All Articles Tagged "President Obama"

The Problem With President Obama’s Cousin Pookie…

November 3rd, 2014 - By Charing Ball
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If there is no such thing as “talking White,” then explain to me why President Barack Obama, in particular, goes to such lengths to talk Black with Black people?

What are you talking about, Charing Ball?

This (from USA Today):

When President Obama returned to the campaign trail Sunday, he re-introduced one of his favorite characters.

Yes, “Cousin Pookie” is back.

As he has in previous elections, Obama cast Cousin Pookie and other family members as the kinds of disinterested voters that Democrats need to get to the polls this election.

“It’s not enough just for you to vote,” Obama told backers Sunday in Maryland. “You’ve got to get your family to vote. You’ve got to get your friends to vote. You’ve got to get your co-workers to vote.”

And, then: “You’ve got to get that Cousin Pookie sitting at home on the couch — he’s watching football right now instead of being here at the rally — you’ve got to talk to him and let him know it is not that hard to exercise the franchise that previous generations fought so hard to obtain.”

As mentioned in the blurb, this it is not the first time the “Cousin Pookie” trope has shown up in speeches before largely Black audiences. As this archived article in the Houston Chronicle notes, “Cousin Pookie” first made an appearance during the 2008 presidential campaign when the then-Senator Obama told a predominately Black rally in Kingstree, S.C., “I need you to grab Cousin Pookie to vote; I need you to grab Ray Ray to vote.” Cousin Pookie’s lazy ass would resurface again during the 42nd anniversary of the historic voting rights marches in Selma, Alabama, where he told the predominately Black audience: “If Cousin Pookie would vote, if Uncle Jethro would get off the couch and stop watching SportsCenter and go register some folks and go to the polls, we might have a different kind of politics.

It should also be noted that President Obama has also been called out over the years for his “blaccent” and overall code switching between Black and more mainstream audiences, in particular using Black slang and euphemisms like “Nawh, we straight!” In fact President Obama’s double speak has become so legendary, it recently became the subject of a hilarious Keys and Peele’s comedy sketch in which the president switches between formal greetings for White constituents and more relaxed and basically “Black” greetings for the brothers and the sisters.

So what’s the problem here? Isn’t it a common experience for Black people to “put on” for predominately White audiences and relax a bit among our own? Sure, which is why I’m also perplexed by the confusion over “talking White.” And as this 2012 New York Times article pointed out, it is not just Blacks, who engage in this sort of linguistic pandering, in particular noting:

Our last three presidents have all been able to shift their speaking styles — an ability that is distinct from eloquence or empathy. Both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were known for speaking in a “folksy” manner: Mr. Clinton with black and Southern audiences, and Mr. Bush with Southern and Latino audiences (he would even switch into Spanish in his speeches). Before them, Lyndon B. Johnson was perhaps the president most notable for variation in speaking style. More recently, the blunt (and occasionally profane) style of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, and the strategic sprinklings of Spanish by Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, have contributed to their rising profiles in the Republican Party.”

In that respect, President Obama is no different than any other president or politician in general, who seeks to connect with his constituency. However, there are times when Obama’s code-switching when he does it to Black audiences, proves to be problematic. Take for instance Cousin Pookie.

The “Cousin Pookie” narrative is never mentioned to congratulate young Black men on graduating form college or for landing his first job. Instead this fictitious cousin of the Black voter has been painted mostly by the first Black president as lazy and shiftless. Basically, he is a man-child, who hangs out on couches all day and doesn’t vote. And just like Charles Barkley’s “unintelligent Blacks,” who keep the community from being successful, according to the POTUS, Cousin Pookie is  the reason why Black people are not being taken seriously in the political sphere. Despite the appearance of familiarity, Cousin Pookie isn’t really here to help President Obama connect with the community, but rather to help him serve the community a slice of the poundcake speech in disguise. Talk about a dog whistle…

President Obama Wants Us To “Get Smarter” With How We Use Our Vote

October 30th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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President Obama on Cafe Mocha RadioOn November 1, President Barack Obama will join the hosts of Café Mocha Radio Show — Loni Love, Mc Lyte and Angelique Perrin — to speak on how voting impacts Black communities. Midterm elections are taking place next Tuesday and there are some advanced polls showing that the GOP can walk away with a number of Congressional wins, possibly even the majority in the Senate.

