Barack Obama


Michelle Obama admitted her marriage was rocky right after the girls were born .

She attended therapy sessions and realised it was not her husband’s responsibility to make her happy.The author added at the end of the day, Obama was her friend and she was reminded why she fell in love with him – The two are now happy and stronger 28 years after walking down the aisle Former US first lady Michelle Obama has admitted not all marriages are perfect and hers too survived the test of time. The mother of two disclosed she and retired president Barrack Obama went through a rough patch right after their girls were born.

One lesson Michelle learned was her happiness was her responsibility and she was also not in charge of her husband’s joy. She also discovered she and the former president were different individuals who needed to celebrate and recognize their uniqueness before focusing on each other.

The former first lady pointed out her marriage was built on friendship and that always reminded her to stick by the man who was her friend before being her partner. “We went through a tough time, we did some hard things together. But now we are out on the other end and I can look at him and I still recognise my husband.

He is still the man I fell in love with,” Michelle added. As earlier reported, the retired FLOTUS said she and her husband also struggled to comfortably transition to empty nesters. After their daughters went off to college, the duo cried and tried their best to embrace their new reality. She also joked about how Obama is a huge cry baby who gets carried away whenever his daughters achieve any milestones like graduating.

Barack and Michelle Obama have made their Hollywood debut in a documentary called ‘American Factory’.

American Factory looks at the economic and personal toll that the closure, which resulted in the loss of 2,000 jobs, had on residents of Moraine, Ohio, and at what happened after the facility was acquired by a Chinese investor in 2014.

The factory was reopened as Fuyao Glass, an auto-glass manufacturer that promised the return of jobs to the community.

Michelle Obama told the filmmakers she was particularly struck by the opening scenes of workers on the factory floor.

“That was my background, that was my father,” she said.

“One of the many things I love about this film… is that you let people tell their own story. “American Factory’ doesn’t come in with a perspective; it’s not an editorial.”

“We want people to be able to get outside of themselves and experience and understand the lives of somebody else,” Obama told filmmakers Julia Reichert and Steven Bognar in a promotional video released by Netflix.

“A good story gives you the chance to better understand someone else’s life,” Mr. Obama said Wednesday in a tweet. “It can help you find common ground. And it’s why Michelle and I were drawn to it.”

The Washington Post called “American Factory,” which arrived on Netflix on Wednesday, “a perfect vehicle for (Higher Ground’s) mission to lift up stories from underrepresented groups.”

Higher Ground Productions has also highlighted the film’s focus on culture wars, describing it as “early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.”



Source: fabwoman.ng

Renowned Nigerian author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was pictured at a private dinner with former US President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama and other VIPs.


The Americanah author attended the dinner with her husband Dr Ivara Esege. Others present included Shaw-Scott, Steven Spielberg and wife, Kate Capshaw.


Ms Adichie’s brother, Chuka posted the photo to his Instagram page with the caption: “When my definition of a great evening is some of the greatest minds I admire meeting to have a private dinner and when the great minds include my darling little sister @chimamanda_adichie, President Barack Obama Michelle Obama @michelleobama, Steven Spielberg and his wife.”


 Chimamanda Adichie and husband Dr Esege dine with former US President Barack Obama & First Lady Michelle Obama

Credit: LIB

The world in 2008 was a very different place, and methinks, much simpler. The worst kind of race argument you could get caught up in and viciously slated was debating Barack Obama’s biracial identity – and get caught up in a debate and viciously slated I did, when on a Facebook post I questioned why Barack Obama was always referred to by the mainstream media as “America’s first black president.”

Sad, how it’s been 11 years since “America’s first black president” was a reality and not a dream, and how 11 years on America seems to have regressed into Jim Crow era, but that’s for another day.

I don’t have a child yet, but one day when I am blessed with one, she will be blessed with Turkish-Nigerian roots. My argument in 2008 was that Barack Obama was no more black than he was white. As a biracial son of a Kenyan father and American mother, he was the “first biracial American president.” But alas, post after post, my Facebook friends and frenemies kept reminding me of the infamous one drop rule – a social and legal principle of racial classification, ironically, created by white Americans.

I had heard of one drop rule of course, but I refused for my then imaginary children to be defined by that one drop at the expense of half of their DNA, identity and heritage. “If someone calls my child Nigerian,” I remember arguing, “that may as well deny my whole existence in their creation, because, whatever happened to the other half of them that is undeniably Turkish?”

