Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Update: Michelle Obama As Racial Rorschach Test

One of the first posts I blogged was entitled:

Michelle Obama - The Latest Racial Rorschach Test
I have believed from the moment Barack Obama announced his candidacy that his very running would be a test for America. I stated over a year ago, when Michelle Obama was first put out there by the campaign:

The entire Obama candidacy is about what I call a Racial Rorschach Test. The first phase were those idiotic articles about whether Obama was ' Black enough' for Black folks, which was insane, and off the point. Once that dog didn't hunt, we finally got around to whom the 'Black enough' test was really about, and that was White folk. While they're still mulling around this question and deciding whether to deal with it or not, we've got a new angle to this test- Michelle Obama.

I'm back to report as to how I see the Racial Rorschach Test is going, specifically as it concerns Michelle Obama.

The attacks have been coming fast and furious against Michelle Obama, with a depth of viciousness that is unwarranted, but deserves study.


What is it about this woman that evokes this vehemence against her?

We have very bright posters who often crystalize thoughts with their comments.

Miranda wrote in the comments section:

I have a theory that as hard as it is to accept a black president, it's even harder to accept a black first lady. First Lady has always held a beloved sentimental mother/wife of the nation symbolism. Conservatives are not ready to have to look at this very BLACK woman with her degrees and her fierceness and see her as the epitome of the American mother/wife. Black people have never had an emotional connection to the First Lady to worry about losing. Laura Bush is just another white woman to us. This will be a first for white people. I hadn't thought about the separation anxiety of them not having their mother-in-chief.

To piggyback on that, in the comments section about the racist New Yorker cover, ms. martin challenged me:

I've just come to the conclusion that this is about Michelle. They do not want this black woman in the Whitehouse as their first lady. This cartoon is about Michelle - she is the focal point of the cartoon.....

Of course it's about Obama's presidency, but I think the cartoon is about Michelle. Look closely rikyrah, the look on her face and his agreeing eyes lead me to believe that she is the leader, the one starting the "revolution" they want you to imagine............

If you read the comments on pages of Obama supporters, during the toughest times of the primary season, you would see folks speaking on behalf his whiteness (it makes him more tolerable to some). Trust, there are many who if they could, would love to have him without her......

Accomplished with her whole black in tact and non-apologetic for it. Raising beautiful bright children who no doubt will also be accomplished strong black women who won't need to apologize for who they are................................

MSNBC's Chris Matthews said, in the course of covering the Obama candidacy, and I'm paraphrasing,
" He (Barack Obama) brings none of the ' bad stuff', you know?"

By 'Bad Stuff', he meant the legacy of enslaving Africans in this country and then keeping them as second-class citizens until 1965, a mere 11 years before this country celebrated its 200th anniversary. So, for 189 years from its official founding as a country, and tack on another 150 years pre-Revolutionary War, and you've got the ' Bad Stuff' done to people of African descent. You know, 'the original sin', or ' the birth defect', as Condi Rice called it.

But, guess what.....despite being ' oh so smart' by supporting Barack Obama, the 'Bad Stuff' smacked White America in the face.

First, with the revelation that his White Side was still involved in 'the bad stuff' (slavery), only as SLAVEOWNERS.

I had a good chuckle on that.

But, also, he comes home every chance he can, to 'the bad stuff'.

To the ' Bad stuff' wife and ' Bad stuff' children he had with said wife.

And there it is: the 400 years of ' Bad stuff', wrapped up in Michelle Obama.

When that came to me on the elliptical machine this morning, it all made sense.

Michelle Obama is a direct threat and lightening bolt against White Superiority.

Because, she's Black...


But, does not, in any way, shape, or form, contour to the acceptable Black Pathologies that enable White Supremacy to sigh with relief.

One of the many reasons why I am thankful for the blog - Michelle Obama Watch - is the diligence of the Administrators to gather any and all writings about Michelle Obama. Having it catalogued in one place, it's a great reference site. From a recent article in London,

Michelle’s pitch is far from sophisticated, playing heavily on her humble beginnings and traditional values: “I was raised in a working-class family on the south Side of Chicago. That’s how I identify myself, a working-class girl,” she has told the voters, time after time.
It helps that she cuts a fine figure on the stump, tall and slender with a hair ‘flip’ reminiscent of Jackie Kennedy. And it does no harm that, while Barack, 46, comes from mixed Kenyan and white parentage, Michelle, 44, is authentically (sic) African-American, giving the Obamas an unmatched breadth of appeal. [...]
Yet even they have failed to scrutinise her seemingly remarkable story, or question how her homely rhetoric, full of jokes about Barack’s domestic failings, squares with the reality.
When The Mail on Sunday went back to the gritty district of Chicago where Michelle LaVaughn Robinson was raised, we found a rather different picture from the one so single-mindedly promoted by Camp Obama.
Instead of the one-room tenement that now appears in most accounts of her upbringing, we found a well-kept neighbourhood of red-brick Arts and Craft-style houses which have long been home to respectable [sic] black families.

