His Story: President Obama on Fatherhood

His Story: President Obama on Fatherhood

His Story

By: A. Pawlowski

As Father’s Day approaches, President Obama shared his thoughts about fatherhood and raising kids in the White House during an exclusive interview with TODAY’s Jenna Bush Hager, who knows what it’s like to have a dad who is the commander-in-chief.

Obama said his two daughters, Malia, 15, and Sasha, who turned 13 this week, would describe him as a good, fun dad who “teeters on the edge of being embarrassing sometimes.”

WATCH: President Obama gets personal about his childhood

“The one thing the girls know about me is I love ‘em to death,” Obama said. “Younger parents… ask me why it is that Malia and Sasha turned out so well. I say, ‘Well, first of all, you know — marry somebody who’s going to be a great mom,’ which I did. But second of all, unconditional love sure makes a difference.”

While he had little contact with his own father, Obama said he decided as a young adult that he would make sure to be there for his own kids. So even as his political ambitions grew and his schedule became more hectic, he tried not to miss parent/teacher conferences, ballet recitals or soccer games.

Obama said he enjoys “a good, close relationship” with his daughters and keeps the lines of communication open, though he noted that Malia talks to him a little more than Sasha, perhaps because Sasha finds him a little more embarrassing, Obama admitted with the weary insight of a father of a teen.

“I think they would say that I am good, fun dad who teeters on the edge of being embarrassing sometimes,” Obama said. “As Malia put it, I’m right on the edge but I usually stay on the right side of the edge of being funny rather than totally humiliating to them.”

But he and Mrs. Obama have always sought to be the girls’ parents, not just their buddies, setting firm rules, the president said. The First Couple worried at one point the girls would “start getting an attitude” inside the privileged bubble of the White House, but Obama said he’s very pleased that hasn’t happened.

“They don’t take this for granted. I think they understand that this is a moment in time… overall, I think they’re really thriving,” Obama said.

“These days, we really don’t have to do a lot of parenting. We’re almost like coaches now. They’ve gotten to the point now where they’ve got their acts together and we really don’t have to check on their homework or nag them too much about stuff. They handle their business, so we’re really proud of them.”

Obama is also proud that despite the media glare and constant Secret Service presence, his daughters have been able to lead pretty normal lives and grow into strong, confident young ladies. The girls have great friends, Obama noted. They host sleepovers, go to the mall, see the movies, attend football and basketball games, and play sports.

Hager noted that for her and twin sister Barbara, it was often hard to handle public criticism of their father, George W. Bush. “It was hard to listen to people criticize our dear dad. Can they stay away from that, or do they take the criticism to heart?”

Obama said the girls don’t really feel deeply burdened by “chatter in the news” because it’s not part of their lives. “Up until recently they have shown absolutely no interest in what I did.”

Now that Malia is getting older, he said, political discussions are becoming a bigger part of her life. “But I think she has a pretty good head on her shoulders, partly because during dinner time, we talk. And I explain to them, ‘Here’s why I made a decision that I made’… And so in some ways, they’re getting a sense of how I think through problems.”

Obama said he appreciated the note that Hager and her sister wrote to Sasha and Malia before his inauguration, and noted that Chelsea Clinton has also reached out. “You guys are a fairly exclusive club of people who had to put up with this nonsense and turned out to be just amazing young women. So it makes me a little more confident and optimistic about how things can turn out.”

Hager added that she taught the Obama girls how to slide down the bannister in the White House: “So you can thank me later.”

And now that Obama’s daughters are entering dating years, the main advice he gives them about interacting with boys is that they should expect to be treated with respect. “They’ve got their heads on straight. They’ve seen their mother’s example,” he said. “They’re strong, confident young ladies.”

As Malia and Sasha blossom into young women, Obama is realizing they will be setting off on their own soon, so he tells new dads to be aware that the time goes by quickly.

“Don’t just spend time with your kids because it’s good for the kids; understand that there’s nothing that’s going to be more precious in your life and you are going to savor every memory,” the president said.

