Town Hall with President Barack Obama and Steph Curry

(attendees applauding) – Not many people ever have the chance to sit down one on one with the president of United States I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity when President Barack Obama in 2015 for a StoryCorps interview that aired on NPR During that StoryCorps interview, I discovered that I had a lot of thing in the common with the president of the United States Like me, he grew up without a father in his life Like me, he wasn’t quite sure what he wanted to do when he was younger Like me, like all of us, he made some mistakes in his lifetime And in our brief conversation, he taught me how important and how critical it was for us to get to know one another And how empowering it can be as a young man of color just to be heard Gathered around me are 23 young men of color 24, when count Michael Smith (attendees laughing) And they are about to have their chance to listen to the president and have their questions answered Please welcome them along with the president, along with President Obama and Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors (attendees applauding and cheering) How you doing? How you doing? – [Attendee] Real good, man (attendees applauding and cheering) – [Emcee] President – Going on there? How are you? – [Emcee] I’m blessed You know, just blessed – [Attendee] Glad to meet you – [Emcee] Thank you (upbeat music) I’m with the president of the United States, ooh (attendees applauding and cheering) – Hello, everybody (attendees applauding and cheering) For those of you who don’t know me I’m Michelle’s husband (attendees laughing) Barack And this is Ayesha’s husband – [Stephen] I say keep it real – Steph How’s everybody doing today? (attendees applauding and cheering) Before we get started, I just wanna say thank you to Oaktown, City of Oakland for doing a great job hosting us here today Got the mayor riding in the house and thank you Madam Mayor I wanna thank all the organizers who’ve put in enormous efforts in making this happen but most importantly, I wanna thank the young people who are participating here today because this is all about you And with that, I’m gonna turn it over to somebody who has brought a lot of joy to this area And even Bulls fans have to acknowledge that it’s been fun to watch the Warriors and the greatest shooter of all time because I gave him some tips right before about five seasons ago, there’s film of this in the White House, Mr. Steph Curry (attendees applauding and cheering) – Thank you very much, President Obama, this is a very, very humbling experience to be in front of you guys in Oakland where my true story really started and in the last 10 years I’ve been here, really proud to represent Oakland, representing my team and taking us to new heights So, to be here in this city, it only feels right to be able to host you and the entire MBK program It means a lot, so, I think I wanna start, we obviously know why we’re all here and celebrating what any MBK means and what it was done and the future plans but I wanna kind of take it back to where the initial seed was planted What was your initial motivation behind the initiative and really, I guess what has changed from the start to post-presidency and the plans that you guys have been trying to initiate for sure? – Well From the moment that I was elected president, I was constantly thinking about how do we make sure that everybody in this country has opportunity and every child is valued And although this is the greatest country on Earth and there are still people who are able to rise despite disadvantages, the fact of the matter is that there are a lot of neighborhoods that are still left behind There are a lot of young people who,

sadly, don’t have the resources, don’t have the support, don’t have the attention that other communities have And so we were working on a whole range of issues, from education to health care, you name it But when Trayvon Martin was killed while I was in office, and some of you remember, although, actually some of you were so young you may not I was asked to speak on the issue and, as somebody who is the head of federal law enforcement, I could not comment on the particulars of the case but what I could say was that Trayvon could have been my son And the fact that not just Trayvon, but every single day, there were young men of color who were being shot and killed That every single day, there were young men who were dropping out of school Every single day there were too many who were more likely to end up in prison than in college Required us as a society to wake up and to find ways in which we could come together and say to all of our young people but particularly young men of color who on a whole bunch of indicators we’re having a more difficult time in this society for a whole range of historical reasons, we had to be able to say to them, you matter We care about you, we believe in you and we are gonna make sure that you have the opportunities and chances to move forward just like everybody else And so, it was out of that that we decided to set up My Brother’s Keeper And the idea was that the government had a role to play in making sure that policies were put in place that weren’t systematically disadvantaging young men of color For example, statistically, it was shown that black boys, Latino boys, Native American boys were far more likely to be disciplined, suspended and expelled from school, oftentimes, for behaving the same way that other boys were behaving but there were different standards in terms of how they were judged in school So, for example, the in Department of Education, we created different guidelines that said, here’s how you should think about discipline because these are not disposable young people These are our future and we’ve got to make sure we’re investing in them (attendees applauding) But