Over the weekend, Michelle Obama delivered a passionate, candid commencement speech to the graduating class at Tuskegee University, Alabama, in which she addressed the daily slights of racism she has endured throughout her life. From Saturday’s ceremony:
We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives. The folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety, the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores. The people at formal events who assumed we were the help. And those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country, and I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day.
It was a powerful speech, and naturally, the folks at Fox News were not happy. Fox News contributor Angela McGlowan on Tuesday suggested the speech was yet another example of the White House dividing the country on issues of race, asking, “Why didn’t the first lady share the reason why she got into Princeton was probably because of Affirmative Action?”
“The reason why she became an associate at a law firm was probably because of diversity, they needed a woman—not saying that she wasn’t qualified—but they needed a woman, and a woman of color,” she said.
Comedy Central’s Larry Wilmore was not having it. In a segment on the Nightly Show, he fired back: “When a coke-snorting, alcohol-guzzling son of a CIA director DUI’s his way into Yale and ultimately into the Oval Office because his daddy’s was in both places, that’s affirmative action.”
Michelle Obama gave the commencement address at Tuskegee University last Saturday. Speaking at the hundred-plus-year-old school whose first teacher was a young Booker T. Washington, she spoke about her experiences being black in America. Needless to say, this caused a stampede to the pundit-designated fainting couches.
Hannity claimed that Obama’s recent speech is “a culmination of anger, deep rooted anger, that has built up in Michelle Obama.” Hannity went on, “It’s kind of sad. There’s a bitterness here to the whole experience of being first lady, a lack of appreciation for the opportunities that they’ve had.”
Being angry at past racist incidents is, of course, the first step to becoming uppity. Best just be grateful. Grateful, I tell you, or creepy but proudly not-at-all-racist radio show hosts like Laura Ingraham will be scuttling out of every nook and crevice to question whether you have reallyever experienced racism in this country or whether you’re just making it up to make America look bad.
I don’t believe that story, never did. […] That just wasn’t true. But this is the First Lady of the United States who has reached the pinnacle of success in our country, her husband has, and this was a litany of victimization which is exactly what we want young African-American graduates of a terrific university to take away with.
“As if work-a-day blacks are rushing out to protest Freddie Gray. No they aren’t,” she said.
No doubt all the work-a-day blacks have gotten too riled up by America’s First Lady claiming racism still exists when it clearly doesn’t. But you can hardly blame Michelle Obama for not knowing that, given that she probably only got into her prestigious college and prestigious jobdue to “affirmative action.”
“By the way, why didn’t the first lady share that the reason she got into Princeton was probably because of affirmative action?” [McGlowan] added. […]“The reason she became an associate at a law firm was probably because of diversity, that they needed a woman,” she said. “I’m not saying she wasn’t qualified. But they needed a woman, and a woman of color.
See there? How dare the First Lady think racism still exists in this country. White Americans give and give to undeserving, uppity always-angry never-peaceful The Blacks like her, and she still does not appreciate just how goddamn tolerant and open-minded and charitable Sean Hannity and the Fox News team have been. Now she’s filling young graduates’ heads with stories about an America filled with bigots and assholes, people who will presume all your grievances are manufactured and that anything you have ever accomplished in your life happened through the pure charity of white Americans giving those things to you.
What is it about white privilege that Fox’s Sean Hannity doesn’t get? After everything we’ve seen in the news, Hannity watched Michelle Obama’s searing graduation speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama, and can’t understand why she’s so angry and so black.
Actually, Obama didn’t even come across as particularly angry, Hannity just doesn’t like to hear the truth about how horribly White America treats black people. It’s much easier for him to portray our first lady as a reverse racist. Ellen Brodsky from NewsHounds(they watch Fox so you don’t have to) caught Hannity on the air weighing in on Michelle Obama’s speech, and called it “shocking.”
