Friday Fire: Should Black Men Be Sparked to Action Because of President Barack Obama?

An interview with Dream Hampton will be posted later today. I wanted to give you something to talk about while I transcribe.

Attended a symposium at the University of Pennsylvania last night featuring Jemele Hill, Kenneth L. Shropshire and moderated by Jay Rosner of the Princeton Review. Very informative and students had great questions. Rosner stated the symposium was likely one of the first in the nation asking questions of Black athletes in light of President Obama’s election (still crazy to write President Obama isn’t it?). The main question was this: Now what? What do Black athletes do now in a post-Obama world?

As Ken Shropshire stated, in expending so much energy on the initial pursuit, we tend to lose sight of the real work. Jemele was shocked the usually apolitical Tiger Woods spoke. Athletes all over the place commented. Some chose this as the perfect photo opportunity, some athletes will go above and beyond, some will see this moment as just another day.

What should athletes do?

What should those whose consciousness is sicker than your average do?

I’m really interested how Hip Hop responds. This is the time where all should lyrically take the game to the next level.

Unfortunately, the symposium had to be cut short so I wanted to borrow on Rosner’s ideas and continue the discussion here in relation to all of us.

IMO, the responsibility should be heightened by everyone but since this is a site created by Black men, I would be remiss to not judge ourselves accordingly.

KOS brought up a great point about this question potentially being an insult. My answer would be that this is directed at those who need a helping hand. Those who are doing the right thing? Big ups! Keep doing what you do.

Black men have a great opportunity to show the entire universe who we are and what we are made of. I promise to do all I can as a man, a son, a future spouse and most importantly…a father.

January 20, 2008 should have been October 16th, 1995. We can’t afford to let 13 years pass by again so inauspiciously. I mean that in the context of all society.

After the Million Man March, I was very disappointed how we (Black men) responded after such a glorious day. Long live the spirit of the Million Man March but the historic powerful emotion was lost until now. I’m not understating the positive results of that day with right appeasing cynicism, but the criticism should be reiterated personally as we progress into the future if we truly want to blast down every door in front of our face.

This could be taking your kids to the park every week, helping out downtown, merely saying hi to someone you don’t know, taking a class, speaking out on issues as soon as they happen if you are a professional athlete, turning the tv off or voting in every election until your sun sets.

It’s the little things that count. Doesn’t have to be anything monumental but to each his own.

Let me say this while I’m on the subject, the numbers of the MMM were very much under reported. That’s foul for history’s sake.

Black History Month is now everyday. Be inspired but temper your enthusiasm with wisdom to keep the ball rolling.

There will be a backlash but this is a grand opportunity to impact our youth forever. That’s all I’m about for it challenges their conscious minds.

To say the slate is wiped clean clearly would be irresponsible, but positive eyes and minds should now look forward.

Everyone of every race? It’s time to step up.

Before the election, I thought we were on a collision course with the Roman Empire and would subsequently be eventually reduced to broken ivy covered monuments out of fear and indifference. Maybe this changes things, maybe not.

Use your real eyes to realize these real lies. Great lyric Kris.

President Obama is not only affecting America, but North America…

Here’s something one time for ya mind…

32 Responses to “Friday Fire: Should Black Men Be Sparked to Action Because of President Barack Obama?”

  1. Okori says:

    The answer to this is simple: YES.

    It’s simple enough. If you can do…… do. If you have skills in creating a community garden for your neighborhood, so the next ones can know what it feels like to eat healthy food and have a chance to avoid the scourge of diabetes, high blood pressure, and hypertension that cuts through our community like a samurai sword through rice paper, do it. If you’re a builder, or you own your small business, build in the community. Hire the cats you know need jobs, and just one chance, to help. If you have been fit your whole life find those fat kids from your neighborhood and take them to the gym with you (my contribution). Show them how good it feels to exercise.

    If you can’t do… teach. If you know how to cook hold cooking classes in the rec center. teach people how to make a little bit of something last a long time,and how to eat healthy. If you are college-educated become a tutor in your free time. Make sure that kid struggling with English can get into college, get a good job, and he can pay his way forward.

    Let’s build something our kids will be proud of.

  2. Temple3 says:

    Black men should be sparked to action because action is required.

  3. Mizzo says:

    Is the action required simply because we have a Black president?

  4. kos says:

    No offense Mizzo, because I know where you’re coming from with this question and I’m not mad at you for asking. But, it’s an insult to even ask this question.

    Black men should not be sparked to action just because of a black president. Action should have been sparked just because it always been, still is, and will always be needed. Some do it through just talking with their children. Some do it by mentoring young people in their neighborhood or organization. Some get it through teaching a trade to the younger people.

    Don’t believe the hype. The mainstream media will continue to point out the worst in the black community. There’s always been responsible black men who’ve done the right thing, and done more than their fair share of helping out the next generation. They never get the credit that they deserve.

