All Articles Tagged "barack obama"

I’m Not Surprised Michelle Obama’s Mother Was Concerned About Her Daughter Marrying A Biracial Man

March 18th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

In my mind, I regard first lady Michelle Obama as triller than most people in Washington. When she confirmed that she didn’t have the temperament for politics, I interpreted that to mean that she’s too honest and too real to play the games necessary to survive in Washington D.C.

First Lady Michelle Obama is Auntie Chelle in my mind. She’s brilliant, she’s beautiful and in the right time and place, she’s going to let you know what’s what. And this morning I learned that she gets it from her momma.

Back in 2004, before President Obama was a household name, WTTW, a local Chicago television station   aired a special about Barack Obama during his senate campaign.

But the special, which aired on “Chicago Tonight,” didn’t delve too heavily into politics. Instead it was about Obama’s journey to self discovery, the people and places that shaped his racial identity and even how others interpreted it. By the time they got around to talking about his meeting and marrying Michelle, her mother Marian Robinson was interviewed.

And she admitted that she was just a bit wary about her daughter marrying a biracial man.

Then she expounded, with the quote that’s been making news this morning:

“That didn’t concern me as much as had he been completely white. *Laughs* 

I guess that I worry about races mixing because of the difficulty not for, so much for prejudice or anything. It’s just very hard.”

Since we’re still muddling through the race thing in this country, mainstream media is reporting this with a bit of shock and maybe even confusion. And if you read her comments without watching the whole 17 minute special, they may seem a bit harsh. But in the context of the special, which is mostly about race and how people perceive Blackness in this country and abroad, it made perfect sense.

And not only that, her comments aren’t all that different from the ones I’ve heard in my own home.

Like most Black people born in the ’50’s, my parents have some unresolved issues, resentment and feelings of hostility toward White people as a collective. There were consistent observations, complaints, and generalizations about White people behaviors (usually negative) in my home. Still, I witnessed my parents get along with and even enjoy the company of White people on individual levels. And when I reminded my parents, specifically my mother, about the inconsistencies of their stereotypes, she’d roll her eyes and respond with a skeptical “Ok, Veronica…” as if there were things I’d simply have to experience in order to understand.

In my life though, my parents supported and never discouraged me and my sister’s friendships with White kids but they also weren’t surprised when those friendships fizzled or completely ceased to exist around middle school. By the time we became of dating age, there was a strong sense and understanding that White people were just different. So it didn’t exactly come as a surprise that when I hypothetically broached the subject of dating and marrying a White man with my mother, she shook her head and closed her eyes, thinking of a way to express her internal disruption.

Like Marian Robinson, she thought it would be difficult and specifically referenced raising children. In my mother’s mind, it was hard enough to establish a sense of identity, self love and confidence in children who only identified as Black. Raising a child who was both Black and White would prove to be an even greater challenge. Speaking with my biracial friends about their own self identification journeys, I noticed that all of them included a reconciling of their “two races.” My mother and Ms. Robinson had a point.

As Michelle Obama’s autobiographer Peter Slevin, the man one who dug up this old interview, noted Ms. Robinson’s concerns didn’t cause her to completely oppose the union. It was just a concern. Parents want, unrealistically, for their children’s (and grandchildren’s) lives to be as “easy” as possible. So they worry, often unnecessarily, when something or someone “challenging” comes along. And while we certainly can’t expect our lives to be a bed of roses all the time, it doesn’t make their worries completely unfounded.

What the media is neglecting to report though, is that Michelle herself, was more than comfortable declaring Barack an undeniably Black man. After he lost a congressional election in 2000, some in the Black Chicago community questioned whether he was too elitist and “not Black enough” to represent a predominately African American district. Michelle emphatically refuted of those claims.

“I’ve grown up in this community. I’m as Black as it gets. I was born on the South side. I come from an obviously Black family. We weren’t rich. I put my Blackness up against anybody’s Blackness in this state, ok? And Barack is a Black man. And he’s done more in terms of meeting his commitments and sticking his neck out for this community than many people who criticize him. And I can say that ’cause I’m Black.”

