Monday, June 22, 2009

She's Michelle Obama, not Huxtable

After reading the second paragraph of Robin Givhan's weekend story in the Washington Post about Michelle Obama, I had to manually prevent my eyeballs from rolling into the back of my head:

So far, the first lady has chosen to be a food bank volunteer with an outsize entourage and an education activist with the largest soapbox imaginable. But Michelle Obama also fills a role that is not of her choosing but that may, in fact, be the most influential: She serves as a symbol of middle-class progress, feminist achievement, affirmative action success and individual style.

And she has done all this on the world stage . . . while being black.

Thank goodness for Bill Cosby and Co. Otherwise, I doubt any of us Negroes would have ever known how to act in public.

But really, the audience for Givhan's piece is clearly people who don't know black people or know anything about them other than what they see on TV. Because if they did, they would know that Michelle Obama is no alien, no anomaly, no actor.

Indeed, Michelle Obama could be your mom, your next-door neighbor, your elementary-school teacher, your attorney. She's an actual human being, and she didn't grow up feral on some remote island. I think it's safe to say Michelle Obama didn't "become a symbol of middle-class progress" all on her lonesome - her older brother was also an Ivy League grad, after all.

Maybe this is foreign to some people but I've known Michelle Obamas and Claire Huxtables all my life. Hundreds of them. And I didn't have to watch TV to figure that out.


maria said...

she wrote that? she did all this "WHILE BEING BLACK?"

that's outrageous. robin is black herself. what would people say if a white writer wrote this?

what do we say now? it's nuts.

someone needs to bring this to the wapo ombudsman's attention. thanks for bringing it to mine. i rarely read the post. even tho i pay for it.

blackink said...

Yeah. That piece was, to be charitable, flawed.

It presupposes that being black is some sort of obstacle to be overcome.

I dunno ... I just don't feel that way. And while Michelle Obama is a special woman, she's special in a way that a lot of people aren't. Black or white or brown or whatever.