Michelle Obama lectures Americans on education in inner cities, sends her kids to private school

Michelle Obama

First Lady Michelle Obama made some comments about race recently. These comments coincided with the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision that effectively ended school segregation. The decision is, today, almost universally applauded as the right move. It’s a rare moment of real bipartisanship.

Mrs. Obama, however, did as most people do when talking and didn’t realize there was a point when she should have stopped talking:

“[O]ur laws may no longer separate us based on our skin color, but nothing in the Constitution says we have to eat together in the lunchroom, or live together in the same neighborhoods,” she said. “There’s no court case against believing in stereotypes or thinking that certain kinds of hateful jokes or comments are funny.”

To address these limitations in the law, Obama asked students to take steps to “drag my generation and your grandparents’ generation along with you” in the fight against racism.

“Maybe that starts simply in your own family, when grandpa tells that off-colored joke at Thanksgiving, or you’ve got an aunt [that] talks about ‘those people,’” she said. “Well, you can politely inform them that they’re talking about your friends.

“Or maybe it’s when you go off to college and you decide to join a sorority or fraternity, and you ask the question, how can we get more diversity in our next pledge class?” she added. “Or maybe it’s years from now, when you’re on the job and you’re the one who asks, do we really have all the voices and viewpoints we need at this table?

So, what the first lady wants is for young people to engage their elders in a way that may get them punished? Let’s be honest, young people aren’t known for tact. In addition, there comes a point when you have to ask where calls for diversity go too far. The idea of no one being excluded is great. Unfortunately, in practice, it usually just shifts who is being excluded. Two wrongs don’t make a right and all that.

Despite that, I really had little issue with her comments. In fact, I agree with her about how school lunch rooms look awfully segregated despite no laws being in place. Her challenging kids to change that? Again, no issue.

But then there was this:

While Obama praised the student body for being racially diverse, she said segregation is happening again in some parts of the country, as some people are moving away and leaving city schools. She said that is leading to segregation that is as bad as it was decades ago.

“So today, by some measures, our schools are as segregated as they were back when Dr. King gave his final speech,” she said.

That right there is right after the point when she should have stopped talking.

Folks, I live in a city that is over 71 percent black. I have issues with living in this city, but they have nothing to do with how many black people live here.

Instead, like many parents, I’m looking for a place to move my family that has less crime and better schools. If that locale is also 71 percent black, I’m fine with it. It’s not about black people or white people. It’s about doing right for my family.

The Obamas understand this. That’s why their daughters were enrolled in a private school rather than D.C. public schools when President Obama was elected. Despite championing public education very publicly, he wanted the best he could for his daughters. I get it. Most parents, if they’re honest about it, do.

Rather than acknowledge that fact, Mrs. Obama instead decides to equate people leaving bad schools and areas for better ones with racism. Nice.

Yes, there is a problem there. If the schools in the cities are bad, then it will create a cycle of worsening and worsening problems there. It’s already been happening, and it’s not going to get any better unless something is done. In addition, if you deal with crime and education, many of these people who left the cities will return. They work in the cities, so why wouldn’t they want to live closer to work if all else is equal?

Our schools may look segregated, but are they? Comparing an era when a black child simply couldn’t attend a white school to the fact that there are fewer white people living in cities is an affront to both that earlier era and the good people today who are trying to give the best to their child they can.

Maybe the Obama’s should have considered that before the president killed the voucher program for DC schools. In fact, if there were more programs like that, you might actually see fewer people “heading for the hills” and leaving the cities behind. Not because their kids would necessarily be the ones with the vouchers, but because then educational opportunity would extend to everyone. The result would be less crime in the long run, better education in the long run, and a very different landscape.

Now, if she really wants to combat racism, a discussion needs to be had, students themselves, among many others, should be able to have them. However, I also notice that there’s no criticism of the “check your privilege” argument that many students are having to deal with.

Mrs. Obama may have started with the best of intentions, but like so many others, she argues that racism motivates actions without any interest in other factors that could be involved. When public personalities with close access to the halls of power do that, it makes it difficult for our society to ever move forward.


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