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.
I have a daughter, born on same day (August 4th) as President Barack Obama and who received her second Master’s from Columbia University where he graduated in 1983. She grew up in a predominately white area in Orange County and Diamond Bar, California. She was accused of "trying to be like white people" because after she earned a Bachelor's degree from Penn State and only working a year in her field of journalism, she went back to school to earn a Master’s from St. John’s University. A friend, who had always been supportive but had dropped out of college to have her baby, said to her (supposedly jokingly), "What, you think that you're white?"
My daughter’s response (paraphrasing because it was in 2001 when it happened): ‘As my friend, why aren’t you encouraging and supporting me? And why is it that I’m being white because I want to go back to school and get my Master’s degree? If living up to my fullest potential is being white, then yeah I'm white. My mama said sometimes if friends can’t keep up, they try to keep you back.’
In MY OPINION, that’s the gist of what President Obama was trying to convey to those students. His message was to ignore those negative voices and focus on the positive ones. He wasn’t denying that there are supportive voices.
My constructive criticism of YOUR OPINION piece is not grounded in whether you agree or disagree with the Obamas’ OPINION or mine for that matter, but how you stacked your OPINON up against theirs and promoted it like YOUR OPINION is right and their OPINION is “wrong” then disparaged them for not seeing things as you do.
There’s no right or wrong when it comes to an OPINION, it is simply your personal view, attitude, or judgment about a subject or an issue. You would probably get less blowback by making it crystal clear from the onset that it’s YOUR OPINION and not peddle it as if you’re an expert on the subject and well-qualified to tell the President and First Lady of The United States that their personal view is “wrong.”
That’s my yada yada and I’m sticking to it.
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