First Lady Sees Culture as an Obstacle to Higher Education for African American Youth

First Lady Michelle Obama recently gave a commencement address at Bowie State University encouraging more young African Americans to continue their education. She does so by throwing culture like videogames, television, and music under the bus.

"Be an example of excellence to the next generation," she said Friday at commencement ceremonies held at the nearby University of Maryland. "Today, more than 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, more than 50 years after the end of 'separate but equal,' when it comes to getting an education, too many of our young people just can’t be bothered."

"Today, instead of walking miles every day to school, they’re sitting on couches for hours, playing video games, watching TV. Instead of dreaming of being a teacher or a lawyer or a business leader, they’re fantasizing about being a baller or a rapper," Mrs. Obama continued. "Right now, one in three African American students are dropping out of high school, only one in five African Americans between the ages of 25 and 29 has gotten a college degree."

She closes by asking parents to encourage their children to make a better life for themselves by aspiring to be greater through higher education.

Source: Politico


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  1. 0
    black manta says:

    Bill Cosby – a man whom I've always admired – more or less said the same thing years ago.  He was absolutely dead-on right.  Amazingly, he got pilloried for it in by the African-American community!

    Hopefully now that the First Lady's said it, though, it won't be as easily dismissed.

  2. 0
    Neeneko says:

    The problem there is that there is still (and likely always will be) quite a bit of debate (both informed and not) about how to improve the educational system.

    The lion's share of people agree that education needs to improve, but how to go about that, well, the solutions are frequently mutually exclusive.  It does not help that even the question of what 'improve' means and what the criteria/goals are is not really agreed upon.

  3. 0
    GrimCW says:

    For one cut the pay of the teachers to get ACTUAL WORKING equipment thats at least par and up-to-date (or able to be updated) rather than raising taxes and spending it on more teachers/staff and less on the educational equipment… Funny thing about modern tech, it can teach with less effort, and fewer people needed to explain…

    Or in the case of my local school, instead of adding another weight room to the 5 they already have despite a DECREASE in attendance (just fewer kids not ones skipping.)

  4. 0
    GrimCW says:

    Tis why i specified "some" don't rather than "many" :)

    But agreed all in all. Most companies don't even want hard workers, they seem to want slower ones, or ones they can use as tax write offs (disabled/old). Can be as reliable as the sun and moon, and work beyond your wage, yet still get axed in favor of grandma smith over there that misses most days for ailments of all kind, and barely hold her load alone….. No offense to those that have such, or get such, just pointing out an odd observation i've noticed lately in some places i've been.

    Seen some grand workers pushed out the door..

  5. 0
    Crow says:

    Unless you build a miracle company from the ground up, you'll be hard pressed to find many CEOs without an MBA (or equivalent). Even further, if you look at the executives of any major US company, you'll see the same (Ivy) college/university names and same "old friends' club" connections wherever you look.

    Hard work doesn't breed success for most people, it simply keeps the afloat or a little ahead of the curve. Knowing the right family/school connections? you're set for life no matter how low your IQ is in relation to individuals who are actually brilliant business minds. 

  6. 0
    Crow says:

    Teachers are already far underpaid for their efforts. It's still amazing how the general public doesn't understand that the vast majority of teachers spend about 50-60 hours a week in mostly high-stress modes for less pay and less chance of advancement than any comparable profession.

    I'd far more support an effort to actually tax higher brackets (that I, myself, am in) then continue to drown education as a no-win between a strange cultural necessity/un-respected profession.

    The problem here is that the issues within urban minority ghettos are only solvable by decimating rather rigid economic lines. these are the same lines which have been cemented in American culture to provide the backbone of our economy. Rural, poor white communities are often similar without the same systemic aspects.

    But we can't have a black First Lady criticizing black culture, especially if it will make middle-class white folks uncomfortable. So instead we criticize the things we know aren't the actual problems, and then hold minority, economically trapped members of those communities accountable for things we know aren't the real issue because it's too politically disadvantageous to actually address the ugly side of minority ghetto-economics.

  7. 0
    GrimCW says:

    And given many athletes and rappers have more money than lawyers and CEO's for doing less work… well…. 

    TBH i think she's just trying to push the college thing on kids is all since lawyers and CEO's need massive degree's (usually, some CEO's don't)

    Problem is thats where a lot of peoples troubles are starting… Student loans are literally killing people with debt, and its only getting worse.

  8. 0
    Truec says:

    I'm curious about where she got her numbers from.  The Department of Education's numbers as recently as 2010 only indicate an 8% dropout rate among African-Americans, at the lowest point it's been in lover twenty years.  Higher than the average, certainly, higher than it should be, sure, but it isn't one in three.  Even Hispanics, the group with the highest dropout rates, are only at 15%.

    I should also probably object to the notion that it's somehow more appropriate to dream of being a lawyer or a CEO than to aspire to  create music or play sports.  I may personally have a low opinion of both rappers and professional athletes, but I will fight to the moderate inconvenience to their right to have their professions taken seriously.

  9. 0
    GrimCW says:

    ""Today, instead of walking miles every day to school"


    … well in this case Mrs. Obama, we need to get rid of public transportation and school buses. Only reason that was done in the past is these things didn't exist as highly as they do now, and/or weren't required like they now are.

  10. 0
    Neeneko says:

    Something that really has cropped up over the last decade or so is this 'not walking' thing has gotten really insane.  Every morning I see parents drive their kids the 100-200 meters to the bus stop then turn right around and go home.

  11. 0
    Farseli says:

    Wait..walking miles everyday to go to school?! Why would anyone in the USA need to do that? Sometimes I walk a few miles to go places, but for something like school? Don't we have busses!?! Things sure have changed from when I was in school.

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