Michelle Obama’s Message to the Black Community – Education Is Not “Acting White”

It is rare, but I happen to agree with Michelle Obama on something.  Over the weekend she gave a commencement speech at a historically black college and during this speech she said:

“reject the slander that a black child with a book is trying to act white.”

There was a time in my life that I wouldn’t believe that this was so widespread of a belief in the black community.  But that naiveté is long gone.  I have done some volunteer work with the scholarship program in Washington, D.C..  It is basically a voucher program that allows low-income families to apply for money to be used at the school of their choice.  The forms can be a little overwhelming, so I would help parents fill out the forms for the application.  I also did outreach to get as many as possible to apply.  During this outreach I got a little education of my own.  This is a common theme among the inner city blacks, at least in D.C..  I heard this mantra over and over again.   I also heard far too often that learning how to fight wouldn’t happen in those “white schools”.  Sadly, that is true story.

What exactly is “acting white” supposed to mean anyway?  Why would getting an education that can lift your child out of poverty and a life of low earning jobs a bad thing?  Every one of the parents I spoke with were living in low-income, high crime areas of The District.  They have lived the life of not having enough money to get their children into a neighborhood that would provide them a better school and reduce the amount of violence around them.  I went into doing this work thinking every parent would jump at the chance to get some help for their child. Wrong.

Education is an issue that I feel very strongly about.  Every child in this country deserves a quality education; regardless of the income of their parents.  Sadly, when you are living in low-income areas, the public schools are failing your children.  A lack of a good education leads to all kinds of social ills throughout your life and in many instances leads to a life dependent on government subsidies just to survive.  It also costs the taxpayers a great deal of money when you start looking at the rates of incarceration among people who don’t finish high school.  They are far less likely to add to the economy; actually they become a drain to tax payers.  From a human point of view it is a difficult life to lead.

It has also been shown that pay disparities between blacks and whites disappear within one generation.  A black person who finishes two-year of college will have children that makes just as much as their white counterparts.  This is among one of the chief complaints among “civil rights” leaders.  Well, here is a your solution.  Yet, this is something that is rarely, if ever, spoken about by these race hustlers.  They just talk about all that is wrong, but rarely every talk about the ‘unspeakable”.  The apathy in the black community that has haunted far too many and allows generation after generation to live a life of poverty need to hear this message.  You can lift yourself and your family out of poverty by getting yourself an education.

She went on:

“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,” she said.

“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,” Obama kept going. “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.”

This is something that the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton don’t understand.  They continue to hold onto the belief that somehow only access to the same public schools that whites go to is enough.  The evidence that clearly isn’t true sadly is the many inner city black youths who are being robbed of a decent education.  This is demonstrated quite clearly when the NAACP sued the City of New York to keep the worst performing school in the country open.  That incident also clearly demonstrated how hypocritical they truly are about the issue.  The lawyer for the NAACP that filed the lawsuit sends her daughter to boarding school in New Hampshire.  If you are stunned by that, you really shouldn’t be.  It is par for the course.  Education for me, but not for thee seems to be mantra of the race hustlers that have money.  Letting those poor kids stay in the under performing schools is perfectly fine, as long as it isn’t their children.

I have waited four long years for the Obama family to make these type of statements.  While I truly believe that singling out people by race is a bad thing, I also truly believe that with the type of platform that they have it is a crying shame that they have not used it more effectively to reach those in the black community.  Simply being president and first lady isn’t enough.  The message must be that you too, with an education, can accomplish what we have accomplished.  You too can make it to Harvard and Princeton if you work hard.  You too can lift your families to greater heights.  I also feel that they need to talk about the family dinner table and the importance of fathers in the home and being around to raise your children.  While I have heard it from him, it isn’t nearly often enough.  Every study shows that having a father around increases grades, decreases drug use, and makes the possibility of that child growing up in poverty that much less.  In fact, the percentage that lift themselves out of poverty is more than 70% when three simple things are done, finishing high school, not marrying before the age of 21, and not having children out-of-wedlock.  This study was also confirmed by a left leaning think tank that tried to prove it wrong.

I will always give credit where credit is due.  I want to hear more of this from Michelle Obama.  I also would like other leaders in the black community to follow her lead.  Lets talk about some of the uncomfortable truths, that sometimes blacks are their own worst enemies.  Believing that getting an education is “white” then getting ahead will be nearly impossible.  The choice is yours black community, the choice is yours.