I’ll be the first to say that, in most cases, you should at least listen and consider your mama’s opinion (Moms be knowin’); but at the end of the day, Michelle’s is the only opinion that matters when it comes to her own marriage. And judging by that quote, she didn’t have those same reservations. So, this really is a moot (and rather old) bit of news. We can consider this little tidbit as yet another way for the media to have another fruitless, surface conversation about race relations in this country. And once again, they’re not saying anything we haven’t already heard before.

You can watch the entire special, which was really well done, in the video below. Ms. Robinson’s comments are at the 13 min mark and Michelle’s comments on President Obama’s Blackness comes at 14:55.

What do you think about Ms. Robinson’s comments? Have you heard similar statements about interracial relationships from your own family members?

Why Is Michelle Obama Always Dancing?

March 16th, 2015 - By Charing Ball
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Why Is Michelle Obama Always Dancing?

Source: The Ellen Show

 

So Michelle Obama was on the Ellen DeGeneres show and apparently she’s all about the “Uptown Funk.”

If you haven’t seen the video, it is likely because you are legally blind. And I mean that both figuratively and literally as the video has been everywhere. But for the sake of this post, I offer this brief synopsis: it’s a video of the FLOTUS in some white very wide-legged sailor pants doing some sort of choreographed routine with the cast from “So You Think You Can Dance” to the wildly popular Morris Day and the Time’s…er…I mean, Bruno Mars’ track, “Uptown Funk.”

It is cute because it is awkward. And yet as awkwardly cute as it is, the routine, which is said to have mark the fifth anniversary of her ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative, is all kinds of tired.

Yeah, I said it.

And I say it lovingly and with the utmost of respect for the First Lady (except for those pants she had on because I hated them with the passion of 10 presidential veto powers). With that said, Michelle Obama has spent most of her time in public office as a dancing machine. And I honestly think it’s time that we allow this woman to hang up the tap shoes and enjoy the political show from a comfortable seat on the sidelines.

But she probably won’t. And according to The Daily Mail UK, the First Lady will be performing the routine at least one more time on the front lawn of the White House during the annual Easter Egg Roll. Oh goody. More awkward dancing…

It all started with the 2007 election when her husband, then Senator Barack Obama, was forced to bust an uncomfortable move with Ellen DeGeneres in order to win votes. The following year – and only two months before the general election- FLOTUS would again be compelled to drum up votes by also doing a two-step with Ellen. Thankfully, the election season ended and we would soon be spared the embarrassment of having to watch mostly White people force The Obamas to dance – at least for a short while.

In 2011, Michelle would get all footloose again, but this time around, it wasn’t votes she was after. Rather her happy feet were in support of her Let’s Move Initiative. And instead of two-stepping with Ellen, the First Lady did the Dougie with the kids from the Alice Deal Middle School in D.C. Naturally, the public ate it up.

And why wouldn’t they? Michelle is the hip, cosmopolitan and young mother who isn’t afraid to show her arms and doesn’t wear Mom jeans. Likewise, there was a political gain to be had. If you recall, the anti-obesity program was taking a serious beating in the press by mostly right-leaning conservatives, who took issue with Michelle’s tampering with the nutritional value of the public child lunch programs. As such, her dancing provided a nice way to refocus the program to the much more politically- safe topic of physical activity.

And it worked. Michelle would celebrate the second anniversary of the anti-childhood obesity program by dancing across four state in a three day tour. In 2012, she returned to Ellen again to not only dance but have a push-up challenge. In 2013, she did the Evolution of Mom Dance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” Also that year, Michelle “freeze danced” with the kids of Savoy Elementary School in Washington, D.C., did a Bollywood bop with guests at the White House’s Diwali celebration, raised the roof with young contest winners during a Kids’ State Dinner, and cut-a-rug with tennis champ Serena Williams.

The dancing continued in 2014 including at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities event at the White House, during another appearance on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and at another Let’s Move event where she did the salsa with former “Saved By the Bell” alum Mario López. She would end last year by releasing a Vine video of her chair dancing with a turnip to Lil Jon’s “Turn Down For What.” For a second there, I thought Michelle was dropping a hint to the world that she would finally be taking that much deserved seat. But she would continue to channel Debbie Allen this year with her latest viral foxtrot with Ellen.

