All Articles Tagged "President Obama"
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
If you know anything about dance, you know the tango has a very passionate, very touchy-feely vibe to it. Naturally, as the dance originated in Argentina, it was only right that President Obama and the First Lady get a chance to experience it firsthand as they’re traveling through Latin America.
Yesterday, at a state dinner held in his honor, the President and First Lady danced in Buenos Aires with some performers.
While some were criticizing the dance for being inappropriate in light of the recent attacks in Brussels, others, like me, are looking at the way the lady dancer threw her leg up on the president during their dance.
Now listen, a part of me gets it. The lifted leg is a tango staple. Still, not only is President Obama the leader of the free world and a married man, his wife was standing right there.
Now, I don’t think the woman was trying to push up, she was just doing her thing. Too bad that thing just so happens to be spreading her legs and throwing it up on his waist. Tradition or not, it’s sexual. She seemed cool, gushing over the first lady just the way we would if she were in our presence.
And from the looks of the video, it would appear that President Obama was trying to put an end to that quickly, shifting the momentum so she had to cut that out.
The question is, do you think it was inappropriate?
Personally, it gave me pause seeing it. And I know if I were in her position, I would never try anything like that. Still, I’m not a dancer or Argentinian, steeped in the culture.
What do you think about this move? Do you think President Obama handled it appropriately?
Check out the video below to watch the full thing.
If 2016 looks and feels strangely familiar in a déjà vu sort of way, there’s a reason. We’re still in the first quarter of 2016 and yet so much of this new year (can we still call it a new year?) is filled with the same old antics we hoped and prayed would be left in the past where they belong. Here’s a list of things we’re still tired of in 2016.
Zendaya’s ultimate retort to Giuliana Rancic is starving herself down to the size of one of her elbowz
— Julie Klausner (@julieklausner) March 13, 2016
You don’t have to have an eating disorder to attend the Kids’ Choice Awards….but it helps!
— Julie Klausner (@julieklausner) March 13, 2016
Attacking Young Black Celebs
“Comedian” Julie Klausner straight up attacked Zendaya Coleman by publicly body-shaming the young star’s weight. In proper fashion, Coleman clapped back at Klausner, asking if she wants to be next to be set straight (remember, Zendaya schooled Giuliana Rancic after she made disrespectful comments about her faux locs).
And a New York Post writer recently trashed siblings Jaden and Willow Smith, saying “any reasonable parent would be ashamed of them.” What’s shameful is these grown adults thinking it’s okay to behave in this manner. If the tables were turned and someone came after their children in the same way, they’d be up in arms.