Did you notice. . .?

Many have expressed eternal gratitude for the role the Obama’s have played in our lives – both political and personal. I, for one, am certainly grateful. The spoken & unspoken solidarity amongst those whose love for the First Family is unwavering is most comforting.

With that, I found the 2016 White House Correspondents Dinner to be notable.

Amicable, though predictable.

The political giants got their spot in the limelight and both the First Lady and The President received the necessary attention warranted for their hard work and diligence for their terms.

I want to first point out that when I say “their terms” I in fact mean the hard work that both Barack and Michelle Obama have fostered since 2009, upon entering office.

Michelle Obama has become one of the biggest role models for girls in the United States and of course all around the globe. Her accolades are limitless and include graduation from Princeton University, graduation from Harvard Law School, serving as a lawyer, assistant commissioner of planning and development in Chicago’s City Hall, founding executive director of the Public Allies (Chicago), Associate Dean of Student Services at the University of Chicago and much more.

In the White House, she focused on four initiatives that have impacted and continue to impact the daily lives of American citizens.The Let’s Move initiative set out to eradicate the problems that the nation faces with childhood obesity. Joining Forces set out to ensure that service members have the resources they need to succeed as everyday citizens. Reach Higher is Mrs. Obama’s initiative that inspires students to seek education post high school through technical training or education at a community college or four year college/university.

In April, I participated in Obama’s Reach Higher, College Signing Day by repping my alma matter.img_6225

The initiative that speaks to me most is Let Girls Learn. It’s no secret that I’m a (black) feminist first, most days. And, as cliche as it may seem, I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that education is the key to everything. It is my duty, it is my pleasure, it is my moral obligation to help ensure that children have the opportunity to receive the excellent education that they deserve.

It hurts me to my core that 62 million girls around the world don’t have access to education.

Let Girls Learn’s mission is to both educate and empower girls (and women) to go and stay in school. Can’t argue with that.

So, I was a little annoyed about the representation of Mrs. Obama post and during the White House Correspondents Dinner.

President Obama called Michelle his brilliant and beautiful wife. Once Obama joked about his aging, he noted that his wife, “Michelle has not aged a day.”  

The piece that hurt the most was Obama noting that “As for me and Michelle, we’ve decided to stay in D.C. for a couple more years. (Applause.) Thank you. This way, our youngest daughter can finish up high school, Michelle can stay closer to her plot of carrots. (Laughter.) She’s already making plans to see them every day. Take a look.”

Though Michelle is certainly gorgeous and a fashion icon, in her own right – there is so much more to her than her Givenchy dress and a plot of vegetables.

Google (actually, do this), “Michelle Obama whcd 2016.” Take note of what you see.

I’m not surprised, not a bit. Annoyed though, quite.

So when I hear/read that Michelle Obama is a role model, I wonder what that means. And, why?

Which part of Michelle Obama are we speaking of when we are talking about her as a role model?

Are we talking about Michelle Obama who just so happens to be the black woman who sits beside the President of the United States and lives in the White House?

Are we talking about Harvard Law School Graduate Michelle?

Are we talking about the Michelle that manages to defy all of the negative stereotypes perpetuated about African Americans in society through her style and grace?

Tall Michelle with the high cheekbones and long legs?

When I Google, “Michelle Obama whcd 2016” and every single article references what she wore, I can only think that when we speak about Michelle Obama the role model, we may only be speaking about superficial Michelle, defined by her husband’s role, her house at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, and the clothes in her closet.

I find no fault in naming Mrs. Obama the role model of role models. However, I want it to be for the right, instead of the superficial, reasons.

The role that society has given women continues to overshadow and dominate every aspect of our living. And, the role that society has given black women, in particular, continues to sicken me.

Brother Malcolm X told us years ago that, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”  

Beyonce kindly reminded us in her last album, according to this Times Article.

I’m not necessarily arguing that Michelle Obama was disrespected at the WHCD, I’m simply pointing out that as women, we are always reminded of our role.

Watching the 2016 WHCD, I was reminded of that role.

Subliminally. Poignantly. Overtly. Enthusiastically. Comically. Charismatically.

The message comes in many shapes and sizes.

Though no single black woman represents all black women, the truth of the matter is, as beings we often assign our dislike or our pleasure for one to the whole.

If Michelle Obama is my one, I want her to be held in the highest of high regard and seen only in positive and productive light.

I’m always fighting the message. I just wonder who else is catching them as they come, and fighting with me.

In other news, Southside with You will be out in August, detailing how Barack and Michelle Obama met. I can’t wait!


by: Shamira