I even brought in my dual heritage into the mix, which has since become even more of a contentious issue in my native Turkey; for all the similarities on the surface, Turkish and Kurdish connote very different things in my ever polarised home country, where increasingly you’re having to pick a side. It may not be a case of the one drop rule just yet, but say out loud you’re Kurdish, and in the eyes of some, you might as well have admitted to having leprosy. In this melting pot of centuries old ethnic cultures, I was fortunate enough to have never had to choose, being born to a Kurdish father and a Turkish mother. To date, when talking about how dissimilar we are, my mother still reminds me I am the daughter of a Kurd after all, not in a derogatory way, but as a loving reminder of my late father’s heritage. Exactly as I would want my children to embrace both sides of their ethnic makeup, without being pigeonholed into one, or forced to pick side.

In the year 2019, while much has changed, some things remain the same as I was reminded earlier this week, when the new tennis sensation Naomi Osaka fielded a question from a Japanese reporter who wanted her to reply in Japanese and Osaka replied that she was going to say it in English before going into her answer.

Last year, upon winning the third round of the Australian Open, Osaka had to educate another Japanese reporter who wanted to know what her victory as a “very proud” Japanese means for her people.

“You moved to New York when you were two years old and lived in the United States for a long time, but you’re very proudly Japanese, obviously. What will this victory mean for the people back home, for both sets of fans who will be watching this for you?” asked the reporter, not knowing his mic would be handed back to him with the kind of sass we now know Osaka to be capable of.

“Actually, I live in FL now. But, I mean, of course I’m very honored to be playing for Japan. But my dad’s side is Haitian, so represent. But um, yeah. I forget the rest of your question. Sorry!” responded the tennis ace.

Following her latest win, USA Today called Osaka “the first Japanese player, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam trophy.” ESPN called her “the first tennis player from Japan to reach No. 1 in the rankings.” A story too similar to the French national football team made up of sons of immigrants who carried the country to the World Cup final who were relegated to the second class row behind the lily-white, pure-blooded French boys who went up to receive the cup, or the immigrant who was Malian one day but became French almost the next upon saving the life of a toddler dangling off a balcony, or men of African descent, footballers, scientists, politicians, who are defined by their country of adoption at the height of the success – how many times have you heard “American scientist of Nigerian parentage” or “British politician of Caribbean descent” – and dismissed by country of heritage at first sign of misdemeanour – “the terrorist thought to be Nigerian having gained naturalisation in 2015…”

So much may have changed in 11 years, but so little seems to have, if we are still debating the race of my still imaginary children. All I know is that I hope they will not be defined by the one drop rule, their non-black side erased, or whitewashed to make them fit into the success story that dictates all hint of colour should be removed. Above all, I hope they will have as much sass as Naomi Osaka in not letting anyone put their well-rounded selves into square boxes of racial tick boxes.



Credit: Guardian Woman, Sinem-Bilen Onabanjo

Former First Lady of US, Michelle Obama is the Cover Girl of the latest issue of ESSENCE.

A little Black girl from the South Side of Chicago grew up to become the FLOTUS and as you can imagine, a lot happened along the way.

She shares some White House confessions, opens up about finding your Barack and living free. In the December/January issue of ESSENCE, she’s talking about her career, motherhood, and marriage.

She says:

“Before anyone in Tennessee or Montana knew who Barack Obama was, I was a vice-president at a major hospital, juggling two little girls…I’m not going to lie: It wasn’t always easy for me.”

On being drawn to Barack, she says “From our very first conversations, he showed me that he wasn’t afraid to express his fears and doubts, or that he might not have all the answers. Just as important, I saw who he was not only in the way he treated me but in the way he interacted with others outside of our relationship. He showed me that he respected women by the way he treated his mother, his sisters, and his grandmother.”


Culled from Bella Naija


Read excerpts from the interview below:

If you’d been walking past the Hearst Tower, in New York City, on the morning of September 6, I think you might have felt the building pulsating. About 200 people—Hearst magazine editors and execs, and some very pumped-up high school girls—were waiting, many literally on the edge of their seats, for my special guest to arrive. And all of these people had been sworn to secrecy—not just about what this special guest might say during our conversation, but about the fact that there even was a conversation, that my guest was even there. Absolute, total secrecy. From a room full of professional communicators and high school girls. Like I said: pulsating.

