I came of political age during an era of “family values.” I cast my first vote for president of the United States in 2004, the year so-called values voters helped pass laws banning same-sex marriage in 11 states. In the political language of the time, family values meant opposing gay marriage, opposing abortion, opposing stem cell research. Many politicians publicly position themselves as respectable public servants who put God and the traditional family first — especially after President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal in the late ’90s. But over the last seven years, we’ve witnessed a president who showed us what family values really look like, rather than tell us in campaign commercials. In President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, we’ve witnessed a consistent example of mutual love and respect that’s both practical and inspiring.
Both Barack and Michelle have worked hard to strengthen other American families with initiatives that focus on families and children. With Let’s Move!, Michelle Obama put herself and her dance moves out there to encourage parents to make good choices about family health and nutrition. With My Brother’s Keeper, a program launched in 2014, the president made efforts to encourage responsible fatherhood and close opportunity gaps faced by young men of color. And with Let Girls Learn, Michelle took the cause global, stressing that girls’ education is about more than gender equality: it’s essential to economic development. Again, the first couple is putting family values into action. We don’t hear much about family values anymore, but we have seen them on display during the Obama White House. I credit the Obamas and their actions for reminding us what family values really look like.
As a white person, I know many people use the #AllLivesMatter hashtag as a way to dismiss and dis-empower the deeply felt #BlackLivesMatter tag. It seems obvious on its face that using #BlackLivesMatter is a heart-cry response to what is going on at this very moment, not some subversive attempt to deny any other group their humanity. I also believe that some white people, especially at firs, used it in the sense of “We are all important. We support and include you”.
Now, that is naive. It is pie-in-the-sky, everything-will-be-okay-if-we-just-join-hands-and-sing naivety that does not acknowledge life as some people have to live it. There are sometimes good intentions. But we all know where good intentions lead us.
My point is this: even when you truly believe “AllLivesMatter” is a supportive thing to say, when the people you are trying to support tell you clearly, “No. It. Isn’t”, you have to listen. When they say “This is hurtful and dismissive”, you have to listen. When the people you are trying to support say, “This is how you support us: “BlackLivesMatter”, you have to listen. When your feelings are hurt because your support was not accepted the way you thought it would be, you have to LISTEN. You have to LISTEN and ACCEPT that they know their own lives better than you do, that their experiences are different and true. That no matter how much you wish it weren’t that way and no matter how much you want it to be different, you have to LISTEN and ACCEPT and APOLOGIZE and BE HUMBLE in the face of your ignorance.
I respect Bernie Sanders for marching for Civil Rights in the 50s and 60s. I’m sure he did it out of a deep belief in the cause. Since then he has served an almost all white community. It’s not enough for him and his supporters to look back 50 years and rest on those laurels. It’s not okay for him to determine the battle was won because he is not aware of it any more. And when you are tone deaf enough, and so far out of touch that you can say things like “Racism is over” and ” Black people need to stop voting their color”, you need to LISTEN when the people whose support you need say “No! Wait! It’s hurtful and wrong!”. And then you need to reassess and humble yourself and say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. Tell me what I need to know and I’ll listen.” Sanders doesn’t seem to have the slightest ability to do that and that is what worries me in his candidacy. I don’t expect a perfect candidate, I don’t expect any of them to measure up to PBO (well Joe Biden if he runs!), but I do expect a candidate who can learn, respond to new information, and most of all treat EVERYONE with respect and dignity. I think racial injustice, legal injustice, and economic injustice are three self-reinforcing evils at the root of our society. Sanders is obsessed with one at the expense of the others. It’s not good enough. I will vote for him if he is the candidate, but it will make me very sad.
As a white person, I feel that the biggest role we can play is to listen, learn, and reflect that learning to other people, and allow everyone the dignity of their own experience.
The “All lives matter” thing has always seemed so passive-aggressively hostile to me. Of course “all lives matter”! Any true liberal is a liberal because we believe, as PBO has quoted many times that, “I am my brother’s keeper” and that we rise and fall together. PBO himself is an example of someone who truly cares about all of humanity, no matter the shade, sexual orientation or circumstances.
But those who say “All lives matter” in response to “Black lives matter” are clearly, in my mind and to my heart, retorting rather than responding. There is an inherent negation of “Black lives matter” by responding with “All lives matter” and, to me, whether those who use the “All lives matter” retort realize it consciously or not, they are being defensive. Why do you feel the need to get defensive if you are not subconsciously or secretly separating yourself out from your brothers and sisters of different shades? And for the politicians, such as HRC and BS (BS… perfect, huh?), using “All lives matter” when speaking before supporters is an obvious “Don’t worry, I’m one of you.” signal to those frightened or angered by “Black lives Matter”
To me, if all lives really did matter to these people, they would SEE what is so blatantly before them; they wouldn’t need it explained to them. If they truly felt value in all lives, they would understand the need for and reason for “Black lives Matter.”
Message: especially to some Bernie supporters
Dear White Politicians
You marching with MLK doesn't give you a leg up because
1. You should have
2. So did Black people.
George Clooney has never been shy about sharing his thoughts on politics and current events. So yesterday, when we ran into him at a Peggy Siegal lunch for his new space flick Gravity, we asked the liberal-leaning actor for his thoughts about the ongoing government shutdown. He had many — on John Boehner’s grand strategy, on the “idiots” who think we don’t need government, and on Ted Cruz’s reading of Green Eggs and Ham. “People keep talking about how this has to be a great negotiation, but there isn’t any negotiating a law.