what we also knew is that just having the government do something wasn’t gonna be enough We had to mobilize communities and we had to mobilize young people themselves so that they could find ways to support each other And we put out a challenge around the country and we had over 200 communities from big cities to small towns to Native American reservations who took up that challenge and said, we’re gonna try to set up programs that support our young men, give them opportunities, provide them mentoring, provide them apprenticeships, provide them job training, focus on making sure that if they’re not going to a four-year college that they’ve got of some sort of technical program that they can get into and we could not be prouder of all the communities around the country that took up the baton and initiated programs that have made a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of young men over the last several years Now, I lost my job because that’s the way it works You get retired So, I had less immediate influence on the federal government programs but the community programs, we could continue to initiate and so as part of the overall Obama Foundation, what we said was we’re gonna keep My Brother’s Keeper alive and the– (attendees applauding) And thanks to the outstanding work that was being done in local communities

and then some of the key leaders from across the country are gathered here today, that spirit of investing in boys and young men of color has continued and thrived So that, for example, an organization in Chicago that I sat down in a circle with some young men in a high school, Hyde Park High School right across from where we’re building our library, a program called BAM, Becoming A Man, outstanding program Started off with 400 young leaders involved, now they’ve got 7,000, they just started a new chapter in Boston and, you have communities like Yonkers that are initiating, Yonkers in the house, that are initiating outstanding violence prevention programs, the same is taking place in San Juan, Puerto Rico where you’ve already seen success in drastically reducing violence, increasing school attendance And so it’s really communities themselves that are mobilizing and the purpose of this summit was number one, to say, five years after this started, we’re not going anywhere, we’re still gonna continue to make progress across the country Number two, we want to make sure to lift up those organizations that are successful and bring them together so they can learn from each other, figure out what are the best ways to intervene and support and provide a voice to young men in our communities And number three, and most importantly, give us an opportunity to see outstanding young men all across the country that are not reported on enough who are doing positive work, who are leaders in their communities, who are succeeding in school, who are supporting their brothers, who are being respectful to their sisters, who are the kinds of young men that are gonna be leaders of this country in the future And that story is not told often enough, and the young men who are sitting on this stage and who are in the audience, they represent that kind of excellence and for us to be able to bring them together so that they can learn from each other, support each other and ultimately, lead together, that’s the thing that’s most important to us (attendees applauding) – One of the most exciting things I heard since I showed up today was when we did our PSA about four years ago where you taught me how to keep my elbow in – [Barack] Yeah, exactly, yeah – He helped me– – [Barack] He was kinda– – I was kinda chicken winging a little bit – Chicken winging a little bit and it wasn’t working, so – You helped me with my resume – That’s exactly right – All that kind of good stuff Obviously, I had the best mentor in that regard but in terms of from that PSA, the action and the following that we’ve been able to accumulate in a short amount of time, 50,000 mentors– – New mentors, yeah – Signed up since the– – Outstanding – PSA They are talking about the acknowledgement and the understanding of– – Right – The impact we can all have in terms of what our expertise is are, our perspective on the world and mobilizing in our communities The action has been followed in this, it’s all because the idea that you had at the beginning – Well, it helped that you were in the PSA The fact is, you know, nobody wanted to see my jump shot But it does raise this question, Steph, and I know there are others folks who are here Richard Sherman was by, and obviously John is amazing musician One of the challenges I think that we all face is how do we support young men who oftentimes don’t have fathers Now, or don’t have a relationship with their fathers I was one of those young people I didn’t know my father very well I met him once and that was it And I know that you’ve spoken about how important your father was in your life I thought it’d be useful for you to reflect on now that you are a father yourself but you also have friends who maybe didn’t have that presence in their lives the way Dell was a presence in your life

