  88. DONNA/ Rochester, NY

    I don’t believe he is talking down to blacks or anyone else for that matter. What he is trying to say is take responsibilty for you and make a difference don’t blame anyone just make that change, (plain and simple.)

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  89. Karen

    No he is not talking down to blacks. But of course if black people don't agree with him, they will say that he is talking blacks down. All he is telling them is to live a better life. They have the same amount of opportunity as everyone else but they choose to live a different life and then blame it all on racism. It's the easy way out.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  90. JBH

    Dear Jack:

    I am just waiting to find out what language Obama did master to get into Harvard. First time I went to college I had to have two years of a foreign language. Unless to qualify at Harvard is different than 99% of our colleges?

    Just trying to get a good answer?

    JBH

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  91. Antonio Baker

    Being a 35 yr. old Black male I fully understand the senators comments. We as black people have to stop feeling sorry for our selves and blaming everybody else for our problems except the person in the mirror. There are no handouts for the weak in today's society you have to go out and get it. Yes life is not fair but look at how bad our ancestors had it and if they could make it back then we should not having a problem being able to be go getters. Stop holding yourself back and make it happen all the tools are there!!!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  92. Shelby

    Jack, as a black woman I think Obama's comments are spot on!! I was blessed to grow up with my father in the house and my parents are still together, thankfully. But I have alot of friends who dont know their fathers or have only met them once etc. My dad was "acting daddy" for a lot of my friends as well as friends of my two brothers. I'm so tired of the lack of family structure within the black community. Everything begins at home!!!

    I must however mention that I have just as many white friends who's fathers moved on and were fathers to the next wife's kids. So, its not "black" problem its an American problem.

    P.S. black folks aren't upset with Obama, he's not going to lose the black vote (unless he chooses Billary has his running mate) so please stop trying pushing this internal conflict within the black community. WE WILL NOT BE DISTRACTED, NOT THIS TIME!!!!!!!!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  93. Al from New Jersey

    He's not talking down to anyone. If a man is raised by his mom and maternal grandparents then in spite of the odds goes on to graduate from Columbia University and become the editor of the Harvard Law Review he has succeeded despite the lack of a father in his life. He is an inspiration to all people of what can be done when you are focused, principle centered, capable, caring and motivated to help others. Unfortunately, Jesse Jackson should find a quite place from which to make comments and focus on helping his son be the best congressman he can and be responsible for the life he has lead.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  94. Henry Norman

    Obama talks down to everyone, not just blacks. He is arrogant and self absorbed. He has done little of any consequence in his life except run for office. I will vote less FOR Obama as I will vote AGAINST McCain. Better a political hack who is for the things I favor than the political hack who favors everything I am against. Neither of these guys can take a consistent position on any issue two weeks in a row.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  95. MSW in Dover De

    The question itself poses the assumption that blacks are not equipped intellectually or emotionally able to handle the conversation Obama is having and that blacks are victims or the recipientt of an insult (i.g. Obama's Father's Day Speech) . As a black person, I believe it is a conversation is long overdue in mainstream media. But that does not mean that blacks, regardless of educational or financial level, are not having the same conversation in our homes, churches and even work places. It is just that Obama has brought the conversation from our community to the attention mainstream or Middle America. It's the conversation that should lead any community to hold its own accountability for the well being of its children and for its future. Rev. Jackson should give the people he has fought for over these past decades more credit and understand that as a community, blacks can not afford to be maliciously divisive, if progress and prosperity is to occur.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
  96. Will from Gaithersburg, MD

    Sen. Obama is certainly not talking down to African Americans. He is simply stating an obvious fact that all fathers (especially African Americans) must take personal responsibility for their families and not rely solely on the government. For example, it is the responsibility of the parent(s), not the school system to raise children, but it is the responsibility of the government to make sure these schools have adequate resources (books, computers, competent teachers). Regardless of how many new initiatives Sen. Obama proposes, one must embrace personal responsibility in order for these programs to be effective.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  97. John

    If being honest about the fact that too many African American "dads" are absent from their children's lives qualifies as "talking down" to black men, so be it.

    It's easy to make a baby.
    The tough part comes after you put the snake back in his cotton cage.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  98. jumarh

    Obama speech was great. We need to start working harder to support our community and our family, not just African Am. but all race. I am very happy that Obama is not pulling the race card to get votes, he did not get to where he's at by luck he worked hard and his message is, hard work =success. Please mr. Jackson stop having my brothers and sisters thinking they are not able to pull themselves up without some assistant from the MAN. .....JUMARH IN MORGANTWN W.V

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  99. Deborah

    No ! he is not talking down to anyone, they all need to be more responsible and if Jesse thinks so maybe he is guilty of negelecting some of his own responsibilities.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  100. NickNas

    Jack

    No he is talking UP to Fathers. If others did the same for their respective groups the world would be a better place. I know members of all races who have single parent homes at least he isn't shy about dealing with the subject.