“But first, tonight, shocking comments from Michelle Obama while giving the commencement speech at Tuskegee University in Alabama this weekend. Now, he used the opportunity to express her own views on racism and discrimination in America. Take a listen, and look at this.”
Cue selective clips that bolster Hannity’s appalling views of Obama as a racist. Like the part where our first lady talks to the 2015 graduating class at this historic black university about the “sting of those daily slights” they will encounter as they launch their careers in White America.
“We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives — the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the ‘help’ — and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country.”
Any person of color — along with Anglo/white people who bother to care — have seen this dynamic at work and know it’s true. And instead of sounding angry, Obama even makes reference to how lucky she and her husband, the president, are compared to so many black people we’ve seen in the news lately:
“And I know that these little indignities are obviously nothing compared to what folks across the country are dealing with every single day — those nagging worries that you’re going to get stopped or pulled over for absolutely no reason; the fear that your job application will be overlooked because of the way your name sounds.”
It’s only natural that Obama would talk about race on the site of former cotton plantations worked by slaves at a college founded to train black teachers for segregated schools. But Hannity prefers to accuse FLOTUS of racism for daring to talk about race and call America out on our racism. He then trots out three black conservatives, plus one black token liberal to ensure he’s got someone he can bully and shout down.
First Hannity introduces Ron Christie, former special assistant to president George W. Bush and author of the disturbingly-titled book, “Blackwards: How Black Leadership is Returing America to the Days of Separate But Equal.” Also on his panel are Mike Meyers from the deceptively-named New York Civil Rights Commission; Denene Borelli, outreach director for the vile, Koch-funded libertarian group FreedomWorks; and political activist and former Hillary Clinton advisor Jehmu Greene,
Hannity and company’s derogatory comments on Obama’s speech included the following:
Hannity: “My initial observation is […] Barack Hussein Obama got elected by a majority of white America. Why is she so angry?”
Deneen Borelli: “Listen, I see this as propaganda. Instead of promoting how America is an exceptional country, Sean, she took that route to play the race card and race bait.”
Mike Meyers: Which racial ideologue do you know that’s not angry? She sounded like Hillary Clinton in that racial dialect. [Proceeds to make monkey noises, no I am not kidding]
Christie: Her message should have been uplifting […] It was a ‘poor me’ speech […] She just sounded so angry and so defiant.
Only Greene stood up for Obama, declaring that our first lady gave a speech that was not only moving, it embraced conservative values of hard work and self-reliance.
“What speech did y’all hear. I think some folks need to clean their ears out, because what [Obama] actually did, she was frank, she was candid, and she gave a conservative speech. “
Greene pointed out that Obama even took a potshot at the kind of “feminists” Hannity loves to hate, who’ve criticized her for putting family before career, and then dished out a little tough love.
“She said if you feel brought down, if you feel that people are against you, if you think you’re going to be treated negatively, guess what? Get over it, you cannot use it as an excuse.”
“No,” Hannity objected, “That’s not the speech I heard.”
Well, of course Hannity can’t hear when he refuses to listen. Greene called him out for playing selective clips, and Hannity turned to someone more likely to say what he wanted to hear. Christie obligingly sneered about Obama’s “negative, poor me speech.”
First Lady Michelle Obama took over her husband’s weekly radio and Internet address this morning, using Mother’s Day weekend to note that she and President Obama empathize with the families of Nigeria’s kidnapped schoolgirls. Terrorist group Boko Haram abducted more than 200 girls from their dorm rooms on April 15, and the story has since gained international attention and calls for the girls’ safe return. The First Lady said the abduction is “a story we see every day as girls around the world risk their lives to pursue their ambitions.”
She also noted, much as President Obama has in the past, that as parents, she and her husband were “outraged and heartbroken. In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters,” Michelle Obama said, referring to Malia, 15, and Sasha, 12. “We see their hopes, their dreams, and we can only imagine the anguish their parents are feeling right now.”