I know that it is common practice for politicians (including their families) to want to show us that they are human and embarrassing just like the rest of us. It is a huge way that they build social capital. While I imagine there are some – a handful at least – politicians who hope to spend their times in Washington taking care of the business we elected them to do, the reality is that many of their own constituents doubt both their actual sincerities and abilities to do their jobs unless we see them engage in some sort of stupid human trick like drinking beers with babies or eating an Italian hoagie while doing the Macarena.

This need to establish and maintain social capital is especially true of the Obamas who have garnered quite a reputation on the Hill for being both anti-social and a bit snobby. As noted by Todd Purdum in this Vanity Fair piece from 2013:

“Successive flights of frustrated senior aides to both the president and the First Lady have battled the Obamas’ persistent assumption that supporters (and staffers, for that matter) don’t need to be thanked—a battle fought largely in vain. Five years into their tenure, the couple has a social reputation few would have envisioned when they came to town: more standoffish than the Bushes, and ruder than the Clintons.”

It’s hard to say how much of that reputation is earned and how much of it is a shield meant to protect them against some pretty aggressive racism, including the micro and passive-aggressive kind. Or even if their alleged attitudes are even the problem at all?

For the most part, President Obama has been a pretty moderate leader. He definitely hasn’t been the reformer many had hoped he’d be in 2008. Yet that hasn’t stopped the right, as well as some within his own party, from trying to paint him as some sort of radical Black, Islamic militant named Barack X. This kind of racism, which has plagued much of the Obamas two-terms in the White House is not unusual to Black America. And the constant cultural maligning as being angry and confrontational tends to create anxiety and doubt within some of us, to the point that we are overcompensating in our genteelness in order to appear non-threatening to non-Black people.

Some of us smile more. Some of us speak in lowered and hushed tones (if at all). Some of us manipulate other behaviors and compromise a bunch while some of us try to become different people all together. And then there are some of us who will dance until White people relax.

Not sure how much the Obamas embodies the latter, but both are highly skilled and intelligent people. I’m certain we can talk to them about anything. This is particularly true of Michelle, who prior to the White House, had her own thriving career as a civil rights attorney. And yet the only use we can find for her to do is the electric slide of the White House front lawn…

President Obama Offers Condolences After Charlie Hebdo Magazine Shooting In Paris

January 7th, 2015 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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WENN

WENN

President Obama offered condolences early Wednesday morning following the “horrific” shooting that took place at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office in Paris. 12 people were killed, including 8 journalists, one guest and one police officer after masked gunmen entered the offices of the French publication, NBC News reports.

“I strongly condemn the horrific shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris that has reportedly killed 12 people,” Obama said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this terrorist attack and the people of France at this difficult time. France is America’s oldest ally, and has stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the fight against terrorists who threaten our shared security and the world.

Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended. France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers.

We are in touch with French officials and I have directed my Administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice.”

The publication recently caught a lot of backlash from Muslim groups after publishing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. According to Telegraph, a massive manhunt for the gunmen is still underway.

The Obamas Speak About Their Experiences With Racism: “I Think People Forget We’ve Lived In The White House For Six Years”

December 17th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Splash News

Splash News

In the latest issue of People magazine, Barack and Michelle Obama open up about their personal experiences with racism. According to Michelle, many people are under the impression that the two have somehow been shielded from dealing with prejudice in their everyday life—something that the first lady says is definitely not true. Check out a few highlights from their interview below

On people thinking they haven’t experienced racism,

Michelle: “I think people forget that we’ve lived in the White House for six years. Before that, Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs.”

On their experiences with racism,

Michelle: “I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”

Barack: “There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys.”

Michelle: “[One time] he was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee.”

On why we shouldn’t compare current racism to what was experienced during the civil rights era,

Barack: “The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced. It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.”

For the first couple’s full interview, pick up the latest issue of People.

Malia And Sasha Are All Grown Up And Slaying At “Christmas In Washington” Event

December 15th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Remember when the first daughters looked like this?

WENN

WENN

They were tiny little girls with big smiles trying to make the best of their new lives in Washington D.C. Well, that photograph was taken back in 2009. The one below was taken on Sunday night:

Getty

Getty

Who else feels old?

