Obama Talks Tough to Blacks

Senator courts African-American vote with straight talk and tough love
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted May 3, 2007 2:00 PM CDT
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama,D-IL, mixes with the a crowd of supporters at California Democratic Convention in San Diego, Saturday, April 28, 2007. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Barack Obama has been bringing up issues in front of black audiences that he plays down with more diverse crowds—namely, pointed criticism of the black community. In pull-no-punches speeches, Obama slams low African-American voter turnout, worries that children who do well in school are scorned as "acting white," and decries violent rap lyrics.

Obama's staff says he tailors speeches to audiences. That's nothing new, but the unusual strategy of criticizing his own community draws a mixture of criticism and praise. The Illinois senator is unapologetic. "It's what we talk about in barbershops on the South Side of Chicago," he told the Washington Post.