Drink more water. It’s pretty simple advice, the type of thing any health-conscious consumer has probably read at least a dozen times over the last few years. It’d be hard to come up with a less controversial idea, until, of course, first lady Michelle Obama started advocating water.
Last week the first lady unveiled her new “Drink Up” campaign — an offshoot of her healthy “Let’s Move” advocacy to reduce childhood obesity. For “Drink Up” she traveled to Watertown, Wisc., to encourage kids and adults to add a little more water to their drinking habits.
“I’ve come to realize that if we were going to take just one step to make ourselves and our families healthier, probably the single best thing we could do is to simply drink more water,” she said in a statement announcing the program. “That’s it — it’s really that simple. Drink just one more glass of water a day and you can make a real difference for your health, your energy, and the way you feel.”
But according to the right wing’s resident conservative weathervane, Rush Limbaugh, this new campaign is simply “more command-and-control” from the White House.
“We have real trouble, real problems in this country and around the world. What is this push to drink more water?” he quipped on his program last Friday.
The primary scientific critic Limbaugh and a number of newsoutlets quoted, is Dr. Stanley Goldfarb of the University of Pennsylvania. He’s a nephrologist (doctor who specializes in kidneys) with a long history of bashing the Affordable Care Act.
As Limbaugh pointed out on his show, Goldfarb says there “really isn’t data to support” the claims that increased water consumption can achieve the goals of the “Drink Up” campaign. “To make it a major public health effort, I think I would say it’s bizarre,” Goldfarb said.
So where is Michelle Obama getting this data to support her new program? It comes from the Centers for Disease Control, which has found that one in four children don’t drink any water daily and that nearly half of all Americans are getting less than four cups of water a day.
The new “Drink Up” campaign is focused on positive advocacy, encouraging people to consume more water, rather than telling them not to avoid sugary sodas. And while you might think that positive message would assuage a nanny-state-averse conservative pundit, Limbaugh found a way to hate it anyway. His criticism? The campaign has her cozying up too much with Big Soda.
“It’s Big Bottled Water, or Big Bottled Water is Big Soft Drink,” Limbaugh said. “That’s who’s pushing this.”
As pundit Bill Maher joked on his Friday program, ”I think this is a test to see if the Republicans will come out against water. ‘That’s not water, that’s socialism juice!’”
At least one Republican managed to pass that test. Congrats, Rush.
I saw Michelle Obama’s name trending on Twitter this morning so I decided to see what was going on.
The heckler’s complaint about Mrs. Obama “getting in her face” reminded me a lot of the incident at the Arizona airport in early October 2012 where reporters took pictures of Gov. Jan Brewer wagging her witch-like finger in the POTUS’ face.
So let me see if I understand the heckler’s logic here. She interrupts a speech given by the First Lady. The First Lady steps down from the lectern to speak to the woman one on one instead of retorting in a more public manner via the media presence. The woman felt intimidated because Mrs. Obama “got in my face”. Yet, the heckler initiated the exchange.
There are some parallels to both of the above instances…at least from where I stand. Both examples show the complaining parties as the persons doing the intimidating yet they both complain of being “intimidated.
A member of an LGBT advocacy group heckled First Lady Michelle Obama at a private fundraising event Tuesday night, leading to a brief confrontation between the two.
The Washington Post reported that Obama was speaking at a Democratic Party event at a private residence when 56-year-old Ellen Sturtz, later identified as a member of GetEqual,interrupted her speech to demand that President Barack Obama sign an executive order forbidding federal contractors from discriminating based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
The first lady allegedly addressed Sturtz directly, telling her, “One of the things that I don’t do well is this. Do you understand?” before walking toward her and saying, “Listen to me or you can take the mic, but I’m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice.”
Sturtz told the Post Obama was “flustered” when she replied that she would be happy to take the microphone, saying that the executive order would protect 22 percent of U.S. workers.
“She came right down in my face,” Sturtz said to the Post about the encounter with the first lady. “I was taken aback.”
