Race, Family, and Violence (Online writings)

Please watch President Obama’s speech below and go here to listen to Dr. Melissa Harris Perry’s response here

After you have watched, please reflect on what each is saying here, how this relates to our discussions of family, notions of innocence, the role of government, how race and class impacts discussions of family?  Do you agree with Dr. Harris- Perry’s response?  Why or why not


Conversation ended March 31, 2013


35 thoughts on “Race, Family, and Violence (Online writings)

  1. Obama’s speech relates significantly to our classes discussion on family because he talks about how gun violence and poverty are related. He recognized that the lack of economic opportunity for families throughout Chicago. However, I do not agree with his statement on the need for families and dads and I agree with Dr. Harris- Perry’s response. She does agree with him on many of the things that Obama sates about the issues with gun violence and the things that lead to gun violence, but the lack of a father figures and single moms should be the least of his worries. According to Dr. Harris- Perry, “The recipe to stopping gun violence is much more than just add dad.” I completely agree with her because in class we learned and discussed a multitude of reasons that play into racial inequalities in the family structure and if all we need to do is “just add dad”. The government should be reevaluating its drug laws and sentencing practices for non- violent crimes like drug offenses so that dads can be with their families and not in a constant cycle of in and out of prison. The government should be focused on creating solid foundations for families, helping parents with drug issues, providing clean, safe housing, and better health care options for low income families.

  2. President Obama seems to tie alot of what he talked about in his speech to what we were talking about in class. With the idea of family he talks about the necessity to have the father there in a family, Ms.Perry seemed to take some offense to this, mainly because she feels like by saying this Obama is partially blaming the idea of a single mother on gun violence. She says there are other ways we can fix this problem, but I felt that what the President was trying to get a cross wasnt that fathers would affect gin violence but that in general it is better for a child if the father is in some way involved with there life. He also said how government can really play a big part in improving the lives of the less fortunate, including making the new minimum wage an amount a family can live off of. But he seems to break some parts of his ideas down into race, talking about the inner city youth and others whoa re just looking for their first job, and others he groups everyone back together as one. I felt like the main point of what the president was trying to get across is how he was saying everything, he was trying to inspire people to want to have it better in their life. Trying to make the people listening want to work there way from the bottom to the top. Basically telling his story and how anything now is possible.

    • Obama is saying that America needs a higher minimum wage, tighter families, and gun control. His speech was meant to motivate Americans to take action and create a better community. Obama wants to make and change policies to help drive this move towards a better community. He wants to use the government to promote a fair and equal environment for people to pursue their goals. In class we have discussed how the government affects an individual’s opportunities for success and how, often, the government makes it harder for some to achieve their goals. Obama referenced race when he spoke of certain neighborhoods in Chicago and how young people their struggle to find jobs. It was a subtle reference to lower class minorities. He goes on to say that America is coming closer and closer to an even playing field. He uses himself as an example. He was raised by a single black mother, and yet he was able to follow his dreams. I don’t necessarily agree with Dr. Harris-Perry’s response. Her argument makes plenty of sense, but I think she misinterpreted Obama. He was not trying to say that gun violence is related to single mothers. He just wanted to promote families and to give children a father figure in their life. One thing I do agree with Dr. Harris-Perry about is that to prevent gun violence many approaches are required, there is no single fix, though Obama is taking the approach that gun bans will help solve the issue. Obama was on tract when talking about the economy and better families and education. These are the things that people should focus on when trying to reduce violence. Not the weapons themselves. Give everyone the same opportunities and less people will turn to a life of crime. This of course is much easier said than done.

  3. Obama’s speech made plenty of valid points but as Melissa Harris-Perry pointed out he may have back tracked in a few of his comments. To start Obama made comments that showed that he understands the social constructs that set up an environment in which violence is allowed to thrive. By talking about bringing families out of poverty and raising the minimum wage he is showing that he knows the cycle of poverty greatly effects rates of violence in areas such as the south side of Chicago. Obama also shows his understanding that violence is more of a social issue than an interpersonal issue by stating that no law or set of laws can stop crime altogether. In stating this he is showing that he knows that in order to tear down the culture of violence in America it will take more than deterring crime to make a change. This speech relates to our class in the ways that Obama addressed social issues that create the culture of violence that we live in. The place where Obama lost me, and I agree with Mellisa Harris-Perry, is when Obama talked about improving fathering as an answer to the issue of violence. Although I don’t think that Obama is dismissing other social issues altogether I do agree with Melissa Harris-Perry that creating systems that make fathers better does not guarantee that fathers will stay around and take advantage of the benefits in place. I think that if Obama focuses more on improving community life as a whole and helping to bring families above the poverty threshold it will begin to make a dent into our culture of violence.

  4. After watching both videos, they relate to our discussions in class because we’ve talked about how the places we live affect the outcome or your life and how others around you or in the community you grew up in. Also the video we watched in class about how people with a higher income have better health as of the people who get under $40,000 in income. Government thinks that if we were to get rid our guns or out of the hands of criminals, how do you think they got them in the first place? The government can say that they will get rid of them but there are so many advantages.

    I found this video and many of them have valid points. If the boy didn’t know about his dads gun and tried to save his sister, the man who has his legal carry concealed gun to save a whole restaurant. If we take them away, it goes against the amendment that gave us that right in the first place, to protect ourselves from the government or others out to hurt.
    In the case of what we’ve talked about in previous discussions, I still think businesses are racist against all other races besides whites. If someone can give you 100% then let them work, I don’t believe they should be pushed aside because of their race. Otherwise the fact of class probably wouldn’t be a factor. Yes, their mothers and fathers might not be there for them, but if they want a better life they can make it. In Dr. Harris- Perry’s response, she’s right, it SOUNDED like Obama was trying to say that single mothers are irresponsible, but if he really meant it, he would’ve said that exact statement. I believe that Obama is trying to state that if their was a father figure to help a mother and her newborn child, it would be a lot easier than just being alone trying to find work or work and raise a child in a community that isn’t the richest or healthiest. It’s hard, and also like he said, it takes many of us to make change. Not just one person.