    Nick
    San Diego, CA

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  101. NIKKI BROWN

    I don't think Obama is talking down about African Americans. Lets make this issue clear not all African American men are dead beat dads and treat their woman badly. Also we are not the only race that has these problems. This country does not always show the good things that African Americans do everyday. Yes, their are some things we need to work on. African Americans need to continue to be leaders, businessmen and women, keep their famlies together and help each other prosper.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  102. Rella

    Obama has suggested that ALL parents turn off the TV and take away the video games from their kids. The majority of Americans could stand to learn to parent and engage their children and even, god forbid, open a book and read to them.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  103. Ken Nye

    Senator Obama's comments are a capsule of what Juan Williams wrote in his book "Enough". A must read for a more complete understanding of this and the Bill Cosby phenom.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  104. Chuck in Kansas City

    I don't think Sen. Obama's comments today were talking down to anyone. Note: Jessie Jackson is a pompus wind bag. Having said that however, the 'talking down' to which Jessie refered was from previous speech, from the Senator. There have been a couple of occasions within the last few months where Sen. Obama has remarked to a sort of, 'us and them' referrence and has been, on those occasions, accused of being somewhat elite, and talking down to, not just blacks, but white folk too. The comments about fearful folks running to cling to their bibles and their guns, would be a good example. It wasn't even so much the words as the tone which he used that seemed belittleing.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  105. Jonathan Cohen

    Talking down to someone is oversimplifying because you think the person or people spoken to are too stupid to understand what you are saying if you don't.

    From the comments posted here and elsewhere, nobody seems to think that is what Jackson meant about Obama.

    Having listened to Obama now for several years, I don't see how anyone could say he ever talks down to his audience. There are lot's of differences people may have with his political views but Jackson's charge makes no sense at all.

    The points made in response to this post indicate a different interpretation of what Jackson said. This is unfortunate because a common language is a necessity for civil society and if people are taking such liberties with the language, we can give up on ever communicating with each other.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  106. Steve in Missouri

    I wouldn't normally give a democratic candidate the time of day- but here's a guy who's speaking truth. He's speaking directly to the heart of the issue that everyone else has been tiptoeing around for 30 years. No amount of government programs, school budge increases or computers in classrooms is ever going to make any difference until the problems in homes are taken care of. Good for you Obama. You've got my attention.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
  107. Hemant Desai

    The only reason Jesse thinks that is may be becuase he thought Obama was talking about Jesse getting his assistant pregnant a few years back. That would make Jesse the absentee father. He is lucky his wife took him back. Jesse represents the best and the worst of black stereotype. That is why he is miffed....

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  108. Black and White in Boston

    Of course Mr Obama is talking down to blacks - he privately despises them and thinks he is above them. Mr eletist does not give a rats behind about the pight of blacks in our country. Should Barack win the White Houes, blacks will learn the hard lesson of why they call it a "White" House

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  109. David

    I really do not know what Mr. Jackson meant? Obama seems to want to make the black community better then it is now. Does constructive criticism constitute talking down? If it does then I guess that is what he was doing.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  110. Phil

    Obama is talking down to blacks - and to everyone else. Most definitely. Just imagine him saying the same things to the entire audience of voters. That we need to take more "responsibility" etc... Sounds a lot like calling the US a "nation of whiners", does it not?

    Jesse Jackson AND Ralph Nader were right about Obama. The only thing different about him is he will be the first corporate-bought president that is also black.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  111. Marilyn in Texas

    Nope, as an American who happens to be African American, he is right on target with the problems we see with ourselves.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  112. Dennis Colorado

    Jack,
    Simple! This is nothing more then politics as usual! Obama is trying to effect change and give ownership in people and country! As JFK stated, I quote "ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR COUNTRY" We need to pull together as a country and regain our status in the world as a leader. With a united country! The US has always been the melting pot for all cultures to enjoy and unite. Lets get over it and move on as a world leader! Ths type of behavior just slows down our progress.

