All Articles Tagged "President Obama"

The Problem With Only Claiming Biracial People As Black When They Excel

June 27th, 2016 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Just last week, Veronica Wells posted a great piece about the controversy brewed by Crissle, one-half of the duo behind the podcast The Read, who was of the opinion that the children of White women and Black men “will never be black. mixed at best.” That turned out to be quite the popular opinion–to our disappointment.

You already know that we disagreed strongly with that thought process, as at the base of everything, telling someone who does have a Black parent how they can and can’t identify themselves is never a good idea. Divisive “at best.” I went back and forth with a few people about it on social media but planned to scrub my brain of such an uncomfortable conversation.

But then, as Jesse Williams shared his Humanitarian Award speech during Sunday’s BET Awards and pretty much tore the house down in less than five minutes, I was struck by the fact that at the very beginning, he pointed out his parents in the audience: a White mother, a Black father. His full speech about racial justice would leave the crowd at the BET Awards on their feet, and Black people all over the Internet incredibly roused and inspired. But after some of the comments I read about biracial children last week, I could only laugh: “Oh. Now he’s Black, huh?”

When I talked about it with one of my co-workers today, she dropped a word: “You know we love to claim them for their excellence.” All I could say was, “Ain’t that the truth?”

People can have whatever opinions they please, but one can’t help but to wonder about consistency. If you believe biracial children who identify as Black are just mixed, do you always identify President Obama as such? Halle Berry? Alicia Keys? Jasmine Guy? Sade? Faith Evans? Drake? Lenny Kravitz? Amandla Stenberg? Writer James McBride? Bob Marley? NAACP head Benjamin Jealous? Frederick Douglass? Booker T. Washington and a whole host of others? Now, how would you identify them to their face?

And what if your sibling had a child with a White man or woman? Would you look your niece or nephew in the eye when they say they’re Black and tell them, “No, actually, you’re not”?

I ask because the problem is, a lot of people pick and choose, but would embrace many of the people mentioned for their talents, for their accomplishments, and as my enlightened colleague pointed out, “for their excellence.” That’s not only incredibly confusing, but admittedly hurtful to those who are mixed race. Why we go out of our way to try and be authoritative, the gatekeepers of Blackness, when many of us don’t even know where we come from and can barely stand when people try and remind us on-screen and off, I’ll never understand.

Now, if these same well-known individuals just said “I am mixed race, and that’s how identify,” that would be one thing. But all of have identified as Black. And I’m sure they’ve been looked at, and more importantly, treated as Black by the rest of the world. And it’s that struggle of what comes with being treated in a certain way because of brown skin that we can all relate to, whether both of our parents are Black or just one.

And what many people may have missed in Williams’s speech, going back to his shout-out to his parents, was him thanking them for “teaching me to focus on comprehension over career. They made sure I learned what the schools were afraid to teach us.”

Williams is as “woke” as people say he is because of the influence of both of his parents. Again, his White mother and his Black father. And the same goes for a lot of the aforementioned individuals. Those people, whom we value, whose accomplishments we applaud, and whom we identify as Black when we see fit, wouldn’t be who and where they are without the influence of their White and Black parent (or lack thereof). So if we’re going to celebrate Williams for his speech about the treatment of Black men and women in this country, I just hope those same people who pick and choose who they want to be Black and when they want them to be remember that he is a biracial man, whom through his experiences and educating himself, chose to identify as Black. If you embrace him, then I don’t want to hear too much more bootenchatter about “They’re just mixed, not Black.”

For the love of all things good in the world, the last thing we need to do is find more ways to divide ourselves. We do it enough already in the ways we tell one another that we’re not Black enough, and that we need to stop “trying” to be “African” when we choose to embrace certain styles of fashion, whether it be a dashiki, Kente cloth or Ankara print. Let’s not try to perpetuate such hatred of telling biracial men and women that they’re not one of us all because we’ve had our own identities questioned over and over. At the end of the day, how does that help anyone or anything? At a time when we need to do better about coming together, doing anything less is a waste of it.