“When you’re on your death bed, that’s the stuff you’re going to remember: you holding hands with your daughter and taking them to the park and pushing them on a swing and hearing them laugh… You just want to make sure you don’t miss out on that.”

Obama also discussed his initiative My Brother’s Keeper, which provides support for young minority men. Many aren’t doing well, partly because their dads aren’t around, and partly because they don’t have networks of support, Obama said. The goal is to try to break that cycle through mentoring, internships and other ways to get them on the right path.

“We want to encourage fathers to get into their children’s lives,” Obama said. “Parenting is the biggest, most important project you have.”

Source: Today.com 

Follow A. Pawlowski on Google+ and Twitter.

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Boys II Men: Asean Johnson

Boys II Men: Asean Johnson

Boys II Men

asean-johnson2Asean Johnson, 4th grader electrifies Chicago public school advocates

Pint-sized Asean Johnson,10, is an avid reader and aspiring footballer but unlike most fourth graders he is also a passionate advocate for equal access to education for minorities and under-served students.

Why is he on theGrio’s 100?

Johnson first caught public attention in May after his heartfelt speech electrified a crowd of hundreds at a rally protesting Chicago public school closures. His awe-inspiring oratory went viral and became an instant YouTube sensation.

“It was an impromptu, unscripted speech, spoken directly from the heart,” said his mother Shoneice Reynolds, who hails from the Washington Heights community on Chicago’s South Side. “Asean has never been afraid to speak up and say how he feels.”

What struck viewers most is his fiery passion, displayed through exceptional public speaking skills, as well a maturity beyond his years. He powerfully attacked Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plans to close 50 of the city’s public schools in overwhelmingly African-American and Latino neighborhoods.

Thanks in part to Johnson’s impassioned speeches denouncing the mayor’s plan, Garvey M Elementary School — Johnson’s school — was spared.

“The issue is that all the money is going to charter schools and the public schools don’t get nothing [sic],” Johnson said. “They are closing public schools and putting charter schools first.”

Following the wave of Internet fame, Johnson was invited to give a talk at the “Realize The Dream”rally honoring the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. At 9, he was the youngest speaker at the historic march.

“I am marching for education, justice and freedom,” he said from a handheld microphone to an ecstatic crowd from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Saturday. “All over the country public education is under attack. Every school deserves equal funding and resources.”

What’s next for Johnson?

He has already won some key endorsements for mayor of Chicago in 2025, when he will be 21 years old. He told theGrio that he likes football but aspires to be a politician or scientist to help preserve water. Whatever the case, Johnson has a bright future ahead of him. He is a high-achieving honors student who sits in on advanced classes in Math and English.

Source: The Grio

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Positive Black Male News: Morehouse Man Courtney English was unanimously elected chairman of the Atlanta School Board

Positive Black Male News: Morehouse Man Courtney English was unanimously elected chairman of the Atlanta School Board

Positive Black Male News


Courtney English was unanimously elected chairman of the Atlanta School Board.

By Mark Niesse

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Atlanta’s newly elected school board took office Monday and unanimously voted for Courtney English to become the board chairman.

Voters chose six new representatives last fall, bringing major turnover to the nine-member board.

The school board, which also named Nancy Meister as vice chairwoman, includes four former teachers, three graduates of Atlanta Public Schools, nonprofit organizers, attorneys, and parent community leaders

Source: AJC

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Positive Black Male News: Morehouse Alum Jeh Johnson confirmed as secretary of homeland security

Positive Black Male News: Morehouse Alum Jeh Johnson confirmed as secretary of homeland security

Positive Black Male News


The Senate confirmed Jeh C. Johnson on Monday as secretary of homeland security, the fourth person to lead the sprawling domestic safety agency since its inception after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Johnson, 56, the former general counsel for the Pentagon, won confirmation on an overwhelming vote, 78 to 16, as the Senate continued churning through an end-of-session batch of nominees to fill President Obama’s Cabinet and the federal judiciary.

Unlike some nominees who have encountered Republican opposition, Johnson won the votes of 23 GOP senators, a majority, and all 55 members of the Democratic caucus.

