All Articles Tagged "President Obama"

President Obama Allocates $80M To State Of Michigan To Aid Flint Water Crisis

January 23rd, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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AP Images

AP Images

Over the past week, the city of Flint, Michigan has been making headlines for their water crisis that’s been going on for the past year.

Due to a cost-cutting move by a state-appointment emergency manager, the cities water supply has been contaminated with extreme levels of lead. So basically, anyone that came in contact with tap water in Flint was susceptible to deadly toxins. With steady complaints of the smell, color and taste of the water supply, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder finally called a state of emergency on Jan. 12. The National Guard assisted with destruction of bottled water and water filters, according to USA Today.

However, the people of Flint still need much help from the federal government to overcome.

Yesterday (Jan. 22), President Obama announced that his administration would be providing the state of Michigan with $80 million to aid in the repair of Flint’s contaminated water supply, in addition to the initial $5 million that was allocated. While all the funds given are available immediately, it is unsure just how much money the city of Flint will actually receive, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“Our children should not have to be worried about the water that they’re drinking in American cities,” President Obama said during a U.S. Conference of Mayors event at the White House. “That’s not something that we should accept.

ICYMI: Wale Was The Opening Performance At Obama’s Final State Of The Union

January 16th, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Back at the house 🔵🌙

A photo posted by Wale (@wale) on

Tuesday (Jan. 12), was a big night for hip-hop, the White House, and rapper Wale, as the D.C. native made history has the first rapper to open a State of the Union address.

After a warm introduction from Terrence J, Wale took the stage and rocked the crowd at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with an array of his hits including the 2009 Lady Gaga-assisted “Chillin,” The White Shoes, and “LoveHate Thing,” a personal favorite amongst many, including Obama himself who requested he add that to his set list.

🔵🌙

A video posted by Wale (@wale) on

“The leader of the free world having a rapper in the White House. God bless him. Hip-hop forever,” Wale said, both humbled and thrilled at the opportunity.

However, this wasn’t his first invitation to the White House, as Wale also teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama in support of her “Reach Higher” initiative with a special performance and speaking to students about higher education and career services. During his historic set, he also revealed that his fifth studio album is titled Shine and will be released this year.

Press play and watch how the historic moment unfolded.

For All the Tough Talk, Why Didn’t Obama Say Black Lives Matter?

January 13th, 2016 - By Charing Ball
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Why Didn't Obama Say Black Lives Matter intro

Source: AP Images

President Barack Obama did a lot of tough talking during his last State of the Union address before Congress and the American public last night.

When he wasn’t listing off the enemies of the state he had taken out over the last eight years (“If you doubt America’s commitment – or mine – to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden…”) he was bragging about how the nation need not be fearful of ISIS/IL because of American exceptionalism.

More accurately, he said:

I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It’s not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead – they call us.”

U.S.A, U.S.A, U.S.A….

For real though, that was some pretty impressive chest-pounding. And it should be noted that the president had some equally bold words for the xenophobic fear-mongers in the Senate and Congress, whose “over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.”

Still, for all the tough-talking about foreign policy President Obama did last night, one area in which he failed to speak as boldly was about the terror facing Black people right here in America.

For all intents and purposes, police brutality is a serious domestic issue, which has not only captivated news cycles for a good portion of his second term but has resulted in important political organizing and legislative actions.

Yet, the only time President Obama made mention last night of this important domestic issue was during his pledge to “be right there with you as a citizen” long after his term in office has ended.

More specifically he said of these citizens:

They’re out there, those voices. They don’t get a lot of attention, nor do they seek it, but they are busy doing the work this country needs doing.

I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours. I see you. I know you’re there. You’re the reason why I have such incredible confidence in our future. Because I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time.

I see it in the worker on the assembly line who clocked extra shifts to keep his company open, and the boss who pays him higher wages to keep him on board.

I see it in the Dreamer who stays up late to finish her science project, and the teacher who comes in early because he knows she might someday cure a disease. I see it in the American who served his time, and dreams of starting over – and the business owner who gives him that second chance. The protester determined to prove that justice matters, and the young cop walking the beat, treating everybody with respect, doing the brave, quiet work of keeping us safe.”

While beautiful stated, it is also a pretty non-committal sentiment.

While all other politicians including presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Hilary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, Jeb Bush and even Donald Trump have been more direct in their alliance – or opposition – to those protesting against police violence in America, President Obama has once again chosen distance.

He not only failed to say and endorse Black Lives Matter but he remixed the movement’s signature clarion call into the less potent, “justice matters.”

While it is true that folks want justice, it is also true that in this country, Black people have been denied justice the most. That’s why folks say Black Lives Matter.