How does that make you think about the need to mentor and support young men who maybe don’t have that role model right in front of them and who’s providing the support and focused that that your father was able to give you? – I was definitely had a fortunate upbringing where my dad, he played 16 years in the NBA and everybody asked me like, what’s the biggest advice that he gave you? What’s the thing he said that really shaped your perspective on the world and kinda gave you the confidence to go out and be the person that I am today? There wasn’t one thing he specifically said It was the consistent presence that he had and how he carried himself and me being able to just witness that on a day basis that gave me a moral compass, to be honest, about how I should carry myself no matter what my passion was in life, it obviously ended up being basketball but how I carried myself in the classroom, how I carried myself at home, how I treated people whether they could do anything for me or not The way that he carried himself on a daily, I was, my eyeballs are just locked in and to your point around something, you know, kids, that young men that don’t have that presence, it has awakened me to a responsibility that we have with the platforms that we have and the sense of visibility that I have, that how I carry myself, how I speak and what I’m educated on, my willingness to try to meet people where they are can make a huge difference whether it’s five seconds, 10 minutes, multiple run ins, we all have an opportunity to use that platform, that visibility to shape somebody’s perspective and that one moment can be a difference maker for a lifetime And so for me, yeah, it’s (attendees applauding) And I know I can speak for a lot of my teammates and people in our league as well The social responsibility we feel to take a stand for things that we believe in, look out for the next generation, I can speak on how all my teammates are using the resource they have to impact their communities whether it’s here in Oakland, where they’re from, there’s a movement and there’s a collective awareness and responsibility, I think, we’re all buying into and tapping into and taking responsibility for and we understand how impactful it can be and my dad set that example for me and I wanna be able to get that back – Outstanding (attendees applauding) And, you know, one of the points Steph made is consistency And look, for all kinds of historical reasons, discrimination, mass incarceration, lack of job opportunities, et cetera, oftentimes, fathers, men may not have been able to provide that consistency the way, in retrospect, they might want to But the one thing we’ve learned from watching all the amazing programs that are taking place across the country is that we can all be surrogate fathers, we can all be big brothers It turns out that if you just give somebody some attention and say you know what, you matter How are you doing? How are you thinking about your next steps? Do you really think that’s the best thing to do? People respond to that So, my father might not have been in my house but there were a whole bunch of men around who taught me something and guided me and look, it goes without saying, I wanna be really clear about this, the amazing job that single moms are doing raising kids (attendees applauding) And the love and support and energy that they’re providing is yeah, that’s the foundation but what is true is that it’s hard for a mom to do it by herself and you now have small kids, right? Kids will wear you out and if you’re just by yourself, and you don’t have a support system where you’re able to say, man, I’m tired of this knucklehead, here, you take them for a while and that can, if somebody’s working, somebody else might be

able to cover for the other parent It’s difficult for somebody by themselves to do all of what’s required and that’s why I think the kinds of mentoring programs and initiatives that we’ve been seeing through My Brother’s Keepers end up being so important and you’re right, if we can get 50,000 more mentors, that means we can get 100,000 more mentors because I guarantee you, there’s still more young men out there who could use an adult in their lives who are just paying attention and they are consistently for them and it doesn’t take a lot of work but it does require that you actually care – And the point you just made, these kids up here on the stage, kids in the audience, all around this community and this country and in the world, really, they matter so we wanna turn it over to these kids to hopefully see what kind of questions they have on their minds and we can hopefully give them a little bit of information I save myself, you really wanna hear what this guy to say but I’ll chime in every once a while but Michael, we got a kind of a list of how we wanna go about it? – Yep, Mr. President, Steph, we’ve got a couple dozen young men from all over the country representing My Brother’s Keeper programs working on everything from youth violence prevention to mentoring to changing policy, our future, and so we’ve got a few questions that we’ll get to Our first question is from Raul from both of you, for both of you who wants to talk a little bit about growing up – Hello, my name is Raul Shavira, I’m from Albuquerque, New Mexico and I go to school in Native American Community Academy (attendees applauding) My question for you is kind of a two-part question It’s like what were some of the struggles that you went through as a kid and how did you get through it without an MBK Alliance? – Well, Steph, why don’t you talk a little bit about some of your struggles with your ankles, man (attendees laughing) – That’s a sensitive subject, oh, man – You know, it worked out so he can talk about it now He won two MVPs after that – That’s pretty good I got no comeback for that one I just have to wear these big bionic braces I tried to overcome my ankles with these braces No, I think my major struggle was the self-confidence, to be honest with you Growing up with a passion to play basketball and people thinking that my future was kind of destined based on what my dad did, that wasn’t the case for me My journey was entirely different and just in life in general, self-confidence was something that wasn’t always natural for me It took me a while to get to a place where I was comfortable in a room, I’m comfortable with dealing with challenges and understanding that I had it in me, I had the talent I had to believe or had the talent and the skill set but the confidence to kind of get over that hump was a process and I had to rely on the community that was around me