THE OBENSON REPORT

Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

Michelle Obama Reintroduces Herself

If you haven't seen it - today's New York Times features a profile of Michelle Obama, the first of its kind I believe. The article is rather terse but clearly wants to endear its subject to its readers, painting a picture of the next first lady (yes, she will be) that counters much of the fear-filled rumor mongering that Obama opponents have, and continue to generate and distribute.

Indeed, she must have read Deepak Chopra's post on beliefnet.com about the quagmire that is "truth in politics," as she attempts to reintroduce herself to America, as the New York Times piece intimates - essentially accentuating her more disarming qualities.

The "angry black woman" label that right-wing pundits have blessed her with (Fox News notably) obviously needs to be combatted, and an article like this one is a punch thrown in the right direction.


Then again, it is the New York Times, a publication many feel carries an unabashedly liberal bias. HOWEVER, it's called a national newspaper of record for a reason.

In closing, the fact that she needs to "soften" her image is understandable given the manner in which our laughable electoral process works, yet it annoys me. This "double-consciousness dance" that blacks in this country (in this case those running for political office) have to do is like a contemporary form of minstrelsy - doing the jig is still a requirement for acceptance into mainstream American society.
Be honest, just don't be too honest. Yes, you faced a lifetime of overt and covert racism, leaving you with battle scars that still sting even when lightly stroked or tickled, but just don't let that affect the person that you are or become. Or even if you do, keep that face and voice hidden from public display, especially when seeking the affirmation of the oppressive, oblivious majority.

Bleh...

You can read the entire story HERE.

7 comments:

  1. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    Theirs will be an interesting tenure in the White House. After all, there's only so much minstrelsy you can do when you're running a country!

  2. The Obenson Report said...
     

    Yup, interesting indeed. I think there are probably a lot of scared white people out there - half of them in West Virginia and Kentucky :o)

  3. Thordaddy said...
     

    Obenson,

    So Michelle Obama has been on the receiving end of a lifetime of "covert" and "overt" racism, but it is the right-wingers that have given her the "angry black woman" label?

    So you complain of a truthful, although incomplete, description of Michelle Obama even as you lament about her changed act. If she is not an "angry black woman" then why change her act? And if she has received a lifetime of racism then why dispute the "angry black woman" label?

    Are you analyzing this truthfully?

  4. The Obenson Report said...
     

    Thordaddy - you're missing the point and spirit of my post. In a way, your questions are answering themselves. People like the Obamas, in the position they are in, have to walk a very thin rope. For them, being black in this country requires a delicate balancing act. I understand her need to "change her act" - it's politics - that's the name of the game - her husband is running for the most important office in the land, and they essentially come as a package. So, she has to be, in essence, a manufactured version of herself, in order to appease voters. She can't be her complete self, rage and all. And that's what I feel is unfortunate and what I lament.

    Also, it's worth noting that labels like "angry black woman" or "angry black man" are simplistic, dismissive and insulting, and I'd rather do away with them entirely.

  5. Thordaddy said...
     

    Obenson,

    But that is the critical question...? Does either one of these individuals really have the right to be full of rage just because they're black?

  6. The Obenson Report said...
     

    Thordaddy - you're moving into another territory with that last question.

    The automatic implication isn't that she is "full of rage" solely because she is black. Nothing in my post implies that. The point, which I think you're still missing, is that she will not be "allowed" to display ANY rage/anger about anything whatsoever regardless of intensity - especially if it's race-related in any way.

    To rage is human. We all have rage inside of us, regardless of our ethnic backgrounds. The source of our rage varies from person to person. But there is a difference between rage and just plain old honesty/realism - and Americans have shown that they don't necessarily want honesty - especially when it exposes certain harsh truths about race/class relations in this country - the big old elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about, but somehow expect to just disappear on its own.

    A black woman in her position... or a black man in Obama's position, once again, will have to essentially mask ANY rage they feel, especially if it has anything to do with race/racism, whether it's their experience or someone else's experience. Any comments in that vain, no matter how casual, will be seen as raging and divisive. They will not be able to freely and honestly express themselves as casually as you and I can. They'll have to pick and choose their words carefully. Essentially, they will not be "allowed" to be human!

    There's a reason why Obama had to disconnect himself from the likes of Reverend Wright - the so-called "angry black preacher" - even though he probably shared some of Wright's sentiments. But he won't be allowed to acknowledge that, because it will be political suicide - the GOP and its supporters will have a field day!

    Like I said, it's all a game, and if they want to win, they have to play along.

    As the wife of a man running for the office of President, Michelle will have to remain mostly subdued - essentially keep her mouth shut as I'm sure a lot of people would like to tell her - or risk being wrongfully labeled as the proverbial "angry black woman," (a label others placed on her, not one that she assumed) alienating potential voters. Everything she says and does from here on will be analyzed and criticized, no matter how minor. That's just the way these things go... unfortunately.

  7. Thordaddy said...
     

    Obenson,

    I'm not missing your points. Your points are incoherent wrapped in contradiction.

    Your points are as follows:

    1. Michelle Obama is the victim of a lifetime of "covert" and "overt" racism.

    2. The GOP (read right-wing conservatives) gave Michelle Obama the "angry black woman" label.

    3. Michelle Obama can't express her true self and has to have a media makeover in order to gain power.

    4. These things dismay you.

    The dismay is in your flawed understanding of reality.

    The "angry black woman" label is the expression of Michelle Obama herself. Right-wingers are merely putting in to words what liberals already acknowledge. Something has to give in this scenario.

    It is Mrs. Obama's liberals allies that are advising her to "soften up" her imagine in an attempt to cover-up what we already now know. They are acknowledging the "angry black woman."

    If we are to believe in your assessment of the oppression and racism that Mrs. Obama has endured then you have acknowledged the "angry black woman" that only right-wingers dare to name.

    You are just playing politics like the Democrats as they attempt another hoodwink of "ignant white foke."

    The "angry black woman" may not be the entire truth about Mrs. Obama, but it is surely her essence.

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