“As we all know, the president has asked Jeh Johnson to take on a difficult and demanding job,” said Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Fortunately for our nation, he is a strong leader and well prepared to face the challenges that await him.”

Johnson, who will be one of three African Americans in the Cabinet, is expected to be sworn in by the end of the week.

A former Air Force general counsel, Johnson takes over a department that oversees 22 agencies with a far-flung jurisdiction that includes counterterrorism, fighting illegal immigration and responding to natural disasters.

During confirmation hearings last month, Johnson pledged to try to create unity in a department notorious for lacking it.

“I hope to be a visible leader [and] remind people of the importance of the overriding, unifying mission of homeland security,” he testified.

In a sign of lingering battles over Senate confirmation rules, Republicans protested the effort to move to a vote on Johnson’s top lieutenant, Alejandro Mayorkas, forcing rarely required procedural moves to set up votes this week on that nomination and others.

Last month, Senate Democrats set a precedent that allowed them to change the chamber’s rules on most of Obama’s executive and judicial nominees, eliminating the 60-vote hurdle to clear a filibuster. Republicans have protested the unilateral move by using even more obscure procedural moves, which have clogged up the Senate’s work for the past week.

Democrats are hopeful that some agreement can be worked out by the end of the week to easily clear Mayorkas and Janet L. Yellen, the nominee for chairman of the Federal Reserve, and possibly a few others.

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His Story: Stop Paying Lip Service to Dr. King’s Legacy

His Story: Stop Paying Lip Service to Dr. King’s Legacy

His Story


Too often we hear people quoting lines from various speeches Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered, and they express their commitment to working to achieve and honor King’s legacy.  Unfortunately, too many people who quote Dr. King’s lines are only paying lip service to his true legacy.  Although King envisioned a day when America would have a Black President, he would be disappointed with President Obama’s economic record.  The national unemployment rate for Black is 13.4%.  In many major cities across the nation that are heavily Black, the unemployment rate is at least double what it is for Blacks nationally.  While all of the blame cannot be placed on President Obama for his horrible economic record, most of the blame does have to fall squarely on his shoulders.  This is the same President who said that he has the ability to bring people together across party lines to accomplish “change you can believe in.”

President Obama promised that he could come to Washington, D.C. and work across partisan divides, breaking political gridlock in Washington, D.C., to pass substantive legislation that would ameliorate Americans economically, socially, educationally, professionally, and personally.  When is this going to happen? President Obama has had over four years to make significant progress toward making this happen.


Although many people desired to romanticize his speech about Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the reality is President Obama has failed miserably in providing economic uplift for Blacks and the poor—the very people Dr. King gave his life for and the very people the March on Washington supported.

It’s time for more people to stop being mesmerized by those who employ Dr. King’s words, and start to hold them accountable for having deeds and records evincing a real commitment to fulfilling King’s dream.  King was not a man who simply talked and gave speeches around the nation—he was a man of action.  He had such a deep love for marginalized people that he found it necessary to risk his own life advocating for them.  Dr. King was not interested in self-aggrandizement.  He found it more essential to prioritize the collective good over any personal ambition.

Dr. King strongly opposed war, which is seen mostly clearly in his opposition to the Vietnam War.  King warned America of the dangers of her rising militarism.  On the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, President Obama expressed how great of an influence Dr. King had on his life.  Unfortunately, this great influence is not materializing in his actions.  President Obama is now asking Congress for authorization to use military force against Syria.  As a candidate for President in 2008, President Obama said that he would always rely on diplomacy and talk with all world leaders, including those who are not friends of the United States.  What a dramatic change: diplomacy advocate to warmonger.  Would Dr. King be proud of him on foreign policy?  No.  Would Dr. King be proud of him on the economy?  No.


For those who continue to support every action of President Obama, they’re no better than he is.  You cannot be truly committed to the legacy of Dr. King and agree with every decision of President Obama, especially those economic and foreign policy decisions diametrically opposed to King’s economic and foreign policy positions.  While this piece is not attempting to get you to discontinue your support of President Obama, it does call you to hold him accountable to aligning his actions with the words and actions of King.

