All Articles Tagged "President Obama"
After President Obama’s PR perfect town hall meeting about race in America last Thursday, I was desperate to plan some distracting (and slightly drunken) weekend fun. In case you don’t have Twitter, woke friends or you’re living in the same land of delusion as Taylor Swift, the news cycle has been far more depressing than it’s been in a long time, especially for Black folks. In recent weeks, I’ve buried myself in the details of back-to-back shooting deaths of Black men and attacks on police officers without taking a real mental break. As a writer, it’s difficult to succeed without being in the know 24/7, but the rage and confusion I felt after watching President Obama and town hall goers gloss over the issue of policing in this country meant a mental vacation was mandatory for my sanity.
On any given day, with a few disparities based on socioeconomic status, African Americans are more likely to feel a sense of hopelessness and worthlessness when compared to White people. Then, imagine those same people constantly digesting the message that Blacks are disposable through the media every day. The mental pressure of both racism and feeling unsafe in your own environment causes higher-than-normal cortisol levels, which can lead to physical reactions like a weakened immune system and heart disease. It can even result in behavioral changes like overeating, heavy drinking and uncontrollable anger. And who wants to lose themselves because the world’s messed up? Nah.
The self-care you’d exercise to deal with everyday stress, like disconnecting from your work email and making a spa appointment, still applies in times of societal crisis. As the world seemingly unravels, find blocks of time to log off social media, hang out with friends (with your phone off) and create new, positive memories. Read something empowering like Sula by Toni Morrison and go to a boxing class (or just get active in general) to release built up anxiety. Or, take a boat ride around the Potomac River with friends like I did this past weekend. Just do anything to relax your mind and help reduce the negative effects of constant stress, and practice these coping methods often.
If you feel it’s selfish to ignore what’s happening in the world for 48 hours, you’re right. Petty people will assume things like the #KimExposedTaylorParty steal black folks’ attention away from “real issues,” but what they fail to realize is that many of us are begging for the mental relief that comes with celebrity clapbacks.
Truthfully, we all deserve some carefree moments. A few laughs with friends (and Twitter fam) far removed from the black hole of injustice is a welcomed psychological vacation. And we don’t owe anyone an apology for taking care of ourselves. Black death is traumatizing, and with the Trumps still trying to buy the White House, things aren’t necessarily looking optimistic out here. So, get your jokes off, ignore trolls and take care of yourself. I mean, you can’t help others unless you help yourself first, right?
President Obama Addresses Dallas Shooting: ‘There’s No Possible Justification For These Kinds Of Attacks’
This past week has been one of much mourning, after the fatal deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police officers (Tuesday and Wednesday respectively). With much heated debate and anguish stirring from the continued issue of police brutality, social media timelines were filled with thoughts and opinions on innocent people’s lives being reduced to hashtags.
And just 24 hours after Castile’s tragic traffic stop, chaos erupted in Dallas, Texas where five police officers were killed in sniper shootings during protests regarding the recent deaths that had shaken the country.
“There is no possible justification for these kinds of attacks or any violence against law enforcement,” President Obama said, addressing the recent shooting from the NATO summit in Poland that he is attending. “Anyone involved in the senseless murders will be held fully accountable. Justice will be done.”
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) July 8, 2016
Obama also conveyed condolences to the city’s mayor, Mike Rawlings, making known that the FBI was involved in investigating the shootings to uncover more about the killers’ “twisted motivations.”
“Today is a wrenching reminder of the sacrifices they make for us,” Obama said of law enforcement officers.
An implicit call for tighter gun restrictions was also made by the President, who expressed that if saying the slaughter could have been lessened if the killer or killers weren’t carrying powerful weapons. “We also know when people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately, it makes attacks like these more deadly and more tragic.”
Yesterday, the White House celebrated the Fourth of July with live entertainment from the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monaé. After their performances, President Obama decided to hop on the stage to wish his eldest daughter, Malia, a happy birthday.
