Archive for the ‘NIGERIA’ Category

THE BLACK MAN! -IN ALL HIS POWER AND GLORY!

May 2, 2013

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ASO OKE! -YORUBA TRADITIONAL WEDDING CLOTH!

May 2, 2013

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KABEYESI O! – YORUBA KINGS ARE GREAT! – BLACK MAN BE A KING WHERE EVER YOU ARE BY HEADING THE BLACK FAMILY!

May 2, 2013

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Gabourey Sidibe-OUR BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY- Joins ‘American Horror Story: Coven’ Cast!  justjared.com

April 30, 2013

YORUBA RONU ! -THIS white girl is FIGHTING TO SAVE YORUBA LANGUAGE/CULTURE-WHAT ARE YOU OMO YORUBA DOING TO SAVE IT? -she also IS SMART ENOUGH to KNOW That ORISA ARE NOT gods but Messengers from GOD JUST LIKE Jesu ati Muhammad!

April 28, 2013

FROM thenationonline.com
Nigeria is a better place than its image outside

Posted by: GBENGA ADERANTI

on April 27, 2013

in Saturday Magazine

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Dr. Paula Gomes is the only white face in the palace of the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi 111. Fast-pacing, quick-talking Gomes first visited Oyo 20 years ago; and ever since, she has been going and coming to the ancient town. Recently, the Alaafin of Oyo noticed her interest in the culture of Yoruba people and the monarch honoured her by making her his Cultural Ambassador. In this interview with GBENGA ADERANTI, this Portuguese shares her experience in Oyo in the last 20 years and why she has embarked on a crusade to preserve Yoruba culture. Excerpts:

 

What do you really do for Alaafin?

I’m the Culture Ambassador for Alaafin.

How did you meet Alaafin?

My first contact with Alaafin actually was the beginning of last year, but I have been in Oyo already for a while, coming and going.

What were you doing in Oyo before now?

I came to Oyo because of the culture. I used to come to Nigeria while I was a student of History about 20 years ago. I know Yoruba land though I cannot say very well but quite well; 20 years ago was the first time I came to Oyo and I thought there was no more culture in Oyo. When you talk about culture, culture is in everything, food, literature, the way you dress. All this time while I was a student, I always shuttled between Osogbo and Oyo. With time and mixing together with people, I saw that a lot of cultures came from the ancient town of Oyo Ile. That is why I actually came to Oyo to make more research on it.

Does that mean you are leaving Oyo after the completion of your research?

No, I’m not going to leave, I’m just telling you that while I was a student, I used to come to do research and after that I came to Oyo not on my private interest to know more but because Oyo had nothing to offer more about their own culture. If you go back to the history, you will know that Oyo Empire dominated all the kingdoms in Yorubaland and you as well know that it was when Alaafin Sango was a very strong king ruling, actually during the 7th or 8th century, that the influence of Oyo Empire in Yorubaland was massive. And much of the culture in our day not only in Yorubaland but also in the Diaspora, everything was connected to Sango. That was why I came here to know more about him and like I said, I have been around for four years. There is a lot here to be preserved because that is the history of a ethnic group that has survived outside and is really appreciated.

In Europe nowadays, we are looking for the ancient culture that has something to give to the humanity because what we are expecting from life is to live long and to live long with quality, you can have a good car, you can have lots of money but if your body is not in the equilibrium, if you die young, what is the essence of life? Life is long life with quality and quality means first of all, your body has to be strong, has to be healthy and the philosophy and the knowledge of the Yoruba is like the philosophy and culture from India and China.

Acupuncture from India is based on lots of ancient culture, they are very similar to Yoruba culture. What we are looking for is that deep knowledge of Yoruba which they have about the nature, that you can find the equilibrium between the body and the spirit, because Yoruba believe that there is one God who is called Olodumare. Then this Creator has created, and when He created the earth, He sent the energies to the earth which are divided into four elements and these are known all over the world: water, you cannot live without water; air, you cannot live without air, that is oxygen; fire and earth.

These are the four elements that the Yoruba people believe and if you go to other ancient cultures, all of them are the same. They are all talking the same language. So the Yoruba people like to personify those energies like other ancient cultures and they believe that if the body, which is the aye; the material life which is also aye and the spiritual life, which is orisa. Orisa is not God; orisa is what you cannot see, it is invisible. You have the visible world which is aye and the invisible world which is orisa, people used to think that orisa is another God, it is not. It is not the correct translation because when you say orisa sango, orisa osun, all the 401 orisa are the invisible power of the nature. They are everywhere in the world. You cannot live without water, you cannot live without air, so people should be very careful when they translate.

We don’t say Olodumare Sango, Olodumare Osun . When you have the equilibrium of the invisible world, aye and not visible world, orisa, you have what you need to live, you have ase, you have power; it is very simple. These people have philosophy, these people have a very strong knowledge which is given through Ifa. It is an oral history coming from very ancient times like all the other ancient cultures, and these need to be preserved. That is why I’m here, to try in my own capacity to show the Yoruba people that they are very valuable.

How vast are you in Yoruba language?

Mo ti gbo die die, sugbon Yoruba ko rorun (I understand smattering Yoruba, but it is not easy).

How old are you now?

Normally you should not ask a lady how old she is.

You should be…..

(Cuts in) I will not tell you.

What about your family?

I have my family, like I said, I go and come back but I have been here for two years without going home.

I’m talking about your husband and children?

Well, I will not like to go to my private life; you know that is very private. I will just like to talk generally; I will not like to say anything about my private life.

Some people spell your name Gomez why is yours Gomes?

My name is a Portuguese name, it ends with an ‘s’ it is Portuguese but if it is ‘z’, it is Spanish.

Have you read anything about Suzanne Wenger?

Yes, I know her very well. Like I said, I’ve been coming for 20 years, I used to be in Osogbo, so I knew Suzan Wenger very well. Actually I can say that she was and she is an inspiration for me because she really tried for Osogbo and Osun State, especially Osogbo. Today, what is there, people should be very grateful because if not for her who fought for it, it would have gone long time ago. She really preserved what people who said were the bush, the history of Osun Osogbo. Every people has its own history. People are crazy to travel abroad to go and see our culture, let me tell you, you have to appreciate your culture as well because we preserve our culture, so you have to preserve your culture as well. That is what I’m trying to do. I know Suzanne very well.

Don’t you sometimes feel you are going Suzanne Wenger’s line?