Until President Obama gets legislation passed that truly advances King’s dream, he will continue to pay lip service to the dream and not be a foot soldier in the mission to help Americans fully experience the dream.

About the Author: Antonio Maurice Daniels is a Ph.D. student and Research Associate in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His dominant research interests are the academic achievement of Black male students throughout the educational pipeline, especially Black male college student-athletes, and ecological sustainability in higher and postsecondary education. This is a cultural commentary blog offering frequently published pieces on many diverse topics, including education, sports, literature, film, music, black culture, popular culture, self-help, and etc. He has published widely in academic publications and popular online publications, including Soul Train,Mused MagazineHealthy Black Men MagazineThe Black Man CanThe ExaminerFor The Masses and Up 4 Discussion. Visit http://revolutionarypaideia.com/ Now!!

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His Story: An open letter to Congress on the government shutdown

His Story: An open letter to Congress on the government shutdown

His Story


To The 113th Congress of the United States of America,

Observing the recent actions of our Congress and the untimely shut down of the federal government due to nothing more than political stubbornness, we should take a moment to recount the political history of the U.S in an attempt to understand where we are today.

It was a time of great political uncertainty and transition that President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed in his Gettysburg Address “…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The inhalation of these iconic words were to manifest two-fold, one, as the outline for the birth of a new democratic, inclusive nation and also as what should be the universal consciousness of our future elected leaders to govern in the best interest of “we, the people” and the continuous progression of our great nation. The question is, with the respect to the remarks of our nation’s 16th President, where are we now?

The on-going political gridlock on Capitol Hill has reached what President Obama describes as a “new height of irresponsibility”. It is the sole fault of this new height that has led to the unthinkable, the fiscal shut down of the federal government of the most revered nation in the world.

Over 800,000 government employees are being furloughed, national parks and landmarks have been closed, children attending head start programs nationwide have been sent home, the men and women on the front lines of our foreign and domestic defense are not being compensated for their service. These are real problems felt by real people. These are the same people who trusted, voted for, and elected this body to go to Washington to advocate and legislate on their behalf and best interest.

The irony of the matter? The same body of individuals responsible for this travesty received their $174,000 salaries on the very day the shutdown took effect. The very day those federal employees received furlough notices.


Has the legislative branch of the world’s most powerful nation been reduced to a body of stubborn egos and strict political ideology?

On this day, day 4 of the government shutdown there still has been no lateral cooperation. There still has been no solution agreed upon. Congressional Republicans have tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act a record 41 times after the SCOTUS affirmed its constitutionality. Still, in fact, in an act of pure spite, defiance, and objection to the President, GOP leaders in the House of Representatives launched a war on Capitol Hill that now millions of Americans are forced to pay the price of. Holding the country hostage in an effort to defund the implementation of an act that has already become law by persistently attaching anti-Obamacare provisions to the legislation needed to fund the government.

This shameful action, done literally days before the opening of a new fiscal year, a few weeks before the country would default on its debt. This is not the consciousness of Pres. Lincoln. These are not the actions of a government of the people, for the people, and by the people. Has congress lost sight of this?

I conclusively implore this body to simply do what’s right. To do the job they were elected to do and get our government moving. No one party stands above the wills of the most important resource of our country…the people.


The People

Source: UrbanNewsroom

About the Author: Theron Johnson joined the UNR staff in 2013 as a contributing Political Analyst. He is a multifaceted Political Consultant, and Advocate for Social Justice who has held leadership positions in both local and federal elections. Theron is also a graduate of The Congressional Black Caucus Political Education and Leadership Institute. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @iAmTee_Jay. Contact Theron at TJohnson@urbannewsroom.com

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League of EXTRAordinary Black Men: Senator Diallo V. S. Rabain

League of EXTRAordinary Black Men: Senator Diallo V. S. Rabain

League Of Extraordinary Black Men

TheBlackManCan: Senator Rabain, at what point in your life did you realize you wanted to head into politics?