  5. President Obama’s speech directly correlates to our discussion in class on the impacts of race, families, and government. In Obama’s speech, he says, “It all starts at home. We need strong stable families. Do more to promote marriage and fatherhood.” He is basically saying that if we can get to the root of families as support systems, we can ultimately lower and prevent all of the murders involving fire arms. He goes on to talk about how stable marriages and fathers who are involved in the lives of their children is also a huge factor in a stable family. Melissa Harris-Perry, although agreeing with few points in Obama’s speech, has a different idea about his core focus of families and fatherhood. The part in Obama’s speech that really got her thinking was his comment about, “… do more to promote marriage and fatherhood,” and, “I wish I had a father who was around.” She then mentions how single mother homes in poverty are not a cause of gun violence. And I have to agree with Melissa Harris-Perry on this one. I think she makes a valid point that you cannot just blame single mothers as a cause of their children participating in gun violence. Yes, they do have to work harder than most, because they are the only ones providing for their family. In class we talked about how single parent homes on average have minimal structure. But unlike Obama said, not all single mother homes in poverty are the cause of gun violence. For example, the Newtown shooter was from a single mother home BUT was raised in a very wealthy household, and the Columbine shooters were both raised in stable 2 parent homes. Harris-Perry is right when she says, “the recipe to solve gun violence is more than just add dad.”

  6. I think it’s important to note how Obama compared the Newtown shooting to the situation in Chicago, where 65/443 shooting victims in the past year were kids. I don’t think everyday shootings where one or two kids die are given enough attention. When they happen every single day the numbers do add up. This also reminds me of Newtown families who said shootings, and in particular violence, simply doesn’t happen in their town. Here race and class are clearly involved. These people didn’t think such a thing could occur in their all white, wealthy neighborhoods. I think then that Obama is right when he says the need for action on gun laws is “common sense.” Why? Because violence, no matter where we live or who we are, impacts us all. I also think it is correct to say the destinies of some people are determined the moment they were born, as Obama briefly mentioned. This is particularly true for low income families. For example, the only jobs these people are qualified for are at fast food restaurants and the like. However, if they are being overlooked by those who are more privileged how are they supposed to improve their quality of life? Their kids grow up poor, and the cycle continues regardless of how hard they work because the situation is out of their hands. One solution that was presented by Obama to the problem is encouraging family and specifically fatherhood. HE mentions the key to a child’s success in life is built on a solid foundation. This is the single most important thing that he said. A solid foundation can lead to a happier childhood. Therefore happiness is a key role in the family, regardless of it being one parent or two. With a mother AND a father present though, a child will have a stronger foundation on which to build their life. There are those people who say a father in the life of a child won’t stop violence (take Columbine for example). They are right. However, the two shooters at Columbine were severely angry at society as noted in their journals. Obama is suggesting that a solid foundation with two parents will make that child a little more happier and a little more successful. He is suggesting one solution to a problem with no clear answer. He is not criticizing single mothers in his speech or blaming them at all. He called them heroic in fact. I honestly think, whether it is her job or not, that Melissa Harris Perry overanalyzed the speech way too much. Obama is not suggesting a “just add dad” solution. He just wants fathers to be there for their children. Children with two parents tend to fare better.

    • How are you defining “qualifications” – there are many people who are stuck in low-paying service jobs who are qualified for other jobs. Why do you think President Obama talks about fathers in this context but in the aftermath of shooting in Newtown

  7. President Obama explains how although the shootings at Newtown were tragic, there is still great amounts of young Americans dying making it so that there is a “Newtown every four months.” The majority of his main points relate directly to our class discussions. When talking about the government’s role he describes how the government can’t change everything but the community, parents, and clergy can. He the says that the government will attempt to encourage better education in early years of childhood, help people in low income housing get better jobs, make it so community colleges present same opportunities as four-year universities, and present better/higher wages. Also one of his main solutions, that the government will provide, is to help communities hit hard by economic crash to get back in the game. To accomplish this he says there will be reform in schools, there will be jobs brought to low income neighborhoods, and tax breaks will be given to business owners who invest higher in neighborhoods. Furthermore, he hits on the impact of families and the correlation between low-income families and single moms have on children/violence. He states that, “Loving, supportive parents, supporting kids is the most important thing.” He goes on to explain how having a father figure is very key to the success of a child. Obama also describes how that if children do not see an example of success or are not given the keys to succeed they will not succeed. Basically, in order for children to succeed they must have stable parents that are supportive and have reliable incomes. Dr. Harris Perry’s viewpoint is something I can somewhat agree with. She says that she agreed with mostly everything Obama said but had a problem with the fact that he seemed to be saying children with only a mom for a parent are more violent and less successful. She believed that the solution is more complicated than just adding Dad. Dr. Perry also eluded to the fact that the government and in turn Obama cannot force men to marry the mother of their child. Although I do agree with the fact that the solution is more complicated than just adding a father I do not think that was what Obama was trying to say. He was definitely saying that fatherhood was very key and helpful but he was also saying that even though he grew up without a father that he turned out okay. He also pointed out that better wages, improvement in education, and helping people to get jobs were his main solutions. So I do agree with Dr. Perry but I do not agree with the fact that she was portraying the fact that that was the only thing Obama was presenting as a solution.

