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Michelle Obama’s Becoming is an insight into inequality, feminism and a FLOTUS who broke the mould by Clodagh Harrington, Associate Professor of American Politics, De Montfort University, 11/14/18


Michelle and husband, Barack Obama

The American Dream

Michelle Obama is a potent symbol of what is good about America. She reminds us that an African American girl from the poorer end of town has the potential to do and be anything. And not to simply become First Lady, which was a role forced upon her. By determination and hard work, she got to Harvard and Princeton and carved out a highly successful career in her own right.

When obliged to embrace the role of presidential wife, her reluctance was palpable in those early days. Such caution was well founded. Her dynamism and ability were on display throughout the 2008 election, and she campaigned energetically for her husband. But even prior to his victory, she got a taste of the vitriol that would come later. In one unguarded moment, for example, she said during the presidential primaries in 2008: For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country because it feels like hope is finally making a comeback.

Her comments were made in relation to high voter turnout in the primaries but her opponents were not concerned with the context. Immediately, she was chastised and the criticism from some quarters continued unabated.

The ‘Angry Black Woman’

Traditionally, the First Lady of the United States (FLOTUS) has been presented as an appendage of the president, whose priority was spousal loyalty, whatever the challenges involved. She spent her time entertaining, engaging in charitable endeavours, and attempting to provide some sort of normality to children being raised in a profoundly abnormal environment.

Michelle has continuously demonstrated the capacity to lead by example, to balance conflicting roles, to raise two strong and capable daughters, and to clearly still be in a loving marriage, despite the strain that comes with eight years of scrutiny and criticism. In the words of her husband: The way in which she blended purpose and policy with fun so that she was able to reach beyond Washington on her health care initiatives, on her military family work was masterful. She remains an inspiration for future First Ladies, and women and girls everywhere.

Dr. Steeve Coupeau Goes One-on-One with Zuzelin Martin Lynch, Director of ‘Craving Cuba’ featured at Hudson River International Film Festival, 11 October 2018

Cuban Film Craving Cuba

Zuzelin Martin Lynch

Can you tell us about your artistic influences and the journey to get your film to Hudson River Film Festival?

I love independent film. On the narrative side, using art and fiction to portray the beauty in all facets of human emotion rivet me. Documentaries, though, are a gift. I feel it’s a privilege to be able to interview someone because the camera highlights vulnerability and if there is trust, that vulnerability will mirror the complexities of our collective humanity – often times masked in daily life. I’m a big fan of Ava DuVernay, Almodovar, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Wes Anderson on the narrative side and was very much inspired by Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s documentary films, Miss Representation and The Mask You Live in highlighting the damaging effects of media girls and boys (society).

I was lucky that Gisele Ayers, CEO of the Hudson River International Film Festival, was in attendance during a screening for the Cuban American Alliance for Leadership and Education (CAALE). During Q&A, Ms. Ayers told me that she wanted Craving Cuba to be an official selection of the festival. It was an honor to be part of a festival with such an important mission and ties to the United Nations.

FPI: 24 Million Would Experience Chilling Effects of Public Charge Rule, 24 October 2018


"After seeing the Trump Administration use the forced separation of kids from the parents at the border as an appalling tactic in immigration enforcement, it is disturbing to see the mistreatment of kids being used again to put pressure on immigrant families," said David Dyssegaard Kallick, Deputy Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute and author of the report. "The stakes are unbearably high. Parents who apply for health care coverage or food support for which they are qualified will feel like they risk being separated from their children."

The rule will not apply to all non-citizens, nor, of course, will it apply to people born in the United States. But, to illustrate how extreme it is, the Fiscal Policy Institute modeled what would happen if the Trump Rule were to be applied to everyone. It turns out that 28 percent of all non-citizens, and 29 percent of all people born in the United States, would struggle to be deemed adequate by the rule the Trump Administration would use to determine whether people can get a green card. In New York State, 33 percent of U.S.-born residents and 38 percent of non-citizens might be deemed inadequate.

“We shouldn’t be looking down on people who use the safety net, whether they are immigrants or born in this country” Kallick said. “The safety net is there to help people through hard times, so they can get back up and pursue their American Dream.”

Great Movies

A Film on the Revered Ganges River in India

NYIHA MEDIA is pleased to release the best in Indian cinema. In a beautifully shot non-fiction film, Director Vinit Parmar presents an up-close look at the pollution that has been an ecological scourge troubling the revered Ganges River in India.

The film delivers a rarely seen and authentic view of the life at the river's edge and the people struggling to compel change. With unprecedented access, the film brings to light an age-old industry of leather production in jeopardy, bringing in USD$4 Billion to the Indian economy at a cost of degradation of the environment and the health of the residents.


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