Obama sharpens his message on race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-07-02 01:26Z by Steven

Obama sharpens his message on race

The Hill
Washington, D.C.

Mike Lillis

President Obama is taking a more aggressive approach to the issue of race, repeatedly offering sharp commentary as he confronts America’s oldest, deepest divide.

Black lawmakers, Obama’s strongest allies on Capitol Hill, have cheered the president’s newfound willingness to address race head-on.

But they also see a nation that’s still plagued by inequality, discrimination and, in some cases, overt racism — first black president or none…

Read the entire article here.

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What President Obama’s historic week means for his legacy

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-06-29 20:58Z by Steven

What President Obama’s historic week means for his legacy


Benjy Sarlin, Political Reporter

Every occupant of the White House experiences more than one presidency. There’s their actual time in office, an experience characterized by constant political conflict, a drumbeat of unanticipated crises large and small, and a trudging slog towards policy goals. Then there’s the version of their presidency that comes after they leave, as memories fade and history chisels away the various minor dramas until eventually all that remains for most Americans is an ultra­-condensed summary. This is the version passed down through generations, to those who never experienced that president’s tenure themselves and whose sense of history stems from one or two paragraphs in their high school textbook.

More than any other period in his presidency, the past week’s rapid succession of once­-in-­a-­lifetime moments closed the gap between President Obama’s day­ to ­day travails and his larger place in history.

“Progress on this journey often comes in small increments, sometimes two steps forward, one step back, propelled by the persistent effort of dedicated citizens,” as Obama put it in his response to the Supreme Court’s same sex marriage ruling Friday. “And then sometimes, there are days like this when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”

For a few days in June, change was dizzying in pace and so real it could be touched. Universal health care, as one conservative put it, is forever, thanks to the Supreme Court knocking down the Affordable Care Act’s last significant remaining challenge. Marriage equality is forever. This week’s bipartisan exorcism of the Confederacy’s 150­-year old demons is forever.

The avalanche of news sparked a discussion of two emerging views on Obama’s legacy – one focused on his policy accomplishments, the other as a symbol of underlying changes in the country that will long outlive his presidency…

…Obama’s election as the first black president – powered by landslide margins with black and Latino voters and historic turnout by younger voters – was hailed as a historic moment, but it was eclipsed almost immediately by the massive challenges that landed on his desk and the intense backlash his policy responses provoked on the right. The scope of this achievement came jarringly back into picture on Friday, however, when, as the Associated Press described it, ”America’s first black president sang [Amazing Grace], less than a mile from the spot where thousands of slaves were sold and where South Carolina signed its pact to leave the union a century and a half earlier.” It will move more and more to the forefront once there’s a new president dealing with the 24/7 reality show that is the White House and Obama settles into the more non-partisan, ceremonial role his surviving predecessors occupy today…

Read the entire article here.

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Episode 613 – President Barack Obama

Posted in Audio, Autobiography, Barack Obama, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, United States on 2015-06-22 21:29Z by Steven

Episode 613 – President Barack Obama

WTF with Marc Maron
Monday, 2015-06-22

Marc Maron, Host

Barack Obama, President of the United States

Marc and President Obama in the garage (Photo: Pete Souza)

Marc welcomes the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, to the garage for conversation about college, fitting in, race relations, gun violence, changing the status quo, disappointing your fans, comedians, fatherhood and overcoming fear. And yes, this really happened. This episode is presented without commercial interruption courtesy of Squarespace. Go to MarcMeetsObama.com to see behind-the-scenes photos and captions.

Listen to the episode here. Download the episode here.

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U.S. ‘Not Cured’ of Racism, Obama Says, Citing Slavery’s Legacy

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery, United States on 2015-06-22 20:40Z by Steven

U.S. ‘Not Cured’ of Racism, Obama Says, Citing Slavery’s Legacy

The New York Times

Michael D. Shear, White House Correspondent

Christine Hauser, Reporter

WASHINGTON — Just days after nine black parishioners were killed in a South Carolina church, President Obama said the legacy of slavery still “casts a long shadow” on American life, and he said that choosing not to say the word “nigger” in public does not eliminate racism from society.

