Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Open response to Nia-Malika Henderson's OPINION piece titled: 'What President Obama gets wrong about 'acting white''
OPINION “a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.” It’s one’s personal views, attitude, or judgment.
I started not to read YOUR OPINION piece because in MY OPINION you usually take on a negative tone in your comments about the Obamas, with sometimes, seemingly disdain for who they are.
As an educated 60-year-young African American female with a ton of life experiences and who has raised three children, which two have earned professional success and one having more than two degrees, I addressed this issue with them when they were younger. I wholeheartedly disagree with YOUR OPINION about what the Obamas mean when they explain the phrase "you're acting white."
I know opinion writers use provocative headlines to grab the reader’s attention and it is highly appropriate for you to offer an alternative view of what they said but to emphatically declare that he is “wrong” suggests that the ONLY right answer is your opinion, which can be judged as borderline narcissism. You see how that works?
President Obama offered HIS OPINION based on his and his wife's personal experience. YOUR OPINION of HIS OPINION was based on your perception of research on the subject by others. In MY OPINION, your column promotes YOUR OPINION as somehow superior to HIS OPINION because of your PERCEPTION of the research you had done.
PERCEPTION: “to recognize, discern, envision, or understand.”
Researchers quoted in your piece had empirical data to form their analysis and conclusion, which my response is not intended to address. However, your provocative title boldly declares that the President of The United States has gotten it “wrong” because your explanation and understanding of that dreaded, loaded phrase “you’re acting white” differs from his explanation. Granted, as an opinion writer, you are not expected to be objective.
Despite my reluctance to give your writing a read, I read your article TWICE to be clear in MY OPINION of it. In response to President Obama’s comment at Walker Jones Education Campus:
“Sometimes African Americans, in communities where I’ve worked, there’s been the notion of “acting white” — which sometimes is overstated, but there’s an element of truth to it, where, okay, if boys are reading too much, then, well, why are you doing that? Or why are you speaking so properly? And the notion that there’s some authentic way of being black, that if you’re going to be black you have to act a certain way and wear a certain kind of clothes, that has to go. Because there are a whole bunch of different ways for African American men to be authentic.”
You wrote: "But there is a problem with the Obamas’ focus on "acting white" as an explanation for how black student's perceive academic success and the achievement of their peers?"
I don’t agree with YOUR OPINION that their explanation is about how black students perceive academic success. They’re simply saying what I and many other black parents say to our children and that is don't listen to the naysayers. Don’t listen to those who would rather tear you down, keep you down rather than lift you up. Listen to the positive voices that encourage, inspire, and motivate you.
I view it as the Obamas saying to those students not to listen to those negative voices that want to tell you that you're not good enough as you are, voices that are urging you to limit yourself to someone else’s definition of success. It’s about telling them to live up to their full potential no matter what others say.