“Just because it’s a job of a father to embarrass his daughters, I’ve got one last job. It just so happens that we celebrate our country’s birthday on the same day that we celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday. So just a quick Happy Birthday for Malia,” President Obama said before he sang into the microphone.
Although it wasn’t his best singing performance, President Obama had help from Lamar and Monaé, which makes Malia a very lucky girl and us, incredibly jealous.
You can watch this beautiful father and daughter moment below before you realize (and weep) that it’s the Obamas’ last Fourth of July in the White House.
Tomorrow is set to be a grand day filled with celebratory fun as the nation observes Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July. But it’s safe to say that the most popping event is going down in our nation’s capital.
According to Politico, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have booked two of their favorite artists, Kendrick Lamar and Janelle Monáe, to play the official White House Independence Day barbecue. The annual event located on the South Lawn, honors military heroes and their families. In addition, there will be a fireworks viewing where “white House staff and their families from throughout the administration will also attend,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest confirmed to reporters Friday.
Back in December, Obama divulged that Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly’s “How Much a Dollar Cost” was one of his favorite songs of 2015. The POTUS also invited Lamar to the Oval Office months later to promote the Pay It Forward program, which encourages the mentoring of inner city youth.
Monáe is also no stranger to the White House, having previously recorded a track for First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” and attended an April summit to talk about criminal justice reform with various artists.
Needless to say, we’d all love to attend this Fourth of July bash, right?
Last year, I remember feeling honored to be writing about Betty Reid Soskin. At 93-years-old, she is believed to be the nation’s oldest park ranger. What was so inspiring about Reid Soskin’s story is not only that she was working and active at 93, but also because she uses her position to inspire others.
She told the “Today Show” last year, “I still love this uniform. Partly because there’s a silent message to every little girl of color that I pass on the street or in an elevator or on an escalator…that there’s a career choice she may have never thought of.”
So today, I was both saddened and sickened to hear that Reid Soskin, now 94, was beaten and robbed in her Richmond, California home on Monday.
The attack happened around midnight on Monday.
“Something woke me and I looked over and there was a man standing with a small flashlight,” says Soskin.She then grabbed her cell phone, but the suspect took it from her. The two struggled and then he dragged her from the bed through the hallway. “I was terrified. I was terrified. Nothing else I could think of was to scream and scream and scream.”
Reid Soskin told KTVU, “I fully expected he was going to kill me. He doubled up his fist and hit me a couple of times on the sides of my face with all his might.”
Reid Soskin managed to crawl away from the man before locking herself in the bathroom for about 45 minutes while the man went through her apartment. While she was waiting, Reid Soskin came up with a plan to defend herself with an iron.
“I plugged it in and set it to linen, which is the hottest. I figured if he would come in I would brand him and that would mark him for the police.”
Police say the robber took Reid Soskin’s cellphone, iPad, laptop, camera, jewelry and the commemorative coin President Obama gave her to honor her achievements. Last year, Reid Soskin introduced the President at the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the White House.
Her face is badly bruised and Reid Soskin didn’t want to show it on camera.
“I don’t even like to look at myself in the mirror at this point because I still have a couple black eyes and one is still marked. My lips were split in a couple of places.”
Reid Soskin refused to go to the hospital and paramedics treated her in her home. Tom Leatherman, the superintendent of the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, where Soskin works, told the San Francisco Gate, “She doing fine physically but emotionally it’s difficult.”
Still Reid Soskin says she doesn’t want to be perceived as a victim. And while people have offered to help her relocate, she says she’s not going anywhere.
“This is my space and it was invaded and I need to reclaim it so I’m going to stay here.”
Police described the suspect as a White man in his early to mid twenties, 5’8 with a slim build.
Officers are warning people to be on the lookout for the coin, which is the most important part of this for Reid Soskin.
She told KTVU, “If I can get that coin back, I think I can forgive anything.”
Whether Reid Soskin gets the original coin back or not, the president is going to send her another.
The San Francisco Gate reported that U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told President Obama about the attack. The president sent word back that he will send another commemorative coin bearing the presidential seal.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 5, 2016
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.