And who can blame them? Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama doesn’t do a lot of interviews, and this was her very first time talking about her new memoir, Becoming (Crown). It is a remarkable book—I urge, urge, urge you to read it. Because I have known Mrs. Obama for 14 years, and I can tell you: She is everything you think she is and then some. She served as our country’s first lady with such dignity, such grace, such style. Yet at the same time she really is just like all of us. I’m excited for you to see that about her, and to get to know her better, and to catch up on what she’s been doing the past two years. So prepare to be fascinated. And to everyone who was in that room back in September: You can exhale now!!!

Oprah Winfrey: First, let me just say: Nothing makes me happier than sitting down with a good read. So when I realized—in the preface!—what an extraordinary book was coming, I was so proud of you. You landed it. The book is tender, it is compelling, it is powerful, it is raw.

Michelle Obama: Thanks.

Why Becoming?

We actually had a blooper list of titles that we won’t go into here. But Becoming just summed it all up. A question that adults ask kids—I think it’s the worst question in the world—is “What do you want to be when you grow up?” As if growing up is finite. As if you become something and that is all there is. Do you plan to read Mrs. Obama’s memoir?

You grow up and you are many different things—as you have been many different things.

And I don’t know what the next step will be. I tell young people that all the time. You know, all young women probably have some magic number of what age you’ll be when you’ll feel like a grown-up. Generally, when you think your mother will stop telling you what to do.


But the truth is, for me, each decade has offered something amazing that I would never have imagined. And if I had stopped looking, I would have missed out on so much. So I’m still becoming, and this is the story of my journey. Hopefully, it will spark conversations, especially among young people, about their journeys.

There are so many revelations in this book. Was writing about your private life scary?

Actually, no, because here’s the thing that I realized: People always ask me, “Why is it that you’re so authentic?” “How is it that people connect to you?” And I think it starts because I like me. I like my story and all the bumps and bruises. I think that’s what makes me uniquely me. So I’ve always been open with my staff, with young people, with my friends. And the other thing, Oprah: I know that whether we like it or not, Barack and I are role models.



I hate when people who are in the public eye—and even seek the public eye—want to step back and say,“Well, I’m not a role model. I don’t want that responsibility.” Too late. You are. Young people are looking at you. And I don’t want young people to look at me here and think, Well, she never had it rough. She never had challenges, she never had fears.

We’re not going to think that after reading this book. We’re not going to think that at all.


Millions of people have been wondering how you’re doing, how’s the transition—and I think there’s no better example than the toast story. Can you share the toast story?

Well, I start the preface right at one of the first weeks after we moved into our new home after the transition—our new home in Washington, a couple miles away from the White House. It’s a beautiful brick home, and it’s the first regular house, with a door and a doorbell, that I have had in about eight years.

Eight years.

And so the toast story is about one of the first nights I was alone there—the kids were out, Malia was on her gap year, I think Barack was traveling, and I was alone for the first time. As first lady, you’re not alone much. There are people in the house always, there are men standing guard. There is a house full of SWAT people, and you can’t open your windows or walk outside without causing a fuss.

You can’t open a window?

Can’t open a window. Sasha actually tried one day—Sasha and Malia both. But then we got the call: “Shut the window.”


So here I am in my new home, just me and Bo and Sunny, and I do a simple thing. I go downstairs and open the cabinet in my own kitchen—which you don’t do in the White House because there’s always somebody there going, “Let me get that. What do you want? What do you need?”—and I made myself toast. Cheese toast. And then I took my toast and I walked out into my backyard. I sat on the stoop, and there were dogs barking in the distance, and I realized Bo and Sunny had really never heard neighbor dogs. They’re like, What’s that? And I’m like,“Yep, we’re in the real world now, fellas.”


And it’s that quiet moment of me settling into this new life. Having time to think about what had just happened over the last eight years. Because what I came to realize is that there was absolutely no time to reflect in the White House. We moved at such a breakneck pace from the moment we walked in those doors until the moment we left. It was day in and day out because we, Barack and I, really felt like we had an obligation to get a lot done. We were busy. I would forget on Tuesday what had happened on Monday.


