Message to Michelle Obama: Honesty and Politics Do Not Mix (Or Black Girl, Know Your Place!)

BlogHer Original Post

At a rally in Milwaukee last weekend, Michelle Obama did something that apparently is very rare in the political arena (and apparently something a Black woman should never, ever do in public) – giving her honest opinion when speaking to potential voters for her husband. Here is the offending gaffe:

"Hope is making a comeback and, let me tell you, for the first time in my adult life I am really proud of my country. Not just because Barack is doing well, but I think people are hungry for change….. And let me tell you something. I need to believe that we live in that kind of nation, where hope and possibility and unity is still what drives us.”

What is the problem? you are probably asking yourself. And why is Laina yet again, bringing up race?

Here she is explaining her remarks.

The problem is, is that the above statement was deemed ‘unpatriotic’; that a) she was previously not a proud ‘American’ and b) she was only now proud of the ‘land of the free’ – you know - the country with all ‘dem folks who boast about their‘Freedom of Speech’ and all that stuff – because her Black husband actually has a chance of becoming president. And no, I wasn’t the first person to interject race. Apparently, what some are so miffed at is that what she was actually saying that she has a chip on her shoulder ‘cause she Black and all, and therefore disrespected folks (i.e all the Americans she should be groveling to).

A member of the American Disabled Veterans group, in turn, accused Mrs Obama of racism.
"Ms Obama, your comments are nothing short of unpatriotic, racist and downright shameful," he wrote.
Cindy McCain, the wife of the Republican frontrunner John McCain, also waded into the controversy.
"I am proud of my country. I don't know about you? If you heard those words earlier, I am very proud of my country."

How dare she!

In Fear of a Black First Lady Thought Merchant looks at the prevailing stereotype that exists about African-American’s inherent unpatriotism:

An objective person might ask, “What is the big deal about that statement?” The “big deal” is only recognized if one understands America’s racist history of attempting to portray African Americans as “unpatriotic.” This constant onslaught on the sensibilities of Black people and their American identity is a direct result of the true ignorance most Americans have about the history of Black people in the United States.I

....In other words, Michelle Obama projects the aura of an intelligent Harvard trained, Princeton educated attorney with the confident strength, poise, and razor sharp honesty of a Black women who has navigated through the mean streets of Chicago’s South Side unscathed. This is not the biography of the recent Stepford wives that have occupied the roll of First Lady.

Furthermore, one can contend that Michelle Obama even trumps the Yale Law school educated First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who though was perhaps the first “professional” to be First Lady, never dealt with the reality of being a Black women growing up in the Chicago streets while still academically excelling beyond the expectations of many from her origins.”

The worse response came from Mr. Passive-Aggressive, Bill O’Reilly, who said:

That's wrong. And I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels - that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down.

And if your investigation reveals that she is unpatriotic, then you will lynch her?

If you are confused about the voracity of O’Reilly’s statement, read Strange Fruit Hanging from the Poplar Trees.

Yes, I’m saying it again, it is good that the subject of race is being discussed – okay, so in this case, it’s pretty screwed up. But it gives us an indication of the problems that still exist in society – in particular, the blowback over a Black woman’s opinion that went against the status quo belief of what an ‘American’ should be – in deep denial, I guess. Let’s take it a bit further: her rather innocuous struck at the fact that the legacy of African-American’s struggles in the country, making her husband’s ‘color blind’ campaign the farce that a lot of us cynics always believed it was. People want to vote for Obama because of his JFK-ishness, maybe to alleviate their liberal guilt…or maybe so angry Blacks will shut up about racism and inequalities. She touched a nerve yet did so unwittingly, but her remarks, which if a white man said the same thing would have never garnered such media attention, were exacerbated because of her gender and her ethnicity.

Just remember though – Michelle did not bring up the race card – the rest of us did.


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