The Obama Effect: Ethnic Names Are Trending

June 23rd, 2016 - By Clarissa Joan
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Image Source: Pete Souza/White House

Image Source: Pete Souza/White House

Whether you watched the original 1977 miniseries, Roots, or the 2016 remake, you remember when the beaten and bloody Kunta Kinte, a strong Mandinka warrior, finally succumbed to his American slave name, “Toby.” For African Americans, the pressure to assimilate to European culture and to subjugate African American culture is a struggle as old as “The Middle Passage.” What some call “Black Pride” has had sporadic mainstream relevance via Africana movements and organizations like The Black Panther Party, The Move People, and The Nation of Islam.

Now we have The Obama Effect!

A Texas A&M University study published in the Ethnics and Racial Studies journal discovered that post the 2008 election of President Barack Obama, culturally relevant names have been trending amongst African Americans parents.

According to Anderson-Clark and Green, the election of the first African American President was ‘likely to have positively affected the self-perceptions of African Americans regarding personal and collective feelings about being African American’. It would only follow, then, that African American parents might choose to reinforce their pride in their group identity through the names they chose for their children — a process called “basking in reflected glory.”

An article by Science Daily reports:

To find out if this was indeed the case, Anderson-Clark and Green analyzed the names of hundreds of African American babies born both before and after Obama’s election. They also measured their mothers’ personal and collective self-esteem with the help of questionnaires.

While naming a child according to one’s own racial or ethnic pride is a great thing, the Texas A&M researchers remind parents to be wary of the “unintended consequences” of giving their child such unique names.

“The ethnic sound of a child’s name may affect how the child is treated by others, such as teachers,” Anderson-Clark and Green wrote. “In reality then, the issue becomes a balancing act of choosing to affirm one’s racial identity through the expression of names while attempting to avoid the prejudice and discrimination that might be elicited through those names.”

There is a famous quote by Shakespeare that poetically reflects on the power of a name.

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Is a Black man named Barack more proud of his ethnicity than a Black man named Michael? In the realm of credibility, is the boy named Joseph a better student than the boy named Nasir? Is there any way to actually prevent discrimination against ethnic names?

The study, “Basking In Reflected Glory: The Election of President Obama and Naming Behaviour,” was able to track a trend in what names parents chose for their children before and after The Obama Effect. It implies that a Black man with an ethnic name in position as the President of The United States of America boosts the confidence of other Black persons to take pride in their heritage. It also refers to the names of the newborns as means of identification and celebration of the African American culture.

What’s in your name? Does it give you pride? How much does your name matter in the scope of your cultural identity? We want to know!


Clarissa Joan is a spiritual life coach and editor-in-chief of The Clarissa Joan Experience, a multi-media inspirational platform. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband, their two girls, and a yorkie named Ace.

Who Run The World? The Highlights From The United States Of Women Summit

June 15th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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The Highlights From The United States Of Women Summit

Source: AP Images

Yesterday, in our nation’s capital, women took center stage as the White House hosted their first ever United States of Women Summit. Women like senior advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett, actress Amy Poehler, actress Kerry Washington, Oprah and so many more converged at the summit to speak about everything women.

There were so many highlights from the all day event. And the White House even posted a video of the entire thing. But since many of us are at work and don’t have all that extra time, here are a few of the highlights.

First, our little favorite Mikaila Ulmer, the 11-year-old founder of “Me & the Bees Lemonade” spoke about dreams and entrepreneurship before she introduced President Obama. She offered a bit of advice for all of us. “Only a kid would think you could change the world with a lemonade stand…My advice to anyone who’s looking to start a business, Be Fearless, believe in the impossible and dream like a kid.”

When President Obama took the podium, he commended Mikaila saying:

“I was just told backstage, when she was asked to introduce me, there were some folks who were organizing this amazing event that said, is she going to feel a little nervous speaking in front of 5,000 people?  And so they asked her and she said, oh, no, I just spoke to 11,000 last week.  (Laughter and applause.)  So we were looking backstage — she was on her tippy-toes with her entrepreneurial self.  (Laughter.)”