We negotiate on all these other topics, but this was put into law, and [Obama] was reelected on it. It was reaffirmed, it was passed through the Supreme Court — it’s a law. You don’t like it? Win an election. That’s how it works. That’s how the country works. But you don’t get to shut down the government because of it. That’s not how it works.” “Shutting down the government is not how you make government work. And anybody who thinks we don’t need it is an idiot.”
May 11, 2012 – Pete Souza: “After some early morning basketball in Los Angeles, the President talks with the players who included actors Don Cheadle, Tobey Maguire, and George Clooney, along with two of Clooney’s long-time friends. Stacy Keibler is also at right.”
What happens in Vegas . . . doesn’t stay in Vegas when you are George Clooney and get in an argument with a hotel tycoon over President Obama. “There were 9 people at that table. . .So you can ask them. . .Steve likes to go on rants. . .HE called the president an asshole. . . that is a fact. . .I said the President was my longtime friend and then he said ‘your friend is an asshole.’ . . .At that point I told Steve that HE was an asshole and I wasn’t going to sit at his table while he was being such a jackass. And I walked out. There were obviously quite a few more adjectives and adverbs used by both of us. Those are all the facts. It had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with character.”
Steve Wynn and I have met three times, two times for dinner. That is the extent of our knowledge of one another, so I will refrain from trying to categorize him based on the little time we’ve spent together, but I will not let his version of the truth go unchallenged. He now says he didn’t call the president an ‘a——.’ That is false. He bellowed ‘I voted for the a——,’ and then called him the same thing several more times as the dinner came to an abrupt end. Again there were eight people at the table, eight witnesses. I did in turn, call him the same body part, and walked out. Again he can make up whatever story he wants, but these are the facts. He said I drank 16 shots of tequila. I didn’t drink one shot of tequila, not one. We were drinking but it was early and we still had two events to attend.
He said I live in a bubble. More of a bubble than Las Vegas? Honestly? He says I’m ‘molly coddled,’ that I’m surrounded by people who coddle me. I would suggest that Mr. Wynn look to his left and right and find anyone in his sphere that says anything but ‘yes’ to him. Emphatically. I did not attend a private boys’ school, I worked in tobacco fields and in stock rooms, and construction sites. I’ve been broke more of my life than I have been successful, and I understand the meaning of being an employee and how difficult it is to make ends meet. Steve is one of the richest men in the world and he should be congratulated for it, but he needs to take off his red sparkly dinner jacket and roll up his sleeves every once in a while and understand what most of the country is actually dealing with … or at least start with the fact that you can’t make up stories when eight people who are not on your payroll are sitting around you as witnesses.
Walking through Clooney’s house, Obama glimpsed at the “HOPE” poster from the 2008 campaign by Shepard Fairey and told donors: “People don’t realize that the photograph of me is actually me sitting next to George” at an event when Clooney was advocating on behalf of Darfur. “We struck up a friendship,” Obama said, and then joked, to much laughter: “This is the first time that George Clooney has actually been photo-shopped out of a picture. Never happened before, will never happen again.” Obama said Fairey did a poster for Clooney with both men on the same picture. “Why he said at the bottom ‘Dope and Hope,’ I don’t know.” More laughter. “We raised a lot of money because everybody loves George.
They like me, they love him. And rightfully so. Not only is he an unbelievable actor, but he is one of those rare individuals who is at ease with everybody. He seems to occupy a constant state of grace, and uses his extraordinary talents on behalf of something truly important.” Clooney listened intently to the president throughout, his hands folded as if in prayer and his chin resting on them. And I want to thank Clooney for letting us use his basketball court. This man has been talking smack about his basketball game ever since I’ve known him.”
At the National Press Club for ‘SAVE DARFUR: Rally to Stop Genocide’, 2006
Interesting interview. He talks about President Obama at 35:42.
President Barack Obama jokes with cast members of the movie “The Monuments Men” in the Diplomatic Reception Room, prior to a movie screening in the Family Theater of the White House, Feb. 18, 2014. Standing from left are: Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Damon, Grant Heslov, and George Clooney (Photo by Pete Souza)
Where the hell were these blackademics before 2008?
They damn sure didn’t help the black farmers get their money, they damn sure didn’t get black people health insurance, and they damn sure didn’t help our black gay brothers and sisters from getting kicked out of the military.
So where the hell were they?
I’ll tell you where they were, they were at each other’s schools sitting on some fucking panel theorizing about how to end racism or make it better for African Americans.
But do you know where President Obama was?
He was out in the streets registering people to vote, he was condemning an unjust war before it became fashionable to do so.
We got pictures of Barack Obama fresh out of college walking in poor black neighborhoods registering people to vote.
We got pictures of a young Barack Obama helping black folk.
We got pictures of a young Barack Obama sitting in a village in Kenya breaking bread with his grandmother.
And these same motherfuckers want to question his blackness
Barack Obama in Chicago, 1995, photo by Marc PoKempner
Illinois State Senator Barack Obama at a community meeting in his district with his state representative (second from right) House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie
Barack Obama in his first year at Harvard Law School after working at Developing Communities Project as a community organizer from 1985 – 1988 where he set up a tenants rights organization, job training program, and college preparatory program. He enrolled at Harvard Law School in the fall of 1988 so as to better help his community
This photo released by Obama for America shows Barack Obama teaching at the University of Chicago Law School. After Harvard Law School, Obama returned to Chicago, joined a small civil rights firm, ran a voter registration drive, and lectured on constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School
Barack Obama with his grandmother Sarah Hussein Obama in her home in the village of Nyagoma-Kogelo, western Kenya, 1987
Barack Obama at an antiwar rally in Chicago in September 2002