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The Obamas Said Something Kinda Controversial, And A New York Times Columnist Has A Great Response

Whether or not you've been a fan of the Obamas, one thing's for sure: These issues can't be brushed aside.

The Obamas Said Something Kinda Controversial, And A New York Times Columnist Has A Great Response

On Dec. 17, 2014, People Magazine published an interview with the Obamas.

The Obamas spoke about their experiences with racial bias.

According to the interview, President Barack Obama once "was wearing a tuxedo at a black-tie dinner, and somebody asked him to get coffee."


First Lady Michelle Obama made this powerful point:

"Before [his presidency], Barack Obama was a black man that lived on the South Side of Chicago, who had his share of troubles catching cabs."

She also retold an anecdote:

"I tell this story — I mean, even as the first lady — during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn't see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn't anything new."

Obviously, that didn't sit well with some critics.

Whenever you bring up race and racism, you're bound to get some pushback.

Fortunately, New York Times columnist Charles Blow had some pretty swell commentary to give.

Blow does acknowledge that we don't know *why* that person asked the first lady to help her take something off the shelf, and he admits that we may never know.

However, he's got a great point, and he makes it so eloquently:

All we know is that Mrs. Obama questions the encounter and has misgivings about it. For her, it's a feeling. Others might hear this story and feel that Mrs. Obama possibly overreacted or misconstrued the meaning of the request.

But that is, in part, what racial discussions come down to: feelings. These feelings are, of course, informed by facts, experiences, conditioning and culture, but the feelings are what linger, questions of motive and malice hanging in the air like the stench of rotting meat, knotting the stomach and chilling the skin.

We recommend reading his op-ed column in full, but here's another excerpt for you to chew on:

"We can no longer dismiss racial discussions as victimhood affinity. Decrying systemic victimization is not synonymous with embracing the identity of the eternally victimized. On the contrary, identifying, condemning and relentlessly fighting oppression is part of the path to liberation."

Pretty thoughtful, right?

In fact, Blow's commentary was so compelling, he was invited to CNN to speak with Brooke Baldwin.

Hear him speak more on the Obama interview. He's got some real important things to say.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.