DVSR: I honestly view politics as a natural extension of one’s devotion to community service.  I graduated from FAMU in 1995 and upon my return to the island, immediately became involved in community service.  I volunteered for the Bermuda Reserve Police Force and did mentoring at various community clubs. While I always wanted to pursue politics, I felt that I personally needed to prepare myself first and “earn the right” to represent my peers.  Through the subsequent years, I always maintained a presence in various volunteer events up to my initiation into Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. in March 2002.  From there, I can say I became much more involved in community service and began to seek and achieve position on various Government Boards.  I only sought out boards that I felt I could make a meaningful impact in the lives of our young people, however. These were boards that dealt mostly in education, training and social awareness.  Through the years, I have been blessed to have had the opportunity to mentor many young men and women and provide guidance when it came to education, life and personal choices.  Through boards such as Bermuda Education Board, Bermuda Government Scholarship Board, the Road Safety Council, The Architectural Advisory Council and CURE (Commission for Unity and Racial Equality) I was able to fulfil my personal mandate.  Currently in addition to sitting in the Senate as the Junior Minister of Education and Youth, Families and Sport I am still a member of the National Training Board and the Board of Governors for the Bermuda College.  I mentioned previously, I always wanted to pursue politics in some fashion and view it as a means to make a positive impact on those who feel that the political process doesn’t involve of matter to them.


TheBlackManCan: What do you feel has been some of your major accomplishments since taking office?

DVSR: As a Senator, our job is the support the various ministries we are responsible for in the Senate Chambers.  Since I was appointed to the Senate by The Honourable Madam Premier Paula Cox, JP, MP, I have learned very quickly the various ins and outs of passing legislation and performing official duties on behalf of my various Ministries.  The Senate is somewhat of a grooming ground for those of us who are planning to run for a seat in Parliament.  I am the candidate for my political party, the Progressive Labour Party, in constituency #7, Hamilton South.  To date, I would consider my greatest accomplishment is making onto the ticket and getting out to canvass and meet the people of #7.  I say meet, but really should say re-acquaint myself as I grew up in this area I am running.  When I go out canvassing, it a proud moment to hear the constituents reminding me that they know my family and me as a young boy running around the neighbourhood. There are not that many greater callings then that of being called to serve the people of your community.


TheBlackManCan: You attended Florida A&M a historically black university. What role did the school play in your development to the man you are today?

DVSR: FAMU played a huge part in moulding me into the man I am today.  When I stepped on the Campus in 1989 at the tender age of 17, I had no idea what I was in for.  I attended a private Grammar School in Bermuda.  This school was majority white and male only.  Being on FAMU’s campus gave me sense of pride I didn’t even know was missing.  To be around so many progressive and positive black men and women was an eye-opener.  It helped boost my confidence level and had me thinking, I can!  I went on to pursue a degree in Electronic Engineering Technology, became president of the school chapter of IEEE and was even awarded Engineer of the Year one year.  I was promoted to a lab assistant and could be found in the computer lab assisting other students or tutoring freshman.  I consider my experiences at FAMU priceless and a very formidable part of my life.


TheBlackManCan: You are currently a partner in small Bermudian architectural drafting and land surveying company. What is the name of this company and what projects have you worked on?

DVSR: In 1999 me and my partner, Troy Lewis, came up with the idea to form a company.  We both worked for the Bermuda Government at the time so it was more of a part-time thing.  In 2000, another Government worker, Ms. Quinell Francis who was a registered Land Surveying, the first black female Bermudian to achieve this honour, joined us in out “part-time venture” and we added the Land Surveying part.  In 2002, the Bermuda Government commenced the construction of the 2nd Senior Secondary School, a project valued at $121 Million.  Our small, 3 man firm bid on and won the contract to supply all the Land Surveying services for this project.  We all resigned from the Civil Service and have been going at it ever since.  The building of the Berkeley Institute High School remains our largest project to date.


TheBlackManCan: Your company accepts high school seniors from both public and private schools for work release training. Why is it important to have the youth getting practical work experience at a young age?