Ain't that a bitch?

Michelle wasn't POOR ENOUGH.

Yes, she wasn't 'poor enough'.

See, if Michelle was from:
a) Da Projects
b) Her mother with a handful of children
c) One of them at least revolving in and out of jail
d) Of course, no father to be found
e) Working some demeaning job (maid, janitress, cook, washerwoman, MAMMY)

Then Michelle would be acceptable.

But, Michelle was raised in a neighborhood. In a home. With TWO parents. No child revolving in and out of jail. Raised by a Black man who not only provided for his family, but did so, WITH A DISABILITY. Her mother had a working class job - secretary- but it was taken ONLY after she had seen her youngest child settle into HIGH SCHOOL.

Michelle Obama's poise, her confidence, her aura - that was created by that humble Black man, who by all accounts, adored her. He told her that she worthy, and so, when you have that told to you by the first man who loves and protects you, you seek that validation of that in your choice of the mate, because you'll settle for nothing less, and Michelle hasn't.

You see, Michelle Obama, doesn't fit any of the acceptable Black pathologies. And when you don't fit the acceptable Black pathologies, then you must be destroyed. John Edwards' parents only graduated high school. I don't remember one story about whether Edwards' parents were 'poor enough' to shape his narrative.

For clarification against the article: Her mother and father graduated from high school, and that's it. He got a city job, like a lot of White working class men whose wives stayed at home. Rolling in the dough, they were not. They don't fool me. They don't know one iota of the differences between Black neighborhoods in the least. I know those bungalows; I grew up in one of those bungalows. If you're a family of four living UPSTAIRS in one of them, it's no mansion. It's an apartment. Period.

They're mad that Michelle's not from ' Da Projects', which is all they would qualify as ' typical Black housing'. If you had running water, then suddenly you were rich.

I know the area where Michelle Obama grew up - wasn't no White folks there. No ' integration'. It was called ' White flight'. Remember, Chicago has long been one of THE most segregated cities in the USA. When she was growing up, there was ONE 'integrated' area - it's where she currently lives - Hyde Park. Black folk and White folk don't live side by side in Chicago....not when she was growing up. 'White professionals in the area'....BS.

Michelle Obama is perfectly honest when she says that there's nothing extraordinary about her. She's right on the money with that.

Michelle doesn't have some 'White family' that raised her.
Michelle didn't go to an expensive private school for her education.

She was raised by two Black, average high school graduates, who impressed upon her the importance of education, and that the only way she and her brother wouldn't have to have their parents' lives was to work hard, educated themselves, using the Public School System and whatever extras they could get from it.

Guess what? She, her brother, and scores of other Black folk had the same set of parents - the names were different, they lived in different cities, but they said the same things to THEIR children who also listened to them, and guess what, they were able to take advantage of opportunities that their parents could not have dreamed of when they were young.

These folks were in the shadows; ignored by the MSM, who has only wanted to focus on Black pathology, and never Black success, UNLESS it could be quantified in the category of EXTRAORDINARY. But, these folks were ALWAYS there.

Michelle Obama has become the face of the Black America whose very existence has been denied by this country.

Think about it.

In ONE generation, the Invisible America would have gone from living on the top floor of a bungalow, to living, possibly in The White House.

And, when you have, in your face, an example in Michelle Obama, who refuses to say " I'm special", and thus give you your security blanket, what should be done?

Beat it down and into submission.

Well, I say no.

And Michelle Obama Watch says no.

And Michelle Obama Fan #1, The Black Snob says no.

The Black Progressive Blogosphere says no.

And, why do we say no?