I forgot whole countries I visited, literally whole countries. I had a debate with my chief of staff because I was saying, “You know, I’d love to visit Prague one day.” And Melissa was like, “You were there.” I was like, “No, I wasn’t. Wasn’t in Prague, never been to Prague.”

Because it’s happening at such a breakneck pace.

She had to show me a picture of me in Prague for the memory to jog. So the toast was the moment that I had time to start thinking about those eight years and my journey of becoming.

In reading the book, I can see how every single thing you’ve done in your life has prepared you for the moments and years ahead. I do believe this.

That’s if you think about it that way. If you view yourself as a serious person in the world, every decision that you make really does build to who you are going to become.

Yes, and I can see that from you in the first grade. You were an achiever with an A+++ attitude.

My mother said I was a little extra.

Getting those little gold stars meant something to you.

Yeah. Looking back, I realized there was something about me that understood context. My parents gave us the freedom to have thoughts and ideas very early on.

They basically let you and [your brother] Craig figure it out?

Oh gosh, yeah, they did. And what I realized was that achievement mattered, and that kids would get tracked early, and that if you didn’t demonstrate ability—particularly as a Black kid on the South Side from a working-class background—then people were already ready to put you in a box of underachievement. I didn’t want people to think I wasn’t a hardworking kid. I didn’t want them to think I was “one of those kids.” The “bad kids.” There are no bad kids; there are bad circumstances.

You mention this phrase that I like so much, I think it should be on a T-shirt or something. “Failure,” you say, “is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. It’s vulnerability that breeds with self-doubt and then is escalated, often deliberately, by fear.” Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. You knew this when?

Oh, first grade. I could see my neighborhood changing around me. We moved there in the 1970s. We lived with my great-aunt in a very little apartment over a home she owned. She was a teacher, and my great-uncle was a Pullman porter, so they were able to purchase a home in what was then a predominantly white community. Our apartment was so small that what was probably the living room was divided up into three “rooms.” Two were me and my brother’s; each fit a twin bed, and it was just wood paneling that separated us—there was no real wall, we could talk right between us. Like, “Craig?” “Yep?” “I’m up. You up?” We would throw a sock over the paneling as a game.

The picture you paint so beautifully in Becoming is that the four of you—you, Craig, and your parents—each was a corner of a square. Your family was the square.

Yes, absolutely. We lived a humble life, but it was a full life. We didn’t require much, you know? If you did well, you did well because you wanted to. A reward was maybe pizza night or some ice cream. But the neighborhood was predominantly white when we moved in, and by the time I went to high school, it was predominantly African American. And you started to feel the effects in the community and the school. This notion that kids don’t know when they’re not being invested in—I’m here to tell you that as a first grader, I felt it.

You say your parents invested in you. They didn’t own their own home. They didn’t vacation—

They invested everything in us. My mom didn’t go to the hairdresser. She didn’t buy herself new clothes. My father was a shift worker. I could see my parents sacrificing for us.

Did you know at the time it was sacrifice?

Our parents didn’t guilt-trip us, but I had eyes, you know? I saw my father going to work in that uniform every day.


Your father drove a Buick Electra 225. So did my father.

Deuce and a Quarter.

Deuce and a Quarter.

We had our little aspirational moments when we’d get in the Deuce and a Quarter and drive to the nicer neighborhoods and look at the homes. But the Deuce and a Quarter for my father represented more than just a car because my father was disabled. He had MS, and he had trouble walking for quite some time. That car was his wings.


There was power in that car. I call it a little capsule that we could be in and see the world in a way we normally couldn’t.

A window to the world. You know, I appreciate the way you were able to reveal not just what happened to your family, but what was going on with all families. We often talk about how systemic racism impacts generations. And the way you write about your grandfather Dandy—I thought this was so beautiful:

“Gradually, he downgraded his hopes, letting go of the idea of college, thinking he’d train to become an electrician instead, but this, too, was quickly thwarted. If you wanted to work as an electrician (or as a steelworker, a carpenter, or a plumber, for that matter) on any of the big job sites in Chicago, you needed a Union card. And if you were Black, the overwhelming odds were that you weren’t going to get one. This particular form of discrimination altered the destinies of generations of African Americans, including many of the men in my family, limiting their income, their opportunity, and eventually their aspirations.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more gut-wrenching truth explained in such simple, human terms. Did your parents sit you and Craig down, at some point, and explain that the world isn’t always fair?