The now 16-year-old (Malia) and 13-year-old (Sasha) sisters were all smiles as they posed front and center with Michelle and Barack (and some adorable little elves) at the annual Christmas in Washington concert. Those little elves are former patients of Children’s National Medical Center, and proceeds from the night’s event went to the Center.

The First daughters looked a lot more excited about this event than they did a few weeks back when they watched their father pardon a pair of turkeys in honor of Thanksgiving. And they looked beautiful in their fun dresses with their wavy tresses and sleek updos, as did the First Lady, who looked like a million bucks. They’re definitely a beautiful family.

In 2012, President Obama said that he and Michelle were going out of their way to ensure that their daughters would be able to live normally, even though they’re growing up in the spotlight:

“Michelle is very good about making sure that we’re creating a space for them where they can have sleepovers. They can go to the mall. They can go to the movies. They’re going to homecomings at their school.”

And it looks like allowing that has helped the girls. Check out a few more pictures of the happy family below:

Getty

Getty

Getty

Getty

 

Student Teaches President Obama How To Code As White House Debuts Computer Science Initiative

December 10th, 2014 - By Ann Brown
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Secret Service Let Armed Ex-Con Ride Elevator With Obama

Source: WENN

The White House announced a new push to get young people exposed to the world of technology. To do this, the Obama Administration announced the seven largest school districts in the U.S. are joining more than 50 others to begin offering introductory computer science to all students.

There will be major focus on attracting girls and minority boys to these classes.

“While no one is born a computer scientist, becoming a computer scientist isn’t as scary as it sounds,” President Barack Obama said in a video message. “With hard work and a little math and science, anyone can do it.”

“The school districts encompassing New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, Houston and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are committing to offer the course in high school or middle school. While some large districts already have computer electives at limited campuses, all are now pledging to make computer science a standard offering district-wide,” reports The Grio.

The College Board also debuted a new course called AP Computer Science Principles to be offered in fall 2016. The aim of the new course, which is multidisciplinary and focused on real-world applications, is to engage females and underrepresented minorities to consider careers in computers.

The College Board already offers AP Computer Science A, which  concentrates on programming skills. Still it lacks minority representation; 82 percent of the students are White or Asian, and only 20 percent are female.

Recently Obama and Vice President Joe Biden met with about 20 middle school students from Newark, N.J., for an “hour of code” computing event organized by Code.org. And the president learned how do some coding.

But Obama’s efforts to reshape education policy have often been hampered by Congress. So to get around lawmakers, Obama has reached out to communities to get involved. The result has been modest. Right now, only 14 states permit a computer science course to be counted toward graduation requirements in math, science or computer science.

Some groups are looking to aid Obama. “To meet the teaching demand, charitable groups are pledging $20 million to train more teachers in computer science by the start of the 2015 school year. Google, Microsoft and philanthropists Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are among those contributing,” reports The Grio.

President Obama Sits Down With BET To Discuss Deaths Of Mike Brown, Eric Garner And Tamir Rice [Watch]

December 8th, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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BET

Some have been extremely displeased with President Obama’s responses to the Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice tragedies. So it’s interesting that he agreed to sit down with BET to discuss the deaths of these unarmed Black men, who died at the hands of police officers, Shadow And Act reports.

The network recently announced that the interview, which will be conducted by Jeff Johnson, in a press release. The appearance will air Monday, December 8 during “106 and Park” at 6 p.m. ET/PT
In a minute-long clip, the POTUS suggests that people avoid comparing the recent police-related deaths to the injustice that plagued our communities “50 years ago.”

“This isn’t going to be solved overnight. It’s deeply rooted in our society. It’s deeply rooted in our history. There are two things that are going to allow us to solve it: One is the understanding that we have made progress. It’s important to recognize—as painful as these incidents are—we can’t equate what’s happening now to what was happening 50 years ago. If you talk to your parents, grandparents, uncles, they’ll tell you that things are better. Not good, in some cases, but better.”

He went on express why he believes that it’s dangerous to walk around believing that no progress has been made.

“The reason that it’s important for us to understand that progress has been made is that it gives us hope that we can make even more progress. The second thing that I insist to these young people is that we have to be persistent because progress is in steps. It’s in increments. When you’re dealing with something as deeply rooted as racism or bias in any society, you have to have vigilance but you have to recognize that it’s going to take some time and you just have to be steady so that you don’t give up when we don’t get all the way there.”

