In recent commencement addresses to black college graduates, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama really piled on the homework.
"Be a good role model, and set a good example for that young brother coming up," the president told graduates at Morehouse College in Atlanta on Sunday.
"If you know someone who isn't on point, go back and bring that brother along."
The first lady gave out similar assignments to Bowie State University grads on Saturday.
"So, if you have friends or cousins or siblings who are not taking their education seriously, shake them up," she said. "Go talk some sense into them. Get them back on track."
This emphasis on personal responsibility has long been a staple of the Obamas' commencement speeches, no matter the venue.
But their mandate for black graduates tends to be far more demanding - and is usually aimed at correcting some bad black behavior - than anything they ask of graduates at predominantly white schools.
"I know some of you came to Morehouse from communities where life was about keeping your head down and looking out for yourself," Obama told graduates at the all-male, historically black college.
"Maybe you feel like you escaped, and you can take your degree, get a fancy job and never look back. . . . But I will say it betrays a poverty of ambition if all you think about is what goods you can buy instead of what good you can do."
Obama might well have singled out those who had "escaped" for special admiration. They had, in fact, avoided the traps that lead so many young black men to prison or the morgue.
Instead, the president all but discounted their achievements, injecting the unseemly specter of a "poverty of ambition" and raising the insulting prospect of their interests becoming limited to shopping sprees.
Some have speculated that Obama is simply trying to strike a political balance between calling for individual responsibility and advocating a larger role for government. Or, maybe he was just showing whites that he wasn't the "food stamp" president.
Others have noted, correctly, that many black audiences appreciate having the Obamas occasionally give them a Bill Cosby-esque beat down.
"If you look at the transcripts of the speeches by the president and first lady to black audiences, you'll see that the lines about personal responsibility get applause," Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta, told me.