Archive for the 'Articles' Category

09
Nov
18

Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More

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Krissah Thompson: In Revealing New Memoir, Michelle Obama Candidly Shares Her Story

As Michelle Obama’s highly anticipated memoir “Becoming” arrives, it’s clear that the former first lady is occupying a space in the culture beyond politics. “I don’t think anybody will be necessarily prepared to read a memoir like this — especially coming from a first lady,” said Shonda Rhimes, the television producer, who read an advance copy of Obama’s book. The first-lady memoir is a rite of passage, but Obama’s is different by virtue of her very identity. “Becoming” takes her historic status as the first black woman to serve as first lady and melds it deftly into the American narrative. She writes of the common aspects of her story and — as the only White House resident to count an enslaved great-great-grandfather as an ancestor — of its singular sweep. “The whole [birther] thing was crazy and mean-spirited, of course, its underlying bigotry and xenophobia hardly concealed. But it was also dangerous, deliberately meant to stir up the wingnuts and kooks,” she writes. “What if someone with an unstable mind loaded a gun and drove to Washington? What if that person went looking for our girls? Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this I’d never forgive him.”

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She divides the memoir into three parts: Becoming Me, Becoming Us, Becoming More. The first section is a deep, often sociological exploration of Chicago and the people and institutions there. Its textured discussion of gentrification, public education, race and class are reminders that Obama majored in sociology and minored in African American studies at Princeton University. The second section, Becoming Us, is a romp through her romance with Barack Obama, starting a family with him and her search for work that she loved. It begins with words that have never before been written by a first lady about her man: “As soon as I allowed myself to feel anything for Barack, the feelings came rushing — a toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” She also shares intimate details for the first time, for instance, that she and her husband had trouble getting pregnant, suffered a miscarriage, and that both daughters were conceived through in vitro fertilization. And that she did a great deal of this while her husband was away serving in the state legislature, leaving her to administer the shots that are a part of that process herself.

More here

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03
Nov
18

Checking Out Doesn’t Pay Off

11
Oct
18

Global Girls Alliance

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Donate Here

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13
Sep
18

Dear Mr. President

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Jeanne Marie Laskas

A girl doesn’t want her mum to be deported, and can the president please help? A guy finally admits to his wife that he’s gay, and now he would like to tell the president. A car dealer writes to say his bank is shut­ting him down, and thanks for nothing, Mr President. A vet who can’t stop seeing what he saw in Iraq writes a barely intelligible rant that makes his point all the more intelligible: “Help.” An inmate admits to selling crack, but he wants the president to know he is not a lost cause: “I have dreams Mr President, big dreams.” A man can’t find a job. A woman can’t find a job. A teacher with advanced certification can’t find a damn job. A lesbian couple just got married; thank you, Mr President. A man sends his medical bills; a woman sends her student loan statements; a child sends her drawing of a cat; a mother sends her teen­ager’s report card – straight As, isn’t that awesome, Mr President?

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The Letters In Pictures

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I noticed that over by his desk, on a wall, he had hung the framed letter from Natoma Canfield; Obama had said she reminded him of his mum, who died at 52 of a similar cancer. The letter had stood as a reminder to him of his commitment to healthcare reform. “The only instruction I gave was that I wanted every packet to be representative,” he continued. “And understanding that it wouldn’t be perfect. It didn’t mean that, you know, out of every 10 letters, there had to be two positive and two negative and three neutral and one funny. It wasn’t formulaic like that. But that was the one thing I insisted on – that this is not useful to me if all I’m getting are, you know, ‘happy birthday’ wishes. And I think they did a won­derful job of channelling the American people in that way.”

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19
Aug
18

Read On

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President Barack Obama

One of my favorite parts of summer is deciding what to read when things slow down just a bit, whether it’s on a vacation with family or just a quiet afternoon. This summer I’ve been absorbed by new novels, revisited an old classic, and reaffirmed my faith in our ability to move forward together when we seek the truth. Here’s what I’ve been reading:

Tara Westover’s Educated is a remarkable memoir of a young woman raised in a survivalist family in Idaho who strives for education while still showing great understanding and love for the world she leaves behind.

Set after WWII, Warlight by Michael Ondaatje is a meditation on the lingering effects of war on family.

With the recent passing of V.S. Naipaul, I reread A House for Mr Biswas, the Nobel Prize winner’s first great novel about growing up in Trinidad and the challenge of post-colonial identity.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a moving portrayal of the effects of a wrongful conviction on a young African-American couple.