Preview a clip from the upcoming interview on the next page. Thoughts?

Fellas, Don’t Sleep: President Obama Is Casting Votes And Stealing Girlfriends

October 21st, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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There’s so much drama in the LBC, a little levity every once in a while never hurt anybody. Today’s little feel good moment comes from our president.

President Obama was in his home stage of Illinois this morning to participate in early voting. And as you know, anytime the president shows up anywhere things get very official. People were snapping photos, the room goes extremely quiet as people wait for the president to utter a word on which they can hang. The scene was similar as the president was casting his ballot next to a woman, Aia Cooper. But things took a swift turn when Cooper’s boyfriend, Mike Jones, decided to have a little fun with the leader of the free world.

Jones walks past the President of the United States, points at him and says, “Don’t touch my girlfriend, now.”

Hilarious, right?

And since President Obama is rather witty and quick on his feet, he kept the banter going.

“There’s an example of brother just embarrassing me for no reason. Just for no reason whatsoever.”

He even predicted what Aia would say to her friends later.

“I can’t believe Mike, he’s such a fool. I was just mortified. But fortunately, fortunately the President was nice about it. So it’s aight.” 

The news transcripts read “alright” but you listen for yourself and tell me what the president said.

How nice! What could have been a mundane trip to the polls turned out to be a memorable, comedic encounter with President Obama, all because your boyfriend has no ackright.

Aia should marry that dude. Her life will never be boring.

And while Mike started it all, President Obama got the last laugh as he exited the room, hugging Cooper.

“Give me a kiss and give him something to talk about. Now, he’s really jealous.”

Yaaasss!

I’ve transcribed the juicy parts, but be sure to watch the video above to get the full effect and see what Mike and Aia had to say to the news cameras afterward.

Great moment.

Secret Service Let Armed Ex-Con Ride Elevator With The President

October 1st, 2014 - By Jazmine Denise Rogers
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Source: WENN

Source: WENN

It’s no wonder our President’s hair is turning grey by the millisecond.

Just last week, a knife-wielding man jumped the White House fence, ran across the lawn, got past Secret Service officers and made it all the way inside of the Green Room of the executive mansion. Now, it’s being reported that President Obama’s safety has been placed in jeopardy once again.

According the Washington Post, the security breach occurred two weeks ago while the POTUS was visiting the CDC in Atlanta. An armed security guard with three convictions on his record for assault and battery was allowed to ride in an elevator with Obama during the Sept. 16 visit, which was a complete violation of Secret Service protocol.

Sources familiar with the incident say that the security guard caught the attention of Service officers when he refused to comply after they asked him to stop using his cell phone to record the President in the elevator. When the elevator doors finally opened, Obama exited with most of his Secret Service agents, but a few stayed behind to question the man. After using a national database to look him up, they learned about his criminal history.

When a supervisor from the firm that the security guard worked for learned of the agents’ concerns, the guard was fired on the spot. He agreed to turn over his gun, which stunned the agents because they did not realize that he was armed during his encounter with the President.

As it turns out, extensive screening is supposed to occur beforehand to keep people with both weapons and criminal records out of arm’s reach of the President.

“You have a convicted felon within arm’s reach of the president, and they never did a background check,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said. “Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family.”

“His life was in danger,” he added. “This country would be a different world today if he had pulled out his gun.”

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on the incident and whether or not President Obama had been informed of it. Secret Service officials said that an investigation into the breach is underway.

9 Reasons Why We Love Michelle & Barack Obama

August 7th, 2014 - By Michelle Alerte
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Image Source: WENN.com

Image Source: WENN.com

Ever wonder how each president has changed your life, whether for the better or worse? In honor of the question: “Do politicians really do anything besides steal money and sleep with interns?” MN decided to look at the highlights of President Barack Obama’s career, with a little First Lady Michelle Obama thrown in for good measure. For example, did you know that only days after taking office, Obama nullified Bush-era rulings that allowed detainees in U.S. custody to undergo certain “enhanced” interrogation techniques, which were considered inhumane under the Geneva Conventions? From killing Osama Bin Laden to helping America loose weight, POTUS  and FLOTUS prove that it is possible to work in politics and make a real difference.