    USA Number ONE!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  113. Megan

    Its hard to see Obama do any wrong since he is my absolute favorite, so in all honesty, I dont know if I really see him as talking down to us or not. What I can say is that as a daughter of a single black mother, I know first hand that there is an issue with black fathers, or really just fathers in general, not being responsible. I think many may regret not being around later but that does not fix the problem. The reason Barack probably addressed a crowd of black folks on this issue was because in this country, he is still considered a black man. Naturally, he can relate more to black people as I am sure he would assume they can relate more to him. That is the wonderful thing about having a black president. I think it will open a culture and a particular view of America up for everyone- maybe get us on the same page. Hopefully, it will finally help to unify this country.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  114. Mark Brafford

    Didn't Bill Cosby have more than a few words on this same subject, and all hell broke loose. Obama is not saying anything new,

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  115. Lisa/Winston-Salem, NC

    Hello Jack,

    I don't think in no way is Senator Obama talking down to blacks. I am a single mother with three children and I'm a African American and I have struggled at times trying to provide for them while their father has given no support. I don't receive any type of help from the government-God has blessed me with a decent job, a college degree, and a close family that support each other. His families excuse for why he was not being the father that he should be was because his father was not around for him. Instead of stepping up to the plate and changing that pattern he fell into that same vicious circle. I commend Senator Obama for being the one for change and standing bold to issues that are faced everyday.

    Obama 2008

    July 15, 2008 at 5:09 pm |
  116. Kyle

    I do not think that Barack Obama is talking down to blacks. I think he is talking the truth to blacks and I am very impressed. For years we have listened to leaders such as Jesse Jackson blame white America for the plight of the African American and that, I believe, is the message he wants Barack Obama to promulgate. Instead, the future President is teaching that responsiblity, not blame, is the key to ending the disparity. Amen.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  117. Mark C

    Frankly a guy who worked hard, got a first-class education, did years of volunteer work in the Chicago ghetto, raised a fine family and made a huge success of himself has earned the right to "talk down to" absurdly irresponsible young black men, if that's what Jesse wants to call it.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  118. Anna

    No, he is most certainly not. I work in a community of all blacks, called North Philadelphia, or North Killadelphia, whatever.
    Commuting and working there has been an eye-opening experience, and usually I do not support Obama, but in this case, he is absolutely right in his statements.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  119. Darnell in Atl,GA

    If there is anyone who can speak on responsibilties of fathers and the state of African American men, it is Barack Obama. When Barack addresses issues that pertain to African Americans folks like Jesse Jackson says that he is" talking down to African Americans". When Barack address issues like health care, the war, mortgage crisis, taxes, national security, energy crisis etc., than he is not concern about African American issues. Wake up these are American issues and the last time I checked these are all issues that affect African Americans.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  120. Cynthia

    No he is no and anyone that says that he is doing so needs to take a look at the man in the mirror. He is only saying what a lot of other blacks and others have been saying or thinking for a number of years. This not only applies to blacks but anyone who is not doing what they should be doing.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  121. Emid Stephens

    As a single father of three children that happens to be black, I applaud Sen. Obama. I also happened to agree with Mr.Cosby when he said the same thing. I'm not some wealthy upper class or middle class Uncle Tom either. I just happened to have been raised properly by my father, who happened to be a single father as well. I'm sick and tired of the media perpetuating the stereotypes that are influencing our children. That goes for children of all races. It also has a lot to do with economics and education. If our education system is funded properly, then ignorance will prevail. I also blame these young women who are opening their legs for anyone with fake bling. Our women, and I mean women of all races (yes, black men date women of all races now) need to get their own heads on straight. It takes two to tango, and I think Sen. Obama let them off a little too easy. I have taught my children right & wrong since birth. My sons and daughters know what happens when a child is brought into this world before the parents get a career.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:10 pm |
  122. Gladys

    Move over, Jesse. There's a NEW leader in town!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  123. Dominic, Southlake Texas

    Obama has been speaking about this issue regarding responsibility of the Black father since the start of his campaign. This is not a shift to please the center or White America or any other race. I am Black and truly respect what Obama is saying. Now is the time for us to wake up and begin taking responsibility for our own families/children. On the other hand, this information needs to transcend to all Americans in taking care of home first–hands on—hard/tough love regarding parenting. This is not a political issue, but a moral one. I respect Obama's position. Obama told us he would tell us things we would not like or rather not hear.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  124. TSAH from Virginia

    Jesse Jackson is making himself "irrelevant". If he would only move to "today", he would be a great asset to African Americans. As a matter of fact – all African Americans, mainly men, who have no care in the world and continue to be about "nothing, need to "move" to today. Or else, they will be left behind and have "no one" to blame.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  125. Sam L