Oh, yeah, we would have conversations all the time. And my parents helped me to realize that there’s something that happens to a person who knows deep inside that they are more than what their opportunities allowed them to be. For Dandy, it bubbled up in him in a discontent that he couldn’t shake. That’s why my grandparents worked so hard to change our lives. And that’s one thing I understood. When I saw my grandparents and heard about their sacrifice, my notion was, Oh, little girl, you better get that gold star. They’re counting on you.


It’s what Maya Angelou used to say: You’ve been paid for.


So after high school, you went to Princeton and then Harvard Law School. And then you joined this prestigious law firm in Chicago. Now, this—when I read this, I put three circles around it and two stars. You write, “I hated being a lawyer.”

Oh God, yeah. Sorry, lawyers.

“I wanted a life, basically. I wanted to feel whole.” I wanted to shout that from the mountaintops because I know that so many people are going to read this who are in jobs that they hate but they feel like they have to continue. How did you come to that?

It took a lot to be able to say that out loud to myself. In the book, I take you on the journey of who that little striving star-getter became, which is what a lot of hard-driving kids become: a box checker. Get good grades: check. Apply to the best schools, get into Princeton: check. Get there, what’s your major? Uh, something that’s going to get me good grades so I can get into law school, I guess? Check. Get through law school: check. I wasn’t a swerver. I wasn’t somebody that was going to take risks. I narrowed myself to being this thing I thought I should be. It took loss—losses in my life that made me think, Have you ever stopped to think about who you wanted to be? And I realized I had not. I was sitting on the 47th floor of an office building, going over cases and writing memos.

What I loved about it is, it says to every person reading the book: You have the right to change your mind.

Oh gosh, yeah.

Were you afraid?

I was scared to death. You know, my mother didn’t comment on the choices that we made. She was live-and-let-live. So one day she’s driving me from the airport after I was doing document production in Washington, D.C., and I was like, “I can’t do this for the rest of my life. I can’t sit in a room and look at documents.” I won’t get into what that is, but it’s deadly. Deadly. Document production. So I shared with her in the car: I’m just not happy. I don’t feel my passion. And my mother—my uninvolved, live-and-let-live mother—said, “Make the money, worry about being happy later.” I was like [gulps], Oh. Okay. Because how indulgent that must have felt to my mother.


When she said that, I thought, Wow—what—where did I come from, with all my luxury and wanting my passion? The luxury to even be able to decide—when she didn’t get to go back to work and start finding herself until after she got us into high school. So, yes. It was hard. And then I met this guy Barack Obama.

Barack Obama.

He was the opposite of a box checker. He was swerving all over the place.

You write, about meeting him: “I’d constructed my existence carefully, tucking and folding every loose and disorderly bit of it, as if building some tight and airless piece of origami…. He was like a wind that threatened to unsettle everything.” At first you didn’t like being unsettled.

Oh God, no.

This I love so much—a moment that cracks me up: “I woke one night to find him staring at the ceiling, his profile lit by the glow of street lights outside. He looked vaguely troubled, as if he were pondering something deeply personal. Was it our relationship? The loss of his father? ‘Hey, what are you thinking about over there?’ I whispered. He turned to look at me, his smile a little sheepish. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘I was just thinking about income inequality.’”

That’s my honey.


I mean, here’s this guy and—at the time, I was a young professional. This is when I was coming into my own, right? I had a job that paid more than my parents ever made in their lives. I was rolling with bourgeois class.


My friends owned condos, I had a Saab. I don’t know what’s cool these days, but a Saab, back in the day—oh yeah. I had a Saab, and the next step was, okay, you get married, you have a lovely home, and on and on and on. Yes, the bigger problems of the world were important. But the more important thing was where you were going in your career. I talk about Barack meeting some of my friends and how that didn’t really play out.

There was work we had to do as a couple. Counseling we had to do to work through this stuff.


’Cause he’s this serious sort of income-inequality guy, and my friends are like…

You really let us into the relationship. I mean, down to the proposal and everything. You also write about some major differences between the two of you in the early years of your marriage. You say: “I understood it was nothing but good intentions that would lead him to say, ‘I’m on my way!’ or ‘Almost home!’ ”

Oh gosh, yes.

