OAKLAND, Calif. – Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday explained how to "be a man" and the need to fight stereotypes of masculinity that "trap" young men, especially young men of color.
"Each of us must recognize that being a man is above all a good man. It means being responsible, working hard, being kind, respectful and compassionate, "Obama said. conference for his The guardian of my brother initiative in Oakland.
"The notion that you define as a man depends, are you able to belittle someone else … able to dominate … it's an old vision", added the former president.
In a conversation with the NBA star, Steph Curry, Obama spoke of the need to create spaces "where young men of color and young men in general do not feel compelled to be respected, but must act Somehow ".
"If you trust your strength, you do not need to show me by belittling someone else," Obama said. "Show me by lifting someone else."
"I've just been mentored," Curry replied.
At the beginning of her panel, Obama was billed as "Michelle's husband" and the Golden State Warriors player as "Ayesha's husband".
The men were sitting on a stage surrounded by two dozen young men of color. In the front rows of the amphitheater near Lake Merritt, in Oakland, dozens of other young adults, mostly boys and men of color, were facing them, having traveled from places like Los Angeles; Yonkers, New York; and Nashville to be there.
The two days rally in Oakland was to mark the fifth anniversary of Obama's launch of My Brother's Keeper. The former president has described The group's mission is to "eliminate the obstacles that all too often disadvantage boys and young men of color".
During Tuesday's protest, Obama also explained that racism plays a role in the perpetuation of toxic masculinity.
"Historically, racism in this society sends the message that you are" inferior to, "Obama said," We feel we have to compensate by exaggerating the stereotypes that men are supposed to act on. "And it's a trap.
He added that much of the "violence and pain" suffered by communities comes from men who seek respect, including through armed violence. "And it's a counter-productive model to be a man."
Obama pointed out how cultural influences, such as music, especially hip-hop and rap, were often based on "talking about the fact that I have more money than you, I can you be disrespectful? "
"Ironically, it shows the vulnerability you feel," Obama said. "If you were very confident about your sexuality, you do not have to have eight women around you … you seem stressed about having to do this."
"I have a woman with whom I am very happy," he added, as the audience burst out with applause.
Curry, in turn, spoke of the need for men to be "open about their feelings" and to have a space where they can do it. He said the locker room with his teammates allowed it.
Obama added that women often already have such spaces where they can talk about their feelings. However, he added that young women of color "also need considerable support" as they face a "double burden" of racism and sexism.
He told how, at home, while he often met with his "boys", as he said, to watch or play basketball, they could not say much.
Meanwhile, Michelle Obama "will be with her friends, they will show up at noon, they will talk, I'll leave, I'll come back three hours later, they're still talking," Obama joked. "They cried, they broke down everything I was doing terrible, they said it was worth it to keep it."
"That's the difference," he added, noting that girls often create spaces "to talk about vulnerabilities, doubts, lack of self-confidence" that men do not do. "It has to do with socialization."