    Absolutely not! I don't think the idea of "taking responsibility" extends only to blacks – but too all Americans. African Americans are not the only ethnic group in this country that needs to "take responsiblity" – we all do. The problems facing African Americans today are not unique to them – these problem exist within the White, Brown, Asian communities as well. And I think African Americans understood this – Barack Obama isn't preaching anything that the last generation of civil rights leaders didn't preach – an individual or a whole people can look at their disadvantaged past and choose to be bitter, or they can raise up to the challange and work harder than others to try to get ahead. How was this message any different than those that had been acted on by Dr. King and countless other African American leaders in the past?
    Barack Obama also isn't asking Americans anything that hasn't been asked by JFK decades before. His famous quote – "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" directly ask the American people to stand together and take responsibility of creating a more perfect union. I believe Obama is speaking of the same responsibility as JFK did – and it's about time we have a Politican that have the guts to say what must be heard.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  126. Maria from Nassau County, NY

    Jesse Jackson will never appreciate Obama with all that he has accomplished and all the dreams and hopes for a greater future for all.
    I am sure Jesse's ears hurt when they heard Obama's Father's Day speech. He has been a cheating husband, an absent father, an adulterer who has fathered a child with a mistress – all these, and a fowl mouth, as a preacher – supposedly a man of God, a follower of Christ. What a pitiful hypocrite!!!

    All blacks should take a very close look at Obama and Jackson and see which image they want for themselves and for their children and grandchildren.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  127. Cynical

    Absolutely not! The issues he discussed are at crisis proportions within the African American community. Also if the Congregation that he spoke to during his speech at Apostolic Church was observed – they gave him a standing ovation and they are mostly African American. It's time we get our heads out of the sand.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  128. J Banks

    How can one many living in America today be so wrong about so much?

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  129. Frank

    Let's see if what he said actually makes a difference in the black community. The group he was speaking to usually do not attend church , nor do they watch the news.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  130. John Morrison

    The American public has become like the Bush administration. They, like the Bushies, only want to be told what they want to hear.

    "Everyone" thinks this rise in gas prices is the fault of nameless "speculators" and "market manipulators". There's bad news for those who thing this: The flush of cheap energy we have had these past several years is over. No politician wants to utter this incontrovertable fact, let he be stoned off the public stage for saying the truth. McCain's silly gas tax proposal just plays to this belief that someone else is to blame for the sharp rise in energy prices.

    During this era of cheap energy Americans engaged in a mobile arms race of ever-larger vehicles. While this is not the entire explanation, it plays a role in today's energy demand-squeeze. People today feel the increase in gas prices acutely because, for the most part, they are driving gas guzzlers. We largely have ourselves to blame.

    Obama is being chastened by the Doyens of Denial for saying what is absolutely true. There is indeed a crisis today in America. The millions of children who are born out of wedlock are more likely to be in poverty, underperform in school, and run into trouble as teens than their peers from intact families. Cold statistics bear this out.

    It's time for Americans to behave like resposible adults, and to get over this foolish business of pummeling messengers and blaming them for the bad news. Grow up.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:11 pm |
  131. RK, Delaware

    As a black man, I am not offended. He addressing an issue head on that needs to be dealt with. I think he is going to be an innovative president who addresses critical issues globally, across all races, not just in the black community. Thank you Obama!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  132. fred

    That is why no one wants to run as VP with Obama, they know Obama is so two faced that he can be his own VP!!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  133. curt from palmdale, CA

    Hell to the No !!!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  134. Linda Feldman

    Barack Obama is an adult. Adults take care of their children. There is no hiding the fact that more than half of Black children grow up without a father, as well as a third of Latino children, and one-fourth white. This is part of the American tragedy of child neglect. Adults of all races applaud when someone steps up and tells the truth. It's time to grow up.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  135. Joe Unger

    Why is Obama talking about this?
    What about Iraq?
    What about the housing meltdown?
    Social security?
    The economy?
    Afghanistan?
    THIS IS A DISTRACTION!

    July 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  136. Sly from Michigan

    Hi Jack, I am a African American male, and the answer to your question Point Blank: "NO".

    July 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  137. Reggie Hammond

    Barack Obama wasn't talking down to black people, he was speaking the truth. Rev. Jesse Jackson should be ashamed of what he said. Rev. Jackson exonified the exact reason blacks keep spiraling in a circle. We're to individualized, trying to compete with each other; let's come together instead of hating each other. I wonder what the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. thought of REV. Jackson's comments. This was truly a sad day in American history.

    July 15, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  138. John

    Maybe, just maybe, we've a real leader for a change in Senator Obama. I hope he is as forthright once in office as we need to hear the hard truths about our American lifestyle that is costing us sorely in so many ways.

