They're determined to find fault with Obama even when he does something right -- and in this case at least, they are as out of touch as the president's right-wing opponents.Stop. Take a breath. Grab a kleenex. Read on.
That's the conclusion I reached after rereading Obama's Morehouse remarks in light of the strong critiques from Coates and Kai Wright, my esteemed former colleague at The Root. I didn't hear the "convenient race talk" that Coates detected or the browbeating that troubled Wright. I didn't even hear the voice of a politician.
I heard the voice of my father.
It could have been my dad lecturing me across the dinner table when Obama declared, "You have to work twice as hard as anyone else if you want to get by."Thank you Jack!
And again, when he admonished the graduates to "be a good role model, set a good example for that young brother coming up. If you know somebody who's not on point, go back and bring that brother along. Those who've been left behind, who haven't had the same opportunities we have -- they need to hear from you."
And yet again, when he urged them to "recognize the burdens you carry with you, but to resist the temptation to use them as excuses. To transform the way we think about manhood, and set higher standards for ourselves and for others. To be successful, but also to understand that each of us has responsibilities not just to ourselves, but to one another and to future generations. Men who refuse to be afraid. Men who refuse to be afraid."
Those are the messages that my father, a medical-school professor at Howard University who died 25 years ago, pounded into my head as I was growing up, and that I've tried to convey to my own children.
And they're pretty much the same sentiments I've heard expressed in every HBCU commencement address I've ever attended. To have them delivered by the first black president brings joy and inspiration to my heart -- as it seems to have done to the graduates, who, perhaps lacking the critics' exquisite sensitivity to condescension, stomped, cheered and whooped in response to the speech. To accuse the president of talking down to the throng is to miss the occasion. What he said was entirely appropriate -- and entirely familiar.