I found this in a reply at Michelle Obama Watch, and thought it was so on the money:


I love Michelle Obama because she represents the African American woman and everything we want our daughters to be. When we as African American women stand up for her we stand up for ourselves. No other women in the world are more neglected and abused as African women period. She looks like my daughter, her daughters look like my daughter and therefore I see my daughter and all that I want her to be. I love the way Barack looks at her and looks at his daughters. The Obamas are the hope for many of us that we can be loved by our men and they will support us in whatever we do. You can tell she is a loved woman and her daughters are loved and we should not only defend her as African American women, but her husband who is the “hope” of this country and little African American girls who need a vision and dream of what it would be like to be loved by a man who looks just like them. Michelle Obama I got your back girl! If we can say no to the Don Imus’ of this world we can say no to anybody calling us outside of who we are as women. We are the ones we have been waiting for….

Jul 6th, 2008

This is why we say no.

Michelle Obama doesn't seem to be ' worthy' enough of defense by the Feminist Establishment, thus their silence on the attacks against the Double Ivy League Degree Professional Woman, Loving Wife and Mother.

So, it's up to us to make that line in the sand. To be the retaining wall against those who would want to wash away everything that makes up the core of Michelle. AS IF there's something wrong with her, and by extension, US - that Invisible Black America.

I conclude this post with a quote by yogo over at Skeptical Brotha. The moment I read it, in May 2007, it touched me to the core. And, seeing as it seems how the attacks on Michelle Obama seem to be escalating, it seems more appropriate now than ever:

I joke a lot about these two, but something sticks out at me about the whole campaign, especially after seeing this interview:

I like her. And not because of any strong this and that, she just seems genuine.

Is America ready for a First Lady who looks like her? A regular black woman? Not a passable biracial curly girl that they call black, but a regular black woman from the south side of Chicago? With dark skin?

Is she going to be the face of The Woman on the largest pedestal in the country? A self-confessled "loud-mouth" black woman?

If they succeed, it turns white supremacy upside down. And not, in my opinion, because a black man is in the White House; it's because a black woman is in there. And she didn't have to come in the back door to lie in bed with the president.


sonya said...

Angry, I don't think Michelle is catching more flack than any other spouse of a democratic presidential candidate. Truth be told, the media, et al, has handled her with kid gloves. Theresa Heinz Kerry, Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards (until she got sick) are all accomplished, intelligent, outspoken women who were vilified for not adhering to the traditional image of a first lady a la Laura Bush and her evil mother-in-law. I cry no tears for Michelle over this as it comes with the territory of today's presidential election politics, and I'm confident that she can handle it.

What I find interesting and far more telling is this nugget from a recent NY Times poll:

There was even racial dissension over Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle: She was viewed favorably by 58 percent of black voters, compared with 24 percent of white voters.

Among black voters, who are overwhelmingly Democrats, Mr. Obama draws support from 89 percent, compared with 2 percent for Mr. McCain.

Thirty-one percent fewer (over one-third) black folks view Michelle favorably as compared to her husband. Hmm. I'm more concerned about what that significant difference means than whatever white folks might think about her.

Like I said on Sugar's blog, I ain't going there, but you can probably guess what my conclusion is.

rikyrah said...

Like I said on Sugar's blog, I ain't going there, but you can probably guess what my conclusion is.

You can 'go there' on this blog.

It's because she looks more Angela Bassett than Beyonce.

Don't forget the poll from last year of Black college students.

17% of Black women ADMITTED preferring a light-skinned mate.

the number for Black men was over 35% but not quite 40%.

In 2007.


Name another Black ' leader' with a wife that looks like Michelle Obama? (failing that paperbag test)

The only one that I can think of is Jesse Jackson, Sr.

The Angry Independent said...

"I don't think Michelle is catching more flack than any other spouse of a democratic presidential candidate.

Oh come on Sonya. You don't see any disparities in the media's treatment of Michelle Obama as compared with other spouses?
You must be wearing your selective vision glasses. You are allowing your support for Hillary Clinton to cloud your view. Hillary Clinton is for the History books. Let it go. The Primary Season is over.

The disparities in coverage have been obvious. Are all of the reports from MichelleObamaWatch & other sources just figments of the imaginations of the millions of people who are noticing these events? I don't think so.

I can't imagine a situation where Cindy McCain, Nancy Reagan, Ladybird Johnson, or Rosalynn Carter would be disrespected the way that Michelle Obama has been.