Look, I’m not Suzanne, I don’t want to follow Suzanne’s line, I want to follow my inside. I want to follow what my inside says. Suzanne did what her inside said; me, I’m doing what my inside tells me. So I can never be Suzanne because each individual is unique and special, so I don’t want to imitate Suzanne and I don’t want to be Suzanne. Do you understand me? Suzanne is Suzanne. She was a great person that I have in my heart; I only follow what my inside tells me, so I can never be Suzanne because if I try to be Suzanne, I’m not myself. I’m just doing what I feel is correct to do. I’m not an artist, Suzanne was an artist so I can never try to be an artist but I have passion for this culture because I believe it can give a lot to humanity; the way India people and Chinese people are, they are already giving to the humanity.

I believe that Yoruba people can give as well but for that to happen, Yoruba must be proud of themselves and they are not, they are losing their own identity, the Indian people are not like that, they preserve their culture and they are proud of it. Chinese people, they are proud of their culture. They teach their own children to continue and today, if you go to Europe, if you’re a VIP, instead of you to go to hospital, you go for alternative medicine. Because we got to a point that we realised that all the chemical medicine you take will cure one part and destroy the other part.

Actually what you want in life is to live long, it is through the natural thing that your body can stay longer, do you understand? People want to go to Europe, people want to go to America, what kind of life do we live? A lot of people are dying too young through heart attack; the life we live is to go to work and come back home. You know we are an old continent but now we are turning the thing around. We want to go back to what we don’t have anymore; we want to eat bio-ecological, we are tired of plastic food because of cancer.

If you put a Yoruba child who has nothing inside one compound and you put a white child, which one is stronger? Why do you think Europeans live longer? It is because we have access to medicine for free because the society is organised, but if we don’t have access to medicine and the hospital to maintain us alive, we cannot live the way you people live because you are too close to nature.

I know you are not in the Niger Delta area, but foreigners are constantly being warned to be wary of Nigeria, do you sometimes get scared that you could be kidnapped too?

Look, let me talk about myself, I do go to Delta State, I’m not afraid to go. I think that the image which is given to the outside world about Nigeria is different from actually what is happening in Nigeria. I’m not saying that it is not dangerous but Nigerian people are very nice. I think the government should rebrand. For example, when you think about Brazil, you think about football and carnival, but there are people who are still eating from the garbage. There are people when you go outside they will steal your things.

But when you talk about Brazil, people think about football and carnival, people don’t talk about those who eat in the garbage or people robbing people. I’m in Oyo, nobody robs me, I travel, I don’t have any trouble with anybody. But when you talk about Nigeria, you think about 419; they tell you it is a bad place, why don’t you rebrand it? Nigeria has many things to offer the people outside. People love your culture, people really appreciate your culture but they are afraid because of the image that have been created. If government rebrands the country, I believe that bit by bit, people will start coming because of culture. So there is need to rebrand.

People go to America; me I don’t have anything to do in America. I studied in America, I went back to Europe because if you go to America, you have to be careful, if you are not careful, somebody may follow his gang and they will shoot you. You train your children to shoot because they can just come and kill you. Do you understand? Everything has to have an equilibrium, Nigeria needs to be rebranded because it has a lot to give to people. I cannot talk about Hausa and Ibo, I can only talk about Yoruba, that is what I know. Yoruba people are beautiful, the culture is beautiful, people are friendly and they should not lose their identity because if they lose their identity, they will never find it. They can never be white, I cannot be black. I have to accept who I’m and people should be free and be proud of what they have.

The introduction of foreign religion has eroded the belief system of the Yoruba people, what do you think will happen in the nearest future?

I don’t like to talk about religion because for me it is a private thing, religion is like politics, you are a Christian or Muslim, you are ACN or PDP or whatever. Religion is something that is private, but you know if you go back to the history, it was always a problem with religion, religion tries always to dominate and control and when you talk about Africa, especially West Africa, it has suffered a lot, through the slavery, families were destroyed, alot of blood in the name of money was shed. Religion for me, I respect everybody, I don’t look at people from their religion, I respect people because everybody is special and everybody is a creation of God. So, that is why I don’t want to go deep into religion.

Religion is a personal belief it is not only going to be today, it is yesterday and going to be tomorrow and the process that is going on now in Nigeria was in Europe before. Life is a mystery and because it is a mystery, people try to control people through religion. Me, I don’t believe in anything, I believe in what I feel because I’m a creation of God but I respect everybody and every belief, if you tell me now that this is what you believe, this chair, I will respect you.

You were talking about your support for nature and local herbs (agbo), Yoruba herbs are from nature, do you drink agbo?

Yes of course, it is not only Yoruba, we Europeans we use herbs, we have different herbs, different teas. Why do you eat efo (vegetables), why do you eat all these vegetables? Why? Because you need vitamins and minerals, so the herbs are here to help us but the new sicknesses that are in the world, they are killing people. They are sicknesses that you can cure or maintain but you destroy other parts of your body. This is not a belief, this is science, that is natural science not a belief, a belief is something you cannot prove, but 1+1=2, that is science. Yoruba herbs are science; they are natural science, not a belief. If you are feeling something, you take the herbs, like a natural tea, if you feel better, your body has eliminated what is not good.

It is not only the Yoruba people that use herbs, if you go to my country, we have alternative medicine which we are preserving, we use alternative medicine. We are no more going to doctors and Yoruba have big knowledge in this science and they are putting it as a belief because culture is part of everything, what you eat is part of your culture.

At times I wonder why people like you will leave your comfort zone for a place like this where you have to struggle to get things done. What was on your mind when you were coming here?

It depends on what you call comfort. What is comfort for you?

Light, good roads etc.

In life, we cannot have everything, if you have light 24 hours, if you have good roads, we have everything, we stay in AC office, and you leave for AC cars. Lots of people are getting sick because AC is provoking problems in the lungs. A lot of people in Europe are now putting the AC off and now open their windows. I do say we’ve given the experience to them and we want to go back to olden days. In the office we have the AC, we have the car, we don’t have to walk too much. We take the car, we go to the supermarket. We have everything we need from the supermarket, we go home, we have the TV, we get the quality of life. We human beings are meant to live up to 120 years, but at times we don’t live more than 50 and 60 because we need comfort of life, we have no exercise and we eat junk food. Lots of children are born already with diabetes and cancer because they want comfort of life.

In life, there are positive and negative sides. The individual is responsible for his own life . So we have to look the other way. Most people in our own generation in Europe, we want freedom, they want to live long. We are tired of all this imposing life style, we want freedom, we want relief, we want long life. Most people in Europe are isolated, they live alone, is it not better to live in community? We should live together. Are we meant to live alone inside houses?

