All Articles Tagged "michelle obama"
We were pretty stoked to learn that Michelle Obama attended BET’s Black Girls Rock event last weekend. However, we also realized that it would only be a matter of time before the backlash ensued. Last year, #whitegirlsrock was trending on Twitter during the broadcast of the event, so you can imagine how salty folks were this year when the First Lady of the United States was in the building.
Most of the complaints were left on Mrs. O’s Instagram page after her Personal Aide Kristin Jones announced that she would be taking over the account from the event Saturday.
“I am all for the empowerment of disadvantaged groups, I just don’t see how alienating an oppressed group i.e. women by focusing on a subset of that group, helps anyone,” wrote one commenter.
“If a white person posted this and it said white girls rock…the sh-t would hit the fan,” wrote another.
“Black Girls Rock is leaving out all other girls of color. Brown is a color, yellow is a color, red is a color and yes, white is still a color. One day racism will end because we no longer NOTICE the color of our fellow human beings. ALL girls rock,” someone else chimed in.
Of course, there were also plenty of Instagram users who were vocal about their support of Lady O’s participation in the movement.
“To all my fellow white women: Why is uplifting our sisters of color a bad thing for us, exactly? Go read the news, see a movie, or watch TV, and look at the stereotypes of African Americans still face, especially young women. This group of ladies need to know that that image is not their reality #BlackGirlsRock,” a commenter expressed.
So far, Mrs. Obama’s administration team has not commented on the backlash.
Are you surprised by any of this?
Hey everyone! My name is Kristin Jones, and I'm the First Lady's Personal Aide and Director of Special Projects. I'm taking over her Instagram account today from @BETNetworks' #BlackGirlsRock, an event to help empower and mentor young women of color. Follow along for some behind-the-scenes moments, and make sure to tune in to BET on April 5th to see the First Lady!
I don’t have to tell you that Raven-Symone has been all over the news ever since she told Oprah that she wasn’t African American. Instead, she preferred to drop the African part. And then later, during her appearance on “The View” Raven wondered if the Univision reporter likened Michelle Obama to an ape in, like a racist way.
Right. Side-eyes all around.
Anyway, during a recent interview with E!, that just recently started gaining traction on social media, Raven sought to clarify her comments. Take a look at what she said and tell us if she made it better or worse.
About “defending” the Univision host for his Michelle Obama comments
I don’t know if I was defending. I don’t think I was defending. I think that he got fired for a reason. It was very distasteful what he said. It was very distasteful. I don’t believe she looks like one at all. I don’t believe she should have been casted. But I do know that a lot of people I know have animal traits…I think Michelle Obama looks like a little cat.
I think that every time there’s something dealing with race, that is still an open wound and you try to look at it from a different standpoint, people are going to get mad. Especially when it’s socially out–blasted– and people don’t read the whole story. Just like a lot of my comments, people don’t read into the whole story and so they say that I said this and that I’m trying to be a different race. I’m not. I’m not trying to be.
On her not being African American
I never said I wasn’t Black. I said I wasn’t African American. To me, that’s a difference. Thank you to Ancestry.com, actually, for sending me my DNA test. I am from every continent in Africa, except for one. And I am from every continent in Europe, except for one. And for the last 400 years, my family has been living in Virginia. How long do you have to be in one country before you’re that?
We’re a melting pot of beauty. We have to embrace the different cultures we have. And if we don’t we’re still going to have these problems that are blasting up everywhere…And you can come for me if you want to; I’m sorry, but you’re an American too. Don’t hide your American-ism.
Well…that was a lot to handle right there. With Michelle Obama, there seems to not only be a little bit of backtracking from her original stance (It’s distasteful now.); but what’s more disheartening, is the general lack of ignorance when it comes to the very hateful language and comparisons that have been made against Black people. One of them comparing us to monkeys. Raven just doesn’t seem to know. How could she know and not even fathom that he was saying it “racist-like”? Is she pretending these things don’t exist anymore in an attempt to live in a better world or does she really have no idea? I can’t tell.
Then there was the comment about her ancestors having lived in Virginia for the last 400 years. Possible…but they would have had to come over around the Jamestown/Pocahontas days way back in the early 1600’s. Possible…
And we’re not going to even talk about Raven saying that she’s from every continent in both Africa and Europe. First, it’s country. And secondly, having taken this same test, she might have interpreted these results the wrong way. They highlight the regions…not necessarily every country in that region. But whatevs. We’ll let Raven carry on. What do you think about her comments?
You can watch her full interview in the video below.
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?
Fix It Jesus! Raven-Symoné Questions Why Univision Reporter Was Fired For “Planet Of The Apes” Comment About Michelle Obama
During an appearance on The View, Raven-Symoné jumped to the defense of Venezuelan journalist Rodner Figueroa who was fired last week after he compared First Lady Michelle Obama to the cast of Planet Of The Apes on Univision’s El Gordo y La Flaca.
“Well did he say it racist like?,” she asked. “Because he said he voted for her later [in his letter] and I believe he wasn’t saying it in a racist way. I don’t think he said it in a racist way!”
