The President’s priorities are wrong.

When kids are dying in the streets of Chicago, why is Barack Obama in Denmark trying to win the 2016 Summer Olympics for the city?  The president could do a lot more good if he stood at the very spot where Derrion Albert, a 16-year-old honor student was beaten to death and said, “ENOUGH.” Going to Denmark isn’t leadership; it’s salesmanship.  If Obama really wants to help the city, he should speak out against the senseless  and murderous acts of urban violence that are sending young Americans to cemeteries instead of universities.

34 students were killed in Chicago last year there were 290 shootings.  That number could be eclipsed in 2009.   Albert, was beaten with a wooden board, punched and kicked as he laid helpless on the ground.

Nothing the president says or does will stop Black-on-Black crime.  He could mobilize the armed forces and all the agencies of the federal government and it would have little lasting effect.   This is a problem far above  his pay grade’s ability to solve.  What Obama can do and should do is make it clear that ending youth violence is a national priority of his administration.   Breaking up gangs and drug trafficking should be at least as important to Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department as investigating CIA officials.

Something can be done to staunch the flow of blood in the street.   The responsibility to interrupt the endless cycle of dreams dying prematurely rests with every one and any one.   There’s not much anyone can do if one kid gets it in his head that he’s been “disrespected,”  and picks up a gun  or other weapon in pursuit of some small and meaningless degree of payback.

But anyone who sees youths at risk can take a stand to not be a passive observer.   There are mentoring and tutoring programs that need mentors and tutors. Kids need responsible role modes, community support and a commitment by elected officials to pursue not merely reactive police solutions, but proactive policies and best practices designed to aid at-risk children.   And yes, some of this will cost money, but getting serious about crime, poverty, hopelessness and violence is not a cheap or easy fix.


It begins in home with families, but there is a role for elected leadership and on the issue of Black-on-Black crime, the president is missing in action.  Admonishments to “turn off the TV and read to your kids” is cool in a feel good, positive reinforcement kind of way, but what good does that do when the teenagers arrested in Derrion Albert’s murder are too far gone for that?

Not all the powers of the bully pulpit can reach the acidic hatred that burns in the heart of young men who would beat and kick a defenseless teenage while he lies bleeding and broken on the ground.   But it must start somewhere and the first Black President of the United States telling young Black people their lives matter and have value would be a powerful first step.

Some might say, “It’s not the job of the President to speak out about ever act of crime and violence,” and I would normally agree.  It’s not his job to jet off across the pond to bring the Olympics to his home city either.   Obama bringing the Olympics to Chicago will benefit the city in the long run.  Taking a forceful stand against Black kids killing each other will benefit the city now.

It’s too late to save Derrion Albert.  His life came to a premature end face down in a street as he was walking home from school.   Stories like this are common ones in Chicago, Detroit, New York, Atlanta and everywhere else where anger rules over reason and hands clenched in rage are seen more than hands extended in brotherhood.

We can blame violent, misogynist rap music and thug “culture.”  We can blame broken families and skewed value systems.   We can blame the rank stupidity of  the “stop snitching” philosophy where it’s better to protect the perpetrators of crime than those charged to fight crime.  We can blame racism and poverty and lack of jobs, education and hopes for a better tomorrow.   We can blame all of those factors and more and we’ll have the satisfaction of being right.

What we won’t have is the satisfaction of knowing we’ve done a damn thing to change the status quo where 16-year 0ld honor students never make it to become 17-year-old honor students.

President Obama will speak to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as part of the organized effort to bring the Summer Olympics to Chicago.  If I were on the IOC, I’d ask the president, “Why are you here trying to bring a global event to your city when you have boys being beaten and kicked to death in the streets of that city?”

When Derrion Albert is laid to rest and his grieving family asks, “Where were our leaders when a child was killed?”  how will they answer?

When our children are dying, where is our president?   Where should he be?

What does it profit a city to gain the Olympics while it loses its future champions to senseless acts of violence?   Where are your priorities, Mr. President?

11 thoughts on “The President’s priorities are wrong.

  1. The President is trying to bring jobs to Chicago. It needs them as badly as any city in the nation. The Olympics would be a economic boost Chicago badly needs. He lending his support to the effort makes perfect sence.

    What you argue is a totally separate issue. It can be commented on by Obama, but he can’t stop random senseless violence. A Balck President is still just a man. Black youth has continued to victimize themselves and fill the jails nationwide. You can’t stop it on your street and I can’t stop it on mine. Our community does a horrible job parenting our children. Our schools are a joke. We keep voting for school levys, more cops, but we don’t do much to give our kids what they need.

