OAKLAND, California – Former President Barack Obama spoke on Tuesday about "being a man" and the need to combat male stereotypes that "capture" young men, especially young men of color.
"We all have to realize that being a human is first and foremost a good person. That means being responsible, working hard, being kind, respectful and compassionate, "Obama said at a conference for his initiative" My Brother Keeper " in Oakland.
"The notion that one defines oneself somehow as a man is dependent on, one can down someone … can dominate … that's an old view," added the former president.
Speaking to NBA star Steph Curry, Obama talked about the need to create spaces where "young men of color and generally young men do not feel respected ̵
"If you are confident You do not need to show me your strength by laying down someone," Obama said. "Show me by picking someone else up."
"I was being taught there directly," Curry replied.
At the beginning of his panel, Obama introduced himself as "Michelle's Husband" and the Golden State warrior player as "Ayesha's Husband".
The men sat on a stage surrounded by two dozen young men. In the first rows of the amphitheater near Lake Merritt, Oakland, dozens of young adults, mostly boys and men of color, arrived from places like Los Angeles; Yonkers, New York; and Nashville to be there.
Oakland's two-day meeting was to mark five years since Obama launched the "My Brother" initiative. Former President described the group's mission as "working to break down barriers that often discriminate against boys and boys of color."
At the event on Tuesday, Obama also talked about how racism plays a role in maintaining toxic masculinity.
"Historically, racism in this society sends a message that you are 'less than'," Obama said. "We feel that we have to compensate for this by exaggerating stereotypical behaviors of men. And that's a trap.
He added that much of the communities suffering from "violence and pain" suffered from men seeking respect, including through gun violence. "And that's a self-defeating model to be a man."
Obama noted that cultural influences such as music, especially hip-hop and rap, are often based on "talking about how I have more money than you, me." I can not respect you.
"Ironically, that 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 to be stressed that you have to act that way."
"I have a wife I'm very happy with," he added as the audience burst into applause.
Curry, in turn, spoke of the need for men to be "open about their feelings" and to have room where they can. He said the locker room with his teammates allowed him to do so.
Obama added that women often already have rooms where they can talk about their feelings. However, he added that young colored women "also need tremendous support" as they deal with a "double burden" of racism and sexism.
He told how he often met his "boys" in his own household to show basketball or play basketball, as they might not say much.
Meanwhile, Michelle Obama will "be with her friends, they'll show up at noon, they'll talk, I'll go, come back three hours later, they're still talking," Obama joked. "They were crying, they put down all the horrible things I did and said it's worth it anyway."
"That's the difference," he added, noting that girls often create spaces to talk about vulnerabilities, doubts, lack of confidence "that men do not. "It has to do with socialization."