to get me through that I always tell people, you got to be your biggest cheerleader at times but that’s harder to do than you might think and the village that was around me were my biggest supporters in trying to allow me to understand what I was capable of, to not back down from any challenge, I understand that I was put on this Earth for a reason and whatever that was gonna manifest itself with my attention to detail, my work ethic and things like that but it was a constant struggle So, the swagger and the confidence you see on the court right now, it wasn’t always there It took me a minute to get there but I had to continue to grind and so whatever you are in that process, just keep fighting (attendees applauding) – For me, and I’ve written about this, I’ve talked about this I was all kinds of screwed up when I was in high school So many of you are way ahead of where I was at the time in terms of your accomplishments and your focus and your commitment something larger than yourself For me, I was a good kid in the sense that I think I was always kind to people, I wasn’t, I didn’t have a mean spirit but I did not have a sense of purpose or a clear sense of direction

through a big chunk of my high school years And in retrospect, I recognized some of it was I was angry about my father not being there, some of it was I was growing up in an environment as a African-American boy where we didn’t have a large African-American community So, there were all kinds of reasons for why I was acting out the way I did And we didn’t have My Brother’s Keeper I did have a foundation of love from my mother and my grandparents and I think that wherever you can find it, having one person who believes in you and you can count on, and maybe your mom and maybe your grandma, it may be an uncle that may be a coach, whoever that is I think you have to kind of hang on to that, what Steph just described, of people who believe in you You may not always find it exactly the way you would want it but somebody out there is believing in you and you got to listen to them and bring them into your life But the second thing for me, at least, that ended up being the most important thing was when I stopped thinking about myself and I started thinking about how can I be useful to other people And I think that I did not grow up and become the person I am until I was less focused on me and I was more focused on how could I be useful? Who could I help? Because the amazing thing is when you help somebody, when you’re a positive influence on somebody, when you’re working hard on behalf of somebody and you see that impact, that gives you confidence You say oh, I actually was useful to that person They actually feel better because of what I did or over time, as I developed my career, that person’s got healthcare that didn’t have it That makes me feel good That child is able to go to college when they couldn’t afford it before And, I think we live in a culture where a lot of times, we are measured, our worth is measured by how much money we have and how famous we are And I will tell you that at the end of the day, the thing that will give you confidence is not that because I know a lot of rich people who are all messed up and I know a lot of famous people who are all messed up, we both do And the thing that actually you will find as you get older that you come to respect the most are people whose confidence is grounded in the fact that they do the work, they do their jobs well, they look after people who are counting on them, they are providing a positive impact in their communities and you get that, and that will carry you a very long way (attendees applauding) – Our next question is from Keshawn who wanted to talk about policing in prisons – My name is Keshawn White My name is Keshawn White, I’m from from Fresno, California I came here with Fresno Boys and Men of Color and I feel as if it’s too much money has been spent on policing and not enough money’s been provided to people who are closer to the problem How can we create a system that empowers the community members who are on the ground doing great work every day to reduce crime and actually have solutions and relationships needed to make long term change and transformation? (attendees applauding) – Well, this is an issue that I worked on as president and I continue to work on through the foundation We incarcerate more people by far than just about every other country on Earth It is disproportionately people of color who are incarcerated And there’s a long history as to why that happened and the question now is how do we begin to reverse it And part of the answer is to create

economic opportunities in communities so that if you are willing to work hard, you can make a living and support a family and in too many of our communities, those opportunities are restricted and too far and few between Part of the answer is our education system and how we’re investing in making sure that young people regardless of where they start get a good start in life because for a lot of our young people, they fall behind early and it’s hard when you’re behind early If you can’t read at your grade level when you’re young, you start feeling like, well maybe I’m stupid, when in fact, no, it’s just that somebody didn’t give you the time that you needed in order to succeed and the kids who are doing better had advantages you didn’t have So, we’ve got to make those investments But the third part of this and, you know, what you’re touching on is we have to build a pipeline of success for young people, not failure And that means that the criminal justice system itself has to make some changes If you wanna know where most of that work needs to be done though, that most of that work needs to be done at the local level and not at the federal level because one thing that I think people don’t realize is that most of our criminal laws are