“That’s a big responsibility to take on in a midterm. Census figures show that in recent congressional election years, around 4 in 10 black adults turn out to vote. In recent presidential election years, a majority of black adults reported voting, including more than 6 in 10 in 2008 and 2012,” reports the AP and WJLA. Blacks tend to vote overwhelmingly Democratic and a new poll from the Associated Press and GfK shows that 85 percent of Black voters approve of the job that President Obama is doing.

President Obama is taking to the airwaves to drive the vote. In addition to Café Mocha, he’s also spoken on the Ricky Smiley Morning Show.

“The base voters Democrats are trying to get to the polls often don’t follow mainstream news media. The White House has found that black radio is a particularly powerful motivator, looking back on the voter response during Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns and enrollment increases under his health care law,” that AP/WJlA story says. Outside of the White House, online civil rights organization Color of Change has launched a video campaign, “If They Speak For Me,” that creatively illustrates what happens when you let others make decisions for you.

Even when Black voters get to the polls, the Center for American Progress finds that there are problems getting votes counted. A look at provisional ballots — votes cast through alternative methods when a voter shows up at the polls and runs into an issue — in 2012 found that nearly a third didn’t get counted. This disproportionately impacts people of color.

This issue of disenfranchisement is a serious one due to new restrictive voting laws that have taken effect in a number of states and antiquated processes that make the very act of voting difficult. Another organization, Common Cause, found that in 10 key swing states, suggestions made by the Presidential Commission on Election Administration have not been fulfilled following the 2012 election. That year, some people waited up to 10 hours to cast a vote.

So it’ll be important to get out your vote and be diligent to make sure it’s cast and counted. Moreover, we have to press our legislators in between elections to make the process fair for everyone.

Besides politics, the Café Mocha Radio Show has been running a monthlong initiative that was inspired by Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Titled “Get Smart,” it aims to empower women to make smart decisions in every area of their lives. Café Mocha is for women of color and is syndicated nationally in more than 25 markets and on Sirius/XM Channel 141,

During the two-hour show, you can also catch MadameNoire’s segment “Did Y’All See” in which we discuss the latest in entertainment news, lifestyle and relationship issues.

Additional contribution by Lauren R.D. Fox

Fellas, Don’t Sleep: President Obama Is Casting Votes And Stealing Girlfriends

October 21st, 2014 - By Veronica Wells
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There’s so much drama in the LBC, a little levity every once in a while never hurt anybody. Today’s little feel good moment comes from our president.

President Obama was in his home stage of Illinois this morning to participate in early voting. And as you know, anytime the president shows up anywhere things get very official. People were snapping photos, the room goes extremely quiet as people wait for the president to utter a word on which they can hang. The scene was similar as the president was casting his ballot next to a woman, Aia Cooper. But things took a swift turn when Cooper’s boyfriend, Mike Jones, decided to have a little fun with the leader of the free world.

Jones walks past the President of the United States, points at him and says, “Don’t touch my girlfriend, now.”

Hilarious, right?

And since President Obama is rather witty and quick on his feet, he kept the banter going.

“There’s an example of brother just embarrassing me for no reason. Just for no reason whatsoever.”

He even predicted what Aia would say to her friends later.

“I can’t believe Mike, he’s such a fool. I was just mortified. But fortunately, fortunately the President was nice about it. So it’s aight.” 

The news transcripts read “alright” but you listen for yourself and tell me what the president said.

How nice! What could have been a mundane trip to the polls turned out to be a memorable, comedic encounter with President Obama, all because your boyfriend has no ackright.

Aia should marry that dude. Her life will never be boring.

And while Mike started it all, President Obama got the last laugh as he exited the room, hugging Cooper.

“Give me a kiss and give him something to talk about. Now, he’s really jealous.”


I’ve transcribed the juicy parts, but be sure to watch the video above to get the full effect and see what Mike and Aia had to say to the news cameras afterward.

Great moment.

Bronx Man Earns Over $60K Impersonating President Obama

October 7th, 2014 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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Growing up, Louis Ortiz, 43, wanted plastic surgery to fix his ears that noticeably stick out. Thankfully, Ortiz never had the opportunity to fix his ears. His current job is “Barack Obama impersonator.”

And it’s actually a lucrative career.