  5. Mizzo says:

    I only ask it here because of who I am and to highlight a power source that will spur thought advancement.

    I hear what you are saying and I hope the premise of the post doesn’t come off as cynical. That’s not my intention.

    But I will say this, if we continue the conventional thought that we shouldn’t judge ourselves accordingly in any big moment then we’ll be stuck in place.

    Every day I try to skip a couple steps, but that’s just me. Time waits for no one.

    We should be fired up right now and I’m just doing what I can to make that happen.

    Trust that it starts with ME.

  6. Temple3 says:

    From the NY Times:

    Educators and policy makers, including Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, have said in recent days that they hope President Obama’s example as a model student could inspire millions of American students, especially blacks, to higher academic performance.

    Now researchers have documented what they call an Obama effect, showing that a performance gap between African-Americans and whites on a 20-question test administered before Mr. Obama’s nomination all but disappeared when the exam was administered after his acceptance speech and again after the presidential election.

    We have SO MUCH bad information about ourselves that we have been operating as if we ARE who whites have told us we SHOULD BE. Barack Obama elected rejects ALL of that.

    Black folk don’t have to marry white women unless they want to. They don’t have to name their babies Ashley, Kate or Elizabeth — unless they want to. They don’t even have to be Coons on BET or MTV unless they want to. They don’t have to write HIT PIECES on Black Athletes for ESPN or FOX.

    Now, guess what —– it’s always been that way.

    Cooning has always been an option, never obligatory. Rejecting African identity has always been an option and there HAS ALWAYS been a counter-example of Black people in America and the Caribbean and Europe EMBRACING their African identity and having success. (Sometimes, there were negative consequences, but that’s part of life in an adversarial society. Shit happens.)

    If our people have good information, we’ll make better decisions. We are wiser than we know and our time of redemption is just beyond the horizon.

    Stony the road we trod,
    Bitter the chast’ning rod,
    Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
    Yet with a steady beat,
    Have not our weary feet
    Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
    We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
    We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
    Out from the gloomy past,
    ‘Til now we stand at last
    Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

  7. Dredded One says:

    Imma have to agree with kos as well as pat myself on the back because I was one of the few black men who acted on at least some of the premises of the Million Man March. I acted, and I still do. What Barak has done is amazing, but keep in mind his accomplishment was for HIMSELF just as much as it was for Black people. He could not have become president unless he wanted to be.

    And there it lies. The grandness of our best achievements reflect on others without our even knowing it. YOu may not want to run for prez, but ask that young kat on the corner what’s poppin’, what’s really good. Get in his head about what he thinks is important and you tell him what you think is important. Everyone, has to do something. Barak or not. When he’s gone, we are still gonna be here.

  8. Temple3 says:

    Amen, Dredded One.

  9. Mizzo says:

    Interesting Temple and I agree. The choices we make personally affect so much and control of how our voice is pronounced has always been the issue.

    That’s why I posted the second video. The information about us running from the lips of hate is unacceptable but…

    I could care less what others think. Our history is predicated by our actions. If we sit back and let others write unabated then it’s our fault. That’s real rap. I expect a lot out of myself both professionally and personally but if I do the right thing I don’t deserve any credit. It’s what I’m supposed to do. The problem begins when I don’t and I have. I can merely make it better by making the right decisions from here on in.

    When my great grand kids have issue with society it ain’t gonna be because TSF didn’t bring attention to what I or the other writers (or any of you for that matter) here feel is an issue.

    Have I made mistakes here? Damn right, but I continue on to get it right.

    “When he’s gone, we are still gonna be here.”


  10. Temple3 says:

    Dredded One:

    I don’t believe you were one of the few who took the message from the MMM to heart. I believe those sentiments and messages were widely felt, shared and acted on. What didn’t happen was what we didn’t really need to happen — we didn’t have a national movement with a national leader based on a civil rights agenda.

    We did get decreases in teen pregnancy, increases in academic achievement by our children, increases in the number of applicants and graduates from colleges, decreases in crime (for the most part — Chicago and Philly are serious exceptions)…and I believe, anecdotally, that the number of fathers who are engaged with their families has also increased.

    I think the MMM was a tremendous success because the people who left carried the torch — but didn’t carry it in a Civil Rights Movement sort of way — they carried it in a Personal Transformation Movement kind of way. The MMM was not expressly about building organizations, but it was about Atonement and at-one-ment….being whole and being one with oneself, with the community and the Creator.

    If you ignore the massive disinformation put out by our enemies, you can clearly see the tremendous strides that people have made since we all left DC that day. I believe the work folks have done is laudable and significant. It was precisely the MMM that created the fertile ground for Obama to be successful. Black folk have been fighting and winning many. many pitched battles in communities all over the nation.