And for a while, I believed those words. I’d give the girls their nightly bath but delay bedtime so that they could wait up to give their dad a hug.” And then you describe this scene where you’d waited up: He says, “I’m on my way, I’m on my way.” He doesn’t come. And then you turn out the lights—I could hear them click off, the way you wrote it.


Those lights click, you went to bed. You were mad.

I was mad. When you get married and you have kids, your whole plan, once again, gets upended. Especially if you get married to somebody who has a career that swallows up everything, which is what politics is.


Barack Obama taught me how to swerve. But his swerving sort of—you know, I’m flailing in the wind. And now I’ve got two kids, and I’m trying to hold everything down while he’s traveling back and forth from Washington or Springfield. He had this wonderful optimism about time. [Laughs] He thought there was way more of it than there really was. And he would fill it up constantly. He’s a plate spinner—plates on sticks, and it’s not exciting unless one’s about to fall. So there was work we had to do as a couple. Counseling we had to do to work through this stuff.

Tell us about counseling.

Well, you go because you think the counselor is going to help you make your case against the other person. “Would you tell him about himself?!”


And lo and behold, counseling wasn’t that at all. It was about me exploring my sense of happiness. What clicked in me was that I need support and I need some from him. But I needed to figure out how to build my life in a way that works for me.

The most important thing I think you said was that we live by the paradigms we know. And in Barack’s childhood, his father disappeared and his mother came and went. She was devoted to him, but was never really tethered to him. But you grew up in the square. The tight weave of your family.

His mother was in Indonesia, he was raised by his grandparents, he didn’t know his father—and yet even with this context, he was a solid guy. You realize that there are so many ways to live this life.

You also write, “When it came down to it, I felt vulnerable when he was away.” I thought that was kind of amazing, to hear a modern woman—a first lady—admit that.

I feel vulnerable all the time. And I had to learn how to express that to my husband, to tap into those parts of me that missed him—and the sadness that came from that—so that he could understand. He didn’t understand distance in the same way. You know, he grew up without his mother in his life for most of his years, and he knew his mother loved him dearly, right? I always thought love was up close. Love is the dinner table, love is consistency, it is presence. So I had to share my vulnerability and also learn to love differently. It was an important part of my journey of becoming. Understanding how to become us.

What was so valuable to me—and I think will be for everyone else who reads the book—is that nothing really changed. You just changed your perception of what was happening. And that made you happier.

Yeah. And a lot of the reason I share this is because I know that people look to me and Barack as the ideal relationship. I know there’s #RelationshipGoals out there. But whoa, people, slow down—marriage is hard!

You even say you all argue differently.

Oh God, yes. I am like a lit match. It’s like, poof! And he wants to rationalize everything. So he had to learn how to give me, like, a couple minutes—or an hour—before he should even come in the room when he’s made me mad. And he has to understand that he can’t convince me out of my anger. That he can’t logic me into some other feeling.

So what was the argument, or the conversation, that got you to say yes to him running for the presidency? Because you mention in the book that every time someone would ask him, he’d say, “Well, it’s a family decision.” Which was code for “If Michelle says I can, I can.”

Imagine having that burden. Could he, should he, would he. That happened when he wanted to run for state Senate. And then he wanted to run for Congress. Then he was running for the U.S. Senate. I knew that Barack was a decent man. Smart as all get-out. But politics was ugly and nasty, and I didn’t know that my husband’s temperament would mesh with that. And I didn’t want to see him in that environment.

But then on the flip side, you see the world and the challenges that the world is facing. The longer you live and read the paper, you know that the problems are big and complicated. And I thought, Well, what person do I know who has the gifts that this man has? The gifts of decency, first and foremost, of empathy second, of high intellectual ability. This man reads and remembers everything, you know? Is articulate. Had worked in the community. And really passionately feels like “This is my responsibility.” How do you say no to that? So I had to take off my wife hat and put on my citizen hat.

Did you feel pressure being the first Black family?

Uh, duh! [Laughs]

Uh, duh. Because we’ve all been raised with You’ve gotta work twice as hard to get half as far. Before you came out, I was saying, “She’s meticulous, not a misstep—”

Do you think that was an accident?

I know it was no accident. But did you feel the pressure of that?

We felt the pressure from the minute we started to run. First of all, we had to convince our base that a Black man could win. It wasn’t even winning over Iowa. We first had to win over Black people. Because Black people like my grandparents—they never believed this could happen. They wanted it. They wanted it for us. But their lives had told them, “No. Never.” Hillary was the safer bet for them, because she was known.