DVSR: It is important for us to take on and mentor young people, focusing on young men mainly, because they need to be shown that there are people that care very much about their success.  We have been able to use our company to accept young men, perhaps a bit rough around the edges and maybe a high school degree and help them to see things in a different light.  We are proud of the students and young people that have come, worked with us and gone on to do positive things in their lives.  We don’t focus that much on the experience part, especially with high schoolers, but more or less want to build a sense of pride and confidence that anything is achievable with effort.


TheBlackManCan: You have served on numerous boards one that is called C.U.R.E. (Commission for Unity and Race Equality). What the mission and vision of this board?

DVSR: Unfortunately, I was appointed to CURE during its last 6 months of operation before it was attached to the Human Rights Commission and formally dissolved as a Board. Because of the winding up, we really didn’t get to of much apart from the winding down part. The purpose of CURE was to provide an entity that provided Bermuda with a means to discuss the role of Race, Ethnicity and the Inequalities  and their effects on our everyday thought processes.  The longest serving Board I have been on is the National Training Board.  This board is responsible for developing training, schooling and apprenticeship programs for young people graduating from high school and looking to pursue a career in Technical areas.  We provide scholarships to various technical Schools overseas, work with local industry partners to develop National Certifications, develop training programs with the Bermuda College and Industry partners to facilitates young Bermudians gaining schooling and work experiences and more recently as part of the Bermuda Government’s 1 Stop Job Centre, we have taken on a new role.  That role is encouraging Bermudians to register for employment, coming up with methods to evaluate their skillsets and identify areas of competence and areas in need of improvement, matching them with potential employers and monitoring the various work permits issued to non-Bermudians and developing programs to ensure the Bermudians are trained in those fields to eventually be able to fill those positions once a work permit expires.


TheBlackManCan: What are some of major differences between the United States political system and the Bermudian political system?

DVSR: I would have to say the main difference in US politics and Bermuda Politics is that politics is essentially a part-time position unless you are a Minister with a Ministry to run.  It requires much more desire to be involved because it is essentially a 2nd job. I enjoy it a lot because I know in my heart I am making a difference and encouraging other young men to get involved and become a factor in our country’s future.  Another big difference is the separation of personal life and political life.  Far too often, we watch the US News and have to see someone’s very personal details being reported on.  Here, your job performance is what matters most, with less emphasis being put on your life outside of politics.


TheBlackManCan: How do you balance family life and work life? How has being a father impacted the way you view the world?

DVSR: The balancing act has become more and more difficult as my responsibilities outside the home have increased.  My wife will always tell me, remember that you must save time for you and it’s ok to say no to a request.  I always try to be home to see my daughter to bed no matter what.  Once she is sleep I am free to do my work, relax and discuss the day or even catch a nap.  I tend to wake up and do my reviews, debate preparation, etc. some hour in the morning when it’s quiet and wife and daughter are asleep.  I have to keep a calendar and really that is what saves me.  As long as it’s in my calendar, I can manage!  So every little thing goes in the Blackberry from feeding Layla in the morning to making a phone call in the afternoon.  My greatest joy is my daughter Layla, who provides me with all the inspiration I to go out and do my best.  After all, I now have a more personal attachment to ensuring my country is on the right path.


TheBlackManCan: Where do you see yourself in the next 5-7 years?

DVSR: Within the next year I see myself elected to Parliament.  Within the next 5 years, I see myself as a Minister for the Bermuda Government hopefully in my preferred department, anything to do with advancing the plight our young people and helping them with their life issues. Beyond the next 5 years, I see my political career blossoming even further and me being re-elected to Parliament and continuing the good works I will have started in my first terms as a Parliamentarian.


TheBlackManCan: Why is it important for young black boys and men to see positive images of themselves?

DVSR: It is very important to see these images because it helps to inspire them to want to achieve.  I am not saying that a positive mentor has to be a black man only by no means.  However, part of the battle is to win over their confidence and trust.  When they view someone they can relate to on a very basic social level, helps to break through some of the barriers that do exist when talking to these young men. When you see someone you can relate to at this basic level, it serves to boost their confidence level to a point where they feel that if he can do it, just maybe I can too.


TheBlackManCan: What words of advice do you have for young black boys?

