I worked really hard to elect Barack Obama. Friends joked that I was supporting him before Michelle was.
You can imagine my shock when I looked at his favorite song list and saw Cardi B! (Please look up her lyrics.) I found a song called “Twerk.” When you read the lyrics and see the women, you’ll understand why I nearly passed out.
Targeting hate music
I’m a leader of the Respect Us campaign, a movement to rid the airwaves of disrespectful, hateful music that Cardi B, Kanye West, Nikki Minaj, 21 Savage
I read an article a few days later by James Hohmann. The title was “Barack Obama Criticizes Pop Culture for Promoting the Wrong Values to Young Men.” I perked up as I read on. Obama was speaking at a meeting of “My Brothers’ Keeper,” a program he initiated.
He lectured the men about not worshipping money at all costs, and told them their worth is not measured by how much money they have or how famous they are. He told them he knew a lot of rich people who’re really messed up. He cautioned against bullying and being selfish, while urging them to seek causes greater than themselves.
I wanted him to get to the part about not only respecting themselves, but respecting women. He did. He said,
“If you’re very confident about your sexuality, you don’t have to have eight women around you twerking…because you know I’ve got one woman, who I’m very happy with. And she’s a strong woman.” I love this man for his love and respect for Michelle!
‘Rise to expectations’
He blamed pop culture for amplifying toxic messages about modern masculinity. Pop culture isn’t to blame for everything, but there’s a lot of disrespect in hateful rapping. As a Black woman, I was pleased to hear him say, “We tend to rise to the expectations that’re set for us.”
He reminded the young men to be kind and not bully people, and that would have an impact. He told them to treat young women with respect. He said, “They’re not objects. They’re humans with the same aspirations and desires, and they’re just as worthy of respect as men.”
He touted the importance of respecting and listening to women. He said, “Often times, historically, racism in this society sends a message that you are less than and weak, so we feel like we’ve got to compensate by exaggerating certain stereotypical ways that men are supposed to act.” He went on to say, “That’s a trap that we fall into, that we have to pull out of. If you’re confident about your strength, you don’t need to show me by putting someone else down. Show me how strong you are in that you can lift someone else up and treat someone well and be respectful.”
My Brother’s Keeper is a program that shows who Barack really is. In that lecture, he gave credence to our Respect Us campaign.