state laws, they’re not federal laws Most of the prison population are state prison populations, not federal prison populations And so one of the things that communities have to do in terms of mobilizing is getting educated on who’s making decisions about the drug laws, the parole system, the bail system, the district attorneys at the local levels and making sure that the people who are in those positions of power are knowledgeable about the communities they’re serving, care about the communities they’re serving, are committed to justice in how they applied the laws and too often, folks don’t know who those folks are, they’re just somebody And the police, in fact, some communities need more police, not fewer police but the way that police operate in those communities Building trust, knowing who’s who so that if somebody just because they were wearing a hoodie doesn’t mean they’re a criminal That kid, he’s doing great in school, that’s just his style He’s been watching what Steph’s wearing Right, you need to make sure that police are trained and accountable in serving those communities All those decisions are typically made at the local levels and one of the things that we’ve encouraged people to do both in MBK but also during some of the other incidents that occurred during the course of my presidency was let’s put together toolkits so people understand who makes a decision, right? Do you have a state’s attorney who is committed to applying the criminal justice system in a fair equitable way? And if not, vote that person out and find somebody who will (attendees applauding) – Mr. President, I think one of the guides that people can find is the Task Force on 21st Century Policing that you started and that guide and that toolkit is still out and available and communities are continuing to make progress if people wanna look that up So, one of the things that we did, Mr. President and staff is we opened up for online questions and we got hundreds and hundreds of questions as you could imagine and so we selected a couple of those And I think this one both of you as fathers of daughters is a really great question It’s from Porsche Brownridge from the great city of Oakland, California Oak Cal (attendees applauding and cheering) – [Stephen] We got the Oakland guys out there – I gotta get San Francisco some love too, our partners, Mayor Breed Mayor Breed So, Porsche’s question is I understand that young boys and men need a space of their own to discuss and support each other So, I ask how can us black women be of support and influence without taking over for these organizations and efforts (attendees laughing)

– If you want, you good? (attendees laughing) – No, we’re gonna get in trouble if I said no I think acknowledging the fact that it historically has been a situation where a group of men have had a hard time being open about their feelings and things that they’re may have anxiety over, issues that they don’t wanna be completely transparent about and that the acknowledgement of that kind of situation and finding different outlets and resources that young men, old men, older men can– – Why are you pointing at me? – Can tap I was– – Why are you pointing at me? – Kinda in all direction Can tap into in terms of investing in themselves in their mindset and their perspective, it’s important so, I would say from just from my experience being an athlete and being in a locker room of 15 men, there are conversations that we may have about real things that we’re going through and may be tough to articulate outside of that but just the respect level of like, or the understanding that those conversations are, we’re bouncing ideas off of each other where I’m just trying to figure out how we can better ourselves individually and other’s group and that is a very powerful setting to be in That’s been my experience in last years and I’ve learned so much from my fellow teammates from different backgrounds, from different walks of life who have had different experiences and we’ve really think committed to opening up that space and that’s something that I’ve tapped into, so in terms of just respecting that environment, I may not be able to come home and say exactly what was all said but that that is something that is bettering me as a husband and as a father and that will have ripple effects throughout the community as well that anybody that kind of comes in contact with me Obviously, that’s one part of my life and my family life and my relationship, my wife is another huge piece of it but acknowledging the fact that that hasn’t always been, we haven’t been able to find those type of connections and resources and safe spaces for guys to be fully transparent about the things that they’re going through That’s my best answer to it for sure – That was an excellent answer, yeah (attendees applauding) Look, a couple of things that are worth pointing out Number one is young women of color and young women generally need enormous amount of support too They carry a double burden (attendees applauding) Because oftentimes, they’re dealing with sexism along with racism And And as a consequence, for example, through the foundation, we’ve got sets of programs, for example, something that Michelle and I started called Let Girls Learn that is now carrying over not just here in the United States but internationally to make sure that young women are provided the educational opportunities that too often they’ve been denied in areas like science, technology and math where oftentimes they’re steered away from those opportunities despite the fact that those are excellent careers and they’re entirely capable So, part of the reason that we set up My Brother’s Keeper was not because girls have it easier but frankly, it’s what Steph said which is a lot of young men in this society, particularly young men of color have difficulty finding the space and the resources and support to deal with their issues And they’ve got issues, we’ve got issues A good example, just, in my own household When me and my boys get together, we’ll watch your game or we’ll play a game and sometimes, we’ll sit there for an hour and we won’t say nothing but we’re watching the game and then we’ll go play a game And afterwards, Michelle will ask, well, you know, like how Steph’s doing? I heard he had this issue And I was like oh, really? I didn’t know because we’re watching the game, you know Well, you were with him all day, what? Well, I didn’t know We didn’t talk about that Right? Michelle, she will get with her girlfriends and they’ll show up at noon and they’ll be sitting there and they’re talking, I’ll leave,