A lot of people in Europe have problem with depression, they have neurotic problem because of the life they live. They are not living the life creature gave us. We are living a plastic life, we are staying alone isolating ourselves, in front of television 24 hours. No exercise, is that a good life? Can our bodies live long? It is not possible. Good life is fresh air, to breathe, to exercise. Good life depends on the concept of each individual. I love privacy, but I want to live long.

The last time I saw you, you were not wearing Yoruba attire, today, you are not still wearing Yoruba attire, why?

You know I have to be what I’m, I can never be a Yoruba. I don’t mind, sometimes I dress in batik an indigo or adire. I’m not Yoruba, the same way you are not from my culture. I have to be who I’m and I have to dress the way I feel comfortable. That is why I’m not putting on Yoruba dressing. You people are putting on Yoruba dress because it is beautiful in you, when you put on Yoruba dress, you look elegant. I used to say that and I’m not the only person, that you people have natural beauty; even if you don’t have anything when you dress, even if you go to the market, even if you go to clean something, the way your people dress, you look elegant and it looks magical. So I have to dress the way I feel comfortable with.

Do you sometimes feel home sick?

To tell you the truth, no, I don’t feel home sick. Nobody sent me here, I’m here because I want. I feel good, I feel healthy, I feel strong and I feel I’m doing what I like. I’m not the kind of person that wants to stay in the office; I don’t want to live that kind of life people call comfort, I don’t .

Do you know anything about Ifa (Oracle)?

I know what I can feel, what I can see; I can never know it well as the native people. Number one, language; for you to really know it very well, you have to start from small because it is a knowledge which is given orally, it is not a written knowledge. And there is something that is very powerful, people from generation to generation transfer this knowledge orally. See how powerful, look, we have to write them. We have to go back to religion which I don’t want to talk about, Christians and Muslims carry the Bible and Koran respectively, and do you see Yoruba carrying anything? Their brain is powerful, you know the level of capacity assimilation you are exercising with your brain but we if we don’t write it down, we forget. The question is why are you destroying all these?

How have you been coping with the food?

I don’t have any problem. I eat everything. But I don’t like snake or this kind of frog, I don’t know what they call it, I don’t like it and I don’t like bush meat but I like okete (bush rat) if it is well cooked but all the remaining, I eat everything, eba, amala, fufu, semo. I don’t like so much, but I eat eko (corn paste), moimoi , ekuru (beans paste), ewa (beans).

What do you really do for Alaafin?

I’m trying to preserve the Yoruba culture and trying to reeducate the people that they are very important, they are very valuable, that they have a lot of value and they should preserve the culture. I’m trying to promote what is ancient, what is history because without history, how can you tell your children that you are Yoruba? People without history don’t have direction. I’m trying to promote what is in existence because if Yoruba don’t want it, the international people will appreciate it. There is no problem because tomorrow, we are ready to teach your children Yoruba and we are ready to teach your children about your own culture.

How did you meet Alaafin?

As I said, I had been in Oyo already and I asked Bashorun (one of the Oyo high chiefs) to bring me to Alaafin because I wanted to meet him. For me, everybody is important, I’m not saying this king is important, this king is not important but relating to history, he (Alaafin) is the strongest king in Yorubaland. I wanted to see him and tell him that he has to preserve his culture and if he fails to preserve his culture, tomorrow, nothing will be there to show to the world. So these were the reasons I wanted to see him.

How much of support have you gotten on your crusade so far?

What kind of support?

Financial support

Nobody is helping me financially. I’m doing it by myself and now I have a foundation people can support because there is need to preserve the temple, preserve the palace. These monuments, these are culture heritage, there is need for preservation. Why do you want to go to England to see the queen and the palace? For what? Because it is history. So that is why people want to come to Nigeria and see the history of Alaafin, the history of Yoruba. This palace is the biggest and oldest palace in Yoruba land, it is falling apart. I’m trying to raise fund to repair this palace in its old originality so that Oyo children tomorrow will come and ‘say that my grandfather, my ancestors were living like this’ because I can take you to my country and tell you that my ancestors are like this.

Quite funny, why is it that it is foreigners or Yoruba people abroad that are interested in this project like this?

Go back to the history, we white people have colonised and have destroyed your culture. We brought our culture, we forced people to change inside and outside. You have lost your identity, you want to be what we are. That is why now people from outside come to support what still exists for you to appreciate.

If you go to the slavery time, look, all the slaves that went to America, if they did not practise Christianity, they would be killed. What is happening again? I believe what is happening today is that everything that our people destroyed, let’s rebuild it again, we should not be ashamed. The Europeans go to Kenya to see African culture, Africa is beautiful, African people are beautiful, why not Nigeria?

IGBEYAWO! -ASOKE !-THE MOST BEAUTIFUL CLOTH IN THE WORLD !

April 25, 2013

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BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY SUPREME! -TEMI O!

April 25, 2013

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BLACK POLYGAMY IS GROWING Especially in amerikkka!

April 25, 2013

A Rapper with His 10 “Wives” of His 11 children

South African Brother Marries the 4 Mothers of His Children!

South African Brother Marries the 4 Mothers of His Children!

WESTERN(white peoples’ DIET) DIET IS KILLING US ATI GIVING OUR CHiLDREN DIABETES! -FROM THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER,NIGERIA

April 20, 2013

OYINGBO ONJE will KILL YOU! All this Iresi funfun ati bready funfun ati indomine with it’s poisonous flavoring ati giving omode biscuits,even babies is giving them DIABETES!

FROM THE PUNCH NEWSPAPER-NIGERIA

Western diet, route to early grave

2013-04-16 23:00:44

What does your breakfast look like?

The answer to this simple question may be as diverse as the ethnic tribes that make up Nigeria, what with our attitude towards food, which borders on consuming large portions.

Among the upwardly mobile, breakfast may consist of corn flakes (which are usually fortified with some so-called vitamins), bacon, fried eggs or omelet, white bread and tea sweetened with white sugar — or other forms of sugars that researchers say are not in the least healthy.

At work, lunch may not be better, as it may be a combination of fried chicken or sautéed fish, with a generous serving of French fries, to be washed down with a large, chilled bottle of sugary beverage.

nner is no better, as it may consist of some take-away from the numerous fast food eateries that line major routes. Yet, experts say you eat Western diet to your peril. The unambiguous conclusion among dieticians, nutritionists, physicians and researchers is that Western diet is unhealthy and should not be taken regularly or served at the family table for that matter.

The Medical Director of Mart-Life Detox Centre, Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, warns that a diet that comprises sugars, monounsaturated­ fats and other appurtenances of Western diet can only ruin the health.

He says the effects of such foods are as bizarre as they are deadly, because they don’t only make you obese, they are the paved roads to cardiovascular diseases, which may lead to stroke and untimely death.

