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As Role Model, Obama Could Reverse Ghetto Culture

As Role Model, Obama Could Reverse Ghetto Culture

By Deroy Murdock - January 24, 2009

Item: Amid crisp breezes and bright sunshine, Barack Obama took the presidential oath Tuesday, to the thunderous applause of his supporters, the cautious hopes of the loyal opposition and the well wishes of all Americans.

Item: Three days earlier, four men were stabbed, one critically, at a Brooklyn party celebrating "Notorious," the new movie about rapper Notorious B.I.G. He released the album "Ready to Die" before being killed in Los Angeles in 1997. Rapper Jamal "Gravy" Woolard - who portrays B.I.G. - was charged with misdemeanor assault and harassment against his wife last September, the New York Post reports. "She wouldn't stop pushing me, so I snuffed her," he allegedly said.

Question: Will Obama's erudition and elegance finally eclipse the corrosive, often deadly scourge of hip-hop culture and the ghetto mentality that gnaw away like termites beneath black America's floorboards?

Until at least 2013, the whole world will watch a debonair black man whose studiousness and diligence transported him from a broken home to the world's most famous house. He will share it with Michelle Obama, his wife of 16 years. Just like her husband, the first lady avoided the 50-percent black high-school dropout rate, graduated from an Ivy League university and earned a Harvard law degree. The Obamas' two daughters know their father and enjoy him in their daily lives.

The Obamas are not alone among black Americans. Alas, rappers who too often celebrate violence, degrade women and perpetrate offstage carnage overshadow such decent citizens.

Too many black men serially impregnate women who are not their wives, spawning a 67.8 percent black out-of-wedlock birth rate.

Obama's daily presence in the White House finally may repel this foul tide. He also may unravel the "Acting White Syndrome," wherein young black students who do homework and speak proper English are mocked for "acting white." Light years more than white racism, this is the biggest cancer facing black Americans.

Obama himself told the 2004 Democratic National Convention that America must "eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white."

My two younger sisters and I endured this treatment at a predominantly black Los Angeles elementary school.

"Why you actin' white?" I heard more times than I care to recall, usually uttered by pint-sized hoodlums who spoke exquisite jive and seemed destined for middle-management in the Crips or Bloods.

My sisters and I thank our parents for their advice: "Ignore those stupid kids, and listen to your teachers."

Let's hope that Obama's example leads young black Americans to stop obsessing about white racism, reject hip-hop and ghetto culture, and embrace intellectual achievement. May a million belts bloom, and baggy trousers stop sliding off black men's rumps. (Obama recommends: "Brothers should pull up their pants.") May a new era of responsibility envelop America's 'hoods.

In this respect, President Obama ironically could become a force for socially conservative change.

Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University.

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