    Just consider for a moment that before Obama’s rise, we witnessed the hiring of a Black football coach at Notre Dame and a Black basketball coach at Kentucky. I never, ever thought I’d see that. We’ve seen 2 Black coaches in the Super Bowl with a 3rd due up on February 2. We’ve even seen a YOUNG, BLOND GENIUS get fired and replaced by a 32 year old Black coach that no one has ever heard of before (Gruden out in Tampa.) We’ve seen a NY Times sports poll that revealed the most respected coaches in the NFL are the Black coaches: Dungy, Smith, Tomlin, etc.

    We’ve even seen a blind Black men run New York State even after admitting to drug use and extra-marital affairs without getting skewered on a daily basis in the paper.

    Now, on the flip side, there are still tons of stories that need to be told and addressed. For one, the Administration for Childrens Services in NYC continues to violate federal law by authorizing the use of Black foster children and state wards (some as young as 6 months old) in illegal drug tests. Children have died and been permanently injured in these tests. Its under the radar, but we’re talking about billions of dollars and thousands of children who do not have biological parents to speak on their behalf.

    We saw the shooting in San Francisco of a young father.

    There is much to do, but you MUST respect that our people are fighting and winning many, many, many battles for dignity, respect, wealth, and power in this society. You are not alone.

  11. Jemele says:

    Mizzo, thanks for continuing the conversation.

    As always, with great success comes great struggle…and even greater expectations.

    I’ll agree there have been tremendous gains by black folks. Many more of us are in college, in the workforce earning more money than ever and keeping our communities/families intact.

    However, as a native Detroiter, I know firsthand that those successes I mentioned aren’t nearly as widespread as they should be. Detroit is the poorest big city in the nation. Half of its citizens are functional illiterates. The high school graduation rate is far less than 50 percent. The mayoral scandal. It is an absolute crisis situation.

    While that certainly isn’t representative of every Chocolate City, the problems in Detroit are not in a vaccum. Obviously the media has contributed to black people feeling worse about themselves than they should, but the fact remains that young, black men are in trouble and have been for a long time. Those statistics about education, fatherlessness, graduation rates, etc., aren’t misinformation, but fact.

    I know a lot of people who contribute to this board didn’t necessarily need a boost or a symbolic/historic presidency to feel obligated to contribute to their communities, but there were some people who did. Some folk had been in a rut, or just been swallowed by life and needed a reminder that there is much work to be done. They needed to feel a sense of purpose and steal some of the energy created by Obama. I’m fine with that as long as people get mobilized.

    I’ve certainly noticed a collective pep in the step and while it may take some time for us to see if it will be sustained, I’m just glad it’s here.

  12. Temple3 says:

    I’m sure there are native Miamians, native New Yorkers, native Atlantans, native Angelinos, native San Franciscans, native Chicagoans, native B’moreans, native Newarkers, native Bridgeporters and native or otherwise transplanted Africans who would echo sentiments about our relative deprivation.

    The next person I meet from the D who doesn’t say, “As a native Detroiter…” will be the very, very first. You gotsta love the D. I don’t if its the Fist downtown or the grub at Fishbone’s or the peach cobbler at Aknarton’s. Whatever it is, folks always represent the singularity of the city. It’s all good, as long as they’re not really reppin’ Southfield. Yecccchh!!!


  13. MODI says:

    About MMM by way of Manning Marable’s “Black Leadership” (pg. 162)

    In the immediate aftermath of the Million Man March many black organizations reported significant increases in membership. Even groups that had not endorsed the March for that had long histories of hostility towards their own personal such as the national urban league and NAACP, gained fresh recruits and renewed commitment.

    One measure of the long-term impact of MMM of was seen a year later on election day in November 1996. The total number of American voters declined [8.6 million], despite the addition of 5 million more registered voter… Turnout declined from 55.2% in 1992 to only 48.8% in 1996, the lowest rate since 1924. Nearly 500,000 fewer African-American women voted in 1996 than 1992 against his downward trend or African-American male voters. Exit polls estimated at approximately 1.5 million more African-Americans participated in 1996 presidential election and in the election for four years earlier…

    … What then explains the decline in the number of black women voters in the dramatic increase in involvement in African-American males in the political process? Weighing the evidence, [David] Bositis observed:

    ‘There was only one major relevant event of note in the past year or so that focused primarily on black malesl, and that was the million Man March… at which Farrakhan exhorted black American man to take more responsibility for their lives by registering to vote and by voting. In reviewing a variety of possible turned of hypotheses to account for the sharp increase in blackmail vote, I find it highly implausible that there was another factor that rivaled the million Man March in bringing about this change.’