The little girl is not only a bawse, she’s an inspiration.

As for President Obama, he started by letting the room know where he stands. “I may be a little grayer than I was eight years ago, but this is what a feminist looks like.” speaking about one of the most recent milestones in his life, watching his eldest daughter Malia Obama graduate from high school.

“Some of you may know that on Friday, my older daughter Malia graduated from high school.  (Applause.)  And I sat in the back and wore dark glasses.  (Laughter.)  And only cried once, but it was — I made this weird sound because I was choking back — (makes crying sound) — (laughter) — and people looked at me, people sitting in front of us turned back.  And then I suppressed it.  (Laughter.)  But I was thinking about how she is graduating at this extraordinary time for women in America.”

He went on to list the road we’ve traveled and how far we’ve come, including women’s college enrollment, the availability of birth control and how his Affordable Care Act has made birth control free. But he also talked about the progress we have yet to make, saying:

“We need equal pay for equal work.  (Applause.)  We need paid family and sick leave.  (Applause.)  We need affordable child care.  We’ve got to raise the minimum wage.  (Applause.)  If we’re truly a nation of family values, we wouldn’t put up with the fact that many women can’t even get a paid day off to give birth.  (Applause.)  We should guarantee paid maternity leave and paid paternity leave, too.  That’s how you value families.  (Applause.)  That’s how employers retain great workers.  And it’s good for women — because when childcare falls disproportionately on mothers, as it often does, it makes it that much harder to advance in their careers.”

Then he got to the tougher work of changing our minds.

“We’re going to have to be honest with ourselves.  We’re going to have to change something else.  We’re going to have to change the way we see ourselves.  And this is happening already, but I want us to be more intentional about it.  I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but we’re still boxed in by stereotypes about how men and women should behave.

As the great Shirley Chisholm once said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begin when the doctor says, ‘It’s a girl.’”  (Applause.)  And that has consequences for all of us, whether we’re men or women, black, white, gay, straight, transgender or otherwise.

We need to keep changing the attitude that raises our girls to be demure, and our boys to be assertive; that criticizes our daughters for speaking out, and our sons for shedding a tear.

We need to change the attitude that punishes women for their sexuality but gives men a pat on the back for theirs.  (Applause.)  We need to change an Internet where women are routinely harassed and threatened when they go online.

We need to keep changing the attitude that congratulates men for changing a diaper, stigmatizes full-time dads, penalizes working moms.  (Applause.)
We need to keep changing the attitude that prioritizes being confident, competitive, and ambitious in the workplace — unless you’re a woman.  (Applause.)

He made a point to speak to the girls and women of color.

“We need to keep changing a culture that shines a particularly unforgiving light on women and girls of color.  (Applause.)  About how they look, about how they feel, about what they should or should not do.  (Applause.)  Michelle will talk about this in a little bit.  She’s talked about this.  Despite her extraordinary achievements and success, the fact that she is — she is an American original, she is unique, but she still had times where she’s had doubts, where she’s had to worry whether she was acting the right way or looking the right way, or whether she was being too assertive or too angry.  You remember that?”

I particularly enjoyed the moment where he shouted out Harriet Tubman being placed on the new money and other Black women who’ve shaped our country.

But our country is not just all about the Benjamins — it’s about the Tubmans, too.  (Applause.)  We need all our young people to know that Clara Barton and Lucretia Mott and Sojourner Truth and Eleanor Roosevelt and Dorothy Height, those aren’t just for Women’s History Month.  They’re the authors of our history, women who shaped their destiny.  They need to know that.  (Applause.)

You can watch President Obama’s full speech in the video below.

As President Obama mentioned in the opening remarks of his speech, most of the attendees were there to see Michelle and Oprah. The two women sat down for a nearly 45 minute interview. Oprah started the conversation asking about the importance of loving yourself and the pressure of living up to other’s people’s expectations.