    I agree that the President should speak on this matter and use the bully pulpit to press for changes that will save a few kids.

    I just think the Olympic efforts timing ended up being bad.


  2. Just because the President hasn’t commented on this case doesn’t mean that he doesn’t think that this is important. You could have just as easily picked a story about a young person here in Columbus. Young people are dying all across this country, Chicago isn’t exceptional. This may have been a hot button issue for you but I’ve never believed that anyone’s personal agenda should define the actions of another.


  3. Wow, a Winbush Brothers summit. I can’t pass commenting on that.

    Truman, I disagree with you that the Olympics represent a potential financial windfall for Chicago.

    Dave Zirin wrote in The Huffington Post that there are a large portion of Chicagoians that aren’t nearly as excited as Mayor Dailey over the potential of landing the Olympics.

    “Mayor Daley, rocking a 35 percent approval rating, says that the Games would be “a huge boost to our economy, raising it to a new level. The Games will help us recover sooner from the recession that still grips our nation and enable us to better compete in the global economy.”

    There is only one problem with this argument: the history of the Olympic Games almost without exception brands it as a lie. As Sports Illustrated’s Michael Fish – an Olympic supporter – has written, “You stage a two-week athletic carnival and, if things go well, pray the local municipality isn’t sent into financial ruin.”

    In fact, the very idea that Chicago could be an appropriate setting for the Olympics might have been hatched by Jon Stewart for a four-year supply of comedic fodder. To greater or lesser degrees, the Olympics bring gentrification, graft and police violence wherever they nest. Even without the Olympic Games, Chicago has been ground zero in the past decade for the destruction of public housing, political corruption raised to an art form, and police violence. Bringing the Olympics to this town would be like sending a gift basket filled with bottles of Jim Beam to the Betty Ford Clinic: over-consumption followed by disaster.

    It’s also difficult for Chicago residents to see how this will help their pocketbooks, given that Daley pledged to the International Olympic Committee that any cost overruns would be covered by taxpayers.

    This is why a staggering 84 percent of the city opposes bringing the Games to Chicago if it costs residents a solitary dime.”

    I found a story written following the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City and the author explained the Olympics-as-financial-windfall trope is a false one.

    Myth #3: The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics proved that a U.S. city can make a profit hosting the Games.

    It is true that the L.A. Games generated a $225 million surplus because the organizing committee raised more money than it needed to stage the Games. And, the L.A. surplus has become part of the lore of the Olympics among city leaders ever since. It is worth noting, however, that none of the surplus went to the city of Los Angeles (it was split among various nonprofit, athletic organizations).

    The real lesson to be learned from the L.A. experience was that the Games can be staged with minimal use of state or local tax dollars if they use existing facilities. The surplus from the L.A. Games was a result of both aggressive fund raising and keeping costs down by not building new facilities.

    Of course, most cities don’t have the athletic facilities or the tourist infrastructure to hold an event the size of the Olympics. Moreover, most city leaders would prefer to use the Olympics as a justification to build a new stadium, ski jump, or what-have-you. But, as Atlanta and Salt Lake City have shown, building new facilities usually means investing tax dollars. And using tax money to build venues for elite athletics raises questions about whether those same tax dollars might not be better spend on crime prevention, street repairs, or other things that directly benefit city residents.

    Mike, I agree with you the fact that the President hasn’t commented on this case doesn’t mean it’s not important to him. But if IS important to him, he SHOULD comment on it. Chicago isn’t exceptional for the fact that young Black people are dying with depressing frequency, but Chicago is unique because it’s Obama home city. I doubt he’d be in Denmark making the case for Columbus to get the Olympic games.

    Preserving, protecting and defending the lives of Black kids isn’t merely a “hot button issue” for me. It is part of my personal agenda and anyone for whom it’s not part of their personal agenda has a fucked-up agenda. That includes Barack Obama.


  4. And that’s one person’s opinion. Protecting kids (all kids – I’m not putting an emphasis on black kids) should be important to everyone. But calling out the president or anyone else doesn’t do anything to protect kids. It just draws attention to you for calling him out. Just like Michael Moore who’s trying to get publicity for his new movie and that goofy person in Congress yelling “you lie!” I’ve never believed that one person’s agenda or beliefs should apply to anyone. It’s like giving to charity. While it’s a noble thing to do, there are those who absolutely believe that the worst thing you can do for someone is give them a handout.