In a wide-ranging conversation about race, including his own upbringing as a man born to a black father and a white woman, Mr. Obama insisted that there was no question that race relations have improved in his lifetime. But he also said that racism was still deeply embedded in the United States.

“The legacy of slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination in almost every institution of our lives, you know, that casts a long shadow, and that’s still part of our DNA that’s passed on,” the president said during an interview for Marc Maron’s “WTF” podcast that was released on Monday. “We’re not cured of it. And it’s not just a matter of it not being polite to say nigger in public. That’s not the measure of whether racism still exists or not.”

He added, “Societies don’t overnight completely erase everything that happened two to 300 years prior.”

Mr. Obama has been more open about the issue of race during his second term, in part because of racially charged episodes in the last several years. The killing of Trayvon Martin, a black teenager in Florida, and the protests that followed several police shootings have prompted the president to be more reflective about his own racial identity and the nation’s.

In the hourlong interview, Mr. Obama talked about being a rebel during his youth and “trying on” different kinds of personas as he struggled to understand what kind of African-American man he wanted to be.

“I’m trying on a whole bunch of outfits,” Mr. Obama said. “Here’s how I should act. Here’s what it means to be cool. Here’s what it means to be a man.”

He said that a lot of his issues when he was young “revolved around race” but that his attitude changed around the time he turned 20. That is when he began to understand how to honor both sides of his racial identity, the president said.

“I don’t have to be one way to be both an African-American and also someone who affirms the white side of my family,” he said. “I don’t have to push back from the love and values that my mom instilled in me.”…

Read the entire article here.

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An open letter to President Obama: This is a moral emergency

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-06-21 03:17Z by Steven

An open letter to President Obama: This is a moral emergency

Jewish Journal

Todd Samuel Presner, Professor and Director, Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Dear President Barack Obama,

I appreciate your comments on the “heartache and the sadness and the anger” that many Americans are feeling after the shooting of nine African-American congregants at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. You pointed out that “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” and you argued, as you have before, for stricter gun control laws. I agree. After the torture and death of Freddie Gray, you said that we – as a nation – have some soul-searching to do” and that race-based police violence was not something new. Indeed, it is not. After the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, you said that Trayvon could have been you “35 years ago,” and you pointed out the ways our criminal justice system disproportionately targets and imprisons African American men. You wondered: “But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do?”  After the strangulation of Eric Garner, you said that “this is not just a black problem or a brown problem. This is an American problem.” You are absolutely right. And after the death of Michael Brown, you said “we should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” You called for prayers, peace, and soul-searching. But with all due respect President Obama, none of this is enough. We – all Americans – have to call this violence out for what it really is: It is racism. And racism perpetuated and legitimized by the persistent failure of Americans to confront this most urgent, most pernicious, and most vile moral and existential catastrophe at the core of our nation…

Read the entire article here.

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Charleston and the Age of Obama

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-06-21 02:28Z by Steven

Charleston and the Age of Obama

The New Yorker

David Remnick, Editor

Between 1882 and 1968, the year Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated, three thousand four hundred and forty-six black men, women, and children were lynched in this country—a practice so vicious and frequent that Mark Twain was moved, in 1901, to write an essay called “The United States of Lyncherdom.” (Twain shelved the essay and plans for a full-length book on lynching because, he told his publisher, if he went forward, “I shouldn’t have even half a friend left down [South].”) These thousands of murders, as studied by the Tuskegee Institute and others, were a means of enforcing white supremacy in the political and economic marketplaces; they served to terrorize black men who might dare to sleep, or even talk, with white women, and to silence black children, like Emmett Till, who were deemed “insolent.”