And to essentially deviate from the movement’s central messaging to something more palpable, certainly did not embody President Obama’s stated intent to “be right there” with us as a citizen – at least not all of us. If anything, his assertion that only “justice matters” makes him more akin to those who say, but do not necessarily act like, “All Lives Matter.”

President Obama’s lack of attention to police brutality last night was particularly upsetting as his voice was also noticeably absent after the recent acquittal of Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, who are the two Cleveland police officers responsible for the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

In this address, we needed him to hear from him. To at the very least, show us that he hears us.

But while he spent considerable amounts of time reassuring an antsy (mostly White) American public that ISIS/IL was not as big as a threat to our national security as the Republicans Party have made them out to be, President Obama failed to offer the same reassurance to the 45 million African-Americans who worry about the very real threat facing us right at home.

And to me, there is no getting a pass on that.

The Bromance Is Real: Joe Biden Talks About President Obama Offering Financial Help During Son’s Illness

January 13th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Joe Biden Talks About President Obama Offering Financial Help During Son's Illness intro

Source: AP Images

Someone posted a meme saying that they wish they had someone who would look at them the way Vice President Joe Biden looks at President Obama. It’s true. It’s evident that their relationship extends beyond their professional duties.

In a recent sit down with CNN, political correspondent Gloria Borger asked Biden if there was a moment he was going to remember with the president.

Biden, after taking a moment of silence, reflectively told a very moving story.

Well, yeah there is one. He may be embarrassed. We were having lunch and it was pretty clear that Beau was having trouble with his speech. And he still had three months to go…four months to go as Attorney General. And my son Beau Biden was the most fastidious, honorable, straight guy. And I knew if my son thought he was losing his cognitive capability he wouldn’t stay on as Attorney General, he’d resign. Thank God he took all these tests, there was no cognitive impact but it was affecting his speech center.

And so I was having lunch with the President and he was the only guy, other than my family, I confided in all along with everything that was going on with Beau. And I felt a responsibility to do that so he knew where I was, my thinking. And I said, ‘You know, my concern is, if Beau resigns there’s nothing to fall back on.’ And I said, ‘But I worked it out. Jill and I will sell the house, we’ll be in good shape.’ And he got up and said, ‘Don’t sell that house. Promise me you won’t sell the house.’ Ah, he’s going to be mad at me saying this. He said, ‘I’ll give you the money. Whatever you need I’ll give you the money. Don’t Joe. Promise me. Promise me.’

And then, I’ll never forget the eulogy he delivered for Beau.

He continued with tears in his eyes. 

And when Beau had his stroke and it turned out it was the beginning of the neuroblastoma and he came running down the hallway, in his shirt sleeves, and he said, ‘Joe, Joe is he ok?’

His love of family and my family and my love of his family–you know his two children and my granddaughters are best friends. His number two daughter and my number 3 granddaughter they vacation together, they play on teams together, they sleep at each other’s homes all the time. It’s really, it’s personal. It’s family.

Such a beautiful story.

You can watch that portion of the interview here.

Obama To Honor Gun Violence Victims With Empty Seat At SOTU

January 10th, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Credit: WENN.com

Credit: WENN.com

With his last term in the White House coming to a close, President Obama is doing all that he can to dedicate his time to pushing gun control and educating Americans on why taking action on such matters are important, since Congress has not passed legislation doing so.

In an effort to continue this task of executive action, Obama has decided to leave a seat empty in the first lady’s box to honor slain victims due to gun violence during the State of the Union address on Tuesday (Jan.12), The Huffington Post reported. Historically, the process of deciding who will sit next to the first lady takes a significant amount of time, but instead of a high-profile figure, Obama felt it was only right to use that opportunity to reflect on larger issues the country is facing at large.

“We want them to be seen and understood that their absence means something to this country,” Obama said.

A White House official explained, “because they need the rest of us to speak for them. To tell their stories. To honor their memory. To support the Americans whose lives have been forever changed by the terrible ripple effect of gun violence—survivors who’ve had to learn to live with a disability, or without the love of their life. To remind every single one of our representatives that it’s their responsibility to do something about this.”

President Obama Sheds Tears In #StopGunViolence Press Conference

January 5th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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I don’t have to tell y’all that gun control in this country is a problem. From the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, to the one in a Black church in South Carolina and then the nearly everyday occurrences in Chicago, there is a problem and we have to address it.

Today, during a press conference on gun control, President Obama is seeking to do just that.

President Obama has been calling Congress to act on gun control for months now, with no results. So after meeting with his team to see what could be done, today he proposed an executive order that seeks to do several things.

1. Keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people, through background checks.

2. Make the communities safer from gun violence, through stricter enforcement of gun laws, tracking the illegal sale of firearms, renewing domestic violence outreach efforts.

