COMMENTARY

President Obama Calls For Building Strong Communities

President Obama in his weekly address to the nation said pushing the country to the cherished ideals — that people are created equal, and all deserve an equal shot is one that people should not lose sight of in the long term.

He noted that his Administration has taken new steps to bring this goal closer to reality.

He said, “Almost 50 years ago, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to pass the Fair Housing Act.  It’s a law that says landlords can’t turn away tenants solely because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, or disability.  And it made a difference in this country.”

Photo Credit: The White House
Photo Credit: The White House

The President said however, there is still a lot of more work left to be done and pointed to a recent case where the Supreme Court ruled that policies segregating minorities in poor neighborhoods, even unintentionally, are against the law.

“The Court recognized what many people know to be true from their own lives:  that too often, where people live determines what opportunities they have in life,” he lamented.

Furthermore, he said that today it is still possible for kids living just blocks apart to lead incredibly different lives. These kids faced with such circumstance would go to different schools, play in different parks, shop at different stores, and walk down different streets.

He argued that the quality of those schools and the safety of those parks and streets are far from equal; thus, an equal shot in life is not guaranteed to these kids.

He posited that this runs counter to American values and argued that a person’s zip code shouldn’t decide their destiny.

“We don’t guarantee equal outcomes, but we do strive to guarantee an equal shot at opportunity – in every neighborhood, for every American,” the President said.

The President explained further that the Fair Housing Act will now address some of the current anomalies, but more importantly, landlords, local governments, as well as various stakeholders have a role to play in strengthening and building communities of inclusion.

“These actions won’t make every community perfect.  That’s something we all have to strive for in our own lives.  But they will help make our communities stronger and more vibrant.  And they’ll help keep this a country where kids from every background can grow up knowing that no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you live, you can write your own story,” he concluded.

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