Obama’s expectation of big things from black men ‘doesn’t seem to have a home in Democratic Party today’

Author and activist Jamil Jivani thinks a recent talk by former President Obama had him sounding more like a conservative than a member of the Democratic Party.

The Canadian entrepreneur and community organizer spoke with Fox News host Martha MacCallum on Friday about Obama’s address to young men gathered at the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Summit in Oakland, Calif., last week.

“What President Obama is doing is reminding young men that we believe in them and have high expectations of them. Just because they encounter unfairness in the world doesn’t mean they have to lower expectations of themselves and their own behavior,” he said on “The Story,” Friday, reacting to Obama’s remarks.

“A lot of hip-hop and rap music is built around me showing how I got more money than you, I can disrespect you and you can’t do nothing about it, I’m going to talk about you and punk you,” Obama told the hundreds of young men gathered at the event.  “If you are really confident about your financial situation, you probably are not going to be wearing an 8-pound chain around your neck. If you are very confident about your sexuality, you don’t have to have 8 women around you twerking.”

“The Democratic Party, their leaders today are not creating space for that kind of conversation. It’s all about what is being done to people,” Jivani said. “And it’s about clinging on to narratives where young men of color are not the moral agents that we’re focused on. We are focused on when they are victims like in the hoax case of Jussie Smollett but not focused on situations where they are both victims and perpetrators.”

He added that Obama’s message of high expectations and that “we don’t expect to you lower yourself because of what other people think of you or do to you,” is a message that the author believes “doesn’t seem to have a home in the Democratic Party today.”

The author of “Why Young Men” also addressed Obama’s advice in an opinion piece published by Fox News last week.

But in a New York Times op-ed following the event, attorney Derecka Purnell criticized Obama for his “scolding of black boys,” and panned his advice as “part of problematic practices” that “reflect his administration’s failure… to tackle the systemic inequality that shapes black people’s lives in America.”

Liberal Fox News contributor, Richard Fowler disagreed with Jivani’s assessment on “The Story” Friday, countering that “we do expect greatness,” while citing lack of opportunities, the failure of the education system and other problems in which “Democrats and Republicans could work together on that, then maybe, just maybe, we could have a conversation to ensure that black men can achieve at the same rate white men do.”

In his op-ed, Jivani argued that the Democratic Party “is narrowly focused on articulating an urgent need for the U.S. government to save the American people with big, sweeping actions like the Green New Deal.”

“Inconsistent with Obama’s call to action in Oakland, today’s Democratic leaders appear to define young men of color by what others – rich people, white people, privileged classes – do to us and for us,” he wrote, hoping Obama would stay on message since, in his presidential past he “rarely criticized hip-hop’s cultural influence.”

“Instead, he invited rappers to the White House and publicly befriended Jay-Z and Beyonce,” he noted

After more discussion on the topic on Fox News, Jivani concluded the segment with MacCallum by saying “we still have to be the best person we can be and we don’t need to wait for all those big picture things to change in order for that to be the way.”


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