3. Increasing mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.

4. Shape the future of gun safety technology

You can get a more in depth look at the proposal here. 

In proposing this new legislation, President Obama shed tears speaking about the children slain in Newtown, Connecticut.

“All of us should be able to work together, to find a balance that declares the rest of our rights are also important. Second amendment rights are important. But there are other rights that we care about as well. Because our right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. And that was denied Jews in Kansas City. And that was denied Muslims in Chapel and Sikhs in Oak Creek.

Liberty and the pursuit of happiness, those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara and from high schoolers at Columbine. And from first graders in Newtown. First graders. And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun.

Wiping tears away, he said, “Every time I think about those kids it gets me mad. And by the way it happens on the streets of Chicago everyday.”

You can watch President Obama’s full remarks in the video below. (The press conference starts around the 35:15 mark.)

Study: President Obama’s Skin Darkened In GOP Ads To Appeal To Voters With Racial Bias

December 30th, 2015 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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YouTube

YouTube

We, at Mizzou, had a class in journalism school called Cross-Cultural Journalism. The whole point of it was to show students the right and wrong ways media cover an array of “ethnic, gender, ability and ideological groups inside and outside the United States.” One thing we learned is that if you want to appeal to the racial biases of people when reporting on a person of color, you make images of them darker, so they appear more menacing, and therefore, guilty. It’s what Time was accused of doing when they admitted that they darkened O.J. Simpson’s face in 1994 for their cover, blaming it on stressed staff working on tight deadlines.

But such methods have also been used to appeal to those who hold fast to stereotypes of people of color during political campaigns. It was done by John McCain’s campaign in 2008 according to a study done by Solomon Messing of the Pew Research Center, Maria Jabon of LinkedIn, and Ethan Plaut, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford. The study is called Bias in the Flesh: Skin Complexion and Stereotype Consistency in Political Campaigns.

As pointed out by Max Ehrenfreund of the Washington Post when speaking on the study, in negative attack ads constructed by the McCain campaign, President Obama’s image was darkened, manipulated for a more dramatic effect. Researchers found that “as the election approached, images of Obama in spots aired by McCain’s campaign became gradually darker. Images of McCain campaign’s own candidate, meanwhile, became somewhat lighter.”

The study’s researchers determined that the darker the images of President Obama, the more it still affects the way people view him. They manipulated his skin tone to measure the stereotypes of subjects tested. They showed them images and asked them to play a fill-in-the-blank game where they were given words like “CR___” and “LA__.” While one subject might write “CROWD,” another might write “CRIME.” And the “LA__” might turn into “LAZY.” So what did they find? According to the Washington Post:

 

 

“Those who saw the image of Obama with light skin gave that word or another anti-black stereotype as a response 33 percent of the time. Among those who saw the darkened image, the figure was 45 percent, showing that they were more likely to have those negative stereotypes on their minds after seeing the photograph.”

Solomon Messing, Maria Jabon and Ethan Plaut

Solomon Messing, Maria Jabon and Ethan Plaut

So, in the same way the darker photographs might make someone think of a negative stereotype of President Obama, the ads likely had a similar effect. Such attempts to appeal to racial biases are quite common in politics.

As pointed out, once again, by the Washington Post, “To hear their opponents tell it, when Republican politicians say they oppose a generous welfare system, they really mean black beneficiaries are lazy. If they endorse strict immigration enforcement, they really mean that Latinos are criminals, critics say.”

This idea of appealing to one group of voters while tearing down another has been debated when speaking on the current political campaign of a one Donald Trump. From the way he speaks of Latinos, Blacks, and Muslims, and seeing his lead in the polls for Republican candidates, it’s clear that the more abrasive, a.k.a., racist the rhetoric at times, the more it appeals to some (a.k.a., racists…). But of course, they call such speech failing to be “politically correct.”

Check out this ad from the 2008 campaign linking President Obama to Bill Ayers and see if you notice a darker POTUS:

 

 

POTUS And FLOTUS: 9 Ways The Obamas Are Going Out With A Bang

December 28th, 2015 - By Nneka Samuel
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Image Source: WENN.com

Image Source: WENN.com

President Obama has been criticized and blamed for everything under the sun.  Some might say that just comes with the territory when you’re President of the United States, though we know he has been thrown some extra shade for being the nation’s first African-American president.  But this year, both the POTUS and FLOTUS fought back and took things up a notch, namely their coolness and relatability factors. They have unapologetically been themselves this time around. If the following moments from 2015 are any indication, the Obamas are poised to enter 2016 and leave the White House with a bang.