Ortiz says about himself, “I look at myself a lot in the mirror, and I start speaking like Barack. It’s like Barack is speaking through me, to me. . . . It’s weird.” Ortiz’s impersonator name is Bronx Obama and appears as President Obama two to three times a week. His appearances are booked through an agency and he usually works at parties or corporate conferences. Sometimes, he will even come unannounced to weddings as a guest. In an interview with the New York Daily News, Ortiz continues, “Real big Obama fans want me to come and say a surprise speech for the bride and groom. It’s entertainment while everyone’s all liquored up.”

Although it may seem like fun and games to act as the most powerful man in the United States, Ortiz’s salary fluctuates based on the President’s popularity. When the President’s popularity is high, Ortiz secures more appearances but that decreases once the President perception dips into unfavorable territory. Last year, Ortiz earned $60,000, a decrease from what he earned in 2012 when the President was reelected.

Despite the income flux, Ortiz may receive a bonus with a new Showtime documentary  that will focus on Ortiz’s life. Ortiz is of Puerto Rican heritage and grew up at 172nd Street; he has two children and served in the Army. Once he became a veteran, Ortiz worked for Verizon for 13 years as a field technician but found him out of work in 2008. Ortiz’s Obama doppelganger was born that same year which coincides with President Obama’s first election.

Secret Service Head Resigns Amid Reports That Obama Receives More Death Threats Than Bush

October 2nd, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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After revelations about flagrant security breaches and bipartisan backlash, Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned from her post. The final straw was the news that an armed man rode the elevator with President Obama during a visit to the Centers for Disease Control in September. Despite having met with the President after the incident, the White House only found out about the incident in the days leading up to her resignation.

“You have a convicted felon within arm’s reach of the president, and they never did a background check. Words aren’t strong enough for the outrage I feel for the safety of the president and his family,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who heads a House subcommittee that oversees the Secret Service.

Talk about the Secret Service’s failures hit fever pitch when a 42-year-old-vet, Omar Gonzalez, jumped the White House fence and managed to not just enter the building, but make it all the way to an area near the First Family’s living quarters. At first, the public was led to believe that Gonzalez was stopped at the door.

Pierson was appointed to her post 18 months ago after a Secret Service prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia. She has 30 years experience, but wasn’t the first choice. That person, David O’Connor, another former Serviceman, became the head of security at investment company, Bain Capital, instead. Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, has appointed Joseph Clancy, a former Secret Service agent, as acting director.

The security issues at the department charged with protecting the President are particularly scary when you consider that President Obama has received four times the number of death threats than predecessor George W. Bush. According to The Guardianthe President gets more than 30 death threats per day. The Secret Service had to take extra precautions during Obama’s inaugurations and has had to field all sorts of reported plots against him, including one in which a group from Tennessee threatened to kill Black citizens before assassinating the President.

“Instead of bringing in more agents – instantly identifiable because of their bulky suits, worn over bullet-proof jackets, and earpieces – the Secret Service directed agents to work longer hours to cover the extra load and to miss firearms training, physical fitness sessions and tests,” reports the paper. Between these threats and the needs of the Vice President, the Secret Service is stretched thin.

Clearly, this is an agency in need of an overhaul.

“Barack Obama Is A Story That Hasn’t Finished Yet” Denzel Washington On Playing Barack Obama In Presidential Biopic

September 23rd, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From The Grio

Denzel Washington was at Spain’s 62nd San Sebastian Festival to accept a career achievement Donostia Award. When asked about playing Barrack Obama, he answered:

“Barack Obama is a story that hasn’t finished yet. It’s not something I’m thinking about, and he’s busy.”

The casual, dark grey jacket he had on made him look very young. When asked about playing Martin Luther King, he said, “I’ve played Biko, Malcolm X, I can’t play everybody.”

However, during the San Sebastian press conference on Friday, Washington did say something about his future plans. We found out he will not top line Shovel Ready, which is a Warner Bros. adaptation of a novel written by Adam Sterbergh.

Variety asked about a sequel for The Equalizer. The star said it is too early to say something about that, even though it is reported Sony Pictures, Escape Artists and Richard Wenk, who wrote the first Fuqua/Washington The Equalizer, are working on it.

“People will decide if I do The Equalizer sequel, not me,” he declared. “If it’s a good script, it’s something I’ll consider, but I’m not considering it right now, because this [first] one hasn’t come out yet,” he continued.