“One of the things that I always tell my mentees, I tell my daughters is that our first job in life as women, I think, is to get to know ourselves. And a lot of times, we don’t do that. We spend our time pleasing, satisfying, looking out into the world to define who we are, listening to the messages, the images, the limited definitions that people have of who we are. And that’s true for women of color, for sure. There’s a limited box that we are put in and if we live by that limited definition, we miss out on a lot of who we are…So for me, I came into this with a pretty clear sense of myself. So when I hear the smack talking from outside the world, it’s easy to sort of brush that off because I know who I am.”

Later she said,

“I knew that I would have to define this role, very uniquely and specifically to me and who I was. So I came in thinking about who I wanted to be in this position and who I needed to be for my girls first of all. You remember, Malia and Sasha were little, itty bitties, when we came into office.  It still moves me to tears to think about the first day I put them in the car, with their secret service agents, to go to their first day of school. And I saw them leaving and I thought, ‘What on earth am I doing to these babies?’ So I knew right then and there my first job was to make sure that they were going to be whole and normal and cared for in the midst of all this craziness. And then I started to understand that if I was going to protect them, I had to number one protect myself and protect my time…One of the things I realized is that if you do not take control of your time and your life, other people will gobble it up.”

When Oprah said she’s never heard men say ‘I just don’t have the time,’ Michelle responded, ‘You know why? Because they don’t have to balance anything. Sorry. I hope that that is changing but so many men don’t have to do it all.”

To that point, later in the conversation Mrs. Obama offered some advice to men: Be better.

“Be better at everything. Be better fathers,” she said during a conversation with one-time talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. “Just being good fathers who love your daughters and are providing a solid example of what it means to be a good man in the world. That is the greatest gift that the men in my life gave to me…”Be engaged. Don’t just think going to work and coming home makes you a man. Be better. Just be better. I could go on, but I’m not. You get the point, fellas.”

She also spoke about the advantage of having good parents but offered some words of encouragement for those who didn’t have them.

“But if you don’t have that parent, that mother, that father, then you got to find it. They’re out there. There is somebody out there who loves you and is waiting to love you. And that means you have to make room for them. And if you’re surrounded by a bunch of low life folks who aren’t supporting you, then there is no room for people that do love you.”

You can watch the full interview in the video below. It’s chock full of gems.

President Obama Officially Declares June 2016 African-American Music Appreciation Month

June 4th, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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As his presidency comes to a close, Barack Obama, is going out with a bang. Within his two terms he’s made some major changes in the country and his latest is one of cultural homage. On May 31, Obama declared the month of June 2016 “African-American Music Appreciation Month” in a presidential proclamation.

Although June was first deemed “Black Music Month” by Jimmy Carter and campaigned for by songwriter and producer Kenneth Gamble back in 1979, Obama felt strongly that an official proclamation was more appropriate, especially as our first Black President.

The full text of the proclamation calls African-American music “among the most innovative and powerful art the world has ever known.” President Obama also calls upon “public officials, educators, and people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate activities and programs that raise awareness and foster appreciation of music that is composed, arranged, or performed by African Americans.”

Image Source: Tumblr

Image Source: Tumblr

Throughout his time in office, Obama has shared his love for lyricists like Kendrick Lamar and Mos Def and have praised singers like Mary J. Blige and Erykah Badu. He has even met with a slew of musicians ranging from J. Cole to Chance the Rapper to Nicki Minaj to Pusha T to discuss the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative — a way to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.

“This month, we celebrate the music that reminds us that our growth as a Nation and as people is reflected in our capacity to create great works of art,” he continued. “Let us recognize the performers behind this incredible music, which has compelled us to stand up — to dance, to express our faith through song, to march against injustice, and to defend our country’s enduring promise of freedom and opportunity for all.”

