I was over at Mirror on America reading an interesting report from Rikyrah; one of the site's contribitors. She wrote a post promoting a new site "Michelle Obama Watch"; created to "...monitor the media’s treatment and depiction of Michelle Obama..." The site was established by Gina McCauley at the popular blog What About Our Daughters .
After emailing a link to Rikyrah's page to some of my fellow Obama supporters (many of whom were women), some of them gave me flack for a response I posted on her page. When referring to the Michelle Obama Watch site, I said the following:
I hope this campaign to 'protect' Michelle will be successful. Lord knows, she will need it.
In the interest of "keepin' it real", we live in a pretty shallow and vacuous society that does indeed call for its leaders (including spouses and children) to fit a certain model in order to gain acceptance and validation. In that respect, Michelle's tough, no nonsense, and forced smile approach might just be an Achilles' heel to Sen. Obama's campaign when it's deemed to be the antithesis of what folks would consider socially graceful. That's not a diss on Michelle from my end. But to expect the hick in W. Virginia or the bigoted old white man in the deep south to see Michelle's strength and NOT interpret that as a negative attribute is a stretch.
I mean, even Laura Bush smiled while she delivered a pretty icy reply to Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondents Dinner (I admit, I'm not sure if she said what everybody thinks she said, but the rumors have gone uncontroverted...)
I guess my ultimate point is: sometimes our identities need to be compromised...nay...softened if we want to successfully enter arenas predominately populated by superficiality. Essentially we have to "fit in to get in." This is especially true for the person who stands to be the country's first lady.
To be sure, I like Michelle Obama. I especially love what she represents: a strong black woman who climbed the ladder of success but remained devoted to her family in the process. But my liking her doesn't blind me to the reality that she will prove to be a weak spot in Barack Obama's campaign over the next few months. It's an unfortuate reality. But it is reality nonetheless.
Joslyn sent me a text yesterday reminding me of the story that made its was all over the internet (most notably in the black blogosphere) about Fox News referring to Michelle Obama as Barack's "Baby Momma." Initially, I was pretty upset about this. Not suprised, but certainly upset. This was textbook exploitation by Fixed Noise. But then I recounted a story where Michelle openly referred to Barack as her "baby's daddy." For the uninitiated, the term "baby daddy" was derived from a rap song released at the time by B Rock And The Bizz. Please forgive me for actually posting this, but I needed to so I could provide some context:
I'm sorry you had to see that. But I'm even more sorry that stuff like this is often the more portrayed aspect of black culture.
I've always maintained that black professionals are typically given an unfair charge to table our individualism to gain a certain level of social validation. As it stands, I challenge Michelle to do just that. Not to be confused with shufflin' and dancin' fo Mista Charlie, there are some activities that should never make their way to the light if you're a black person trying to accomplish the ultimate in mainstream validation: winning the Presidency of the United States. Truth be told: I'm not as critical about the Obama pound. I thought that was pretty cool (plus, if you get too critical of that, you must also go after Bush for chest-bumping a cadet during a graduation ceremony). But I am critical of (and concerned about) Michelle barely cracking a smile in front of the cameras, referring to a potential POTUS as her "baby's daddy" (as opposed to "the father of her children", which doesn't carry the same urban ties that apparently scare white folks), or any number of her antics that scream "I don't care what the world thinks." While it's pretty refreshing to see somebody so bold and committed to "keepin' it real", as an educated woman she should know that such boldness is not without consequence. As comedian Dave Chapelle joked, sometimes keepin' it real can go very, very very wrong.