After being fired, Figueroa wrote an apology letter to Mrs. Obama (whose office sent a complaint letter to Univision about his comments) and even mentioned he was of Afro-Venezuelan descent. Although, his sorrowful apology did not resonate with most, Raven-Symoné said Figueroa should’ve been allowed to keep his job because “some people look like animals.”
Afterward, Rosie Perez shut the conversation all the way down by noting:
“I am the Latin person here on this table and I would like to tell you that it was racist. Period. And the thing is this is a problem in our Latin community that we do not talk about—that we do not address. It is real, and it was revealed by this man’s statement. And you do not disrespect the First Lady of our country.”
After Rosie’s applaud-worthy comment, Raven countered, “Michelle don’t fire me for this right now, but some people look like animals. I look like a bird, so can I be mad if someone calls me Tucan Sam?!”
As of late, Raven-Symoné has made a number of controversial statements about race and blackness. In an interview with Oprah last year, Raven told the media maven she is American and not African-American and tired of labels. Though labels can be limiting and exhausting, it is troubling to see Raven constantly deny her race and culture publicly when in fact her acting career was built around Black representation in television (i.e. The Cosby Show, Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, That’s So Raven and The Cheetah Girls). Her comments make the Western Black experience look small and irrelevant. Twitter users reacted to her recent statements with a vengeance:
— Becky Dash (@ugglyyy) March 17, 2015
Casting folk stop hiring Raven Symone to play BW because she does not identify as Black & defends antiBlack statements. Know your audience! — Bougie Black Girl (@BougieBlackGurl) March 17, 2015
ClarenceThomas,DonLemon,StaceyDash,KanyeWest,PharrellWilliams,RavenSymone, BenCarson,HermanCain,CondoleezaRice,JonathanCapehart. #Sigh
— Son of Baldwin (@SonofBaldwin) March 17, 2015
Below is footage of her View appearance. What do you think about Raven’s comments?
via For Harriet
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…
Update: Quien Se Está Riendo Ahora? Univision Reporter Fired For Comparing Michelle Obama To ‘Planet Of The Apes’
Update 3/13/2015: Rodner Figueroa issued an open letter apology letter to First Lady Michelle Obama after Univision terminated him. Thanks VOXXI, his letter was translated for clarity and it read:
Dearest First Lady Michelle Obama,
I offer my sincerest apologies for the commentary I made about you, using a portrait of you rendered by a makeup artist for Univision’s entertainment show “El Gordo y la Flaca” yesterday (Wednesday), and which was misinterpreted.
I want to clarify that I am not a racist, and in no way was my commentary directed at you, but rather the rendition of such artist, which left much to be desired. The whole clip of the video proves this with proper context.
I feel ashamed; I ask you for forgiveness, because there is no excuse for a professional such as myself to make comments that could be interpreted as offensive and racist in a moment where our country is living through such volatile times. I take responsibility for the lack of judgment on my behalf, but I can’t accept to be classified as a racist by anyone or to be fired for being such – humiliated publicly by Univision after 17 years in this company.
I come from a bi-racial Latino family, with relatives, such as my father, of the Afro-Latino race. I’m the first openly gay news personality in Hispanic TV, and I’ve been an activist of causes that favor minorities, that like me, have been discriminated against. I voted openly for your husband, Barack Obama, twice, because I think he’s a great man who respects minorities such as myself in this country.
I worked in two shows for Univision where I would comment on the look of many celebrities, including royal families, first ladies of Latin America, and I’ve never offended anyone for the color of their skin, sexual orientation or nationality. I’m a decent person, but a human no less, and I commit errors such as this one. And no matter how distasteful and out of line my comment might have been interpreted, I don’t deserve to be called a racist, and I have to defend myself out of love and respect for my family, my father, my fans and the community.
I was verbally notified that because of a complaint coming from your office I was fired, and because of leaked information by Univision executives, I was condemned in social media, trying to destroy my career in an unjust manner, without even giving me an official written notification and without an investigation that could perhaps clear the situation.
Again, I offer my humble apology for this misunderstanding, and I assume responsibility.
To see what Figueroa’s parents look like, check out their photo on TMZ!
Original Report- 3/12/2015:
Venezuelan reporter Rodner Figueroa has been fired after he compared First Lady Michelle Obama’s physical features to the cast of the movie Planet of the Apes during a segment on Univision’s El Gordo y La Flaca segment. The comment ignited a backlash on social media prompting the network to release the following statement to Latino Rebel:
“Yesterday during our entertainment program “El Gordo y La Flaca” Rodner Figueroa made comments regarding First Lady Michelle Obama that were completely reprehensible and in no way reflect Univision’s values or views. As a result, Mr. Figueroa was immediately terminated.”
Figueroa has been deleted from the Univision site, however, he still notes on his Twitter that he is a television host for Univision and recipient of an Emmy award.
