Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Salon's 1-2 Hit Job on Michelle Obama

The mis-education about the Negro continues.  Now that Michelle is slated to be our next First Lady she's being set up to represent all Black women and our fortunes may rise or fall with her. We can argue against it (we are individuals) or deny it (she's working class and not a socialite) but I'd rather tackle this head on. Of course we're responsible for our own lives and having Michelle as FLOTUS isn't going to wave a magic wand and turn us all into Cinderella at the ball. This should be just the beginning of many First Ladies of Color. This should be the realization for Black women that we can remove all barriers for any who doubted. This should be the established precedent for those that would think less of us. That time is over. She has been positioned well and isn't a creation of the entertainment industry. She will be an icon! 

Now comes the maintenance. We can try to ignore the media coverage at our own peril. There's discussion about whether the Obamas sending their daughters to private school is a good thing. As if putting them in substandard schools is an option. Now Salon is taking it's cues from Fox News. 

Last week Salon writer Rebecca Traister poo-poo'd that poor Michelle has to give up her career to be a 'mere' mother and wife in the "Momification of Michelle Obama":
"In all the worrying about how Sasha and Malia will adjust to having their lives turned upside down, in all the fretting about how Obama will move his Chicago-style shop to Washington, why is there so little curiosity about how Michelle will adjust to the loss of her own private, very successful, very high-profile and very independent identity? How will Michelle Obama feel as she becomes what she has long resisted -- an extension of her husband?"
What loss of identity? The Obamas are in a very unique position. As for the rest of us, it's my understanding a lot of women would love to stay at home and raise their children but can't for financial reasons. Other women want to pursue a challenging career path. It's not about the 'right' choice it's about being able to make the 'best' choice as you see fit, not society. This is one of the arguments for those that oppose feminism in theory as being a cause for the destruction of the family structure. Individual pursuit at the expense of everything and everyone else. That in no way fits Michelle Obama.

Besides the majority of Black women have not had these options historically. We were feminists before the term was coined, not from a need to be 'liberated' from oppressive men and not to follow our bliss. It was for survival and it was not fun. Also can I add that raising children is not easy.  The writer is thinking from a prism of white female privilege and a particular class structure to lament another woman's choices as if she were the rightful authority on how Michelle (and other women) should live.

Michelle is not interested in using her husband's political currency to cash in on her own. She will not try to insert herself into his administration. Barack has shown solid moral leadership so far and has not embarrassed his family with public indiscretions. Though they may share a political party, the Obamas are not the Kennedys and they're certainly not the Clintons. As anyone with two eyes can see Barack and Michelle adore each other. I don't think she's suffering, lol!

To add insult to injury, now it's all about her boo-tay. In an article by Erin Aubry Kaplan titled, "First Lady Got Back" (no - seriously) she writes:
"But what really thrills me, what really feels liberating in a very personal way, is the official new prominence of Michelle Obama. Barack's better half not only has stature but is statuesque. She has corruscating intelligence, beauty, style and -- drumroll, please -- a butt. (Yes, you read that right: I'm going to talk about the first lady's butt.)"
Somehow because she's a Black woman we're supposed to give her a pass for writing this drivel?! I don't think so. Imagine if a man had written this, a white man. Would all of you who think this is nothing still be okay with the article as is? You're not gonna convince me. Why? I have two words in response: Hottentot Venus. It will never be okay to reduce a woman to her body parts - and definitely not the First Lady - but if you're a Black woman any such deference goes out the window of course. This is the epitome of raciallized sexism. I can recall Salon contributor Joan Walsh made it a point to decry sexism during the primary season and state it was the most virulent form of oppression out there. 

So we can see the newest tactic to be deployed in racial arson will be not just come from whites but will also include other Blacks (pseudo-intellegentsia, haters, contrarians, slave catchers and lawn jockeys). We will use social media to bring light to and counterbalance any attacks. Why? It's for our own good. We need to join together and not just protect what's going on with the First Family but pool our resources to determine our futures collectively so they are the best they can be.

In case you disagree and think this is harmless here's the response from Joan Walsh.
"I have loved Erin Aubry Kaplan’s writing since before I joined Salon, and I’m proud of this piece. If having a black president and first lady is going to narrow what we talk about, wow, that would be sad. But I promise it won’t — at least not on Salon." 
So there you have it. Joan Walsh already wrote a piece earlier this year where she called Barack "uppity". It's open season on the First Family. If we ignore it we can expect further denigration of Michelle and by extension other Black women. Up yours Joan Walsh and Salon. I'm not going to stand by and let the most prominent woman in the country be reduced to a someone's idea of a misguided cowed woman or a body part.

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Miz JJ said...

Excellent post and analysis. I am completed disgusted with Salon right now and their attempts to brush it all under the table. Especially when their broadsheet all white woman pannel essentially dismissed all criticism as well. Well, if the white women say it is ok then it *must* be ok. Whatever to that notion and to Salon.

Faith at Acts of Faith Blog said...

Well I forced myself to listen to an interview with Erin Kaplan on BlogTalk radio and thought she was unapologetic and flippant about the entire blowback. I will agree that having some conversation of the shape of Black women in context to seeing one in the White House is a conversation we should have. I also agree we need to finally start exalting Black women in the media. But, why no talk about the negative imagery in music videos? Why have this in Salon of all places? Also some who don't see a problem with the article are very opposed to the idea of a similar article being written by a white person. So if a white man can't write an article about how glad he is to see a Black booty in the White House perhaps Black people need to realize once that door has been opened they can't control who comes in!!