Thursday, November 13, 2008

Everyone's Talking About Obama - What About Michelle

Yobachi was discussing the significance of Michelle Obama being the First Lady. He asked for some feedback. So, I wrote this in response to his post.

It is exceptionally significant for a women like Michelle Obama to have become the First Lady. The early campaign days when they tried to swift boat Obama because of his spouse are very telling. “She angry.” “She’s unpatriotic.” These tactics were used because she is not the “preferred” image of a Black woman. (Read Lena Horne, Halle Berry, etc.) Michelle represents the “other Black woman” that America both reveres and fears.

She is the one who will not entertain you. She is the one competent enough to “steal” your God-given job. She is one people really worry about when they discuss affirmative action.

She is the revered no-nonsense lady who will tell it like it is. She is wise. She is the flip side of the woman Whites love and respect because someone like her was paid to raise them; was the only one they could rely upon; had a sense of her higher self and brought that sense to themselves. She carries all of that historic legacy.

I think the reason I always become weepy eyed when I see the first family is because it takes me to the Kennedy era. In spite of all of the compelling contrasts there are intersections between the two women. Where Jackie O represented the paragon of White femininity, Michelle O represents the paragon of Black femininity.

Jackie Kennedy was demure. Michelle is fierce. Jackie was fashionable. Michelle has style. Jackie provided support to her husband in matters related to the social networking, household and child-rearing. Michelle supports her husband by providing intellectual and critical feedback, managing the household, the children and her work. For Jackie O work was what she did for the family. For Michelle work is what she does to simultaneously fulfill her own sense of purpose and contribute to the financial goals of her family.

So, this has huge significance because it invites the nation to examine to different standards of womanhood. We have known the value of ours for centuries. Perhaps, the time has come for White people to learn from us. (Or rather - not just hijack the entertaining things - but to embrace the deeply ingrained cultural values that the recent media and corporate interests have tried to erase.)

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