Here are some of the reactions on Twitter to Figueroa’s comments:
— Pedro Rafael Rosado (@prrosado) March 12, 2015
— dcdude (@dcvatodude) March 12, 2015
There are others who believe Figueroa made a mistake when he said his comment, but we believe that not to be true. Watch the segment below to form your opinion:
A new program just announced by President Obama will help get tens of millions of young girls in school globally. And First Lady Michelle Obama its hitting the road to promote it. First she’ll travel to Japan and Cambodia later this month.
Obama is pursuing his “Let Girls Learn” initiative because more than 60 million girls are being denied schooling for a variety of reasons.
“We’re making it clear to any country that’s our partner or wants to be our partner that they need to get serious about increasing the number of girls in school,” Obama said.
And according to Mrs. Obama, her office and the Peace Corps will work jointly to highlight community-based solutions.
The Peace Corps’s “Let Girls Learn” program will begin in Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo, and Uganda, reports The Huffington Post.
Mrs. Obama will travel alone to Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan, from March 18-20 and Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia from March 21-22.
Mrs. Obama said she wants the initiative to inspire girls in the United States.
“I want our young people to be awed by these girls, but more importantly I want them to be inspired and motivated by these girls,” she said.
Give Them Their Flowers Now: Black Women Who Will Go Down In The History Books For Their Contributions
They’re bold visionaries who are an inspiration to not just black women, but all women. And just like many of the women who have come before them, they will go down in history for their contributions and accomplishments. But instead of waiting to celebrate them long after they’re gone, it’s only fitting to recognize their accomplishments now.
Some are more familiar than others; but each of them are playing a major role in changing the world and the representation of black women, and we appreciate them for that.
So as we prepare to close Black History Month, let’s celebrate our sisters who are paving the way for us all.
For the first time ever, Cooking Light has decided to feature a person on the cover of their publication, but of course, they didn’t select just any person. On the cover of their history-making issue appears none other than the lovely Michelle Obama. The special March 2015 issue also commemorates the 5th anniversary of the FLOTUS’ popular Let’s Move campaign.
Inside, the mom of two discusses the importance of dining together as a family on a nightly basis and also, how making simple changes in her daughters’ diets drastically improved their health. We should also mention that she was a busy working mom at the time when these changes were made. According to Lady O, it all began during a trip to the doctor’s office after she was informed by the girls’ pediatrician that something was “a little off.”
“So we made very simple changes as a result of what our pediatrician told us,” Michelle recalled. “I cooked probably one or two more meals, and it was something simple—maybe a baked chicken, couscous, steamed broccoli. I kept it simple but made sure there was always a vegetable and always a good grain on the plate.”
She also decided to slash processed foods from Sasha and Malia’s diets and while she didn’t deprive them of juice, she did water down sugary beverages in hopes of gradually weaning them off.
“More importantly, we just eliminated all the processed foods, all those packaged lunches, all of the canned juices. We started using fresh-squeezed juice and added more water into their diet. So when the kids were thirsty, we would even mix water in juice just to dilute it so it would get them out of that habit of wanting that sugary taste. And the kids adapted to the changes very quickly.”
Her efforts certainly were not in vain, by the time the girls were due back for a doctor’s visit, he noticed a drastic difference.
“By the time we went back for the next visit, our pediatrician said, ‘What have you done?’ And I was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘I haven’t seen these numbers change in such a short period of time in this way in a while.’ And that’s when we started having the conversation of just how easy—it’s about information and knowledge. I didn’t know, but once I had the information, it was fairly easy to make the changes.”
She also shared a cute story about how Obama-family-personal-chef-turned-White-House-Food-Initiative-Coordinator assisted in the elimination of processed food from the Obama family diet.
“My kids loved the macaroni and cheese in a box. And he said, if it’s not real food then we’re not going to do it. If we want macaroni and cheese, we’ll cook it with real milk and real cheese. He said, there’s nothing wrong with mac and cheese, but it’s got to be real food.
So my oldest daughter [Malia], who was probably 8 at the time, he took a block of cheese and he said, if you can cut this cheese up into the powder that is the cheese of the boxed macaroni and cheese, then we’ll use it. She sat there for 30 minutes trying to pulverize a block of cheese into dust. I mean, she was really focused on it, and it just didn’t work, so she had to give up. And from then on, we stopped eating macaroni and cheese out of a box, because cheese dust is not food, as was the moral of that story.”
As for the importance of family dining together each night, Michelle says she learned this particular lesson from her own parents.
“My dad was a shift worker, so there were some dinner times when he was at work, but whenever he was there we would sit around the table with the plastic tablecloth, and that’s when we would catch up and we’d talk about what we were eating, talk about what was going on in the day.
And it’s that tradition that Barack and I really try to incorporate in our lives, even though we’re extremely busy in the White House. We’ve found that we’ve been able to have dinner every—almost every night together, between 6:30 and 7:00. We have a bigger table and somebody else is doing the cooking, but the conversation and the mood and the tone are still the same. It’s our most important time of the day.”
Check out more from her interview here.
Follow Jazmine on Twitter @JazmineDenise