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Archive for the ‘Michelle Obama’ Category

datenight

As busy as the president is he still finds time to take his wife out on a date to be just with her. They went to see the August Wilson play, “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone”. (Lincoln also took his wife to plays, as we know!)

It is also kind of cool to walk out of your house, get on a Marine helicopter and be flown to New York! When he was a boy of ten his mother saw no future for him in Indonesia and had him flown to America. For some reason that just came to my head.

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newyorkerThis is my rewrite of the blog post “Michelle Obama and the Politics of Shifting” on Womanist Musings. I tried to preserve her opinions (which I do not completely agree with) but wrote it the way I would have. It is a writing exercise on my part.

Michelle Obama will be America’s first black first lady. Think of it: a black woman held up to America as the height of grace, beauty and intelligence! She is already being compared to Jackie O.

And yet even though Michelle Obama will look black on the outside, she will have to act like she is white on the inside. She will have to hide her blackness.

Many whites are comfortable with her as a buppie – a black urban professional. But when she lets her black side show, when she questions the built-in unfairness of American society, it starts to make whites uncomfortable.

Imagine, for example, if she brought up something as simple as serving collard greens in her interview with Barbara Walters. How would that have changed the interview? When you remind white people that you are black, it makes them uncomfortable. Americans are all supposed to be the same but they are not the same.

Barack Obama fed this lie when he said that there is no white America and no black America, just the United States of America. It is a lie because America is still divided by race, The death threats against him show it. But now Michelle is a slave to that lie. To be her natural black self would make too many white people uncomfortable and cost her husband the support he needs.

To make it to the top of American society you need more than just money. You need to act white too – or be cast out. Because the top of American society is that white. Whites set the unwritten rules for that level of society.

Why do Bill Cosby and Shelby Steele put down ghetto behaviour so much? Is it to help poor black people in the ghetto? No: it is to show rich white people that they are not one of “those people”.

Michelle Obama grew up as one of “those people”. She will have to distance herself.

As buppies the Obamas already act white to a degree. But now they will have to go all the way or find themselves shut out.

That New Yorker cover where Michelle has an Afro is a sign and a warning, even if it was meant as a piece of humour. It is a sign that natural blackness – like the Afro – is not acceptable to whites, that it is even a bit threatening. And a warning of the kinds of things that could come if the upper reaches of white America start to see the Obamas as “not one of us”.

So Michelle will have to hide her true black self in public and keep it to her private moments. Most public figures have to watch what they say and do, it is true, but for Michelle it goes beyond that to who she is as a person.

That is the price of success.

See also:

  • Michelle Obama and the Politics of Shifting – the post on Womanist Musings that this is a rewrite of.
  • colonial intelligentsia – how they have to walk a fine line between their own people and the colonial masters. Think Gandhi, Lenin and even Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Michelle Obama will be Amerca’s first black first lady, but how black can she be? There is an excellent post about this at Womanist Musings. Here is some of it (the bold lettering is mine):

CHICO'S FAS, INC.; WHITE HOUSE | BLACK MARKET DRESSTo remain the idol of all, Michelle must deny, or create as invisible, any aspect of her identity that is uniquely African American. For acceptability to be maintained she must keep the conversation on a level that whites can feel comfortable with at all times; otherwise she will be reduced to an “exotic other” in an effort to discipline her into performing.

….

This is where the disconnect begins; to prosper and function one must necessarily adopt the behaviour patterns of those that are most able to help you succeed, but the cost is losing a true connection to African American culture. It means performing for others and saving your true self for more private moments.

….

Though Michelle is now held up as a representative of black womanhood, it is a false designation because her class status will not allow her to publicly display her African American culture without being attacked. She is a slave to the very concept of the post racial world that she and her husband tried so valiantly to declare. Throughout the entirety of her husband’s tenure as President she must remain an enigma; shifting from situation to situation.

….

Acceptability and representing black womanhood comes at a cost. How can she ever be her true self as long as we continue to deny that there is a difference between Black America and White America? Culture and class combine to ensure that a successful person of color will forever perform on a stage that is not of their own choosing.

Read the whole thing at Womanist Musings: Michelle Obama and the Politics of Shifting.

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michelleandbarackleavingspiaggia115

I saw this one on the Black Snob. It shows Barack and Michelle Obama leaving Spiaggia Restaurant in Chicago. For some reason it seems like such a cool picture to me. I think it has to do with how he seems so ordinary in this picture – a man taking his wife out – and yet knowing that he will be president.

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I saw this at the Black Snob:

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I like what the Luscious Librarian said about Michelle Obama’s Afro on this week’s New Yorker cover:

… but what got me was not only the unfunny elitist satire that says “If you don’t get you’re just not sophisticated as we are”, but the depiction of Michelle Obama with an afro that somehow makes her sinister and terrorristic.

As a natural woman it is disheartening to still see the politics of hair played out on a national external scale. I understand that internally black folk have issues with straight and nappy (that’s hundreds of years of psychosocial indoctrination), but we really have a long way to go if the entire nation still feels that way.

That cover says that with my natural hair I am not to be trusted, I am serious and pro-black, which means that I am anti-white and because of that I am anti-America and to be feared. I resent it and I have to say if you tell a joke and you’re the only one laughing it’s because it’s not funny.

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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.

When I heard Michelle Obama speak those words and saw how she said them, it blew my mind. It was just how I felt too! It was wonderful.

So many people in public life seem like car salesmen: they smile too much and they do not call a spade a spade. They do not say what is in their hearts, they do not say what they see with their own two eyes. Michelle Obama does. That makes her beautiful.

She is the only one in this stage show that we call the 2008 election who seems like someone I might know – or care to know. Despite all her money and despite all her education, she is down to earth and honest. She is the opposite of Hillary Clinton. And, as much as I like her husband, he is too busy trying to look like he belongs on Mount Rushmore. (Is there room?)

Later that day Cindy McCain said this:

I have and always will be proud of my country.

Well, duh: she is rich and white. She does not know the half of what goes on in America – or what is done in its name overseas. Her words show it. Has anyone told her about Abu Ghraib? Or Katrina? Is she proud of that? And how would she feel about America if she had to give up her money and her white skin? Or if she had to live as an Arab in the West Bank? Would she still be able to say all ten words about America? Not just proud, but always proud?

People jump on Michelle Obama, but she is just saying what anyone would say who has a brain that is turned on, eyes that are open and a mouth set to honest. Well, at least any black person with an Ivy League education who grew up in a place like the South Side of Chicago. And plenty of other people too. I do not think Michelle and I are alone on this one.

But what about the fall of communism? What about her own rise from low beginnings? I doubt she was thinking about those things when she said it: she was talking about the country not about herself or the world.

Does Michelle Obama love her country? Of course she does. Only someone who loves America would talk about it like that. My wife, for example, is not always proud of what I do and when I screw up she tells me straight out. Does that mean she does not love me? To the contrary.

But why should a woman who has so much be so bitter, as they say? Because she is honest. Because sees with her own two eyes. Because she cares.

Some may call her angry or bitter, but to me she is beautiful. Just the way she is.

– Abagond, 2008.

Update (2019): Unfortunately this was like the last honest thing she said. Both she and Barack Obama sold out. 

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