  8. It made a lot of sense what President Obama was talking about in his speech about lack of opportunities, living in poverty, low resources and the lack education within the schools. But the one that stood out the most, and Dr. Melissa Harris Perry’s made a very clear point about it, was the daddy issues. When Dr. Perry spoke about the issue of fatherhood in the child’s life all I was doing was shaking my head yes because just because the father is not in the child’s life doesn’t mean you can blame the father for the reckless behavior the child portrays. I feel it’s a lot more involve when you want to look at the high rate of violence within the community. We spoke a lot about these topics in class about having a stable family which relates to the child having more of an opportunity than the child with and unstable family. The way this relates to me is that my dad was never around and it was just me and my mom living in the house, but the reason it worked out for use is that my mom always had an opportunity to get a stable job, I always had the opportunity to achieve growing up because the resources were there and I had a strong single parent who kept me in place. Now in regards to how it is in Chicago, a lot of the kids or teenagers don’t have the advantage, so I agree with Obama about changing situation in the community as far as resources but it doesn’t necessarily mean that a community is going to better itself because you have more fathers around, its more about what opportunities and resources are available.

  9. Obama’s speech covered many of the topics that we have covered in class. One thing that really jumped out at me that we specifically talked about it the oil on the canvas discussion. We talked about does your heritage and ancestors play a role in your life. The class came to a consensus that yes, your family background has a huge impact on where you start off in life. But as Obama said, in America, we have the power and choice to make a name of ourselves despite our background.
    Another thing that stood out to me is the topic of families that was the major focal point of Obama’s speech and what we have been talking a lot about in class. Obama talked about how it is important that children today have a solid foundation and a stable home. He mentioned how he was a child raised by a single mother and “look how I turned out”. I think that this part of the speech was uplifting and could give hope to women who are single mothers.
    I believe that Melissa Harris-Perry took this part of his speech out of context. Obama wasn’t trying to say that dead beat dads and single mothers are the reason for gun control. He was trying to get the point across that in a stable family with love and care, no matter what type of parent you are, you can have a solid foundation for children. Harris-Perry did make a valid argument that government doesn’t allow people involved with the war on drugs to be able to vote, get an education and have public housing after they have served time in jail. Some of these people definitely could be fathers, and their children need a roll model. With laws like this, it makes it hard for these fathers to bounce back from their previous convictions.
    Although there are flaws in the government and the current laws and regulations we have, I think Obama is on the right track of calling the whole country to action to eliminate poverty and other huge issues in our country which we have heavily disscused in class.

  10. The speech that Obama gave here relates a lot about what we have been talking about in class with privilege and families and how that affects children and teens. While I do agree that having a father or fatherly figure in your life can play a huge role in the life of a child, a lot of the factors of why fathers are not in their kids lives is just out of hands of Obama and the government. Melissa Perry pointed out that not all deadbeat dads are in prison or dead but are just not strong fathers. I also agree with Melissa that the government won’t just be able to start some program and all of a sudden fathers will be able to be a part of their child’s life or want to be. Another big issue is that a lot of fathers are in jail for drug crimes with long sentences. while yes, the laws for many drug crimes are flawed, having a father that is constantly using drugs in your life may do more harm than good in a child’s life because they may think these actions are okay. Privilege in America gives lots of people opportunities that unprivileged kids do not have but like Obama said, he didn’t have a fatherly figure around and he turned out okay. Kids growing up these days need to understand that they will have to work for who they want to be and that some things cannot be just handed to you. The government should focus on programs that support disadvantaged families and pointing these troubled kids in the right direction rather than trying to force a fatherly figure, who probably doesn’t even want to be there, into their life. Another thing is that these disadvantaged neighborhoods with not so good family lives are often accustomed to seeing violence and other bad influences. The government should focus here, like Obama mentioned partnering with the 20 worst neighborhoods, but the focus should be on making these neighborhoods better in education and support programs for the troubled kids. Overall I agree with a lot of things Obama said and some of the things that Melissa Perry said but they are just surface deep with this issue.

  11. One part that grabbed by attention in these videos was when Melissa Harris-Perry brought up that the perpetrators of the Newtown, Columbine, and Tuscon shootings were raised in white wealthy homes. As a 4th year Criminal Justice major, I believe in every one of these cases, family stability and family wealth had little to nothing to do with these shootings. These events are referred to as “active shooter events” in the law enforcement community. Although when they happen, you hear about them for weeks on end in the media, they are very rare and extremely isolated incidents. They are so rare, that to even bring up the perpetrator’s family life is strange to me. The violence that is not rare or isolated, and the violence Obama was talking about in Chicago is the violence we must focus on reducing. That type of violence happens every day, and although mass shooting type events are extremely tragic, they are extremely rare and typically inflict a small amount of casualties (relative to typical street violence).

    I agree with other students responses that the President began to lose me when he started talking about the lack of a father figure somehow factoring into the equation when it came to violence prevention.

  12. The things that we have been talking about in class as far as privilege and how it affects teens and children of families President Obama explains in his speech. He brought up a lot of major points. The thing that I think was an interesting fact was when he mentioned that it’s important for children in our country to have a stable home. Also he mentioned that there are a lot of children in neighborhoods that think the world doesn’t expand past the street corners. That most of them think there future is already set out for them since the day they were born. The social conditions don’t allow them to change their future and it limits their opportunities. This goes back to how race makes things that much harder for you to succeed. A lot of these children that come from minority families grow up without fathers and are raised by single mothers. They don’t have someone like a father figure in life to direct them on what is wrong and what is right in life. So as we talk about in class is that this never changes this is just another never ending cycle, so the children off these minority families fall into the stereotypes and really don’t have an identity. The government role in this should be to give the younger generation better communities to live in with better role models so that way people see American as a place no matter who you are or where you come from that if you work hard enough you could dictate your future. There are things that are kind of shaky about her response but one strong point that Dr. Harry-perry response that I agree with is to prevent gun violence and there is just not one thing you can do to stop this there are many approaches that topic that will solve it.