He also warns that through clinical studies, unhealthy diet and lifestyle have been shown to contribute to incidents of infertility in male and female.

But then, what is it about Western diet that makes for strident condemnation globally? Ashiru, a professor of anatomy, notes that it may increase the risk of disease and certain forms of cancer, while it has also been linked to obesity in adults and children.

Again, he notes, Western diet is heavy in trans fats, which are considered unhealthy and dangerous to health. He also vilifies the diet because, as he says, it does not promote a complete, nutritious menu, as it usually lacks vegetables and fruits.

Nutritionists say even when you are served the so-called salad during a typical Western meal, the salads are usually bathed in creams that make a total mess of the intended dietary restriction.

Online portal, dietsinreview.c­om, says “The Western diet is known for its lack of fresh fruits and vegetables and its strong reliance on fast-food, high sugar beverages, high-fat dairy, refined carbohydrates and red meat.

It goes on to describe a typical day on the Western diet, “Breakfast may consist of a stack of white flour pancakes with a side of sausage, with whole milk and syrup; lunch might be a fast-food cheeseburger, French fries and a high-sugar soda. Dinner might be fried chicken or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. Desserts and snacks include potato chips, cookies, ice cream, candy bars and other processed snack foods.”

And, to buttress all the vilifications that have greeted the consumption of Western diet, a new research scheduled for publication in the May edition of The American Journal of Medicine, deals a final blow to the unhealthy way of eating.

The researchers write, “Data from a new study of British adults suggest that adherence to a ‘Western-style’­ diet (fried and sweet food, processed and red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products) reduces a person’s likelihood of achieving older ages in good health and with higher functionality.

The research team, led by Dr. Tasnime Akbaraly of Inserm, Montpellier, France, identified dietary factors that would not only prevent premature death, but also promote ideal aging.

Ashiru, whose clinic takes patients through weight loss programme via detoxification,­ says Western diet plans are not appropriate for weight loss.

He notes, “Dieters need to eat from all food groups. Bad fats, cholesterol and simple carbohydrates are three food groups to watch out for in the Western diet. Conversely, the Mediterranean diet is rich in healthy fats, green foods and lean proteins. Switching from a Western diet to a healthy diet with fewer simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats is ideal for weight loss.”

He also notes that portion control is important, as Western diet tends to pack a lot of calories in a small space.

In a study published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers warn that leading causes of death have shifted from infectious diseases to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, which, they say, may be affected by unwholesome diet. Their conclusion? Eating healthier means living longer.

So, what do we eat to be in good health? Researchers say diets high in vegetables and fruits are associated with less weight gain, being definitely better than diets high in red meat and fried foods.

Investigators from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University say, “A diet high in red meat and fried foods can lead to consuming too many calories, because these foods contain more calories than the same amount of vegetables and fruits.”

The lead researcher, Dr. Deborah Boggs, say the findings suggest that replacing red meat and fried foods with vegetables and fruits could help to lower obesity rates.

In contrast, a research group from Spain studied the dietary patterns associated with a high intake of fruits and vegetables in Mediterranean populations, and concluded that it reduces long term risk of weight gain and subsequent obesity.

To be in good health and remain functional till the end, therefore, scientists advise daily intake of fruits and vegetables, which have been tested and proved over the years.

Online portal, dietsinreview.com, says “The Western diet is known for its lack of fresh fruits and vegetables and its strong reliance on fast-food, high sugar beverages, high-fat dairy, refined carbohydrates and red meat.

It goes on to describe a typical day on the Western diet, “Breakfast may consist of a stack of white flour pancakes with a side of sausage, with whole milk and syrup; lunch might be a fast-food cheeseburger, French fries and a high-sugar soda. Dinner might be fried chicken or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy. Desserts and snacks include potato chips, cookies, ice cream, candy bars and other processed snack foods.”

And, to buttress all the vilifications that have greeted the consumption of Western diet, a new research scheduled for publication in the May edition of The American Journal of Medicine, deals a final blow to the unhealthy way of eating.

The researchers write, “Data from a new study of British adults suggest that adherence to a ‘Western-style’ diet (fried and sweet food, processed and red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products) reduces a person’s likelihood of achieving older ages in good health and with higher functionality.

The research team, led by Dr. Tasnime Akbaraly of Inserm, Montpellier, France, identified dietary factors that would not only prevent premature death, but also promote ideal aging.

Ashiru, whose clinic takes patients through weight loss programme via detoxification, says Western diet plans are not appropriate for weight loss.

He notes, “Dieters need to eat from all food groups. Bad fats, cholesterol and simple carbohydrates are three food groups to watch out for in the Western diet. Conversely, the Mediterranean diet is rich in healthy fats, green foods and lean proteins. Switching from a Western diet to a healthy diet with fewer simple carbohydrates and unhealthy fats is ideal for weight loss.”

He also notes that portion control is important, as Western diet tends to pack a lot of calories in a small space.

In a study published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers warn that leading causes of death have shifted from infectious diseases to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer, which, they say, may be affected by unwholesome diet. Their conclusion? Eating healthier means living longer.

So, what do we eat to be in good health? Researchers say diets high in vegetables and fruits are associated with less weight gain, being definitely better than diets high in red meat and fried foods.

Investigators from the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University say, “A diet high in red meat and fried foods can lead to consuming too many calories, because these foods contain more calories than the same amount of vegetables and fruits.”

The lead researcher, Dr. Deborah Boggs, say the findings suggest that replacing red meat and fried foods with vegetables and fruits could help to lower obesity rates.

In contrast, a research group from Spain studied the dietary patterns associated with a high intake of fruits and vegetables in Mediterranean populations, and concluded that it reduces long term risk of weight gain and subsequent obesity.

To be in good health and remain functional till the end, therefore, scientists advise daily intake of fruits and vegetables, which have been tested and proved over the years.

OBAMA! -VOGUE MAGAZINE 2012 INTERVIEW WITH BOTH OUR BLACK PRESIDENT ATI OUR BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY FIRST LADY IN THE BLACK HOUSE!

March 17, 2013
BLACK LOVE IN ACTION!

BLACK LOVE IN ACTION!

VOGUE Magazine

Leading by Example: First Lady Michelle Obama

photographed by Annie Leibovitz


VIEW SLIDESHOW

At the start of a second term, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama talk to Jonathan Van Meter about their life as parents, their marriage, and their vision for America’s families.