That legacy of extreme cruelty and unpunished murder as a means of exerting political and physical control of African-Americans cannot be far from our minds right now. Nine people were shot dead in a church in Charleston. How is it possible, while reading about the alleged killer, Dylann Storm Roof, posing darkly in a picture on his Facebook page, the flags of racist Rhodesia and apartheid South Africa sewn to his jacket, not to think that we have witnessed a lynching? Roof, it is true, did not brandish a noose, nor was he backed by a howling mob of Klansmen, as was so often the case in the heyday of American lynching. Subsequent investigation may put at least some of the blame for his actions on one form of derangement or another. And yet the apparent sense of calculation and planning, what a witness reportedly said was the shooter’s statement of purpose in the Emanuel A.M.E. Church as he took up his gun—“You rape our women and you’re taking over our country”—echoed some of the very same racial anxieties, resentments, and hatreds that fuelled the lynchings of an earlier time.

But the words attributed to the shooter are both a throwback and thoroughly contemporary: one recognizes the rhetoric of extreme reaction and racism heard so often in the era of Barack Obama. His language echoed the barely veiled epithets hurled at Obama in the 2008 and 2012 campaigns (“We want our country back!”) and the raw sewage that spewed onto Obama’s Twitter feed (@POTUS) the moment he cheerfully signed on last month. “We still hang for treason don’t we?” one @jeffgully49, who also posted an image of the President in a noose, wrote…

…Obama hates to talk about this. He allows himself so little latitude. Maybe that will change when he is an ex-President focussed on his memoirs. As a very young man he wrote a book about becoming, about identity, about finding community in a black church, about finding a sense of home—in his case, on the South Side of Chicago, with a young lawyer named Michelle Robinson

Read the entire article here.

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Study illuminates why multiracial Americans almost never call themselves white

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-06-18 15:31Z by Steven

Study illuminates why multiracial Americans almost never call themselves white


Jenée Desmond-Harris

Look up any article about President Obama that focuses on his role as the first black president.

Go ahead, do it now.

Scroll down to the comments.

I promise you, you’ll find earnest inquiries asking why the president is considered black or biracial when his mother is white. You’ll find people who are sincerely saddened by the idea that he would “reject” her contribution to his heritage. You’ll find people who are legitimately confused about why half black plus half white sometimes equals black and sometimes equals biracial, but rarely if ever seems to equal white…

This is why multiracial people don’t normally identify as white

A new study by Pew Research Center takes a comprehensive look at the experiences of multiracial Americans.  Using a different approach than the census by taking into account people’s parents’ and grandparents’ racial backgrounds in addition to their self-reported race, it concluded that multiracial adults currently make up 6.9 percent of the adult American population.

One of its many findings has to do with multiracial identity, and that age-old question of why mixed-race Americans like Obama and so many others don’t seem to give their white parents’ ethnicity the same weight as their other heritage when it comes to self-description…

The study revealed that people who identify as multiracial say they experience discrimination based on the part of their heritage that is not white. Here’s how Pew explained it in the write-up (emphasis added):

For multiracial adults with a black background, experiences with discrimination closely mirror those of single-race blacks. Among adults who are black and no other race, 57% say they have received poor service in restaurants or other businesses, identical to the share of biracial black and white adults who say this has happened to them; and 42% of single-race blacks say they have been unfairly stopped by the police, as do 41% of biracial black and white adults. Mixed-race adults with an Asian background are about as likely to report being discriminated against as are single-race Asians, while multiracial adults with a white background are more likely than single-race whites to say they have experienced racial discrimination.

This echoes the way Obama has explained why he calls himself black. “I’m not sure I decided it,” he once said in an interview with 60 Minutes. “I think, you know, if you look African-American in this society, you’re treated as an African-American.”

He later told PBS, “If I’m outside your building trying to catch a cab, they’re not saying, ‘Oh, there’s a mixed-race guy.'”…

Read the entire article here.

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Obama’s Twitter Debut, @POTUS, Attracts Hate-Filled Posts

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-05-22 01:36Z by Steven

Obama’s Twitter Debut, @POTUS, Attracts Hate-Filled Posts

The New York Times

Julie Hirschfeld Davis, White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON — When President Obama sent his inaugural Twitter post from the Oval Office on Monday, the White House heralded the event with fanfare, posting a photograph of him perched on his desk tapping out his message on an iPhone.