    • Is being in a single-parented home same as growing up with a father (or mother). “Children born into an unmarried family is not the same is growing up without a father. In fact, only half of African American children live in single-family homes. Yet, this again, only tells part of the story. The selective invoking of these statistics, while emblematic of the hegemony of heterosexist patriarchy, says very little about whether or not a child grows up with two parents involved in their lives. According to the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a sizable portion of those children born to single mothers are born into families that can be defined as “marriage like.” 32% of unmarried parents are engaged in ‘visiting unions” (in a romantic relationship although living apart), with 50% of parents living together without being married.” See here for http://newblackman.blogspot.com/2012/01/sampling-again-shawn-carter-and.html

  13. After listening to both Obama’s speech and Dr. Harris-Perry’s critique and input on gun violence, many points come up in confronting this serious issue. Obama depicts gun violence as something triggered by the condition of the modern family. The latter emphasizes the importance of a father figure in the lives of children and how it will set today’s youth up with better examples to live by. In making his point, Obama does not mention the racial effects on the circumstance of preventing gun violence, although, he discusses ways in which society should work together to fight gun violence in general. Such conditions include raising minimum wage for lower-income households and bettering education systems. The prior actions would help society to grow in a positive way; however, saying is not the same as actually doing it. On the other hand, Dr. Harris Perry hits on multiple factors of gun violence. Initially the latter agreed with what Obama had to say concerning gun violence: better education, economic opportunities, etc. However, Dr. Harris-Perry showed contrasting feelings regarding the structure of family and it’s impact on gun violence. She makes it clear that Obama cannot make fathers more active in their roles of parenting, even though he thoroughly encourages it. Regarding the war on drugs, which was touched on in class, Harris-Perry contributes this to the increasing amount of gun violence, instead of focusing on family structures. Fathers are likely to be absent in this case, betraying their families for the addictions that have overtaken them. In addition, Dr. Harris-Perry makes a reference to the large number of incarcerated parents by means of their race, implying that the majority are African American and Latino. This relates back to the studies and statistics in class lecture regarding the children of incarcerated parents: 706,600 minority children had an incarcerated parent in 2007 and having an incarcerated parent is said to be the number one determinant of whether or not a child will be incarcerated. Circumstances like these then correlate with housing opportunities as well. Minorities are said to be less likely to receive housing services. Actions like these further relate to the economic and social class of families and their ability to afford life’s necessities. Gun violence should not be connected with certain races or classes because it is prevalent anywhere and everywhere in society, although some more than others. Overall, Obama and Dr. Harris-Perry agree on some terms but disagree on the roles of the family, Obama supporting present fathers and Harris-Perry supporting his prior intentions of increasing minimum wage and educational opportunities.

  14. I think this is a very tough subject that many people face and that is often misinterpreted. Like many Americans believe, no matter where you come from if you work hard you can succeed. However, they don’t realize that people are given different opportunities and that these opportunities can often limit what is possible, and that a child may be born with a specific destiny that is very difficult to change. I support Obama’s discussion of the importance of education, access to preschool for all children as a way of investing in our children, encouraging children to stay in schools and graduate, also the importance of raising minimum wage so that families who are working hard don’t have to have so much time from their family and still experience poverty, community and family within these children’s lives, I definitely believe that schools need to be reformed and that rebuilding of public housing is important. Just like Obama states, a child’s destiny shouldn’t be determined by where they live or where they are born, and seeing the MLK memorial should be a reflection of what is still unfinished; as it relates to poverty, violence and segregation.
    However, I support Melissa Harris-Perry in disagreement that the government should focus on, or have the right to focus on, the importance of marriage and focusing on single moms experiencing poverty. I do believe that families play an important part in the success of the child, however when the government focuses on families, they are taking the innocence point of view and placing the blame of violence on the families and their lack of a father figure. Obama is mainly focusing on neighborhoods with predominantly black poverty families, but many of the past mass shootings have been from children of white well to do families. So maybe the focus shouldn’t be on the families, but rather the structures that keep these families apart. Such as the war on drugs and discrimination towards men of color, which directly impacts single mothers and their children. If the government could take a more active role in changing the system, rather than the families, maybe this is when we will see the opportunities broadening for everyone, no matter where they were born, and the number of men of color in our prison system will decrease.