13 Times It Was Evident That President Obama Loves The Kids

May 10th, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Prepare the tissues.  If you haven’t seen the video of President Obama with Little Miss Flint, the adorable and inspiring 8-year-old girl who met the President after writing him a letter and inviting him to her hometown of Flint, Michigan, you can watch it here.  Go ahead.  We’ll wait.

Not only did budding activist Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny call more attention to Flint’s ongoing lead contamination water crisis, but also, the third grader’s “mind was blown” upon meeting President Obama, something she never thought would happen.  In an interview with CBS News, the young girl said she’s learned that “one girl can change the world.”

The beautiful moment she jumped into President Obama’s arms made us reflect on all the moments he has spent with his daughters and other children during his historic presidency.  His obvious love and respect for children is one of the many reasons President Obama will be missed once he leaves office.  It’s safe to say that the White House will never be the same.

President Obama Delivers Commencement Speech To Howard Graduates: “Be Confident In Your Blackness”

May 8th, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Yesterday (May 7), social media timelines were flooded with with two epic hashtags: Barack Obama Howard University, as the President presented an outstanding commencement speech to the graduating class.

Obama’s 45-minute speech consisted of pushing for change, voting and most importantly the idea of shaping our collective future by being passionate about African-American heritage. “Be confident in your heritage. Be confident in your blackness,” he said. “Create your own style, set your own standard of beauty, embrace your own sexuality. Because you’re a black person — doing whatever it is that you’re doing — that makes it a black thing! Or,” the president continued, “as my daughters tell me all the time: ‘You be you, Daddy.’”

The President also spoke on issues that are still lingering in the country such as gender way gap, mass incarceration and education. And of course, he brought things right on home and into perspective by stressing how the spectrum of the free world is impacted by voting.

“You have to go through life with more than just a passion for change — you have to have strategy,” he explained. “Not just awareness but action, not just hashtags but votes.

Well, congratulations are definitely in order for Obama, who delivered his most profound commencement speeches of his presidency. Press play and watch President Obama’s full commencement speech below.

The Funniest And Most Provocative Moments From President Obama’s Final WHCD

May 2nd, 2016 - By Nneka Samuel
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Image Source: Shutterstock

Image Source: Shutterstock

On Saturday, April 30, President Obama delivered his 8th and final White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech.  As always, his remarks were filled with smart jokes, clever political jabs and, for the first time, a mic drop to end all mic drops.

Following President Obama was no easy feat, but ‘twas comedian and the host of The Nightly Show, Larry Wilmore’s job for the night.  If you haven’t already heard, one Wilmore comment, in particular, left many folks, shall we say, less than thrilled.  Here are the top moments from President Obama’s last WHCD.

Image Source: AP/Susan Walsh

Image Source: AP/Susan Walsh

You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone

After his brief introduction, President Obama walked up to the podium with the song “When I’m Gone” playing in the background.  “You can’t say it, but you know it’s true,” joked the President, reflecting on the song’s lyrics. “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”  It’s definitely true.  You will be missed, Mr. President!

Black Lives Matter: 6th Grade Boys Write Letter To President Obama

April 11th, 2016 - By Chad Milner
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From left to right: Phoenix, Zayd, Bryson and Keidy, all sixth graders at Wildwood Elementary in Amherst.

From left to right: Phoenix, Zayd, Bryson and Keidy, all sixth graders at Wildwood Elementary in Amherst.

Phoenix, Zayd, Bryson, and Keidy of Wildwood Elementary School in Amherst, MA, are sixth graders who are doing their part to make the world a better place.

In February, the boys’ teacher, Chris Eggmeir, assigned a project in which his students were instructed to find a problem in the world and explore possible solutions to it. Bryson had become interested in the Black Lives Matter movement and proposed to his group members that they take on racism, with Black Lives Matter being a potential solution to it.

After doing the research, the boys decided to draft a letter to President Obama, lamenting their thoughts, frustrations, and hopes as young Black males in America.  Before sending it, the boys asked a paraprofessional, Mtalia William Banda, at their school to edit the letter.  Banda posted the letter on his politically-driven blog, Soul Latte, saying “I knew immediately this needed to be shared.”