come back three hours later, they are still talking All they’ve been doing is talking the entire time about every piece of business they got Right? And, they cried, they’ve like, you know Oh, child, you should have seen, he was They’ve broken down every terrible thing that I did and, you know, but he’s worth keeping anyway even though he’s, you know So, they’ve broken it all down That’s the difference And it has to do with socialization but what that does mean is I think that there is the ability to talk about vulnerabilities, challenges, doubts, lack of confidence, et cetera in settings for women and girls that sometimes aren’t available for men Now, in terms of how I think young women and women, generally, can support young men, I think saying you matter, we respect you, we recognize the challenges you are under, that is always important hearing that but I also think there’s nothing wrong with also having high expectations and demanding accountability from young men because I think that sometimes (attendees applauding) And I’m gonna quote Michelle here because she is articulated this sometimes when we’ve had dinner together and we’re talking about just raising children That saying about how mom’s sometimes, they’ll raise their girls but they’ll mother they’re boys they will overcompensate for the challenges that are out there by saying oh, honey that’s okay even though sometimes, it’s not and I think sometimes our young women allow young men to get away with stuff that they probably should not So (attendees applauding) So, I actually would, on one hand, support, understanding, listening, that’s true of any human relationship but also expectations about, as a young woman, how should you be treated by a guy who’s you’re going out with and making sure that guys understand, no, that’s not how I expect to be treated I think that is also important because we tend to rise to the expectations that are set for us If a young boy is taught early on, you know what, you are gonna be kind to people, not bully people That will have an impact If you say you treat young women with respect, they are not objects, they are human with the same aspirations and desires and are just as worthy of respect as you are, that has an impact So, you got to set that tone early in life (attendees applauding) – So, sister Porsche, I hope you’re watching Thanks for allowing some real truth-telling to be told on this stage, that was incredible And check out Mrs. Obama’s Global Girls Alliance I actually share an office with the young woman who leads that program so we’re thinking about these at the Obama Foundation on both sides So, Mr. President, you said you wanted to talk about hopes, dreams and anything that was on the mind of our young men of color So, our next question is from Leo and he wants to talk about music – Okay, Leo – Mr. President – Oh, you were Leo – I’m Leo, I’m Leo – Oh, you look good – Welcome to the city, you know what I mean? – Thank you, sir – So, one thing that connected us is that I know that you love music – Love music – I watched an interview where you said that Kendrick’s album was better than Drake’s – Uh-oh – So, why are you stirring stuff up now? – I’m curious to know why but more importantly, what role does music have, what role does music have on your life and what role can music have when it comes to liberation, policy change, social change and all those other items? What can music play when it comes to that? – Are you a musician? – [Leo] I am a musician – I figure you are

I’m gonna have to listen to some of your tracks now (attendees applauding) Leo, I’m sure will have, you know, you can give me a little taste You know, it’s interesting, when Raul, when we were talking earlier and you were asking about what challenges I went through, I do think that especially when I was young, music was a empowering factor in my life And learning to, to appreciate not only the stories that were told in music and how music could capture emotions that sometimes were difficult to express yourself, but also just seeing the skill and talent of musicians and seeing somebody like John Legend who was just here who, let me just say about John, there’s some musicians, they’ve got to have a studio and synth and all kinds of producer, John can sit down to the piano or even if there’s no piano and it just suddenly sounds, it’s tight, it’s magic And so, appreciating the discipline, work, skill that was brought to bear in music even though I was not a skilled musician myself, that taught me something about you wanna be good at something, this is what you got to do Very few people are gonna end up being NBA players The odds of any individual young man unless he looks like Zion Williamson to be in the NBA are very, very, very low The odds of that same young person being a doctor or a lawyer much higher or being a business person The same is true to some degree with music in the sense that to be excellent, in some ways, it’s harder to be a great musician than it is to be other occupations that don’t require such talent But when I watched musicians, the same way I watched great athletes, what I always kept in mind as I