June 15, 2008

Obama Explains Why They Don't Call It Baby Daddy's Day

Barack Obama got his Cosby on this morning, criticizing men who don't take responsibility for helping raise their children in a Father's Day speech at Apostolic Church of God in Chicago.

If you just read the prepared text of his speech, you'll miss this quote at around 4:00:

We need fathers to realize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception. That doesn’t just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.
And you'll miss his reference to Chris Rock's routine [he was the 13th Apostle, after all] about black men wanting credit for not going to jail. [Unfortunately, Only Rock did not call them "black men." And Obama did not ask, "What do you want, a cookie?"

Text: Barack Obama: Father's Day Speech [barackobama.com]
Video: Barack Obama's Speech on Father's Day [youtube]
Obama Sharply Assails Absent Black Fathers [nyt]


That was an awesome speech! :) I believe that being a father doesn't only means providing for the family. These days, it means two. The mother and the father teams up to care for their children. It is an age of change.

Thanks for sharing this.

The speech is awesome. It's getting press for its Cosby-ness (the Chris Rock-ness is right there too) but this is not just about black fathers. We are lucky enough to have a presidential candidate who is calling it the way he sees it and is stressing the role that personal responsibility has to play in shaping this country's future. I wasn't on the Obama wagon at the last Dem. Convention but he had me smitten by Washington Square Park. In my lifetime, I haven't had the chance to hear a politician blaming all of us for many of society's ills and asking all of us to help fix them. He's up there telling us to turn off the TV while every other politician is promising more channels. I'm glad my kids won't have to wait as long for this kind of leadership.

[I agree It'd be a mistake to dismiss Obama's message as 'just' for black fathers, but that doesn't mean that's who he was talking about. This was also one of the blackest [sic] speeches I've seen Obama give. He tailored it to his predominantly black megachurch audience; he used shared references--I can think of large swaths of people who just as surely did NOT know the Chris Rock routine he cited; he talked comfortably and candidly about the media once saying he's "not black enough. now I'm too black." It was very distinct from discussion in the mainstream media where the term "black" is replaced by "the race issue." Frankly, his experience and POV as a multiracial American are major pluses for me, far more than any "symbolic" benefit a black president would enjoy. -ed.]

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