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YourBlackWorld: Michelle Obama: So 21st Century



Back in the dreary days just before the New Hampshire primary, an immigration activist had this to say about Barack Obama’s candidacy and racial politics in America: the real test of the nation’s evolution on race in the presidential race come when Americans wake up and realize that a President Obama delivers to the nation a black first lady. The White House redecorated by a black woman. The White House Christmas tree decorated at the direction of a black woman. State dinners presided over by a black woman — a black woman from the South Side of Chicago. I think my friend was onto something.

The first lady role has always been an expression of a particular ideal of womanhood: demure, soft-spoken, sexless, harmless. First ladies who deviated from that narrative — Eleanor Roosevelt, Hillary Clinton — suffered endless derision. Michelle Obama, with her impressive accomplishments, deep intelligence and confident presence will no doubt agitate the same sneering chorus of frightened men.

That’s before we even consider our national pathologies around race. To begin with, the attributes ascribed to African-American women by our media and national mythology stand in direct opposition to the demure, soft-spoken, sexless ideal. Add in Michelle Obama’s physical stature and unaffected mannerisms, and the chorus of scaredy tomcats who today make their home in right-wing media will no doubt be driven to an elevated level of madness.


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