    BTW, can Jesse please fade off into the sunset? I am so tired of hearing from him.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  139. Sarah Hill

    What Senator Obama says is right-on. Jesse Jackson and others who criticize Obama's approach should recognize this - that their tactics of continuing to perpetuate the victimization of blacks in America has not only done nothing to help blacks, but have created divisiveness.

    Everyone - regardless of race - should take responsibility for themselves. It's a scary message to Jackson and others because it undermines their credibility and base of support. But, it needs to be said and heard.

    The message about black males and fatherhood should resonate with young black women as well. Yes, they are taking responsibility for the children they have. But, becoming a mother is not the measure of them as women, just as fathering a child doesn't make the man. I long for the day when young black women fully understand that there is more to life to define them than pregnancy and childbirth.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  140. Jolie

    And one more thing, I am an African American woman and I know what goes on in society. Obama is only telling the truth about how fathers need to step up. It doesn't matter what race you are but within my own community I see single mothers often without the father figures. Along these lines, women need to respect themselves a bit more before sleeping with a guy you know nothing about then finding yourself in a situation where the guy is not responsible.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  141. Kitty

    Obama is talking down to everyone, pandering at every turn. I was initially inspired, now I'm waiting for a 3rd party candidate.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:02 pm |
  142. Jeff from Chicago

    Barack only spoke of common sense responsibility. Gale Sayers got it right, God is first, friends and family are second. I am third.
    Being a caring responsible father falls in the second category.

    If those in a mortgage crisis had been more responsible, and less greedy, the current meltdown would not be happening. The hostages just back from Bolivia had their priorities in check. The house did not matter only being eith and seeing my family.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:22 pm |
  143. AD

    Actually, Aaron, the good Senator DOES know a thing or two about absentee fathers. Do a little digging before you comment.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:22 pm |
  144. Antonio

    This is the first thing that Obama has done in this election that I have been proud of. I think leaving Iraq would be a terrible mistake and his economic policies are horrendous. However, asking Americans to stop blaming others and work hard to improve their lives is a step I really admire. This nation is a nation of people who "can do", who don't need special programs and special treatment to get ahead. All the need is a fair shot and the government to get out of their way and there will be no stopping their progress. I wish Obama would take the same approach to the economy, allowing entrepreneurs and business owners to compete with foreign companies instead of hiding behind protectionist measures. I wish Obama would take the same "can do" approach to Iraq, to win the war and prevent the genocide of millions of Iraqis. Come on Obama, do what is right, not what is easy. This was a good first step. Now fix your Middle East and Economic policies as well.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  145. Eliza Flug-Coburn

    I think that Obama is sending a message for "Change" and that includes all communities. He is not polarizing anyone by pointing out the obvious. Jesse Jackson has been appealing to a specific target group within the black community for years and his Mission Operative has always been just a smattering of "pander to them and they will support you." It is time to take aim at the stalemates of our political community and breath new life into political policy and action. In order to do this, Obama has to to nudge out the old dogs and make room for new life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  146. Big Willie Style

    Funny how the CNN people do vicariously not post threads here. So let me reiterate what I said before. No, Obama was not talking down to Blacks, but the problem is bigger than this. Obama also needs to address the deadbeat moms out there that continue to interfere with responsible fathers that do right by their child(ren) but continually use the family court system to get money from the fathers and go out of their way to have fathers spend less time with their child(ren), then complain that the father isn't doing enough or spending enough time. When the fathers are willing to spend even more time but that means they may have to work less hours, do you think the mothers are willing to accept less child support? No. The bulk of this is to be blamed on a screwed up court system that would rather have mothers dependent on them and the welfare system, and to just take money from fathers and not promote or even find more creative ways for fathers to spend time with the chidren without continually raping their pockets. Again, this problem is bigger than the messed up fathers out there that don't hold it down. It's a government system in place that needs to be fixed.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:23 pm |
  147. Jackie Saner

    Jack, Absolutely not! How quick we forget the 1973 trumped up gas crisis. I find it interesting that these oil companies are all members of OPEC. They joined that years ago in order to hide the fact they are the members. They decide how much oil will go where, interesting huh? Does this sound like a created crisis? I think so! The oil companies already have Prudhoe to drill which can supply plenty. They are only drilling only 28% of the federal land they lease. This is all about control, upping gas prices, and flat ass greed. Don't believe anything they or our government is tells you.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:25 pm |
  148. Paul

    Yes he is Jack.
    He is actually talking down to everyone if you listen closely. Wow! What choices we have this November.

    July 15, 2008 at 6:46 pm |