One morning in late January, I am standing at one end of the grand red-carpeted corridor that runs through the center of the White House, when suddenly the First Lady appears at the other. “Heeeee’s comin’,” she says of her husband’s imminent arrival. “He’s coming down the stairs now.” The president is on his way from the residence above, and just a split second before he appears, the First Lady, in a midnight-blue Reed Krakoff sleeveless dress and a black kitten heel, slips into the tiniest bit of a surprisingly good soft-shoe, and then the two of them walk arm in arm into the Red Room to sit for a portrait by Annie Leibovitz. The photographer has her iPod playing the Black Eyed Peas song “Where Is the Love?” It is a mid-tempo hip-hop lament about the problematic state of the world. As the First Lady and an aide laugh together over some inside joke, the president starts nodding his head to the beat: “Who picked the music? I love this song.”

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulder
As I’m gettin’ older, y’all, people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ the wrong direction

A few minutes later, Leibovitz has the president sit in a comfortable chair and then directs the First Lady to perch on the arm. At one point, the First Lady puts her hand on top of his and, instinctively, he wraps his fingers around her thumb. “There’s a lot of huggin’ going on,” says Leibovitz, and everyone laughs. “You’re a very different kind of president and First Lady.”

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That they are. Put aside for a moment that they are the first African-Americans to preside in the White House, or that it feels perfectly normal to see the president enjoying a hip-hop song in the Red Room before lunch, or that the First Lady has bucked convention by routinely mixing Thom Browne and Alexander McQueen with J.Crew and Target, or that Malia and Sasha’s grandma lives with them upstairs, or that the whole family texts and takes pictures of one another with their smart phones. What is truly unusual about the Obamas is that, in their own quietly determined way, they have insisted on living their lives on their terms: not as the First Family but as a family, first.

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“He is a dad,” says the president’s senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, “and a husband, and he enjoys being with his children and his wife. He doesn’t have a father. He’s trying really hard to be a good dad.” Says former senior adviser David Axelrod, “This is conjecture on my part, but I have to believe that because of the rather tumultuous childhood that he had, family is even more important to him. It’s central to who he is. That’s why he’s home every night at 6:30 for dinner.”

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The president and First Lady both seem to be in ebullient moods, and deservedly so. His surprisingly decisive reelection is now history; the tonally precise inauguration is ten days behind them. The First Lady, it must be said, is funny, and it soon becomes clear that she can’t resist an opportunity to tease her husband. The first real question I ask them is about the persistent notion among the Washington press corps that they—unlike, say, the Reagans or the Clintons—are somehow antisocial, that they don’t privately entertain enough at the White House, that they don’t break bread and smoke cigars and play poker with their enemies. When I joke that they might want to “put that idea to rest” once and for all, the president starts to answer, but his wife, whose back has gone up ever so slightly, cuts him off. “I don’t think it’s our job to put an idea to rest. Our job is, first and foremost, to make sure our family is whole. You know, we have small kids; they’re growing every day. But I think we were both pretty straightforward when we said, ‘Our number-one priority is making sure that our family is whole.’ ”

They are quick to point out that most of their friends have kids themselves, and that when they go on vacation, usually with longtime family friends and relatives, they end up with a houseful of children. “The stresses and the pressures of this job are so real that when you get a minute,” the First Lady says, “you want to give that extra energy to your fourteen- and eleven-year-old. . . .” “Although,” her husband says, a big grin spreading across his face, “as I joked at a press conference, now that they want less time with us, who knows? Maybe you’ll see us out in the clubs.”

“Saturday night!” says the First Lady. “The kids are out with their friends. Let’s go party!”

“ ‘The Obamas are out in the club again?’ ” says the president, laughing. “What is true,” he says, more seriously, “is that we probably—even before we came to Washington—had already settled in a little bit to parenthood. And. . . .” Here he pauses in the way that only President Obama can. “Let’s put it this way: I did an awful lot of socializing in my teens and 20s.

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“But what is also true,” he says, “is that the culture in Washington has changed in ways that probably haven’t been great for the way this place runs. . . . When you talk to the folks who were in the Senate or the House back in the sixties, seventies, eighties, there was much less pressure to go back and forth to your home state. . . . Campaigns weren’t as expensive. So a lot of members of Congress bought homes here in the area; their kids went to school here; they ended up socializing in part because their families were here. By the time I got to the Senate, that had changed. Michelle and the girls, for example, stayed in Chicago, and I had this little bachelor apartment that Michelle refused to stay in because she thought it was a little, uh. . . .”

“Yikes,” she says.

“You know, pizza boxes everywhere,” he says. “When she came, I had to get a hotel room.” The First Lady leans in toward me. “That place caught on fire.”

“It did end up catching on fire,” says the president sheepishly.

“And I was like, I told you it was a dump,” she says. Her husband continues, “As a consequence, I think, when the Washington press writes about this, part of what they’re longing for has less to do with us; it has to do with an atmosphere here where there was more of a community in Washington, which did result, I think, in less polarization. Because if your kids went to school together and you’re seeing each other at ball games and church, then Democrats and Republicans had a sense that this is not just perpetual campaigning and political warfare.”

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While the First Lady may not be a Tiger Mom, and the Obamas may not be helicopter parents (despite their access to Marine One), they are, in fact, exemplars of a new paradigm—the super-involved parenting team for whom being equally engaged in the minutiae of their children’s lives is paramount. Perhaps this is what has been misconstrued by old-school Washington. After all, it is so unlike the way that the White House has traditionally functioned, as a paragon of American family life, complete with a staff that all but invented the idea of standing on ceremony.

Later I bring this up to Anita Dunn, former White House communications director and a consultant on the reelection campaign who has a teenager of her own. “You know,” she says, “they are of a different generation. Most of [the Obamas’] friends have both parents in the workforce, and there is a degree of involvement from both parents in raising the children that simply wasn’t the case earlier. But they also both know what it’s like to be raising kids in this very challenging time—whether it’s video games or Facebook or smart phones. That they are experiencing these things along with so many other American parents gives them a unique perspective on the challenges families face.”

I mention the wintry tableau on Inauguration Day, all four Obamas texting and taking pictures of one another. “Sasha plays basketball with her little team at a community center in my neighborhood,” says Dunn. “My son played there and, you know, there are no bleachers or anything—parents are just standing on the sidelines. And that’s an experience that the president has, just like all those other parents. If I was in a school play, my father would show up. But, you know, he wasn’t at the rehearsals. It is a different model. But I think it has been a valuable thing, to help them break out of the bubble.”