  15. I definitely agree in many ways with Obama. He suggests that the United States needs to offer all the kids no matter where they come from or their color of their skin good public education. They should all be given the opportunity to succeed in life. I think this is very true and important. Now days there are schools that are denying enrollment to students just because they come from migrant families and are not giving the opportunity to those kids to get an education. Obama also believes that love and care that a child receives from his/her parents makes a great a difference in a child’s life and I also agree with that. I think that the way a parent raises a child is the way the child will develop and be as an adult. For example if you don’t teach your child manners, they will grow not knowing them and not learn them. Also if the child only has one of the parents and this case the mother like stated by President Obama also makes a great difference. A child will grow up to be a better adult if they have both parents. Having the father at home is kind of having authority. If it’s a he or a she, kids know they respect mom as well but there always seems to more respect and obedience for the father. So having the father there to help with the family makes a huge difference at least to Latinos it does. Another point that President Obama stated was that violence and crime cannot be resolved just with laws and punishment. Like I already stated, if you raise your child right it could probably at least lower the chance of your child being involved in violence and crime. The way you treat your child will affect the way he or she is as an adult. If you hit or maltreat your child as an adult they can get that anger out and be traumatized and do things like those that have occurred in different states in the U.S. Something that also stood out to me was that with violence and crime going on in a community, town, city, or state people don’t feel safe and for that reason businesses don’t progress. I think this is very true. I am a Mexican and I know that this is true. Mexico is the way it is because it is so corrupt and full of violence and crimes. There are thousands of people being killed for no reason. In regards to Melissa Harris-Perry, she agrees that women don’t just need that “the man in the house” to get a family to be successful or at least the children. She thinks that what women need is proper school for their kids, health care, and safe communities to raise their kids. In part I agree with her but for the most part I don’t. I agree in part with her because I do believe that women don’t just need a man in the house. They need a job, good school, safe and livable home. I also agree with her in the way that she says that “Gun violence is more than, just add a dad”. Not just because there is a father in the home means that there will be no violence but like I mentioned already it would make a great difference in the family. What I do not agree with her is in that we are only worried about the groups living in poverty like African Americans and Latinos. We need to worry about everyone Americans, Mexican, Africans, no matter their race. They can all commit crimes not just some.

  16. President Obama’s speech ties into a lot of things that we cover in class. Obama’s main goal in this speech was to cover and figure out the best possible solutions in stopping gun violence and having children raised the best possible way, so they have the same opportunities as kids that were raised correctly. Another point Obama wanted to make, is that he believes that a father figure could help stop gun violence and raise their children correctly. Melissa Harris had a problem with this, she didn’t necessarily accuse Obama of saying that just a single Mom can’t raise a child by themselves but she made a very valid point that there are still a ton of people involved in gun violence that were raised with a Mother and Father. There is much more to stopping gun control and raising children right than just having Dad around. There are many things that can help this gun violence we have been dealing with as a country and to help children get raised correctly and give them the necessary education to be successful later in life. The Government can’t solve everything, they need every citizen in the United States to do their best to help.

  17. In his address to Highpark Academy in Chicago, President Obama spoke directly to our discussions in class over family, the roles that race/class play, and the government’s role in family life as they relate to both “The strength in our [Chicago] schools”, and “The safety of our [Chicago] streets”. However, the subliminal message throughout his speech served to remind the audience of the pure innocence of a child. This was made apparent at the beginning of his introduction when (completely irrelevant to what he was saying) all the children present said that they loved him. This demonstration of childhood innocence is a crucial part of proving to the audience how impressionable and trusting kids are.
    After setting the stage, Obama then delves into the correlation between the substantially greater number of “disrupted” African American families (in comparison to other racial groups) and the importance in fostering child/family potential. This relates directly to the discussion in class in which it was determined that; although offspring are directly influenced by prior variables such as financial status, racial discrimination, or social expectations these children represent the continuance of a legacy. The Government (Obama) discussed the general lack of paternal involvement in the lives of African American children and how the government’s role in programs such as “Becoming a Man”, after-school programs, and mentoring. Because the Government feels that, “It is programs like these that provide our young people with the moral grounding they too often are not getting at home.” I felt as though this sweeping gesture was too broad and functioned to do nothing more than strengthen negative African-American family stereotypes.
    I found it incredibly difficult to take Dr. Melissa Harris Perry seriously. I felt as though she was much more concerned with how she was called out on Twitter for her snarky tweet about Barack Obama having “daddy issues”. The videos that were played were cut in a manner that portrayed the President as selfish, self-pitying, and weak. With that said, Dr. Harris-Perry’s claim that “stable two-parent households” do not yield a flawless child (i.e Jared Laughner who shot Gabby Giffords) was incredibly valid. The plethora of socioeconomic problems facing the African-American community cannot be solved though the establishment of father-child relationships, which is what President Obama came across as saying.

  18. I agree with both President Obama, and Melissa Harris-Perry. I think that a lot of the reasons Obama stated lead kids to these kind of violent acts is partially due to some kind of neglect. I don’t think that neglect is due just to the fact of a missing father. Melissa Harris-Perry is right in the sense that there are kids who have killed someone, and grew up in a two parent household and lived in a well off neighborhood. Just as the world says, you need to talk to you children about sex, to prevent unwanted childbirth in high school, or college, or just before they are ready, the world needs to do the same with gun violence, and violence in general. Not a lot of people know how to handle a gun, or know the real consequences that can come from it. They know what they see on tv, video games, and music videos. They don’t see or understand the real repercussions of the families of the people they killed until after the fact. Both the mother and father in my opinion need to speak to their kids about violence. They shouldn’t be sheltered from it, they wont learn. The way to progress in something is to learn about it, and become familiar with it. No, im not saying tell your child to go shoot something, use the examples around to explain it. Parents need to give attention to their children, explain the dangers of the world, and explain how to be safe in the world, and make them realize that tv, video games, movies, music videos, are not reality. With both parents being in the home, they could achieve it a little better. Many children who have one parent because they were born with their parents not married, or their parents getting divorced can cause the child to feel worthless, or that it is their fault. You hear it all the time. Its those kind of issues that need to be addressed, not through policy forcing parents to do that. But making it aware. By saying, hey your father and mother talked to you about this, have you talked to your children? Everyone is a teacher, not just the parents and not just the schools. The community needs to be an example to young children. R rated movies are restricted for a reason, sheltering children happens for a reason. One of my favorite sayings is, our surroundings leads to thoughts, our thoughts lead to actions, our actions lead to habits, and our habits lead to our destiny. If you put violence in a young child’s head, and that’s what they think about, that’s what their dreams become about, that’s what could possibly happen to them. The world today has no restrictions and don’t care about what happens to their children. The world is soft, the people who need to teach don’t. Instead they let the heartbrokenness of the world and the messed up ways of the world do it for them, and with that neglect comes these violent out breakings.