  14. MODI says:

    On a separate note… why can’t the Knicks ever beat the Sixers… and how do they always make Dalembert seem like an allstar…

  15. Jemele says:

    Man, Temple3, whatchuknow about Aknarton’s? OK, you definitely get an unofficial D residency pass, because not all know about that. Granted, I would have given you a few more points had you made a Dot & Etta’s or Miley & Miley’s shrimp reference. But Aknarton’s is pretty damn good. Kudos.

    But, FYI, I hate that place. My mother took me there when I was a kid. Got food poisoning and never returned.

  16. Temple3 says:

    I’ve heard that — the reviews have been mixed for years. Many of my best friends on this planet hail from the D. 9.5 out of 10 people I know frorm the D are the salt of the earth. I’ve been blessed.

  17. Temple3 says:

    By the way, my favorite meal in the D was at Fishbone’s — Fried Alligator, Gumbo, and as much Remy as a thirsty man could drink.

  18. michelle says:

    We should all do better. Obama has a steep hill to climb. As he leads the way we should be the wind at his back.

  19. michelle says:


    LOL! Hell if I know.

  20. michelle says:


    I couldn’t have said that better. We really need to step up. Am I my brothers keeper??

  21. Matthew Fudge says:

    “Is the action required simply because we have a Black president?”

    No, Miz. The Million Man March should’ve done it, but didn’t. Honestly, I don’t think President Obama’s election will spark any collective inspiration among black men. What I think his election does do is take away any and all excuses. No longer can brothers who don’t want to stay on the grind say that the man won’t give me none. A black man IS the man. Do as the Bible says and carry your own burden.

  22. Matthew Fudge says:

    “We have SO MUCH bad information about ourselves that we have been operating as if we ARE who whites have told us we SHOULD BE”.

    It’s like that Steve Harvey line from one of his HBO specials: You hear “You ain’t s— 4 or 5 times a week, it starts sinking in.” The power of life and death is in the tongue. Knowing that, we (individually and collectively) should do our part for our people to rise up. Mentor our youth. Love our black men and women in marriage. Be the heads and leaders of households as men. Surround yourself with positive people. We can do so much at the grassroots level. Don’t believe the hype that we are less than and can’t achieve just because we’re black. I didn’t believe that BEFORE Obama got elected. Damn sure don’t believe it now.

  23. Matthew Fudge says:

    Fried Alligator??! Can’t see how folks in Detroit can eat that. Then again, I’ve said the same thing about chitterlings, so I can’t talk. LOL

  24. origin says:

    Amen brotha Temple. As always you come correct.

    Advancements had been made even before Obama came on the scene. We can say that because of these advancements there would be no Obama.

    Brotha Mizzo an action should be sparked because its our suvival that is at stack.

    Mizzo a better question would be does Obama a black man who’s father is from africa being president spark black action world wide. We as black folks face similair issues all around the world. We do not live in a vacum many of our issue and concerns are the same. Whether you are a black man/woman in Africa, Cuba, France or Canada.

    As Temple pointed out Obama has inspired black folks here in America.

    But he has also inspired black folks in France.

    Black Folks in Latin America.

    Black Folks in Iraqi.

    Black Folks all over Europe.

  25. origin says:

    There is still along way for us to go. But to not acknowledge how far we hhave come would be ignorant. Our history does not start or end with Obama.

    I hope Obama motivates the brotha on the corner to go to college and do something with himself. Just like I hope that Obama motivates the eduacted middle class black person to give back to the black community as Obama did. I also hope Obama motivates the elite black person to give by to back and create jobs and build up communites.

    And most of all hope it helps black people all over the world understand that we need to work together as one to help solve our problems.

  26. Matthew Fudge says:

    Amen, Origin.

  27. Matthew Fudge says:

    I have one more thing we as black folks can do: can we speak to each other on the streets? It was amazing – complete strangers were speaking the morning after Election Night. It was a beautiful thing. But I found myself wondering why we can’t do this every day. Nothing wrong with taking it back to the old school (fellas, let’s not take advantage if she speaks back – sometimes “Good Morningj” is just that – not a sign that says “Come holla at a sista”). LOL

  28. origin says:

    True Matthew.

    Growing up in the North then moving to the south as I became older. I noticed that in the south folks were more likely to speak then up north.

    I also noticed that even in small towns in the south folks are much more likely to speak then in large cities in the south. Take Dallas for example, people (especially black people) will speak to you. But let me go to my wifes home town in Mississippi and boy oh boy folks will darn near break their necks trying to speak to you.

    Its just on another level there.

  29. sankofa says:

    Aknarton’s? Damn! That dude still around?

  30. Eric Daniels says:

    I am not going to comment on what Black Men should do until I think about it a little more, I have always thought self- empowerment could have been done without the election of a biracial President however he self- identifies. I don’t think there will the true revolution I think needs to be done to uplift ALL African – Americans not just a few gifted ones who knows how to play the white man’s game.

  31. Julianne says:

    do you guys have a recommendation section, i’d like to suggest some stuff