Factfulness by Hans Rosling, an outstanding international public health expert, is a hopeful book about the potential for human progress when we work off facts rather than our inherent biases.

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03
Jul
18

What He Said

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“If what you are doing requires no sacrifice at all, then you can do more,” Obama told the tony crowd at a sweeping multi-million-dollar Beverley Hills home. “If you are one of these folks who is watching cable news at your cocktail parties with your friends and you are saying ‘civilization is collapsing’ and you are nervous and worried, but that is not where you are putting all your time, energy and money, then either you don’t actually think civilization is collapsing … or you are not pushing yourself hard enough and I would push harder.” At one point, he turned to the crowd and declared, “Enough moping, this is a mope-free zone.”

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27
Jun
18

Summer Reading List

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Barack Obama

I’m often asked what I’m reading, watching, and listening to, so I thought I might share a short list from time to time. There’s so much good writing and art and variety of thought out there these days that this is by no means comprehensive – like many of you, I’ll miss “The Americans” – but here’s what I’ve been reading lately. It’s admittedly a slightly heavier list than what I’ll be reading over the summer:

Futureface: A Family Mystery, an Epic Quest, and the Secret to Belonging, by Alex Wagner
I once wrote a book on my own search for identity, so I was curious to see what Alex, daughter of a Burmese mother and Iowan Irish-Catholic father – and a friend of mine – discovered during her own. What she came up with is a thoughtful, beautiful meditation on what makes us who we are – the search for harmony between our own individual identities and the values and ideals that bind us together as Americans.

More here

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25
Mar
18

‘An Extraordinary Young Man’

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Earlier this month, Michael Schulman and Linda Beigel Schulman received a letter. Their son, Scott Beigel, was a geography teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and on February 14, he reportedly unlocked the door to his classroom as an active shooter roamed the halls, allowing students to run inside and take cover. Before he could lock the door again, he was killed, along with 14 students and two other faculty members. He was 35 years old.

“Your son seemed like an extraordinary young man, and Michelle and I grieve alongside you,” the letter to Michael and Linda read. “We can only imagine the hardship you are going through; hopefully all the wonderful memories can help ease the pain. We’ll get the details about your fund in his honor. In the meantime, you are in our thoughts and prayers.” It was handwritten, and it was signed Barack Obama.

“Scott is a hero. Scott was a hero way before February 14,” Linda told me on Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C. “What Scott did — saving his students — doesn’t surprise me. I’m proud of him. Obviously, I wish he wasn’t murdered doing it, but I wouldn’t expect anything less of Scott.”

More here

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23
Mar
18

Enjoying New Zealand

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23
Jan
18

President Obama: The Greatest Force For Equality In 50 Years

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Derek Thompson: Thanks, Obama

President Obama has cultivated a reputation for approaching politics with a kind of medical clinicism. But with the full panorama of his presidency coming into view, Obama’s economic legacy is impressive, even historic. First, the centerpiece of Obama’s anti-inequality legacy is the policy that bears his name. Obamacare, a.k.a., the Affordable Care Act, has reduced the uninsured rate from about 16 percent in 2010 to less than 9 percent today, the lowest level in U.S. history. Second, several subtle yet significant tax changes under Obama have made the tax code more progressive. The stimulus bill passed in 2009, a.k.a., the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (or, simply, the Recovery Act), included the most important changes. The law created the Making Work Pay credit, expanded the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, and created new tax credits, like the American Opportunity Tax Credit for college attendees. The most significant change to the tax code since 2010 has been the eleventh-hour agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts for all families except for an increase in the top tax rate for households making more than $450,000 and an increase in the estate tax rate to 40 percent.

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Third, the Obama administration has supported initiatives outside of the tax code and health care policy to help the poor and middle class. They have been advocates for higher minimum wages at the national level, which have arguably buoyed the state-by-state effort to raise minimum wages toward $15 in richer areas. They supported extended unemployment benefits while long-term unemployment was perhaps the country’s most insidious economic plague. Unemployment insurance kept more than 11 million people out of poverty in Obama’s first term, according to Census analysis. The president also expanded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) and Temporary Aid to Needy Families (grants that states can use for a variety of measures including helping the poor). His Department of Education spent more than $60 billion to support states’ education budgets and prevent more layoffs of teachers and administrators. In sum, he grew anti-inequality spending more than any president, as a share of GDP. But at a time when both liberals and conservatives have become exquisitely aware of income inequality and its ills, the seemingly placid, cold, philosopher-in-chief did more to combat that inequity than any president in at least 50 years. For that, two words suffice: “Thanks, Obama.”

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