DVSR: One of the things I always make sure to pass on, it that it is important to maintain as much control of your success as you can.  Do not rely on others to do the heavy lifting for you.  Always strive to make the reason you don’t succeed is because of something you could have done differently and that way you can learn from those mistakes much quicker.  Also, while we are competing with each other to get ahead, we have to also learn how to support and uplift each other at the same time.  There is no honour in stepping on your fellow man in order to achieve success at any means necessary.


League of EXTRAordinary is where we at TheBlackManCan highlight Black Men who are making positive and remarkable contributions to society.  Nominate a Black Male today on the contact page or e-mail us at team@theblackmancan.org.

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Dap’s Political Consciousness in Spike Lee’s School Daze

Dap’s Political Consciousness in Spike Lee’s School Daze

His Story


School Daze (1988) is a musical-drama film composed and directed by Spike Lee (who as stars in the film as “Half-Pint”).  The film centers on Vaughn “Dap” Dunlap’s (Laurence Fishburne) efforts to have the students and administration at Mission College, a fictitious prominent historically Black college, participate in a movement opposing apartheid in South Africa.  One of the central goals of the movement is for the students and administration to champion institutionaldivestment from South Africa.  Although Dap is successful in getting the attention of many students and the administration, and many students support his anti-apartheid positions, most Mission College students are unwilling to incur any institutional repercussions for fully partaking in Dap’s anti-apartheid movement.

The failure of the students to engage in political activism to protest apartheid in South Africa exposes how capitalist ideology has imbued their psyches.  Most of the students are not willing to risk the potential of being expelled from school to become a part of a passionate movement from freedom in South Africa.  They fear losing immediate and future money as a result of being expelled from a prestigious institution.  While there seems to be general respect for Dap’s intellect, there appears to be a dominant view among the students that his intellect is practically dangerous.  Even though the things Dap says sound good to them, they know the political activism he advocates requires them to act in ways that will cause them to risk the “safe” spaces they occupy.

While those who watch and review School Daze may fall victim to the easy temptation to read Dap’s political consciousness as being unfruitful, he causes the students and administration to have to wrestle with the tensions that exist between their money, morality, intellect, and politics.  Unfortunately, they primarily reduce Dap to being an out-of-touch “revolutionary.”  His ideas ultimately just become interesting and not things that should not be pursued.  The majority of the students are concerned fundamentally with themselves instead of the collective as Dap is.

The strong hostility of Mission College’s administration to Dap’s zealous insistence on Mission College’s divestment from South Africa unveils the inauthenticity of the school’s motto: “Uplift the Race.”  Dap does not succumb to the threats of Mission College’s administration to expel him; he employs different tactics to work around potential expulsion attempts.

At the end of the film, Dap vociferously and repeatedly states, “Wake Up!”  All students come out their dorm rooms, as Dap stands in front of them.  The film leaves what is happening and what will happen for the viewer to interpret.  One could interpret the ending as the students are finally ready to actively participate in anti-apartheid movement, and they begin to see how their personal concerns, including being overly consumed by fraternity and sorority life, are less significant than the national and global issues and problems that can have an impact on them and what they will be able to accomplish when they graduate.  From the students’ body language and facial expressions, it does not seem like they are simply patronizing Dap but are seriously ready to follow his leadership.  Dap’s refusal to accept the status quo is what allows the solidarity meeting take place at the end.  What the film suggests that Dap longs for people at Mission College and beyond to “wake up” from is sleepwalking when there are many important problems they need to be working to address, including, of course, fighting apartheid in South Africa.

By: Antonio Maurice Daniels, Originally posted to http://revolutionarypaideia.com

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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Voters in SC capital city choose 1st black mayor

Voters in SC capital city choose 1st black mayor

Positive Black Male News

Benjamin is a 40-year-old father of two whose political experience includes leading the state Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole for three years. won easily. Click here to read more.  http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/politics/wire/sns-ap-us-sc-capital-black-mayor,0,6368827.story

theblackmancan.org wants to provide you with news stories from across the world that promote a positive black male image. Many of the stories featured here may not be on the front page of your local newspaper, but we believe that it is our job to inform you on all the positive black male news circulating the world.

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