Black Women and Michelle Obama

Article in the Washington Post today: The Very Image of Affirmation.

This is one of our bonuses in the Obama Administration.  People will see a different image of black men through Obama.  They are going to see a different image of black women through Michelle, and they are going to see a different image of black families through the Obama family.  What makes their image so powerful is that they’re real.  They are a real family that deals with real life.  Living in the White House is a far from typical experience, but they remain real people with whom others can and will identify.  This is powerful stuff.

Some notable quotes:

From Aziza Gibson-Hunter:

“I think Michelle Obama is her own woman. I think people with the stereotype thing need to get over it. She is forcing people who have never taken the time to know who we are as black women to take a second look. To actually see, for once in their life, that there are black women that are brilliant and graceful, intelligent, well spoken and have their own sense of themselves. And it doesn’t have to be measured up to anyone else.”

The Obamas will also serve as a role model for black families and male/female relationships.  Although it’s not nearly as pronounced or divisive as that within the Asian American community, there also exists a gender divide in the black community:

Alice M. Thomas, a 45-year-old professor at Howard University School of Law, said the Obama marriage should help redefine the image of black relationships.

With his election night tribute to Michelle as “the love of my life, your next first lady,” Thomas said, the president-elect crowned all black women: “He had a humble enough spirit to concede the stage to her. . . . It elevated black women in a way we haven’t been elevated since antiquity: Queen Hatshepsut, Queen Nzinga, Cleopatra, Nefertiti. World leaders came seeking them, admiring their beauty. They were not just beautiful, they were intelligent.

“For him to regard her and treat her and show and express unabashedly, unashamedly, his love for her, his love for her intelligence, respecting her, romancing her, smiling at her — for the world to see that exchange between a powerful black man and a powerful black woman, I think it’s what is everlasting about this,” Thomas said. “I don’t think we can point to another power black couple like that. Oprah and Stedman aren’t married. And Stedman doesn’t seem to have power. Nelson and Winnie broke up.”

5 thoughts on “Black Women and Michelle Obama

  1. The new administration represents a sense of “realness” for all different cultures. Varied cultures go through real struggles and hardships that most ‘whites’ will never understand. It’s a different type of hardship that is undergone in this country. For the Obamas, the achievement of being in the white house represents the success of many layers of oppression. And there’s a lot of hope in change riding on him for the future. It also represents an elevation for all oppressed and/or underprivileged people.

  2. We’re already seeing how just their presence alone on the world stage is breaking stereotypes. It’s great that they’re doing this just by being themselves. They’re a future First Family, of course, and one probably wouldn’t expect them to be “normal” by any stretch, but it’s cool that they’re there.

  3. Argh, my original post got accidentally erased, so I’ll try my best to recall what I wrote…

    “The Obamas will also serve as a role model for black families and male/female relationships. Although it’s not nearly as pronounced or divisive as that within the Asian American community, there also exists a gender divide in the black community:”

    I don’t think the gender divide between Asian-American men and women are as “pronounced” or “divisive” as you mentioned above. Are you attributing the IR disparity to this gender divide? Same thing with the lack of or misrepresentation of AA men versus women?

    Before furthering this discussion about the gender divide, I’d like for you to elaborate more.

    And congrats on your new bundle of joy!

  4. Hey Davin’s Mom,

    Nice to meet you! I have a feeling there are lots of moms here. Did you come from Mama Nabi’s site?

    Thanks also for your congrats on our baby. Every bit of encouragement helps when I’m semi-comatose most of these days from the lack of sleep!

    When I talked about the gender divide, I was in fact talking about IR. As THX (and Jeff Yang) mentions here, “No discussion of Asian American gender relations and sexuality could go without addressing what Jeff Yang has called the third rail of Asian American politics: the IR issue…” During the teleconference, King4aDay, who is black, kept mentioning that he was shocked that the issue of gender kept coming up in all his discussions with Asian Americans. King said that it was a big deal in the black community, but not nearly as big as it seemed to be in the AA community. Having been in on numerous discussions with both Asian Americans and non-Asian Americans, I’d agree.

    In my quote above, I followed my mention of gender divide with a quote by a black woman talking about the respect for black women by a black man. This kind of mutual relationship does exist within our community, but I think we’re far more fragmented. On the female side, we see lots of stuff that props of white men like Asiance; on the male side, we’re now seeing sexism like this. It gets even worse when we talk about AA celebrities and the stuff that comes out of their mouths.

    Does this make sense?

    Incidentally, I mention the gender divide mostly as a way to bring up a topic that we can all work together to eliminate.

  5. I don’t know how pronounced the gender divide is in the Asian American community, but I’m fairly sure that it exists. Many issues like debates about IR relationships or even pick-up artists are just symptoms of this underlying problem.

    And for the most part, this gender divide has not been dealt with fully or effectively, as it can sometimes unleash explosive anger from all sides involved….

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