Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barack's Achilles' Heel..?

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.
At any rate: Back to the post...

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.

If Michelle is not careful, she could very well lose this thing for Barack. But that's just what I think. What say you?

- ACL

11 "Insiders" spoke their mind. Join in...:

The H.C. said...

Hey Dre,
I wouldn't spend much time worrying about what the Republicans will do to Michelle Obama. If this is their tact, I say let them go ahead with it. I read it as a loser. Attacks on your spouse gives you the opportunity to react as the noble protector of your family (which plays well for you, not the attacker.) Barack should simply wait till it hits an unacceptable level then say, "Do what you want to me, I'm running for office and I will respond to all attacks. However, attacking my family is not going to be tolerated. These underhanded tactics are what you would expect from someone that doesn't want to discuss the real problems facing this nation. I want to have that debate but I will no longer tolerate attacks on my wife or my children." This makes you look good at the same time that it makes your attackers look weak and dishonorable. I say, "Bring it on."

Cynthia said...

Dre, you know that I've been on your side as far as I can remember. But I offended by your idea that we -- black women especially -- have to compromise our identity just to appease the greater society. Karl Rove does some ridiculous rap and nobody says a word. George Bush is considered a president people "can have a beer with" and nobody utters a sound. Even Barack can go on a talk show and dance and not get so much as a second look. Yet the right (and you as one of their defenders) can question Michelle's social grace because of how direct and "real" she is. As I said, I'm with you on most things. But in this case, you've gone a little too far out there for me. What can I say? I'm "keepin' it real."

I can't remember if you said you had a girlfriend or not. But if you do, please don't let her see this post. She'll put you in the doghouse for a year.

GA girl said...

Fox News is free to offer legitimate arguments about the Obamas and their political views on things, but this attack is one of the lowest I've seen them stoop. Andre, I'm disturbed that you would buy into Fox News' deliberately racist and shameful innuendos.

Saved sinner said...

Wow! This has got to go down as one of the most blantantly racist displays I've EVER seen in my life.

KC said...

"Wow! This has got to go down as one of the most blantantly racist displays I've EVER seen in my life."

This is Fox News. Were you expecting anything different? I can only imagine how outraged conservatives would be if CNN reported about Cindy McCain being John's "booty call". Fox News is the devil.

Andre said...

@ HC: I trust that Barack will be there in defense of his wife; like any good man would do for his woman. But you can't discount the damage those attack dogs from the right can do on would-be converts or moderate Dems looking to find a chink in Obama's armour. If they can't find anything of substance against Barack, they've got plenty from Michelle. For that matter, I'd tell Sashia and Melia to do well in school. The right is just sick enough to attack them as well.

@ Cyn: "But I offended by your idea that we -- black women especially -- have to compromise our identity just to appease the greater society."

Cyn, I hate the idea too. But it happens. Not my choice of design for the world, but that's how it is.

"Karl Rove does some ridiculous rap and nobody says a word. George Bush is considered a president people "can have a beer with" and nobody utters a sound. Even Barack can go on a talk show and dance and not get so much as a second look."

I feel that. But in the greater circle, these men (perhaps by male privilege) will never be defined by those acts. Michelle's tough and agressive personality will always be seen by unenlightened folks as unbecoming for a woman and -- for the loons -- unpatriotic. Again, it's a crappy reality. But it is reality. That's the hand we're dealt.

"I can't remember if you said you had a girlfriend or not. But if you do, please don't let her see this post. She'll put you in the doghouse for a year."

Well, I don't have a girlfriend. But I hope that my future girlfriend (whomever that might be) will put with my inept ministrations because my candor is a refreshing recognition of reality. I'm just sayin...

@ GA girl: I think it's unfair for you to assume that I personally "bought in" to Fox's lunacy. But just because I didn't (nor will I ever) doesn't mean that the person who actually considers Fox News legitimate won't. That's my point.

@ Saved: No argument there, Rob.

@ KC: "I can only imagine how outraged conservatives would be if CNN reported about Cindy McCain being John's "booty call"."

Fixed Noise's double standards are blantantly obvious.

Josh said...

Andre,

Obviously you and I very seldomly agree on things. But I commend you for the courage you had to post this even when you stood to be unpopular for it. On top of that, I ABSOLULTELY agree with you.

Although I'm conservative, I'm not one of the closeminded types represented by old bigots in the south or rednecks who refuse change. Being the case, I can look past the media's attacks and exploits on Michelle Obama and see a strong wife, mother, and overall human. But I also saw some of her train wrecks e.g. when she made the comment about finally being proud of her country. I knew what she was trying to say (being proud of a country who is FINALLY pushing for more change). But I also knew how most conservatives would respond. They didn't disappoint.

If Barack wants to win this, he needs to keep Michelle out of the picture as much as Hillary needed to get Bill Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro out of the picture.

Anonymous said...

Andre, I'm sorry man; but this is a ridiculous post. I stand on that. I can't believe that somebody as intelligent and level-headed as you could be making such misguided and negative comments. You'll have to explain to me how Michelle shucking and jiving is not what you're proposing she do.

Andre said...

@ Anonymous: What you may see as "ridiculous", I see as reality. When you consider the unfavorably polls Michelle has been winning, I'm not making any of this up. Barack is in a position -- unfair, in my opinion -- where his campaign will be defined by Michelle far more than John will with Cindy. I mean, Cindy McCain is a pill-popping socialite and hasn't received nearly as much criticism. But then again, McCain doesn't have nearly the "rock star" status that Barack has; accomplished mostly because of his message of hope/change. But being a polished and refined politician helps. Michelle's 'roughness' stands in the way of that. So the process Obama has to take to continue being a rock star is monumentally different than John; mostly because Cindy doesn't stand as much of a chance of ruining McCain's campaign.

Cynthia said...

Dre, I just heard that Michelle Obama will be a co-host on the View. So much for your gaining "social validation" theory. No offense.

Cynthia said...

Don't take that shot wrong. You know I've got nothing but love for you. I just think you're wrong on this one.