was growing up was, man, they put in a lot hours, they put in a lot of time And even though I did not have those talents, I could apply that in my life and that was important And that music just brings joy and joy is important One of the things I love to do in the White House, we would have these music series where they’re still on, you can pull them up on YouTube and we used to have everybody from Stevie Wonder to Prince to Beyonce to, you name it and it was a pretty good deal It was almost like your own private concert Very small stage, just a few seats But they used to rehearse the day before and they rehearsed in the East Room right below where my office was, where I was doing work and I’d suddenly hear the bass is coming through the floor and sometimes, I’d go down the stairs and I would sit and watch their rehearsals and it didn’t matter how famous, how accomplished these artists were, when they were really focusing on the song and watching them collaborate and support each other and teach each other, you know, here’s how they should sound and here’s how we should work this and the generosity that they showed each other, that also taught me something because most great music is not done in isolation Most great music is a collaboration and learning how to apply those lessons in life where you are great because there is a team that makes you great and that’s true in sports, it’s true in music, it’s true in life But Steph, feel free to chime in on your views on Drake or Kendrick – I’m really tight with Drake, so – He’s a Toronto guy, right? – He’s a Toronto guy, my wife is from Toronto – Okay, I got ya – This is family, that’s family

but tell your point around like the strength in numbers mindset around how great things come to fruition I’m an example of that what we do on the court and the joy that comes out of that is second to none because nothing great is done by yourself, like you said and the memories that music has in terms of where you are in a certain time and place, you can hear a song and go right back to that moment, the same thing when I see a certain face or a teammate that I play with and we had a great moment, soon as I see his face, I know, hey, this is what we’re gonna talk about We’re gonna enjoy the great moments and the things that we learn going through that There’s a lot of synergies there that are very, very memorable and impactful in terms of our experience and doing great things, for sure (attendees applauding) I also would love to hear your music too I’d love to hear your music too so let me know (attendees applauding) – All right, Leo – We’re gonna make that happen So, Mr. President, we have the next question from Alejandro who wants to talk about masculinity (attendees applauding) – Hi, my name is Alejandro Galicia I’m representing Sacramento (attendees applauding) Yup I’m affiliated with the The Center at Sierra Health Foundation and you both already kind of touched upon it but from the time boys and men of color are born, we’re given this, this narrow definition of what it means to be a man and how can we begin to change the narrative that is currently forcing us to follow a path that doesn’t align with our identities including our brothers that are part of the LGBTQ+ community – Great, that’s great question It’s something that I think all of us have to recognize that being a man is first and foremost being a good human and that means being responsible, being reliable, working hard, being kind, being respectful, being compassionate And the notion that somehow defining yourself as a man is dependent on are you able to put somebody else down instead of lifting them up, are you able to dominate as opposed to support? That is a old view And a view that thankfully I see a lot of young people reject it because each of us have gifts that express themselves in different ways and some of us have gifts of art and music and what we’re really attuned to is people’s feelings and sensitivities And that’s magic and we need that And then some people have gifts that have to do with being an amazing athlete or have to do with being great at math And what we wanna do is create a space in which young men of color and young men generally, don’t have to feel as if for me to be respected and admired in my community, I’ve got to act a certain way A lot of the violence and pain that we suffer in our communities arises out of young men who nobody’s said to them what it means to be respected And so they’re looking around and well, I guess being respected means I might shoot you or I can make you back down or I can disrespect you and there’s nothing you can do about it And that is a self-defeating model for being a man So, we have to constantly lift up examples of, examples of successful men who

don’t take that approach That’s hard to do in this society because, you were talking about music, let’s face it, a lot of hip hop and rap music is built around me showing how I got more money than you, I can disrespect you and you can’t do nothing about it I’m gonna talk about you and punk you and ironically, that actually shows the vulnerability that you feel I mean, let me say this Like, if you are really confident about your financial situation, you probably are not gonna be wearing an eight-pound chain around your neck (attendees applauding) Because, you know, oh I got bank, I don’t have to show you how much I got I feel good If you are very confident about your sexuality, you don’t have to have eight women around you twerking (attendees laughing and applauding) I mean, why are you? Why are you’re all like, you seem stressed that you’ve got to be acting that way because I’ve got one woman who I’m very happy with (attendees applauding and cheering) Right? So, and she’s a strong woman So, I just, I think part of the challenge we have is that because oftentimes, racism historically in the society sends a message