Sturtz was escorted out of the event shortly afterward, but loudly identified herself as a “lesbian looking for federal equality before I die” on the way out.
GetEqual’s co-director, Heather Cronk, told Buzzfeed Tuesday night that the group planned the incident beforehand. In a release, the group said three other members were present at the fundraiser, which cost between $500 and $1,000 to attend.
But Sturtz, who donated $5,000 to the president’s 2008 election campaign, also said to theHuffington Post that she did not go to the event planning to heckle the first lady, instead intending to speak to Democratic National Committee officials about her worries regarding the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
“Basically, I was asked by the first lady to be quiet, and I can’t be quiet any longer,” Sturtz told theHuffington Post. “I was surprised by how negative the crowd seemed to be. It was actually a little unsettling and disturbing.”
First lady Michelle Obama is making her secondVogue cover appearance for the publication’s April 2013 issue — and also sparking another backlash. On the heels of the minor controversy caused when the first lady spoke at the 2013 Oscars via video, Mrs. Obama’s latest media foray has attracted a large number of irate commentors to major sites. In messages that mix the personal and the political, anonymous users are taking the occasion of the first lady speaking with Vogue in a high profile story to go on the attack.
No, they are not discussing her blue Reed Krakoff dress (while some do ding her signature bangs). Fashion, itself a contentious topic, has largely been forgotten in the stream of online chatter focusing on Michelle Obama’s fitness as a model for children, her alleged overexposure — and even her relationship with her husband. Plus, the frequent accusations of classism the first lady receives when doing something perceived by many as “too glamorous” were also in effect.
“Our own version of Eva Peron takes another step forward with Juan Barack to play the populist game whilst living high on the hog (on the people’s dime) with the Hollywood and New York glitterati,” complained one user on The Washington Post.
Many of the over 500 comments on The Huffington Post about the cover are similarly critical.
“Her role as a Presidents wife should be doing good for the country [sic],” wrote one user on the site. “She must want to be a model.”
Others used the occasion to voice fears about pressing social issues that the first lady has no direct power to influence.
“Can media stop doing this crap? Who cares [that the] first lady is on whatever magazines,” one such person stated. “My family is worrying to dead with sequestration. We won’t be able to pay our bills and my children will be suffering with my 20% pay cut. First Lady should do something more meaningful for her country instead of wearing nice clothes and smiling on the cover of any magazine. [sic]“
It was clear that several comments on stories about the April cover were deleted, suggesting that the ranting about Mrs. Obama was so bad that a substantial number of enraged site visitors violated these online outlets’ decency policies.
But, there were a fair number of people who loved seeing Michelle Obama pose for her second Voguecover — and a strong throng defending her against ideological assailants.
“Michelle Obama is one POWERFUL woman. She can’t even pose for a magazine without heads exploding. To all haters, it’s perfectly okay if you don’t find her attractive,” said one of the first lady’s fans.
For Michelle Obama, these reactions — good and bad — are likely a part of public life that she has accepted by now.
“Shoot, my bangs set off a national conversation. My shoes can set off a national conversation. That’s just sort of where we are. We’ve got a lot of talking going on,” she said about reactions to her media presence. “It’s like everybody’s kitchen-table conversation is now accessible to everybody else so there’s a national conversation about anything.”
Also, Mrs. Obama’s love of luxurious clothing is not as selfish as some make it seem. Ironically, dressing well helps the first lady to better serve others.
“If you’re comfortable in your clothes it’s easy to connect with people and make them feel comfortable as well,” Michelle said.
Making people feel comfortable is something the first lady does continuously, whether she is working with the public on her Let’s Move! initiative to reduce childhood obesity, or contributing in person to the betterment of military families through her Joining Forces campaign.
Yet, love her or hate her, people will have to get used to seeing Michelle Obama on magazine covers and television. Not only is she the most televised first lady of all time, Mrs. Obama is also extremely popular – more so than the president. Given both of these factors, we can expect a lot more coverage of the first lady in the years to come.