  19. In President Obama’s homecoming to South Chicago he gave an impassioned address that intertwined human empathy, policy reform, and hope. Speaking from Hyde Park Career Academy High School Obama addressed current problems in American society such as gun violence and lack of opportunity that many young Americans, especially minorities face on a day to day basis. Obama began by addressing the 443 homicides that were committed in Chicago and how policy reform is needed to prevent such atrocities from happening. Obama admitted never will we be able to end these acts of violence but we can decrease the rates at which they occur. Obama told the nation these acts of violence come from neighborhoods were young men have literally no role models to look up to and see no chance for opportunity. Acts of gun violence occur not only from guns themselves but community issues. Many impoverished neighborhoods in this country that are overwhelming populated with minorities have no opportunities to provide the American dream that if you are willing to put forth the effort you will succeed. These overpopulated impoverished neighborhoods lack an adequate educational system that emphasizes the importance of receiving and education and fail to provide a living environment in which young Americans can learn and flourish. I agree with Obama in the fact the government needs to make more of a priority in providing state of the art educational programs and public housing that creates an environment for children to become successful. The President addressed a prominent issue in many American families which is single parenthood. Despite the success he has acquired the President wished his dad would have been around during his childhood. Many women today with a large percentage of them being minorities are faced with the challenge of raising children on their own which is often times is an overwhelming task that isn’t fair to the single mom or her children. Obama’s solution to this problem is by promoting campaigns to promote fatherhood, Dr. Harris-Perry rebuked this notion by saying as a policy reformer the President should not tell single mothers to simply find a husband but instead should create policy reform that helps single mothers with the burden of raising children on their own by providing tax cuts or adequate public housing. I agree with Dr. Harris-Perry because by providing more tax cuts and benefits to these women we could quickly help their living situation. Also I agree with Dr. Harris-perry in the fact that The War on Drugs has incarcerated many American males with a disproportion of them being minorities has unfairly forced them to be deadbeat dads. The judicial system has almost made it impossible for anyone with a drug history to obtain a secure job which prevents these fathers from even being capable of raising a family. As Obama said no solution we can offer to these social issues will be perfect however we must work as a community to provide the ladder of opportunity for anyone who is willing to put forth the effort to climb and live a successful happy life. We must create this ladder by creating better living conditions for impoverished families, reducing gun violence to keep children safe, and strengthen the middle class. Like President Obama, I agree with the notion that if we work on these social issues and create change that will provide opportunity and create hope for many impoverished Americans we will see the next great chapter in American history.

  20. After watching both views, I concluded that both Obama and Dr. Perry’s responses were very similar. I also concluded that both speakers made valid points tying in with what has been discussed in class regarding poverty, and the strains that it puts on family ties. Although it is true, and statistics prove, that with lower income comes an increase in single mother families/financially unstable homes, Dr. Perry makes a valid point showing that the people responsible for the mass shootings in the past (such as the Columbine shooting) came from somewhat stable families. Although try as they may, the government can do little when it comes to bringing families together. Sure, you can increase minimum wage and provide more opportunities for poor-income families to succeed, however, money itself cannot solve the problem. There will still be situations in which families that receive government aid will abuse the money given to them on drugs or other harmful things. I agree with both President Obama and Dr. Perry’s statements about how change begins not from legislation that is passed, but rather within the homes. However, the government needs to implement measures that keep families accountable for the financial aid that they receive. Things such as drug tests becoming a requirement to receiving welfare, etc. are the best ways in which change can begin to manifest itself in the communities across America. Obama is indeed recognizing the social issue of social inequality across America, however I feel that he is approaching it the wrong way. I do agree with Dr. Perry as well; that the government does not have the right to govern aspects of the family, such as who marries who, etc. Instead, I think that the government needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid the problem from happening, rather than tell individuals within their respective families how they believe the problem should be solved.

  21. President Obama gave a very passionate speech when he returned home to Chicago. Many of his main points touched on information related to our discussions about race, family, and violence. He mainly discussed the current problems surrounding gun violence and the lack of opportunity largely impacting minorities. I thought he made many great points surrounding violence in cities struggling economically. He said, ”Guns are not just a gun issue, but it is also an issue of the kinds of communities we are building”. He made it clear that he believes stronger communities and more opportunity will lead to less violence and an overall better life for many Americans, which I agree with. He talked a lot about family situations in cities struggling economically. President Obama made a great point that one of the possible causes is a lack of adults to look at as role models. It is hard for kids to keep on the right path without seeing it first hand. Although this is most likely not the main cause for violence, it plays a major role. He also believes, “We need to build ladders for opportunities for everyone willing to climb it”, which relates to equal opportunity for all. Equal opportunity includes raising minimum wage, giving incentives for businesses that higher from impoverished neighborhoods, and replacing public housing with new healthy homes. All of the ideas can lead to a stronger middle class and will allow for more opportunities for a lot more people. Although promoting fatherhood sounds like a great idea, there are many things to consider. The major thing to consider is that there is no possible way of promoting strong marriages and caring fathers from a government standpoint. I really enjoyed listening to Dr. Harris-Perry’s response after watching President Obama give his speech. It was very interesting hearing her own opinion on what he said, and how she disagreed with him. Although Dr. Harris-Perry’s had many valid points, I think she judged his speech off of one of his points instead of all of it as a whole. She chose to focus on the part of the speech relating fatherhood to violence. She took this part of the speech very personal. Dr. Harris-Perry thought it was ridiculous to blame violence on the absence of fatherhood. I think it is safe to say she disagreed with the solution to promote marriage and fatherhood. Instead of focusing on fatherhood, she though one of the major reasons is the policies in place that are negatively impacting many minorities, such as the stop and frisk policy. I think she has a very valid point that the “war on drugs” is having a huge impact, especially on minorities. It’s not just the unfair incarceration happening to minorities, but also the many negative results of going to prison for a simple drug offense. She made a good point that even when people serve their time, they have very little opportunity once they get our which makes it hard to be a successful parent. I agreed that it is more of an issue surrounding the policies in place, rather than an issue of family relationships. Although I agreed with Dr. Harris-Perry for the most part, I though she focused way to much on Obama’s comments regarding fatherhood.