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A friend of mine with two kids who are just heading off to college pointed out to me recently that Malia and Sasha are on the cusp of that stage in life when parenting requires, as she put it, “elasticity”—and life in the White House seems anything but elastic. “Well, the environment becomes more elastic,” the First Lady says. “The Secret Service has to change the way they do things; they have to become more flexible. And they do. Because they want to make sure that these girls are happy and that they have a normal life. . . . There’s a lot of energy that goes into working with staff, working with agents, working with friends’ parents to figure out how do we, you know, let these kids go to the party and have a sleepover and walk through the city on their own, go to the game. Any parent knows that these are the times when you’re just a scheduler and chauffeur for your kids. And that doesn’t change for us. Ninety percent of our conversation is about these girls: What are they doing? And who’s got what practice? And what birthday party is coming up? And did we get a gift for this person? You know, I mean, it is endless and it gets to be pretty exhausting, and if you take your eye off the ball, that’s when their lives become inelastic,” she says emphatically. “So it requires us to be there and be present so that we can respond and have the system respond to their needs. . . . And he’s doing it while still dealing with Syria and health care. He’s as up on every friend, every party, every relationship. . . . And if you’re out at dinner every night, you miss those moments where you can check in and just figure them out when they’re ready to share with you.”

The Obamas’ unusually close partnership and decision-making process started long before they had children. It is now part of legend that when Michelle Robinson decided to leave her cushy office at a corporate Chicago law firm to go work at City Hall for Valerie Jarrett, then deputy chief of staff to Mayor Richard M. Daley, she asked Jarrett to have dinner with her then-fiancé before making the leap. When I ask Jarrett if she could offer any insight into how life in the White House has affected the Obamas’ relationship, she says, “They had a very good marriage going in, but it strengthened it because, well, it’s tested it. He has had some really, really tough moments in the White House, and the fact that his partner in this journey has been so steadfastly in his corner and never wavered, it teaches you every day to appreciate what you have. When you’ve had a really tough day and had to make the kinds of literally life-and-death decisions that he’s had to make in the Oval Office, to come home and know you’re safe and that your children are being well taken care of and you feel totally nurtured. . . . We joke about this: He goes home for dinner and no one’s interested in his day. They want to talk about their day. And that is such a relief. And she manages that for him.”

Find out more about Michelle Obama at Voguepedia.com.

When I paraphrase Jarrett’s observation for the president and First Lady, he shifts in his seat and leans forward. “Well, what is true is that, first and foremost, Michelle thinks about the girls. And pretty much everything else from Michelle’s perspective right now is secondary. And rightly so. She is a great mom. What is also true is Michelle’s had to accommodate”—he pauses for a long while—“a life that”—another pause—“it’s fair to say was not necessarily what she envisioned for herself. She has to put up with me. And my schedule and my stresses. And she’s done a great job on that. But I think it would be a mistake to think that my wife, when I walk in the door, is, Hey, honey, how was your day? Let me give you a neck rub. It’s not as if Michelle is thinking in terms of, How do I cater to my husband? I think it’s much more, We’re a team, and how do I make sure that this guy is together enough that he’s paying attention to his girls and not forgetting the basketball game that he’s supposed to be going to on Sunday? So she’s basically managing me quite effectively—that’s what it comes down to. I’m sure Valerie might have made it sound more romantic.” The First Lady, who has been staring at her lap through this entire answer, finally looks up and laughs.

It almost comes as a relief to see the president, so famous for his cool, get a little defensive. I bring up what someone described as his “Hawaiian mellowness” and ask the First Lady to describe this aspect of her husband. “I’ve tried to explain this guy to people over the years, but there is a calmness to him that is just . . . it has been a consistent part of his character. Which is why I think he is uniquely suited for this challenge—because there is a steadiness. And maybe it’s because of his Hawaiian upbringing—you go to Hawaii and it’s Chillsville; maybe it was because his life growing up was a little less steady, so he had to create that steadiness for himself . . . but he is that person, in all situations, over the course of these last four years, from watching the highs and lows of health-care reform to dealing with two very contentious, challenging elections. . . . The most you get from him is ‘You know, that is gonna be tough. . . .’ There are a lot of times I can’t tell how his day went. Unless I really dig down. Because when he walks through that door, he can let go of it all. And it just doesn’t penetrate his soul. And that’s the beautiful thing for me to see as his wife. That was one of the things I was worried about: How would politics affect this very decent, genuine, noble individual? And there is just something about his spirit that allows all that stuff to stay on the outside.”

Someone recently introduced me to the concept of “borrowed functioning,” something that successful couples do without even realizing it. When I describe the concept to the Obamas and confess that my partner of fifteen years is an unflappable, hard-to-read Midwesterner and that I am an emotional hothead from Jersey, they both laugh and gamely play along.

“Well, patience and calm I’m borrowing,” says the First Lady. “Or trying to mirror. I’ve learned that from my husband, that sort of, you know, ability to not get too high or too low with changes and bumps in the road . . . to do more breathing in and just going with it. I’m learning that every day. And to the extent that I’ve made changes in my life, it’s just sort of stepping back and seeing a change not as something to guard against but as a wonderful addition . . . that can make life fun and unexpected. Oftentimes, it’s the way we react to change that is the thing that determines the overall experience. So I’ve learned to let go and enjoy it and take it in and not take things too personally.”

Without missing a beat, the president says, “And what Michelle has done is to remind me every day of the virtues of order.” The First Lady lets out a big laugh. “Being on time. Hanging up your clothes. Being intentional about planning time with your kids. In some ways I think . . . we’re very different people, and some of that’s temperamental, some of it is how we grew up. Michelle grew up in a model nuclear family: mom, dad, brother. . . . She just has these deep, wonderful roots. When you go back to Chicago, she’s got family everywhere. . . . There’s just a warmth and a sense of belonging. And you know, that’s not how I grew up. I had this far-flung family, father left at a very young age, a stepfather who ended up passing away as well. My mother was this wonderful spirit, and she was adventurous but not always very well organized. And, so, what that means is that I’m more comfortable with change and adventure and trying new things, but the downside of it is, sometimes—particularly when we were early on in our marriage—I wasn’t always thinking about the fact that my free-spirited ways might be having an impact on the person I’m with. And conversely, early in our marriage, Michelle provided this sense of stability and clarity and certainty about things, but sometimes she resisted trying something new just because it might seem a little scary or push her out of her comfort zone. I think what we’ve learned from each other is that sense of. . . .”

“Balance,” she says.

“There’s no doubt I’m a better man having spent time with Michelle. I would never say that Michelle’s a better woman, but I will say she’s a little more patient.”

“I would say I’m a better woman. You couldn’t say it.”

“I couldn’t say it,” he says.

The First Lady looks at me: “It’s good that he learned not to say that.” And then turns and looks at him and smiles. “Don’t say that.”