The @POTUS account — named for the in-house acronym derived from “President of the United States” — would “serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him,” a White House aide wrote that day.

But it took only a few minutes for Mr. Obama’s account to attract racist, hate-filled posts and replies. They addressed him with racial slurs and called him a monkey. One had an image of the president with his neck in a noose.

The posts reflected the racial hostility toward the nation’s first black president that has long been expressed in stark terms on the Internet, where conspiracy theories thrive and prejudices find ready outlets. But the racist Twitter posts are different because now that Mr. Obama has his own account, the slurs are addressed directly to him, for all to see.

Within minutes of Mr. Obama’s first, cheerful post — “Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really!” it began — Twitter users lashed out in sometimes profanity-laced replies that included exhortations for the president to kill himself and worse.

One person posted a doctored image of Mr. Obama’s famous campaign poster, instead showing the president with his head in a noose, his eyes closed and his neck appearing broken as if he had been lynched. Instead of the word “HOPE” in capital letters as it appeared on the campaign poster, the doctored image had the words “ROPE.”…

…Top advisers to Mr. Obama, who pioneered the use of technology in his campaigns, regard such hate speech as a relatively minor price to pay for the opportunity Twitter and other platforms provide to reach voters directly. Twitter, which has been criticized for not cracking down on so-called trolls who post abusive or inappropriate comments on the social networking platform, does not police individual users or initiate its own action against them…

Read the entire article here.

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Obama tweets, and a million follow: ‘It’s Barack. Really!’

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-05-19 17:47Z by Steven

Obama tweets, and a million follow: ‘It’s Barack. Really!’


Roberta Rampton, White House Correspondent

President Barack Obama sent his first tweet from his very own account on Twitter on Monday, quickly amassing a million followers in five hours, the latest of many White House efforts to amplify his message with social media.

Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account,” Obama tweeted from his verified @POTUS account.

A Twitter spokesman could not immediately confirm whether Obama had set a record. According to Guinness World Records, the fastest pace to a million followers was set by actor Robert Downey Jr. in 23 hours and 22 minutes in April 2014.

Obama and his advisers pioneered the use of social media like Twitter and Facebook in the 2008 presidential campaign and have embraced their use in the White House as well.

As media attention has increasing shifted toward the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House has boosted its use of social media to break and shape news…

Read the entire article here.

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In Twilight of Term, Obama Finds More Urgent Voice on Race

Posted in Articles, Barack Obama, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-05-12 15:14Z by Steven

In Twilight of Term, Obama Finds More Urgent Voice on Race

Bloomberg News

Mike Dorning, White House Correspondent

Angela Greiling Keane, White House Correspondent

Polls show racial polarization in the U.S. is at the highest in decades.

With his time in office waning, President Obama is speaking out on race and poverty in increasingly blunt terms as violent protests in U.S. cities highlight the unrealized promise of his election.

Searing images of a burning CVS pharmacy in Baltimore and armored vehicles arrayed along the streets of Ferguson, Mo., are a grim contrast to the elated, multiracial crowd celebrating in Chicago’s Grant Park on the warm November night in 2008 after the nation elected its first black president.

Many of the hopes of that night haven’t been fulfilled. Polls show racial polarization in the U.S. is at the highest in decades. Poverty is higher among Americans in general and blacks in particular. The gap between rich and poor has grown.

A president who throughout his two terms has been restrained in addressing racial controversies now is raising his voice and declaring he’ll make lifting up impoverished communities and the young men within them the cause of his post-presidency years…

…Obama, 53, began his career as a community organizer working on economic issues in impoverished black neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side. His life story as the child of a mixed-race marriage contributed to his political rise. A speech on race relations, titled “A More Perfect Union,” was a high point in his 2008 campaign.

Yet as president, with few exceptions, Obama has acted cautiously in addressing race…

Read the entire article here.

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