Opening hearts up to the hope that America would put down its racism for a Black man—I think that hurt too much. It wasn’t until Barack won Iowa that people thought, Okay. Maybe so.

So my question is, when the weight of the world is on his shoulders, and you’re the shoulders that he’s leaning on, how did you carry that? How do you carry that?

Trying to be the calm in his swerve. Doing what I was taught: You know, when the leaves are blowing and the wind is rough, being a steady trunk in his life. Family dinners. That was one of the things I brought into the White House—that strict code of You gotta catch up with us, dude. This is when we’re having dinner. Yes, you’re president, but you can bring

your butt from the Oval Office and sit down and talk to your children.

Because children bring solace. They let you turn your sights off the issues of the day and focus on saving the tigers. That was one of Malia’s primary goals; she advocated throughout his presidency to make sure the tigers were saved. And hearing about what happened with what school friend—you know, falling into other people’s lives. Immersing yourself in the reality and the beauty of your children and your family. Plus, on the East Wing side, our motto was, we have to do everything excellently. If we do something—because the first lady doesn’t have to do anything—


We were clear that what we were going to do was going to have impact and was going to be positive. The West Wing had enough going on; we wanted to be the happy side of the house. And we were. You’d have national security advisers coming over to brief me about something. They’d fall into my office—which was beautifully decorated, lots of flowers, and apples, and we were always laughing—and they’d sit down for a briefing and wouldn’t want to leave. “We’re done, gentlemen.” “We don’t wanna go back!”

There’s a section in the book that certain news channels are going to have a field day with. You write about Donald Trump stoking the false notion that your husband was not born in this country. You write, “Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my family’s safety at risk. And for this, I’d never forgive him.” Why was it important for you to say that at this time?

Because I don’t think he knew what he was doing. For him it was a game. But the threats and security risks that you face as the commander in chief, not even within your own country but around the world, are real. And your children are at risk. In order for my children to have a normal life, even though they had security, they were in the world in a way that we weren’t. And to think that some crazed person might be ginned up to think my husband was a threat to the country’s security; and to know that my children, every day, had to go to a school that was guarded but not secure, that they had to go to soccer games and parties, and travel, and go to college; to think that this person would not take into account that this was not a game—that’s something that I want the country to understand. I want the country to take this in, in a way I didn’t say out loud, but I am saying now. It was reckless, and it put my family in danger, and it wasn’t true. And he knew it wasn’t true.


We had a bullet shot at the Yellow Oval Room during our tenure in the White House. A lunatic came and shot from Constitution Avenue. The bullet hit the upper-left corner of a window. I see it to this day: the window of the Truman Balcony, where my family would sit. That was really the only place we could get outdoor space. Fortunately, nobody was out there at the time. The shooter was caught. But it took months to replace that glass, because it’s bombproof glass. I had to look at that bullet hole, as a reminder of what we were living with every day.

You end the book by talking about what will last. And one of the things that has lasted with you, you say, is the sense of optimism: “I continue, too, to keep myself connected to a force that’s larger and more potent than any one election, or leader, or news story—and that’s optimism. For me, this is a form of faith, an antidote to fear.” Do you feel that same sense of optimism for our country? For who we are, as a nation, becoming?

Yes. We have to feel that optimism. For the kids. We’re setting the table for them, and we can’t hand them crap. We have to hand them hope. Progress isn’t made through fear. We’re experiencing that right now. Fear is the coward’s way of leadership. But kids are born into this world with a sense of hope and optimism. No matter where they’re from. Or how tough their stories are. They think they can be anything because we tell them that. So we have a responsibility to be optimistic. And to operate in the world in that way.

You feel optimistic for our country?

[Tears up] We have to be.

Ahh. Good job. Good job.



This story originally appeared in the December 2018 Issue of O.


Source: pulse.ng

In 2008, Michelle Obama was tentative on the campaign trail, wary of saying anything to jeopardize her husband’s historic bid to be America’s first black president.

Eight years later, the self-assured first lady — back on the campaign trail — electrified Democratic Party faithful with a passionate takedown of Donald Trump and what she called his “frightening” attitude towards women.

“It has shaken me to my core in a way that I couldn’t have predicted,” Obama told a rally for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.