Being around the Obamas, I am struck by a few things: They are both tall and great-looking, and his hair is not so gray. In fact, neither of them looks like they’re on either side of 50. He has beautiful hands, with long, slender fingers that make his wedding band seem enormous. Her Midwestern accent is pronounced, and his legendary Hawaiian mellowness is in full flower for most of the interview—though he is also capable of more than a little swagger. When I ask the First Lady if her husband’s mellow nature is what gets interpreted as “aloof,” she says, “Absolutely. I mean, I don’t know what people expect to see in a president. Maybe they want him to yell and scream at somebody at some point. Sometimes I’d like him to do that.” She laughs and looks at him. “But that’s just not how he deals with stress. And I think that’s something we want in our leaders.”

“It is true that I don’t get too high or I don’t get too low, day to day,” the president says. “Partly because I try to bring to the job a longer-term time frame. I’m a history buff, and I know that big changes take time. But I also know that, setting politics aside, usually things are never as good as you think they are or as bad as you think they are. And that has served me well temperamentally.”

But as the First Lady observes, “all it takes is watching him spend time on a rope line” for you to see the emotion and the connection. I got to watch the president doing just that two days earlier, in a high school gymnasium in Las Vegas after his speech on immigration, and what was unmistakable was the genuine pleasure he took in hugging and handshaking and saying “I love you back!” to the several hundred people who were screaming and crying as they reached out to touch him. It seems that he loves the attention, sure—but it struck me that he loves it to the right degree. How did the First Lady put it? “It doesn’t penetrate his soul.”

Everyone I spoke with about the Obamas said the same thing: What you see is what you get. “The president, when he goes to an event, that is the same Barack Obama who’s in a meeting,” says Dunn. “There really isn’t a divide between their private and public personas.” The First Lady’s chief of staff, Tina Tchen, says, “When people ask me, ‘What’s she really like?’ I say, ‘Well, you’re seeing it. That is exactly who she is and what she’s like.’ ”

As White House Press Secretary Jay Carney reminded me, the Obamas went from relative anonymity to worldwide superfame—potent symbols of once-unimaginable progress—in the blink of an eye. Most couples take the long road to the White House; the Obamas’ zip-line arrival left them no time to develop the public personas presumed to be essential for surviving a life subject to that level of scrutiny. “There is a distance that naturally happens as you rise up the political ladder,” says Jarrett. “And I think because his rise happened so fast there was no time to create that distance.” To illustrate, she tells me a story about the time in 2004 when she was vacationing with the Obamas on Martha’s Vineyard, shortly after state senator Obama gave the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston that launched him onto the national stage. “He went out for a jog,” says Jarrett, “and he came back and he said, ‘Can you believe it? Someone took a photograph of me.’ He was shocked. And we were like, ‘Really?’ He and Michelle went back to southern Illinois and suddenly they were rock stars.”

The president chooses to see their rapid ascent as an advantage. “I think that’s been very helpful . . .” he says. “We were pretty much who we are by the time I hit the national scene. We didn’t grow up or come of age under a spotlight. We were anonymous folks. I was a state senator, but nobody knows who a state senator is. So most of our 30s and 40s were as a typical middle-class family. . . . That really didn’t change until I was 45 years old. And there’s something about having lived a normal life and raised kids.” Here he slips into the syntax of his younger self. “We had to figure out how to make a mortgage, payin’ the bills, goin’ to Target, and freakin’ out when . . . the woman who’s looking after your girls while Michelle’s working suddenly decides she’s quittin’. . . . All those experiences made us who we were, so that by the time this thing hit, it was hard for us to. . . .”

“Be different people,” says the First Lady. “And I think we are accountable to each other for being who we are. There’s no way I could walk in the door and be somebody different from who I’ve been with this man for 20-some-odd years. He would laugh me out of the house!” She goes on, “And we are also blessed with families who hold us accountable.”

“Exactly,” says the president.

This reminds me of something the First Lady’s brother told me. “I played basketball in England for two years,” said Craig Robinson, “and I didn’t realize it, but apparently, I developed somewhat of an accent, and my sister and my father killed me when I came back. They were like, ‘What happened? You go to England and you have an accent?’ It would have been the same thing if Michelle had gotten to be the First Lady and started acting differently. She would have heard it from me and my mom.”

“My mother doesn’t do interviews,” says the First Lady, “but let me tell you: She is not long on pretense. She’s the first one to remind us who we are. And it’s been very helpful having her living with us. . . . We can check reality against her sensibilities.”

“Now, in fairness,” says the president, “there is one thing that’s changed.” The First Lady looks at him. “What’s that?”

“Which is, I used to only have, like, two suits,” he says.

Now you must have dozens, I say.

“Thank God,” she says. “Now, let me tell you: This is the man who still boasts about, This khaki pair of pants I’ve had since I was 20.” The president throws his head back, laughing. “And I’m like, ‘You don’t want to brag about that.’ ” Jay Carney and the young staffers from the White House press office, who are all sitting on a sofa on the other side of the room, crack up.

“Michelle’s like Beyoncé in that song,” says the president. “ ‘Let me upgrade ya!’ She upgraded me.”

“The girls and I are always rooting when he wears, like, a stripe. They’re like, ‘Dad! Oh, you look so handsome. Oh, stripes! You go!’ ”

Taking fashion advice from the First Lady wouldn’t be the worst thing the president could do. After all, she has inspired a modern definition of effortless American chic. Later she tells me this about her relationship to fashion: “I always say that women should wear whatever makes them feel good about themselves. That’s what I always try to do. . . . I also believe that if you’re comfortable in your clothes it’s easy to connect with people and make them feel comfortable as well. In every interaction that I have with people, I always want to show them my most authentic self.”

The week I am in D.C. happens to be Secretary Hillary Clinton’s last week at the State Department, and just outside Valerie Jarrett’s office, glowing on the computer screen of her longtime assistant, Katherine Branch, is a photograph taken this very day of the president and the secretary: He is signing a presidential memorandum promoting gender equality and women’s issues globally as a priority at the Department of State, a longtime cause of Clinton’s. When I remind Jarrett of the bruising primary and the rancor that colored those days before Obama nominated Clinton to his Cabinet, she laughs and then brings up the recent joint interview the former rivals gave to 60 Minutes. “I saw him yesterday and I said, ‘Did you watch the interview?’ And he goes, ‘No, I lived the interview.’ And I said, ‘You gotta watch it. What you probably aren’t aware of is how the affection that you two have for one another just came through completely.’ And he said, ‘Well, of course it did. I love her.’ ”

As we talk, Jarrett draws my attention to an elaborately framed pair of documents on the wall above the table where we are sitting. It is a birthday gift from the president, given to her just nine days after he won reelection. I get up to study them. On the left is the “petition for universal suffrage,” dated January 29, 1866; on the right, a proposal from the House of Representatives, dated May 19, 1919: “Amendment to the Constitution extending the right of suffrage to women.”

