I awoke early this morning to a Twitter feed informing me that President Obama and the First Lady were sharing their experiences with racism in People Magazine. And then my stomach dropped. People Magazine? A wave of disappointment settled in and I took to tweeting away wondering if anyone else felt the same way I did.
I should say before going on that I’m an Obama supporter, having managed a great team of graduate student writers and journalists at USC’s Annenberg School for Journalism and Communications back in 2007 to rally social media support during his campaign for the presidency. I later worked with an esteemed staff of public health professionals within the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health with funding from the Affordable Care Act to address the obesity epidemic on behalf of our 10.7 million residents throughout Los Angeles County. While these endeavors took me a touch off the beaten path from the grassroots activism in my late teens and 20s, I could still say that I was on the front lines for securing initiatives leveling the playing field in health care and education for our most underserved communities.
So in the wake of post-Ferguson protesting for Mike Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford and now 12-year-old Tamir Rice , the Berkeley activist within me has been rekindled and I’ve been curious to hear from the First Family. It’s been moving to witness the show of solidarity across racial lines in opposition of the grand jury decisions for Mike Brown and Eric Garner. I watched in awe of the Millions March Protest in NYC this past weekend later followed by a red carpet premiere of Selma about Dr. Martin Luther King with members of the cast wearing “I Can’t Breathe” T-shirts in show of support.
These events, one after another, continue to illustrate that a movement is well underway. And no, momentum doesn’t stop because the president and first lady give their first high-profile interview on race relations in 2014 to a celebrity magazine that will undoubtedly soar in newsstand circulation because of it. This is however the first time our generation has spoken so outwardly on race relations and police brutality in the U.S., garnering both national and international press at a time when anyone with a Twitter or Facebook account has access to the latest headlines seconds after they are released.
I’m still hoping the Obamas will offer the public more.
Teaser headlines will share that Obama was mistaken for a valet, and the First Lady may have been mistaken for “the help” at Target. But if “we” the public would like to learn more about this exclusive 30-minute interview, we’ll need to “subscribe” for instant access first or purchase a copy at the newsstand. If the Obamas are now sharing about racism, we need more than “sound-bites” and we shouldn’t have to be baited or pay to read them.
Should we read the article? Sure. I’ll read it because hearing from this president and first lady while racial protests continue in the streets is the responsibility of anyone attempting to eradicate racial injustice — whether we’re satisfied with their insight or not. But this movement is far deeper than these latest headlines generated by People Magazine. Hopefully other publications will gain access to the president and first lady on these issues as well.
Article published by Huffington Post on 12/18/2014