that you are less than and weak We feel like we’ve got to compensate by exaggerating certain stereotypical ways that men are supposed to act And that’s a trap that we fall into that we have to pull out of If you’re confident about your strengths, you don’t need to show me by you putting somebody else down Show me how strong you are that you can lift somebody else up and treat somebody well and be respectful and lead in that fashion, so Anything you wanna add, sir? – I’ve just been mentored right there That’s amazing – [Barack] Okay – Wow, thank you, Mr. President for that I’m floored That means a lot to me too So, I didn’t think we’d have time for one more question We were kind of looking at the average time it takes you to answer questions in the past, we thought that would be just about it – Oh, man (laughing) Remember what I just said about like not putting your brothers down like that? That’s a case in point That’s okay – Can I still come to work on my? So, Elijah, where are you? Where are you, Elijah? There you are We’re gonna go to Elijah for the last questions about high school suspension rate – Hi, I’m Elijah from Omaha, Nebraska and I was wondering (attendees applauding and cheering) I was wondering how do you suggest we help lower suspension rates among people of color throughout or being out of school? – Well, as I said, there’s an issue that we actually worked on while I was in the White House If I’m not mistaken, I think the current administration reversed the guidance that we were providing No, no, don’t boo What do I always say? – [Attendee] Vote! – Vote Don’t nobody hear your boos They’ll hear your votes (attendees applauding) But that was just federal guidance, it was not requirements So what that means is that it is still possible for school districts and school boards to make good evidence-based decisions about how to deal with school discipline Now, look, the fact that matter is that for kids to learn, there has to be some order in the classroom There are some kids who, because of what’s going on at home, challenges they’ve got, a lack of diagnosis around mental health issues or health issues generally, act out in class and are disruptive

And that’s true and you can’t have a situation in which every other kid suddenly, they can’t learn because somebody’s just constantly acting up What you can insist on is number one, that the same criteria are used for black kids versus white kids You can’t insist that even though that a child may be disruptive, they are still worthy of learning and so the question then is what additional resources are you providing them? And so those policies are made typically at the local level which is why it’s so important for everybody who is here to pay attention to who makes decisions in your communities and this is probably a good place to end because, look, I’m gonna be working on these issues along with a host of other issues through the foundation for the remainder of my life Michelle will be working on these similar issues, Steph has talked about the commitments that he and his teammates are making For example, Kevin Durant just opened a terrific center in his hometown back in the DC area to support young people who need support So, we’re all gonna be doing our part but the truth of the matter is that nothing changes if citizens, people living in communities aren’t paying attention and aren’t educating themselves about how are decisions made about a school board, how are decisions made about police oversight How are decisions made about drug laws And you can have a bunch of politicians or celebrities talk all they want but ultimately what will actually bring about change is when all of you go back to your respective communities and activate and educate yourselves and then insist that whoever it is that’s in charge of making those decisions is making them on behalf of communities for the right reasons in the right way And if there aren’t people who are doing that, as I said, they should be replaced and if there’s nobody to replace them, then you should step up and prepare yourself to replace them (attendees applauding) So Most of the time on an issue like what’s the best way to deal with school discipline, there have been studies done and literatures there and best practices are there, the problem is not that we don’t know what is the right thing to do, the problem is it’s not being done and that requires people mobilizing as citizens to make sure that they’re bringing about the changes that are needed All right, so it’s ultimately on all of you You saw, I think four or five young men who I had met with five years ago, and they all talk good now, back then, they were all kind of shy and uncertain and now, they’re amazing young men and young leaders And that’s just in a short span of time That’s all of you Each and every one of you are on a different journey and here at a different phase but you are the ones who are gonna make a difference and make an impact This is not gonna be me, it’s gonna be you and all we’re doing here is providing a platform for you to meet each other, learn from each other and as Steph talked about, get the confidence in your own voice and your own capabilities so that you can lead us into the future Steph, anything you wanna add closing up? – I mean I hope y’all learned as much as I did today and I appreciate the opportunity to be here with you, President Obama, with you young men, continued success with all your goals and aspirations in life, for everybody who as a part of the MBK program, continued success It’s amazing platform, like president said and I’m happy to support any way that I can

and yeah, just great to be here in Oakland again This is a place that’s a lot of history in terms of producing change makers I mean we wanna keep that going as well, so thank you very much – Thank you, everybody God bless you (attendees applauding)