Tag Archives: Barack Obama

QUOTE: Don Lemon

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Our Inspirational quote this week is by Don Lemon.  It is not a single sentence or phrase.  But rather Don’s “open letter” response to Russell Simmons.

Simmons and others criticized Lemon for a broadcast during which Lemon shared his “5 points” on self-emporwerment and self-responsibility, the backdrop of which was the murder of  Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict.   Mr. Lemon invited Simmons to come on CNN several times to discuss the matter where Mr. Simons initially declined resulting in Lemon’s open letter.   Russell Simmons eventually accepted the offer and appeared where they had a face to face discussion.

We have quoted Simmon’s uplifting messages many times (view QUOTE archives).  We are fans of Russell Simons.  We were surprised by the nature of his attack of Lemon.  We thought the way Lemon approached the conflict and what he said were in and of themselves lessons in who we should want to and need to be.  Communication is the key.

Don Lemon’s “An open letter response to Russell Simons.”

The video 

The transcript:

“Russell, I’m glad you wrote the letter.  Honestly I really am.  Initially though I wasn’t even going to respond to your letter, not because I think you completely missed the point, not because, like many of the other critics I thought you were just using the occasion as a promotion for one of your businesses, your Web site, but I wasn’t going to address it because, quite honestly, it was hard to take you and it seriously after you called me derogatory names like slave on Twitter.  That accomplishes nothing especially when lives are at stake.

That said, I’m going to respond and I’m going to take the high road at the same time by not calling you names and simply addressing your points.  And just to be clear before I start here I have asked you on this program on CNN several times to discuss the issues I have addressed.  I have invited you again tonight but you declined again.  That is fine.  But don’t throw stones and hide your hand.

Russell Simmons, we are in a crisis right now and you of all people need to understand what I’m saying and understand what you’re doing.  Because of what you do and who you are, you have much more influence on young people of all races than I do.

So, first.  You say I sound like conservative hosts or pulling strings writing, you write this, conservatives love when we blame ourselves for the conditions that have destroyed the fabric of the black community.

My response is, you should take that up with a conservative or a liberal or someone who is concerned about political affiliation in this particular situation. That does not save lives. It shouldn’t matter if someone is black, white, brown, purple, green, democrat, or Republican. If the truth they speak is saving lives, then no matter their intentions or background, we should listen, attack the problem, not the messenger.

You also write, I can’t accept that you would single out black teenagers as the cause of their own demise because they don’t speak the King’s English or where belts around their waist bands.

That really makes me question whether you even watch the segment or even wrote the letter yourself because I never blamed anyone for their own demise.  I never pinned it on any teenagers, on anybody. Nor did I mention the King’s English.  I did, however, mention the “n” word.

You also wrote, young people sagging their pants today is no different than young people rocking afros or platform shoes in the ’60s and ’70s.

Russell, afros came out of the struggle of the after American civil rights movement.  The dashiki is a traditional form of African dress.

Sagging, Russell, the hip hop community which you helped established, dropped the G on the word so that spelled backwards the word reads n- i-g-g-a-s.  It came from Riker’s island in New York, one of the largest attention centers in the U.S.  It was originally called wearing your pants Riker’s style.

When you went in you turned in your belt, your shoe laces, and the only shirt the jail provided was a white double XXL-shirt.  Are you equating dressing like a criminal to African pride?  Are you saying it is OK to perpetuate the negative stereotype of young, black men as convicts, criminals, prisoners?  How does that enhance their lives or society as a whole?

I do give you, Russell Simmons, and some of the hip hop and rap community credit for trying to clean up your act.  Some like J. Cole and Kanye West are now rapping about social issues like the prison industrial complex.  More of that, please.  We welcome that.  Everyone does.  But you’re not off the hook.

Finally, you write in part, I want the black kids to grow up and be like you.  I want them to know that their imagination is God inside of them.  Russell, I really appreciate that, but I don’t want black kids or kids of any race to be just like me.  I want them to grow up to be better than me.  That’s what my parents wanted for me.  And their parents wanted for them.  And as we approach the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, we should all realize that it’s what those brave men and women who risked their lives for our freedom and equality wanted for us.  They fought for us and generations to come to be better than them, not to be illiterate or deadbeat dads or criminals.  We must stop the blame for things that we can change ourselves and, again, as the first African-American president of the United States says, no more excuses.”

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QUOTE:  “President Barack Obama – Nobody cares how tough your upbringing was.  Nobody cares if you suffered some discrimination.  And, moreover, you have to remember that whatever you’ve gone through, it pales in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured, and they overcame them, and if they overcame them, you can overcome them, too.”

*We are happy that eventually they spoke, discussed and shook hands over this matter.  Hopefully in the future, though they may disagree, they will both continue to help inspire and educate people in their own ways.

Correction;  A previous version of this post stated that Lemon’s 5 points pertained to racism.  They instead pertain to self-emporwerment and self-responsibility.  

Harlem and President Obama’s remarks on Trayvon Martin

Barack Obama HarlemCondoLife

President Obama’s remarks on Trayvon Martin gave voice to a reality that continues to impact the Harlem community and all across the country.    His message was was powerful, poignant and personal.   We are sharing the message in the hopes that everyone takes a moment to really take in what he said.   And to reflect on what each of us can do to deliver change.

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
July 19, 2013
Remarks by the President on Trayvon Martin
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

1:33 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session. The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there’s going to obviously be a whole range of issues — immigration, economics, et cetera — we’ll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week — the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday. But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case — I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues. The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury has spoken, that’s how our system works. But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling.

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me — at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws — everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact — although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context. They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else. So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys. But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family. But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do.

I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code. And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And let’s figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the “stand your ground” laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case. On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I’d just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project — we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys. And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I’m not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program. I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I’ve got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then, finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have. On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can? Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are — they’re better than we were — on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues. And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

Thank you, guys.

END
1:52 P.M. EDT

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/07/19/president-obama-trayvon-martin-could-have-been-me

QUOTE: Obama on America

Diversity via HarlemCondoLife (twitter: @HarlemHCL)

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America – there is the United States of America.

There is not a black America and a white America and latino America and asian America – there’s the United States of America.”

= President Barack Obama

Inauguration 2013

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yahoo news

HCL congratulates the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama on the occasion of the Inauguration of his second term of office and we celebrate the proud and rich diversity of our nation.

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