Everyone knows Washington and Fuqua don’t waste time. They are a preparing for a remake of “The Magnificent Seven” at MGM. For this project, Washington says he is going to take riding classes. It looks like his and Fuqua’s movie will channel the Japanese original more. Talking more about it, Fuqua said “The Magnificent Seven” is a go project. Also attached to “Southpaw” at the Weinstein Company, Fuqua said to the Spanish press that “Seven Samurai” is his favorite movie of all times.

Read more about Denzel Washington on playing President Obama at 

“Black Americans Have Lost Ground Under Obama”: Tavis Smiley Criticizes President Obama’s Performance

September 15th, 2014 - By Madame Noire
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From Black Voices 

Tavis Smiley’s relentless criticism aimed at President Barack Obama has made dozens of headlines throughout the commander-in-chief’s presidency. And though, some may have questioned the political commentator’s motive behind his personal analysis, he recently insisted during an interview on HuffPost Live that his commentary is rooted in holding Obama accountable as the nation’s president.

“I don’t have a monopoly on the truth. There is the truth, and then there is the way to the truth. And I’m always on that route to the truth. I don’t have a monopoly on it. I tell the truth as best as I see it, try to hold folk accountable, and do all that in love,” he admitted to host Marc Lamont Hill. “You will never find a tape anywhere of me being derisive, demeaning, derogatory, or demonizing about the president.”

“As Cornel West and I said many years ago; I respect the president, I will protect the president against white supremacist attacks or anything else he’s unfairly targeted for. So you’re respecting, you’re protecting, but you’re correcting when he’s wrong. Not because he’s Barack Obama, but because he’s the president.”

Smiley went on to add his thoughts concerning the current state of black Americans under Obama’s leadership.

Read more about Tavis Smiley’s commentary at 

“These Are Your People!”: Diddy Calls Out President Obama, Tells Him To Do More To Help Ferguson, Missouri

August 19th, 2014 - By Victoria Uwumarogie
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Ever since news spread about Michael Brown being shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson, a lot of people have spoken out about the injustice. There have also been people who have criticized President Obama for his response to the riots and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri (and tried to question him for speaking on the death of Robin Williams first), and claimed that his speech last week (he spoke again yesterday on the situation there) wasn’t “enough.” Someone well-known who is expressing a similar sentiment is Diddy. In a crass manner, he tried to address the President of the United States through Instagram. The mogul posted, “WATCH DIS! DEAR PRESIDENT OBAMA!!!!!! IF YOU FEEL THE SAME WAY SEND A VIDEO MESSAGE TO THE PRESIDENT #DEAROBAMA” before posting the following video:


“Watch Dis”? Really?

As someone making these statements from the comfort of what seemed to be his studio and not in Ferguson, I think it’s clear that Diddy went about expressing his concerns wrong. The mogul’s followers weren’t impressed:

“Everybody expecting for Obama to handle everything that man got so much on his plate right now sometimes it takes the hood to help the hood diddy I challenge you to go out there”

“Why are you watching? You should be there too!!! Those are YOUR people as well.”

“Ughh shut up, you went to Howard..I would expect you to know about the branches of govt & how things operate..why don’t you hop on a plane & go down there”

This isn’t the first time Diddy has criticized President Obama and claimed that he isn’t doing enough for the black community:

“I love the president like most of us. I just want the president to do better. There’s a difference between us voting for somebody and us believing in somebody. He’s the person that we believed in so I pray night and day that he understands how God ordained his presidency. I feel there was a promise made to God to look after people that was less fortunate, and [many] of those people are African-American…”

But what do you think about Diddy’s message to President Obama?

We Can’t Hear You: Why Those In Hip-Hop With The Most Influence Need To Start Speaking Up About Social Injustices

August 15th, 2014 - By Alexandra Olivier
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Hip-hop is protest, or at least, that’s what it used to be. The beauty of its art is that on a piano-driven or drum-fueled beat, someone who isn’t a politician, teacher or authority figure can reach the masses and educate.

The lessons aren’t conventional.

The lessons aren’t sugarcoated.

The lessons aren’t often very nice.

