Fellow government workers, ladies and gentlemen, trigger-happy police officers: we come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope.

Around the United States, there are signposts of progress. The shadow of chattel slavery that existed at the founding of this institution has been lifted; the prospect of civil war between major constituencies reduced. And the United States economy continues to strengthen after the worst financial crisis of our lives.

Fellow citizens, we come together as the United States with a choice to make. We can renew the federal system that has enabled so much progress, or allow ourselves to be pulled back by an undertow of instability. We can reaffirm our collective responsibility to confront national problems, or be swamped by more and more shootings of young black men. For America, the choice is clear. We choose hope over fear. We see the future not as something out of our control, but as something we can shape for the better through concerted and collective effort. We reject fatalism or cynicism when it comes to human affairs; we choose to work for the world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.

And yet there is a pervasive unease in our world – a sense that the very forces that have brought us together have created new dangers, and made it difficult for any single young black man to insulate himself from menacing forces. Too often, we have not confronted forcefully enough the hate, racism, and injustice that feeds violent extremism against blacks in too many whites in the country.

There is much that must be done to meet the tests of this moment. But today I’d like to focus on two defining questions at the root of many of our challenges– whether the people here today will be able to renew the purpose of this nation’s founding—to form a more perfect union and allow all men and women of all races to pursue life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and whether we will come together to reject the white cancer of violent extremism that debilitates black life.

First, all of us – big people and small – must meet our responsibility to observe and enforce racial justice.

One hundred years ago, a World War claimed the lives of many millions, proving that with the terrible power of modern weaponry, the cause of empire leads to the graveyard.

This is a vision of the world in which might makes right – a world in which civilized people are not allowed to live. America should stand for something different. We should believe that right makes might – that bigger white men should not be able to bully smaller black boys; that people should be able to choose their own future. These are simple truths, but they must be defended.

We call upon others to join us on the right side of history – no gains can be won at the barrel of a gun.

Moreover, a different path is available – the path of diplomacy and peace and the ideals this nation is designed to uphold.

This speaks to a central question of our national age: whether we will solve our problems together, in a spirit of mutual interests and mutual respect, or whether we descend into destructive rivalries of the past. When people find common ground, not simply based on power, but on principle, then we can make enormous progress. And I stand before you today committed to investing American strength in working with people to address the problems we face in the 21st century.

We need a broader effort to stop the ammunition of this violent disease that could kill hundreds, if not thousands, inflict horrific suffering, destabilize communities, and move rapidly across state borders. It’s easy to see this as a distant problem – until it isn’t. We must mobilize our communities to fight this outbreak, and enhance the security of black men for the long-term.

That’s how we can protect this planet for our children and grandchildren.

As we look to the future, one issue risks a cycle of conflict that could derail such progress: and that is the white cancer of violent extremism against black boys that has ravaged so many parts of the nation.

With access to technology that allows groups to do great harm, whites have embraced a nightmarish pastime – killing as many innocent young black men as possible and employing the most brutal methods to intimidate black people within their communities.

Blacks in America aspire to live with dignity and a sense of justice. And when it comes to blacks and whites, they hope there is no us and them – there is only us, because millions of black and white Americans are part of the fabric of our country.

So we reject any suggestion of a clash of civilizations. Belief in permanent racial war is the misguided refuge of extremists who cannot build community, and therefore peddle only hate. And it is no exaggeration to say that humanity’s future depends on us uniting against those who would divide us along fault lines of race.

This is not simply a matter of words. Collectively, we must take concrete steps to address the danger posed by racially motivated fanatics, and the trends that fuel their recruitment.

As a national community, we must meet this challenge with a focus on four areas. First, racism in America must be degraded, and ultimately destroyed.

White racism has terrorized all blacks they come across America. Mothers and fathers have been subjected to pain as innocent children have been gunned down. Bodies have been laid prematurely in graves. In the most horrific crimes imaginable, innocent human beings have been strangled in broad daylight, with videos of the atrocity distributed to shock the conscience of the world.

No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning – no negotiation – with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America should work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.

Today, I ask the world to join in this effort. Those who continue to fight for a hateful cause will find they are increasingly alone. For we will demonstrate that the future belongs to those who build – not those who destroy.