Everybody should get situated for what promises to be a bumpy ride full of passionate debates over Michelle Obama’s image.
Michelle Obama’s message: President Barack Obama is just like you.
“Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it,” the first lady told the Democratic National Convention on Tuesday in an address intended to reassure voters that her husband share their values – hard work, perseverance and optimism – while also drawing a contrast between him and Mitt Romney.
Mrs. Obama never mentioned the president’s Republican challenger, who grew up in a world of privilege and wealth.
But the point was clear as she weaved a tapestry of their early years together, when money was tight and times were tough, when they were “so in love, and so in debt.” She reminisced about the man who now occupies the Oval Office pulling his favorite coffee table out of the trash and wearing dress shoes that were a size too small. And she told stories about a president who still takes time to eat dinner with his daughters nearly every night, answering their questions about the news and strategizing about middle-school friendships.
With a mix of personal anecdotes and policy talk, Mrs. Obama’s speech was by far her most political yet.
“Today, after so many struggles and triumphs and moments that have tested my husband in ways I never could have imagined, I have seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are – it reveals who you are,” she said.
To that send, the first lady painted a portrait of a leader who knows first-hand the struggles of everyday Americans, who listens to them as president, and who pushes an agenda with their interests in mind.
“That’s the man I see in those quiet moments late at night, hunched over his desk, poring over the letters people have sent him,” she said. “I see the concern in his eyes … and I hear the determination in his voice as he tells me, `You won’t believe what these folks are going through, Michelle . it’s not right. We’ve got to keep working to fix this. We’ve got so much more to do.””
She added: “I see how that’s what drives Barack Obama every single day.”
With such stories, the first lady sought to counter Republicans trying to paint Obama as something other than a typical American, and implied that it was Romney who couldn’t relate to people trying to get by in tough economic times.
To be sure, neither Romney nor Obama fits the bill of the average, working-class American struggling with credit card debt and mortgage payments. Both are millionaires who live a privileged life few Americans will ever experience.
WASHINGTON — A District of Columbia police officer has been taken off a motorcycle escort for White House officials after he allegedly said he’d shoot first lady Michelle Obama and “then used his phone to retrieve a picture of the firearm he said he would use,” according to The Washington Post.
The Metropolitan Police Department is investigating and the Secret Service has been told of the alleged threat, the Post reports:
The motorman allegedly made the comments Wednesday morning as several officers from the Special Operations Division discussed threats against President Obama. It was not immediately clear where the alleged conversation took place or exactly how many officers took part in the conversation.During that conversation, the officials said, the officer allegedly said he would shoot the First Lady and then used his phone to retrieve a picture of the firearm he said he would use. It was not immediately clear what type of firearm was allegedly shown.
An officer overheard the alleged threat and reported it to a police lieutenant at the Division, who immediately notified superiors, the officials said.
The officer has been moved to administrative duty as the incident is being investigated, according to the Post.
MPD Chief Cathy Lanier told WRC-TV/NBC4: “There is conflicting information about what the officer said. … Internal Affairs will get to the bottom of it.”
First lady Michelle Obama has a date, and it’s not with her husband, CNN reports:
20 year old Marine Lance Corporal Aaron Leeks from Frederick, Maryland has asked First Lady Michelle Obama to accompany him to the Marine Corps Ball next November. “With your husband’s permission of course,” said Leeks.
The first lady responded, “I’d love to” and brought an aide over to get his information. The first lady met Leeks at a Toys-for-Tots event at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling located in southeast Washington, DC.
White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about the invitation in Friday’s briefing and responded, “If the president’s watching this, this may be the first he’s heard of it.”
Carney couldn’t confirm that FLOTUS will definitely attend but said, “The first lady’s commitment to military families is very strong indeed. So I’m sure she was flattered by the invitation.”