Despite the fact that we would like to believe that in 2014, black bodies are equally valued considering that this great nation elected a black president, that is simply not the case. Instead, everytime we look up, young black men are being killed by the police, and one another, with no justice being served. Most recently, 18-year-old Michael Brown lost his life at the hands of police officer Darren Wilson, shot multiple times while unarmed, his hands in the air. At the core of hip-hop, records like N.W.A’s “F**k The Police” and Nas’ “Sly Fox” never felt more fitting.

Despite what we see now and hear on the radio, hip-hop has a conscience. It is a genre that can provide a platform for those to represent the unheard in times of great unrest. While Ferguson, Missouri transformed into a war zone earlier this week, tracks like Twista and Faith Evans’ “Hope” and Jadakiss’ “Why” fit the startling images of chaos in the city as calls for peace are heard from Brown’s parents and President Obama.

In a time where we need people with influence to speak, I’m wondering, where have records like Tupac’s “Changes” retreated to? The records that explicitly detail a struggle that is still felt today? It appears strategic brand management has made artists fall quiet until the dust completely clears before they speak out about anything, or better yet, they say nothing at all. In a social media-driven society, it takes more than a tweet in solidarity to reach the masses.

Our lyricists shouldn’t shy away from stirring the pot with records directly influenced by the harsh realities of injustice. Jay Z penned records like “Minority Report” reflecting the everyday man’s trials, but now the genre as a whole has become consumed by Shmoney dances and lavish living. There is no sense of balance when it comes to popping bottles and dealing with everyday issues of the world we live in. What has changed us from being a culture of impact?

I get it. Rappers didn’t rise to fame to become activists. But for a genre to be so fundamentally based in social commentary, the disconnect these days is discouraging. Just like Game, Prodigy and 50 Cent communicated their discontent about Trayvon Martin’s death and David Banner has been vocal with his views about the killing of Brown, there is a need for others with great influence to speak  up, and to record songs that stand the test of time, speak to the people and reach beyond the Twittersphere.

J. Cole has done just that. In his video for “Crooked Smile,” he dedicated the clip to 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones, who was killed during a police raid on her home in 2010, and the imagery is based on her life and death. And he’s done it again with the release of his song “Be Free,” sending this message about the song dedicated to Michael Brown:

“Rest in Peace to Michael Brown and to every young black man murdered in America, whether by the hands of white or black. I pray that one day the world will be filled with peace and rid of injustice. Only then will we all Be Free”

Thank you J. Cole for rising to the plate and detailing the pain felt throughout the nation at the unfortunate death of Michael Brown. All we want to do is be free, and what we need is people to speak out about these injustices in any and every way possible.

President Obama Might Get The Chance To Make One More Supreme Court Appointment

August 13th, 2014 - By Tonya Garcia
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New York City newspaper refers to Obama as 'The N****r In The White House' in op-ed headline.

Source: WENN

President Obama has hinted that he will have the opportunity to make another Supreme Court appointment before he leaves office in 2017.

The President, who is vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, spoke to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee during a fundraiser and stressed the importance of hanging on to control of the government body. Polls show that the Republicans could snag enough votes to take control of the Senate.

What’s preventing us from getting things done right now is you’ve got a faction within the Republican Party that thinks solely in terms of their own ideological purposes and solely in terms of how do they hang on to power,” he said during his remarks. “Not to mention the fact that we’re going to have Supreme Court appointments, and there are going to be a whole host of issues that many people here care about that are going to be determined by whether or not Democrats retain the Senate.”

President Obama wasn’t specific about who would be stepping down to make room for a new justice or when, but there has been talk suggesting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is 81 years old, should retire. She has said she’s sticking around. Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy are both 78 years old. Neither of them has indicated that they’re going anywhere either. A White House official told Politico that the comments were just general statements about the importance of maintaining a majority in the Senate.

During his terms, President Obama has appointed Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Some of criticized the President for not appointing a Black justice to join Clarence Thomas on the High Court.

Justice Ginsburg has quite a following online, with people calling her the “Notorious RBG” because of her strong perspective on decisions including the Hobby Lobby case and the decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act. You can watch an interview between the justice and Katie Couric here and the Associated Press gathered a few of her thoughts here.

As we saw in both of those cases, Supreme Court choices are important. And with conservatives setting their sights on campaign finance, voting rights, abortion rights and other issues, appointments have taken on even greater importance.