  22. President Obama’s speech is completely relevant to our class’ discussion on race, class, family and government in Obama believes that with a more complete family, upbringing, and stronger education, violence involving firearms can decrease the amount of violence on the streets and maximize options for those who may or may not be born into a privileged family. He made some very valid points and laid out his argument with logical steps that can prevent this violence and encourage young americans to go on into the work force beyond education. Obama did emphasize how marriage itself will automatically result in a more stable environment, which means their child will grow to be a more stable person. However, in response to Obama’s speech, Melissa Harris-Perry found disagreement with him when Obama implied that by adding marriage, it would most likely fix the issue. Melissa believes that there is much more to the upbringing of a child than having both mother and father present in their lives. Melissa stated that a child can be brought up in a family where the mother and father are divorced, but that doesn’t mean the father was a deadbeat dad. Meilissa argued that marriage is not the solely most important factor when raising a child. It is more important to teach children the importance of not rebelling and using firearms to express violence. Personally, I completely agree with what Obama has to say about raising the next generation and beyond. I agree in that by upbringing children in a stable environment will reduce the amount firearm use and encourage the future of America to stay in high school and go beyond that; however, I also agree with Melissa in that marriage just does not equal stability within the family. Often times, marriage with a deadbeat father only ends with a rebellious child. For example, the shooters of the Columbine event were raised in a stable family. To that, my response is that there had to be something within their family or between the parents that was a rough patch in time. I’m not totally discounting those who have been raised by a single mother or raised in a family where stability wasn’t really there either. A single mother and look raised President Obama himself where he is now. However, I have to ultimately agree with both only on certain things. Both made some very valid points. I liked that Obama spoke about what aspects are important in raising successful children and how to discourage violence and encourage goals and aspirations. I like that Melissa believes that it is indeed possible to raise successful children without marriage as long as deadbeat dad is not in the picture. I agree with Harris because sometimes married families don’t always produce driven and respectful children.

  23. President Barack Obama’s speech was to talk about, that in America we get to choose how we want to live our lives, but it means that we all have to have equal opportunities to reach our full potential. He speaks about violence in the education system, such as the Newtown Shooting, and also about the violence on the streets. Obama talks about the gun laws that have been proposed, and how he believes it should be voted upon, he also talks about community and that maybe if children had a better community or family structure, violence wouldn’t be as bad. He says in order for our society to become better, we need give our children a strong foundation. We need to love and support them, and keep our marriages strong. We need to provide early education for all the children, and encourage them to stay in school, so there aren’t as many drop outs or teenage pregnancy, but in order to reach our full potential we must put money into the children.

    I don’t agree with Melissa Harris-Perry, because I feel like she missed the entire message of his speech. He was talking about how children need more stable homes, not only because of gun violence, but also because of income inequality. His main point was to help the children, because they are our future. There were so many different ideas that Obama provided in that speech to help our kids grow up independent and responsible, but all she did was aim in on one that wasn’t a huge deal. He was just trying to say that it’d be nice to have better role models for our children to look up to, and when you’re a boy raised by just a mother, you don’t know exactly how to be a dad. It’s all about the children, and giving them a solid foundation.

    • I understand what you’re saying but I disagree with the idea that just because a boy is only raised by his mother he must not know how to be a dad. What about a boy who is raised by an abusive or unsupportive father? Does that mean he will still grow up to be a good dad? I see how you interpreted Obama’s speech to be one that encourages families to provide a good foundation for their children, but I don’t see that a lack of a father figure is the necessary cause of violence, maybe just a correlation.

  24. I can see how both of their opinions and what they are saying obviously relate to what we are learning in class, as far as low income families, violence, and opportunities go. I agree with Obama when he states that “No laws or set of laws can prevent every senseless act of violence in this country”, because it really is a true statement. Those who want to hurt others will do regardless of the laws that are in place, it is already happening and strengthening them doesn’t do too much. I do not agree with Obama and find myself agreeing with Dr. Melissa Harris Perry when he brings up the idea of absent fathers. I do not see how this relates to gun violence. I think that there might be SOME correlation that can be found in families with single mothers and gun violence, but in no way do I believe that this is related, and as we know, there is a difference between correlation and relation. I do not see how Obama believes that “promoting marriage and encouraging fatherhood” will ultimately help our country’s issue with gun violence. I also read the short paragraph underneath Perry’s video, where an interesting point was made when it brings up the idea that when gun violence occurs in “singular and massive” attacks, he promotes gun control, and creates new mental health policies, but then when gun violence is occurring in relatively colored neighborhoods, it is the lack of a father figure that is causing it.