Such An Inspiration: Meet Haben Girma The First Deaf-Blind Woman To Graduate From Harvard Law

November 19th, 2015 - By Veronica Wells
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When you get ready to complain or think of an excuse about why you can’t do or accomplish something, think of Haben Girma. You just might find that her story gives you the inspiration you need to push through.

Girma is the first deaf-blind student to graduate from Harvard Law School. Now, the Eritrean-American woman is fighting for better access and education for other deaf-blind people around the world.

In a speech she delivered at the White House, Girma shared some of her family’s story. In Eritrea, when Girma’s grandmother took her older brother to school, they told her that deaf-blind children could not be educated. It was impossible.

At 16-years-old, in the midst of Eritrea’s 30-year-war, in their fight for independence from Ethiopia, Girma’s mother walked three weeks, through Eritrea’s deserts until a refugee organization helped her immigrate to the United States.

It was there, in the U.S. that Haben Girma was born. Like her brother, she too was deaf and blind.

But in the United States, there was a different attitude toward educating children with disabilities. And, as you might imagine, that made all the difference.

Haben, now 27, used her access to her education to make her way to and eventually graduate from Harvard Law School.

“Graduating from Harvard Law School says a lot about what can be done when you have the right attitude.”

She was able to do this by using a digital braille display and a QWERTY keyboard for communication.

In a visit to the White House earlier this year, celebrating the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, President Obama used the technologies to communicate with Girma.

Girma said “That sends a very empowering message. It reminds the rest of the United States and the rest of the world that having an inclusive attitude ensures that people with disabilities can contribute their talents to society.

She’s now a lawyer who works to ensure with the Disability Rights Advocates in California to ensure that other students don’t face the challenges, with lack of technology.

This is such an amazing story and a reminder to us all about the importance of a positive attitude, determination and inclusion.

You can see how Girma navigates everyday life and watch her meeting with President Obama in this video over at the BBC Africa. 

On Hillary And Why There Isn’t One Candidate I Want To Vote For At This Point

November 17th, 2015 - By Cynthia L. Dorsey
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Alberto Reyes/WENN.com

Alberto Reyes/WENN.com

 

Let me be brief: The current Presidential campaign has become a big top circus act that I simply cannot subscribe to. It makes me sick to my stomach the endless mockery that is made of the American political system at the expense of the American people. We have spent eight years under the leadership of a president who, even if you disagree with his agenda, has carried himself with the utmost class and respect for not only this country, but the entire world. Now that his term is quickly coming to an end, we are forced to witness mediocre shenanigans by mediocre candidates as they attempt to use their mediocrity to get into the Oval Office. And I’m not here for any of it. There isn’t one candidate at this point that I want to vote for.

I recently came across an article on The Daily Beast titled “Will Hillary Be Our Third Black President?” by Michael Tomasky, and from the title alone I gasped and clutched my pearls. In it, Tomasky looks at the numbers of Black voters who voted for President Obama in both 2008 and 2012. President Obama received over 90 percent of the Black vote during both elections. The question the article asks is if Clinton can have the same success with Black voters. But the eye-opening statement in the article that differentiates the Obama campaign from the Clinton campaign is the reality that “Obama inspired Blacks to vote in larger numbers.” The entire journey on the Obama For America campaign trail was nothing but inspiring. As a gifted orator, he had the unique ability to bridge both generational and gender gaps, getting everyone from the young to the old excited to get to the polls and vote. Clinton has yet to do anything to inspire or motivate people. Here’s why.

Right now, our country is in social unrest whether you want to accept it or not. Racial issues that many have swept under the rug are resurfacing, some of which have resulted in the death of innocent human beings–innocent Black human beings. Our Black President has been disrespected and stifled during his term by a racist Congress. Our children are walking in fear not just in their neighborhoods but on their college campuses. And here comes Hillary Clinton with no clear agenda or priority to even address racial injustice in America, despite the candidate being the clear frontrunner. You would think that being a woman and having to face discrimination throughout her career, one of her priorities would be to make sure those facing such obstacles deserve, at the very least, a comprehensive strategy that will begin a path to justice. Not just occasional euphemisms about criminal justice reform but a real genuine concern about racial injustice and a plan of action. But then again, does she have that ability amid her White female privilege?

Clinton, in so many ways, reminds me of Scandal character Mellie Grant (Bellamy Young). Grant had to deal with the very private issues of her marriage with the entire world watching, just like Clinton. And just like Clinton, Grant has kept up her smile and kindred persona with the public to fuel her professional agenda–the ultimate goal of being President of the United States of America. But neither Grant on television, nor Clinton in real life, have proven themselves to be trustworthy enough to lead an entire nation.

So no matter how many whips and nae naes she does on the campaign trail to try and relate to the Black community, Hillary Clinton still won’t secure this Black woman’s vote, despite the name association.