Word on the Street: What Black Men Think In The Age Of Obama

Word on the Street: What Black Men Think In The Age Of Obama

ESSENCE.COM Nov, 01, 2009

1 of 17 Getty

In the age of Obama it seems many things are changing, from how Black couples show affection in public, to raising our children. But we couldn’t help but wonder: What’s on the minds of our young brothers with Obama at the helm. We made our way to Harlem, New York City, to find out. Keep clicking—you’ll be surprised at the responses.

Reported By: Jenisha Watts

2 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 42
Profession: Journalist/TV & Radio Commentator

“I think as a Black man I am very, very honored to see the President of the United States be an African-American man, there is no denying that. But as a Black man out here pounding the pavement trying to make things happen for myself fairly, I am still waiting for the day to come when we don’t have to do twice as much as the next person just to get ahead.”

3 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 24
Profession: Marketing Specialist

“Life is better in the sense that President Obama has served as a galvanizing figure for my personal community and the country as a whole. My needs are the same today as they were before the Age of Obama began. I need to be healthy, safe, and have equal opportunities to improve my life, my family, and my community. Often overlooked, the necessity for an improved educational system is critical. With the continued emergence of a global economy, our children and future generations must have the proper educational foundation to compete and succeed.”

4 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 19
Profession: Graphic Designer/ Student

“All the young Black man that you see nowadays—we actually need a role model. I also need more money for college. But, the single most important issue for me is my environment. I live in the ‘hood’ and it can bring you down sometimes so it would be nice for President Obama to focus on inner city kids."

5 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 24
Profession: Project Manager

“My needs for today? Education is the most important thing for a Black man to have. I would have to say health care is very important, but still I would like to have more grants provided so that I can further my education.”

6 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 23
Profession: Finance Analyst

“My life is better because I’m finally seeing hope on the faces of Black people. I need for health care to be readily available to my family and friends. I also need to live in an increasingly peaceful and just world, which is probably the toughest order of all. I know it sounds idealistic, but hey, you asked me what I needed.”

7 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 36
Profession: Actor/Designer

“I’m the type of brother that experiences the fullness of life everyday so it’s a blessing regardless of who the President is. I am going to make everyday a step toward making it better for me. But as a single Black male living in New York City, I would like to see our people learn from Michelle and Barack’s example of a loving relationship.”

8 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 27
Profession: Chef

“I would like for the images of young Black males to change. I think there needs to be higher expectations set for Black men. I personally would like to have a more open dialogue about the stereotypes of African-American boys.”

9 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 35
Profession: Research Analyst

“Having a Black man in office has changed my views on certain things in this country. I wouldn’t say that day-to-day my life is significantly different. I still feel like society has a certain perception of Black men, although I think it has certainly changed with President Obama. I think what we need to do collectively is work hard to improve our family unit. For me, as a Black man I want to continue to see barriers being broken. For example, ten years from now I hope it will be no surprise to see another Black man run the country."

10 of 17

Age: 22
Profession: Student

“Life’s not really better for me now that we have a Black president. I guess it doesn’t affect my everyday living. I still have to wake up and find a good job. I need President Obama to get us out of this recession! The most important issue for me now is the economy—making sure that most people have jobs and that the money is coming in. You know, money solves everything.”

11 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 25
Profession: Recent Graduate

“My hopes for a better life are better because of President Obama. He makes having an education and being smart cool. I think health care is also very important, you know?”

12 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 59
Profession: Teacher

“I have a lot more hope, especially as an older person—career opportunities. I am in the process of transitioning to another position, hopefully soon, because the school where I am working is closing. And, I know one of the obstacles that I am facing is age so I have a better outlook now. What I need is income, you know? During this time I had to take a step backward. One of my major concerns is making sure that I can plan a better financial future.”

13 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 35
Profession: Assistant Director of Ernest and Young

“I think we need someone to continue to represent Black men in a positive light because Black males are more than people who entertain, shoot a basketball or run with the football. I think a lot of Black males are in different industries bringing so much to the table but are being overlooked. I think one of the single most important issues for Black men is respect. We need to be respected and appreciated for the values that we can bring to any situation.”

14 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 35
Profession: Work in Hospitality

“As a Black man, I am tired of not being heard. What I mean is that everybody can voice their opinion but a lot of times I feel like we are not given a chance to be heard, you know? It seems society doesn’t want to listen. Judge me by what I say not what you see. I really feel that people need to understand that Barack Obama is not Black, that he is just a man.”

15 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 23
Profession: Graduate Student at Columbia University

“It’s easier for people to have a Black President than a Black neighbor because it’s symbolic more than anything. I want the next generation of my family to have it better than how I had it.”

16 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 23
Profession: Graduate Student at Columbia University

“It’s easier for people to have a Black President than a Black neighbor because it’s symbolic more than anything. I want the next generation of my family to have it better than how I had it.”

17 of 17 Jenisha Watts

Age: 35
Profession: Research Analyst

“Having a Black man in office has changed my views on certain things in this country. I wouldn’t say that day-to-day my life is significantly different. I still feel like society has a certain perception of Black men, although I think it has certainly changed with President Obama. I think what we need to do collectively is work hard to improve our family unit. For me, as a Black man I want to continue to see barriers being broken. For example, ten years from now I hope it will be no surprise to see another Black man run the country."

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