Nancy Reagan dressed as a terrorist, trapped with an AK-47, slapping Five with Libya's Muammar Gaddafi or having drinks with the Beirut Barracks bombers? Ain't happenin'. The backlash would be swift and brutal.... and editors would have Hell to pay. Images of Betty Ford shooting up, snorting something, or boozing in a MSM story? PLEASE!!!! Because the value of a White First Lady or potential White First Lady is higher....always has been. Their position requires a certain respect that goes without saying, and the MSM has usually obliged without being begged for that respect, or having their arms twisted. But a potential Black First Lady somehow doesn't carry the same weight. The Black female has been so devalued (largely by American pop culture and Hip Hop culture) that these White editors don't feel the same taboo regarding "going there". The red and yellow lights in their brains just don't activate when dealing with minorities, to tell them that some of this nonsense is probably not a good idea.

Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Reagan and all the others have always been off limits.... it was taboo to even consider this kind of nonsense for them. The "traditional" First Ladies have always had walls built around them that the mainstream media rarely dared to violate.

And I think it is because Obama is the first Black candidate with a real shot at winning (although I still believe the odds are in McCain's favor. I'm from the "Show Me" State. I'll believe all of this when I see Obama sitting in the Oval office.) Being a Black man, the media is not going to afford him the same respect regarding boundaries. The MSM believes that it is ok to go after his wife & family with negative attacks....because unfortunately being Black doesn't demand the kind of respect that Obama would get otherwise.

What do you Hillary supporters have against Obama? I mean really. Especially Black Hillary supporters. This is a woman (a family) that hasn't done a damn thing for you.

Are you planning to stay home or vote for McCain? That seems to be the two choices of a few White Hillary supporters. But I didn't realize that there were so many Black anti- Obama folks.

I'm not a blind Obama supporter. Obama isn't perfect....but he's definitely better than the alternative- John McBush. He's a politician (who is forced to play the game based on the rules as they are written at the moment). He represents a choice between two evils (like all American politicians from one of the two major parties). Although Obama is one of the most non-establishment candidates in a long time...and is definitely the lesser of the two evils. Hillary would have provided a choice between two Republicans. The lesser of two evils would have been harder to determine if Clinton were the nominee. Obama represents a clearer choice for those who want the lesser evil.

Deedlelee said...


You said it all. Michelle O looks like my sister, cousin, aunt, mother and friend. We all grew up in 2 parent homes in West Baltimore. Most of us grew up in bungalows (hence my dream owning one someday). Our upbringing wasn't exceptional. My dad was a chauffeur for Black and Decker; my mom was a church secretary. All of my friends grew up this way, so I totally identify with Michelle O. We weren't the exception, we were just regular folk. Regular working folk.

This is why I will always defend Michelle; she is me, and I am her.
I had a cabbie tell me one day M.O. wasn't authentically black. I asked him to explain; he basically said the same things I said, bur his twist on it was because she had these "advantages," she wasn't authentically black.

I was stunned.

He was my age ( mid 40s), so when I challenged him in on it, he listened quietly, but I could tell he had already made up his mind: he bought into the same perception of M.O. that you describe in your commentary.

It is a shame that we are so divided within our own community that we cannot at least smile at the possibility of having a "regular black family" in the White House.

sonya said...

angry, in your "rant" at me, you cite the cover of the New Yorker, which was supposed to be satire, designed to show the ridiculous nature of bigots and those who hold derogatory views of the Obamas based on lies and innuendo. I don't consider that an attack against Michelle, but reasonable people can disagree.

Moreover, it doesn't negate my larger point that in the current political climate the wives of DEMOCRATIC presidential nominees have been subjected to unfair media treatment. This is probably bcause these women have tended to be far more fascinating and, dare I say, exhibited greater leadership qualities than their husbands, including Michelle Obama to her credit. I rermember how the media and talking heads told Theresa Heinz Kerry to shut up and called her a foul-mouthed, America-hating foreigner. Hillary was ridiculed for her looks and refusal to give up her career, etc. As first lady, she was accused of murder among other things.

In my post I brought up the vilification of Hillary when she was a a potential and actual first lady and made no reference to her as a senator or presidential candidate, so please don't state as fact that I'm unable to render an opinion about her separate from my support of her presidential campaign when I've given you no reason for such an assertion.

I am not Star Jones said...

michelle is catching more hell than Laura Bush and she accidentally killed someone.

But she's catching as much as hell as hillary because they do represent the same type of woman to many American minds:

women who are smart, ambitious and capable.

I feel Michelle is strong enough to survive this (otherwise Barack would not be running)and I'm so thrilled that this has happened in my lifetime
for many reasons but this is one of them:

people are showing their azzes big time and you know what? we can't go back after this....all the isms are out from supposed friends and known foes and now is the time to keep exposing, talking and handling the issues the best way we know how...
with intelligence, passion, integrity.