Upon posting, the letter has been shared thousands of times and the boys have been featured on Western Massachusetts news outlets.  Phoenix, Zayd, Bryson, and Keidy recently read the their letter aloud at a Black Lives Matter forum in their home state.

In the letter, after addressing President Obama and introducing themselves, the boys state that because of Black Lives Matter, they want to voice their concerns about equal treatment by members of law enforcement.  The four young men also explain the origins of the Black Live Matter movement starting after Trayvon Martin was gunned down and give statistics that ultimately suggest one of them could personally fall victim to the prison system in some capacity or another.

The most poignant part of the letter is towards the end. Many have been confused and against Black Lives Matter because they assume that it’s racist, while others have been asking “Why don’t all lives matter?”  The four break this down in a manner that most can understand:

“… Some people take this movement in the wrong way by thinking that they are just saying that only Black lives matter but no, we are saying that Black lives matter too, which means all lives matter.  Whites are treated like they matter by the police.  For instance, one in three Black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.  African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.  This shows that blacks are treated unfairly.  This movement advocates for our rights.”  

As of yet, President Obama hasn’t responded to the boys’ letter.  At Madamenoire, we’re just doing our part to make sure the message gets heard.  You can read the full letter here.  

Chad Milner is a New York-based writer who founded the blog Single Dadventures, where he pens his (mis)adventures with his daughter, Cydney.  He regularly contributes to Madamenoire, as well as various websites, giving insight on parenting, dating, relationships and music from the perspective of a young, single Black father.  Follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

“America Is A Nation Of Second Chances” President Obama Commuted The Sentences Of 61 People

April 1st, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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In the beginning, when the notion of the first Black president was still just a joke, comedians used to say that once he was elected, all Black people, who were once incarcerated, were going to be freed. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Not even close.

But earlier this week, President Obama did pardon 61 inmates charged with non-violent crimes, most of them low-level drug offenders.

Not only did he pardon them, he welcomed some of them, along with those pardoned by President Clinton and President Bush, to the White House. Afterward, he took them out to lunch.

The president shared the meeting through a live Facebook chat.

He also shared these words.

I’m about to drop by a meeting with a few folks whose prison sentences were commuted either by President Bush, President Clinton, or me. They don’t know this yet, but I’m going to invite them to join me for lunch so I can hear their stories firsthand.

They’re Americans who’d been serving time on the kind of outdated sentences that are clogging up our jails and burning through our tax dollars. Simply put, their punishments didn’t fit the crime.

Today, I issued 61 more commutations to folks a lot like these – most of them are low-level drug offenders whose sentences would have been shorter if they were convicted under today’s laws. I believe America is a nation of second chances, and with hard work, responsibility, and better choices, people can change their lives and contribute to our society.

That’s why as long as I’m President, I’m going to keep working for a justice system that restores a sense of fairness, uses tax dollars more wisely, and keeps our communities safe.

You can watch the touching video below.

According to the White House, President Obama has now commuted sentences for 248 people as a way to assert his commitment to reform our current criminal justice system.

Girl Who Cried Because President Obama Is Leaving The White House, Got To Meet Him

March 30th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Girl Who Cried Because President Obama Is Leaving The White House, Got To Meet Him

Source: Facebook

Last month, we told you about Traci Braxton feeling comfortable enough to call out “Heeey Michelle” in the White house, during a press conference. It’s always the moments like those that remind us that we’re really going to miss the First Family.

No one echoed those sentiments better than first-grader Kamaria Crayton. When her grandmother told her that President Obama was only allowed to serve two terms and would be leaving the White House, she cried…wailed actually, until her grandmother suggested that she write him a letter.

Which is exactly what little Kameria did. Luckily, that letter got her an invitation to the White House.

The first-grader got a chance to meet the President during this past weekend’s Easter Egg Roll.

You can watch their meeting in the video below.