  25. During class, we talked about when a child has both, a mother and father that they have a more opportunities compared to those families missing a parent. Throughout President Obama’s speech, he preaches about children and the stability of households. He believes that children have the opportunities to succeed regardless of where you were born, and that your destiny shouldn’t be based off on where you grow up, but how big you want to dream. In the past, there were incidents such as the Columbine, Newtown, and Tucson shootings where kids that came from stable and wealthy households were the criminals involved in the shootings and killings. Obama thinks that gun violence is largely based off of the condition of a household or if the child has a father. This obviously isn’t the case because in each of the major shootings, the criminals were raised in stable households with a mother and father. Dr. Melissa Harris Perry agreed with most of what President Obama was saying, but disagreed with him when it came to the issue about children and growing up without a father. Obama believes that having a father figure can prevent the amount of gun violence and can produce a more balanced child. I agree with Melissa Perry’s statement, that she believed children who have mothers and fathers are still involved in gun violence for example, in the Columbine, Newtown, and Tucson shootings. I see the problem being solved at a community standpoint rather than from the government. Citizens of the communities need to step put forth effort and make sure their neighborhoods are sure and safe of any type of violence.

    • Isn’t question about opportunities, about access to jobs, education, health care whether one grows up in two parented home or single parented home?

  26. I completely agree with the idea that if we as a nation work on improving our schools, many of our social problems such as gun violence, poverty and under-education will be fixed or greatly improved. In class when we talked about families, I feel that it directly relates to education. It’s more of a chicken and egg scenario because we are unaware if the education or the uneducated parents are the ones to blame. However, if we work on improving our schools starting off in preschool like Obama mentioned, then children will grow up with more opportunities and be a positive impact on society. When it comes to what Melissa Harris stated, I completely disagree with her. It is important that we know how single parents affect our children because it is one of the reasons that CAN describe violence. With single parents, children most often don’t get the same amount of attention that they would receive if they had two parents because most of the time the single parent has to work more. I’m not saying it’s true in every case, but from a sociological point of view, it’s not the single moms that are the cause of gun violence or other crimes but it’s the attention the child receives, whether it be from a family member or the school they attend.

  27. After watching Obama’s speech I recognized that his speech was relevant to our class’ discussion on race, class, family, and government. Obama makes many statements that I agree with. But he also makes some points that I did not agree with at all. Many of the points Obama makes are regarding education, economy, housing, and family. For example, Obama makes the point that every child should be given an equal opportunity. I agree that every child should be given the same chances; it should not depend on their families’ class or race. I believe that when children are turned away from doing something they want just because they don’t have the means to do it; it causes children to look for other things to do which can sometimes end up doing acts of violence. Now that I have started talking about violence, I want to add (just like Obama said) that no law or set of laws can prevent senseless acts of violence. The reality is that there is no way to prevent all acts of violence. Some people are programmed with doing harm that they will ignore any law or anyone that will try to prevent them from doing harm. Even though violence cannot be stopped, it can be reduced. Just like Obama pointed out, there are people working hard jobs all over the country that are not being paid honest wages. This is one of the reasons many people are still below or at the poverty line. I agree with Obama when he said that these people need be paid honest wages so the minimum wage should be raised to $9.00 per hour. Economy is also one of the other factors that cause people to do acts of violence. Some people realize that working at a certain job pays nothing so they sometimes decide to go into another type of employment that pays more but is illegal and sometimes violent. After listening to Perry’s response to Obama’s speech I agreed with most of what she said. She stated that she agreed with all the points about race, class, and government but she just like me did not agree with some of the points Obama had to say about family. I agreed with Perry when she said that a child from a single parent home does not mean that child will be violent in the future. I also agreed with her when she stated that women do not need men to take care of a child. This was one of the points Obama made that I disagreed with I don’t believe men should be forced to marry a women just because there is a child in between. I believe marriage should be something both parties want to do. Violence is not something determined by who they grow up with but by the attention and opportunities they are given.

  28. After listening to each piece I can see where each side is coming from and how they connect. On the side of Obama, it is apparent that this is a primary concern for him. One section that stood out was the idea that broken families, such as single mothers and their children are partially responsible for the high levels of violence and poor education. Now he isn’t saying that the mothers themselves are directly to blame. He is referring to the lack of a male role model in the home being an issue. Without this influence, mainly seen in low income families of color, these children are not being placed in a situation where they can become successful in schools. He says that role of government in this situation is to encourage the creation of stable families. His hope is that this will lead to improvements in education and a decrease in the number of children becoming involved with violence. Obama’s goal throughout this speech was to reinforce the American vision for the youth; every child has every chance in life. This is a great notion but was combatted by the response video from Dr. Harris. Within her video she claims that there are some issues with what Obama presented in his speech. One of the most prevalent was the idea that policy makers like Obama fail to recognize the limitations of government. Obama wants to promote marriage and families but he really doesn’t have the power to force such things to happen. In addition he fails to see that not all chases of violence are associated with colored, single, economically struggling mothers. Dr. Harris brings up instances such as the Columbine shooting, which was done by a white male that came from a single parent family that was still wealthy. The main point of the Dr. is that Obama has his heart in the right place but his facts are incorrect. I agree with Dr. Harris’s points, I believe that the proper approach to such issues begins with the government sticking to their areas of power. This means that when Obama claims that every American that works hard and strives to succeed should be met with equal opportunities from the government. This of course is not occurring for the low income, single, colored mothers who really need it. America is notorious for focusing on the few and ignoring the many, which needs to change is there is going to be any improvement in cities across the nation that are facing educational, communal, and violence issues.

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