“This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is disgraceful. It is intolerable.”

The speech cemented the transformation of Obama, who turns 53 on Tuesday.

Once a reluctant ‘mom-in-chief,’ the tall, toned Princeton and Harvard graduate — America’s first black first lady — has evolved, becoming a singular voice for women and a political dynamo

During her husband’s two terms in the nation’s highest office, the native of Chicago’s South Side — who grew up in a one-bedroom apartment with her parents and older brother — has also become a style icon and global role model.

“One of the most intriguing things about Michelle Obama is that she represents so many things to so many different people,” Peter Slevin, a professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and the author of “Michelle Obama: A Life,” told AFP.

“She chose her issues, she stayed true to her values and she made the role uniquely her own.”

– From the South Side to Harvard –

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was born in Chicago on January 17, 1964 to a stay-at-home mom and a father who never missed work at a city water plant despite a battle with multiple sclerosis.

She received an Ivy League education at two of the nation’s most elite schools — Princeton and Harvard, where she studied law, as her future husband would also do.

Michelle joined the Sidley Austin law firm in Chicago upon graduation and it was there that she met Barack Obama — a young associate she was asked to mentor.

That meeting would change her life. Obama’s political career skyrocketed, and by January 2009, their family would move into the White House.

– Her causes –

At first, Michelle Obama focused her attention on getting the couple’s two young daughters, Malia and Sasha, settled into their new home.

“Those early years in the White House were a real adjustment for Michelle,” David Axelrod, a former senior advisor to Barack Obama, told CNN.

“She had to start over in so many ways and she had to do it under the watchful eye of the world. And that’s a lot of pressure.”

The first lady soon found her stride, and steered clear of controversy, embracing causes with universal appeal.

Her “Let’s Move” initiative to stamp out childhood obesity through healthy eating and exercise earned praise, as did her work to promote the wellbeing of military families.

Jennifer Lawless, the director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University in Washington, told AFP the “strong argument she made for being active… resonated in a way that a lot of first ladies’ issues don’t hit home.”

In 2015, Obama went global with the “Let Girls Learn” campaign, a cross-agency effort to improve education for teenage girls worldwide.

“She connected powerfully with a wide array of audiences — as a working mother, as a progressive Democrat and, as she herself put it, as a ‘little black girl from the South Side of Chicago’,” Slevin noted.

Throughout her time at the White House, Obama has also emerged as a beacon of support for the US fashion industry.

She turned once little-known designers such as Jason Wu into major style stars, and made it acceptable to wear a cardigan to meet Queen Elizabeth II.

And she embraced social media and pop culture — dancing with late night talk show host Jimmy Fallon, rapping with Missy Elliott in a “Carpool Karaoke” sketch, or doing the mannequin challenge with NBA superstar LeBron James.

“She’s just fundamentally cool. She is comfortable in any kind of setting. She seems real,” Lawless said, adding that her television appearances or viral videos did not seem “artificial — just her embracing the way people communicate.”

– Political force –

Last year, as Clinton and Trump vied for the presidency, Obama took on a new and somewhat unexpected role: political powerhouse.

She was a natural on the campaign trail and a forceful surrogate for Clinton, herself a former first lady.

In October, Obama — a first lady who once shied away from controversy and endured racial slurs throughout her time in Washington from a small fringe of Americans — unleashed a fierce attack on Clinton’s Republican rival.

“This was a powerful individual speaking freely and openly about sexually predatory behavior. And actually bragging about kissing and groping women,” she said of Trump’s comments caught on video, which he dismissed as guy talk.

“The men in my life do not talk about women like this,” she said. “This is not how decent human beings behave.”

That day, Obama knowingly stepped into the political limelight she had long shunned — and people listened.

“She spent eight years developing a relationship with the American people and they came to trust her,” Lawless told AFP.


Moving on –

In an exit interview with CBS, the president admitted his wife was looking forward to regaining some semblance of a normal life.

“Michelle never fully took to the scrutiny,” he said. “She never fully embraced being in the public spotlight — which is ironic, given how good she is.”

Obama has repeatedly said she is not interested in a political career for herself, but could she follow in Clinton’s footsteps, from the role of first lady to elected office?

“In 12 years, if an Illinois senate seat is open and the Democrats have no one to run… who knows what can happen? Life changes and she’s young,” Lawless said.

Source: Guardian.ng