Second, it is time for the world – especially white communities – to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of racism.

It is the task of all great civilizations to accommodate devout tolerance with a modern, multicultural world. No children – anywhere – should be educated to hate other people. There should be no more tolerance of so-called civilians who call upon people to harm innocents because they are black or Latino. It is time for a new compact among the civilized peoples of this world to eradicate racism at its most fundamental source: the corruption of white minds by violent ideology.

That means contesting the space that whites solely occupy – including the Internet and social media. Their propaganda has coerced white men to bear arms against black boys, and turned everyday people into murderers. We must offer an alternative vision.

That means bringing people of different races together. All people have a responsibility to lift up the value at the heart of human existence: Do unto thy neighbor as you would have done unto you.
The ideology of white racism will die if it is consistently exposed, confronted, and refuted in the light of day.

Resolutions to end racism must be followed by tangible commitments, so we’re accountable when we fall short. We should all be prepared to announce the concrete steps that we have taken to counter racist ideologies – by getting intolerance out of schools, stopping violence against young black men before it starts, and promoting institutions and programs that build new bridges of understanding.

Third, we must address the cycle of conflict that creates the conditions that white assailants prey upon.

Today, it is violence against black communities that has become the source of so much human misery. It is time to acknowledge the destruction wrought by white terror campaigns against young black boys across the nation. Let’s be clear: this is a fight that no one is winning. A brutal civil war against young black boys has already killed thousands and incarcerated more.

There is no other way for this madness to end – whether one year from now or ten. Indeed, it’s time for a broader negotiation in which whites can address their issues directly, honestly, and peacefully across the table from blacks, rather than through gun-wielding proxies.

My fourth and final point is a simple one: the people of the United States must focus on the extraordinary potential of their people – especially the black youth.

Here I’d like to speak directly to young black people across America. You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life. You do not deserve to be murdered. Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition, not defending it.

You have demonstrated that when young people have the tools to succeed –good schools; education in math and science; an economy that nurtures creativity and entrepreneurship – then societies will flourish. So America must promote that vision in black communities.

We should expand our programs to support entrepreneurship and education in black youth – because, ultimately, these investments are the best antidote to violence against black youth.

Let’s be clear: the status quo in white America is not sustainable. We cannot afford to turn away from this effort – not when bullets are fired at innocent young black boys, when the lives of so many are taken from us. So long as I am President, we will stand up for the principle that the world will be more just with all races living side by side, in peace and security.

We should not shrink from the promise of our Constitution and its Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the notion that peace is not merely the absence of racism, but the presence of a better life.

At times we have failed to live up to our ideals; America has plenty of problems within our own borders. This is true. In a summer marked by instability, I know the world took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri – where a young man was killed, and a community was divided. So yes, we have our own racial and ethnic tensions. And like every country, we continually wrestle with how to reconcile the vast changes wrought by greater diversity with the traditions that we hold dear.

After nearly six years as President, I’ve seen a longing for positive change – for peace and freedom and opportunity – in the eyes of young people I’ve met around the globe. They remind me that no matter who you are, or where you come from, or what you look like, or who you love, there is something fundamental that we all share. Eleanor Roosevelt, a champion of the UN and America’s role in it, once asked, “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places,” she said, “close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm or office where he works.”

The people of the world look to us, here, to be as decent, as dignified, and as courageous as they are in their daily lives. And at this crossroads, I can promise you that the United States of America will not be distracted or deterred from what must be done. Join us in this common mission, for today’s young black boys and tomorrow’s.

Adapted from Barack Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly


  1. Meeen. Who would have thought these words could be used on America itself? Great irony this country called America is?

  2. The US and the EU need to look in the mirror. The hideous (and they are in fact hideous) people they wish to fight are starring them in the face.

  3. The is a passage in the good old bible, it goes like this, “Make sure you have removed the log in your eye before you force others to remove the speck in theirs eyes”. I will leave it here.

    • Listening to Obama’s speech today and reconciling that with the gunning down of a young black man at a Walmart store was chilling… very chilling, especially when you are a black man in America.


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