    And who’s to say when you’ve given enough? Jim Brown can call out Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods for not showing enough “leadership” in their stances on this cause or that cause, but nobody has the right to tell someone what issue should be important to them. It’s a personal choice.


  5. Pittsburgh’s G-20 story: Take an expressway from town and disappear into desolate ‘hoods and encounter the civilization of menace. Pittsburgh, a dual city! The glass wonder of PPG Place and/or the G-20 Summit is a faded memory. Here in the ‘hood lives lie abandoned as far as the eye can see.

    That is: For the most part, African-American Pittsburgh seems to be invisible, not only to the public relations hucksters who tout Pittsburgh’s successes, but we are equally invisible to the protesters.

    Certainly, black Pittsburgh is as proud as anybody in that the black President we worked so hard to elect has selected Pittsburgh as the host of the G-20 Summit. We even enjoy the re-invention of Pittsburgh from a dirty, smoky steel-churning history to the bright, clean, green financial success that the business leaders and politicians boast about so loudly. Nobody is more proud of the Super Bowl winning African-American coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mike Tomlin. But none of that feel-good stuff erases the pain of the stubbornly high unemployment among African American young adults and the staggering dropout rate for young black males from the public school system.


  6. if you guys dont sit the fluck down. THE MAN WAS DOING HIS JOB PROMOTING THE UNITED STATES! What was he supposed to be doing??? Standing on the spot where the child was killed and do WHAT?? Is he supposed to do this for any child who is killed in violence? next it will be all grandmothers who died after 85 yrs if age and plumbers who died tryin not to show they butt cracks… Stupid.

    You “people’ seem to find SOMETHING wrong with EVERYTHING the man does.
    Get off the man’s nuts.


    • It isn’t on the O-man’s gonads to suggest it’s at least as important to acknowledge Black-on-Black crime in his home city has been off the damn chain with kids in particular dying over crazy shit. I don’t give a rat’s booty about winning the Olympics so a bunch of bourgeois Buppies can hang out and sip chardonnay. If it’s not Obama’s job to do something about young kids getting shot, stabbed and beaten to death, then it’s also not his job to be flying around trying to do the job of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce.

      I don’t find SOMETHING wrong with EVERYTHING the O-Man does. I just don’t believe EVERYTHING he does doesn’t have SOMETHING wrong about it.

      Summer Olympics: not important. One kid’s life: very important.


  7. come on lets really be serious.

    did Bush take his ass to Texas EVERYTIME someone Black was killed?? Or white for that matter? no he didnt. he didnt hold press conferences addressing each and every kid killed in gang violence and believe me theres A LOT that in TX.

    Black on Black crime is off the chain EVERYWHERE in the U.S. It was off the chain when Bush was prez, when Clinton was prez, when Reagan was prez and so on. Didnt see them trekkin to the scene of every crime doin whatever it is you think Obama should do.

    Is it because this man IS Black that now he is ‘obligated’ to do this?

    Explain that…


    • I think my essay is self-explanatory and I had NO expectations whatsoever of George Bush. If he did nothing while Black folks were drowning like rats in New Orleans and cheerfully sent thosuands more to fight and die in an illegal war in Iraq, why the fluck would he care about Knee-grows shooting each other down in the street? He and Evil Dick Cheney would probably consider such an act of slow-motion genocide saving them a lot of fuss and bother.

      So don’t get it twisted. I never suggested Obama had an obligation to attend every funeral and confort a grieving parent any time and every place a Black kid’s life ended prematurely and for no good reason. He’d spend all his time doing nothing but attending funerals.

      But this was a particularly evil and senseless crime and in his backyard. I’m sorry you don’t get it that Derrion Albert’s life was at least as important as helping Chicago win the Summer Olympics. The fact that you don’t doesn’t change my criticism of the President’s crappy priorities.


  8. This is what rats do when they get cornered; come out swingia’ all reckless and stupid. you still havent explained wtf you mad about. WTF was he supposed to DO?

    Of course he “addressed” the issue. He also sent the Atty Gen and Educ Sex to Chicago within days of the tragedy to meet with school officials, police, students, and residents about the violence that was takin over that Chi-town area…what else do you want?

    Was he supposed to alter his plans and duties as a president and DO WHAT??? I really dont get what it is… Was it the fact that he WENT on the trip instead of doing *what ever you think he should have done?*

    Im lost here…

    Tell me wtf SPECIFICALLY he DID NOT do that makes you feel the way you do. We start from there….

    You havent so far.


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