“It’s, like, the real thing!” says Jarrett. “Signed by Susan B. Anthony!” The day she opened the present in the Oval Office, she stared at it for a minute, and as the significance of the gift dawned on her, she said, “Where did you get this?” And he said, “I’m the president. I can get things.” Reminding his best friend of the legacy of those women who have come before is thoughtful, but its underlying message is echt-Obama: Progress takes time. (Fifty-three years in this case.) When I mention this to the president, he lights up. “We talk about this all the time in the White House,” he says. “In some ways the changes that have taken place in this country are amazingly rapid. There are very few examples of countries where you go, basically in one person’s lifetime, from segregation to an African-American president. And yet, we live in a culture that is impatient, and so, if things don’t happen in one month or one year, folks start wondering what’s taking so long.”

David Axelrod no longer works in the White House, but there was no more beleaguered presence on television during the first term, doggedly defending his boss against the ideologues in his own party. “I was struck,” he says, “that there were so many who were unhappy about how long, for example, it took to end the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, and there were some who felt that the health-care law was insufficient. And, you know, hanging on the wall in the Oval Office was the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a reminder that there was great disquiet among many in [Lincoln’s] Republican base that he didn’t sign it immediately. And there were those who felt it wasn’t enveloping enough. But it was what he could do, and it was momentous. And you are reminded of that constantly in that building, and it’s comforting to remember that you can only judge these things in the fullness of time.”

What’s astonishing is just how suddenly such liberal-dream issues like gun control, immigration reform, and marriage equality have dominated the outset of Obama’s second term. I point out to Axelrod that these would seem to be perfect lessons in presidential patience: how unseen events can create, out of thin air, political opportunities over once intractable issues. “There’s no question about it,” he says. “We have a chance now to get immigration done, whereas we didn’t have that chance in the last four years. The awareness of the gaping holes in our gun laws is much greater now as a result of the tragedy in Newtown. But you have to grab that moment. That’s how progress is made. And the longer you serve in the presidency, the more you learn that.”

Though President Obama faces moral quagmires of every imaginable sort in every part of the world, from the Keystone oil pipeline to drone strikes to peace in the Middle East, in the big picture, he will no doubt be remembered for ordering the assassination of Osama bin Laden and ending the war in Iraq and hopefully Afghanistan. But if he accomplishes even part of the agenda he laid out in his inaugural address, he has the chance to go down in history as one of the greatest domestic-policy presidents ever. The issues that he’s prioritized—health care, reviving the economy, education, and now, gun control, immigration reform, and marriage equality—are first and foremost family issues. The First Lady’s initiatives—military families and childhood nutrition and health—likewise are about as domestic as you can get. If you think about it, who better than the man who can’t wait to get home to his wife and kids every night at 6:30—the Dad-in-Chief—to carry the flag on what the future of the American Family should look like?

“Well, I’ll tell you,” says President Obama, his wife looking at him with a beatific smile as our interview winds down, “everything we have done has been viewed through the lens of family. And I mean family broadly conceived. I was raised by a single mom. We have kids in our family who were adopted. We have people from every race, every economic stratum; we have gay and lesbian couples who have been part of our lives for years. And all of them, what’s consistent is that sense that we look out for each other. And that’s the lens through which we’ve always viewed our public service. . . . Broadening this fierce sense that we have of: I’ve got your back. Beyond just the immediate family to the larger American family, and making sure everybody’s included and making sure that everybody’s got a seat at the table. . . .

“The work I did in the first couple of years to make sure we didn’t go into a Great Depression—that was family policy. Both of us, given our upbringings, know what it’s like when money is tight. Both of us know when a parent feels disappointed because they can’t do everything they can for their kids and the stresses and strains and the emotions that arise out of that. So, making sure people have jobs, making sure the economy is working, making sure that people’s savings aren’t dissipating—those have all been family policy as well. But there’s no doubt that as we stabilize the economy, part of what I’ve tried to argue, and certainly a major theme in my inauguration speech, was this idea that we’re all family, that we have obligations to each other, that we don’t just think about ourselves. This is a common enterprise. If I live in a city where I know kids are getting a good education, my life is better, even if they’re not my kids. If I know that women are getting paid the same as men for doing the same work, then when I have daughters, I’m going to feel confident that they’re going to be able to fulfill their dreams and ambitions. If I am looking out for that same-sex couple, making sure that they’ve got the same rights as everybody else does, then I’m confident that they’ll look out for somebody in my family who has some sort of difference, that they’re not going to be discriminated against, because that same principle applies. And that idea really is sort of at the heart of, not just my presidency, but who I am. And Michelle has applied that same idea with her work in Joining Forces and thinking about kids and nutrition. Look, they’re all our kids! They’re all our families.”

The day after my interview with the Obamas, I head back to the White House to attend a presentation ceremony for the National Science & Technology Medals laureates and their families. The Marine Corps band is playing jazz in the Entrance Hall, just inside the North Portico, as the attendees mill around, sipping soda and juice. Trumpets blare, “Ruffles and Flourishes” plays, and the president makes his entrance into the East Room. “If there is one idea that sets this country apart,” he says from his blue podium, “one idea that makes us different from every other nation on Earth, it’s that here in America, success does not depend on where you were born or what your last name is. . . .”

After the presentation, I am taken into the Blue Room, where there will be an opportunity for the medal recipients to pose for photographs with the forty-fourth president of the United States of America. Word comes that it will be another 20 minutes, and so a handful of staffers and I hang in the back of the room, scrolling through our BlackBerrys. Suddenly, a side door opens, and there he is, by himself, unannounced. The president spots me standing in the back of the room and shouts, “JonaTHAN!” It is how I imagine he might say my name on the court right after I sank a three-pointer just before the buzzer to win the game.

All the technology-medal recipients, most of them men in their 70s and 80s, are lined up on either side of the president for a group photo, which the president immediately begins to art-direct himself. You two get on this side. . . . We need one more person over here. . . . You stand next to me. That man is Art Rosenfeld, known in his field as “the godfather of efficient energy.” He is 86 and frail, and as they wait for some of the others to arrive, Rosenfeld struggles a bit. Just as the other men are being hustled into the room and lined up, Obama steadies Rosenfeld and then leans down and sweetly says in his ear, in a tone that every loving father in the world would recognize: “I gotcha.”

– March 14, 2013 12:01a.m.

 

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