MUST READ: Is Michelle Obama A ‘Feminist Nightmare’?
Examining the ways that Black, female educators are forced to navigate the White patriarchal space of the academy, Whitaker explains that her dark skin and afro-textured hair comes with a set of expectations that she refuses to meet:
Compared to our white counterparts, women of color are held to different standards. Whereas they are commended for innovation, we are commended for supplication. When they break rules they are labeled rebels; when we break rules we are labeled unemployed.
The perversion of our other-motherness into the caricature of Mammy discourages women of color from teaching as their most authentic selves. We are expected to cultivate student voice while silently acquiescing to white male constructions of teacher quality. We are the token few deemed good enough to enter the Master’s domain and we should show our gratitude through deference.
No thank you.
You have not done me a favor by ‘allowing’ me in the house. I earned my space. I reject your attempt to rectify the relationship between black women and white privilege through thinly veiled oppression dressed up as opportunity. Yet so many women, too many, accept this as par for the course in education. Just as our poor, immigrant and ethnic minority students deserve the right to learn, brown and black teachers deserve the right to teach. Without our hands tied by apron strings.
Someone pass this sister the collection plate because she’s is preaching.
The expectation that Black women are nurturers and never fighters — that we must be subservient and silent unless spoken to — is a stereotype that persists in all areas of life, from romantic relationships to college classrooms and political arenas.
This is partly why Michelle Cottle’s recent attack on First Lady Michelle Obama was so racist. She wasn’t merely attacking the First Lady, she was attacking Blackness from her White feminist vantage point and casting Mrs. Obama as “Mammy-in-Chief.” Black women aren’t expected to nurture and challenge the status quo; we aren’t expected to know how. We’re expected to stay “in our place,” unless of course we inhabit a traditionally White patriarchal role such as “First Lady,” then we’re expected to take our cue from White feminists on the right way to behave while occupying what is traditionally their spot.
In Whitaker’s case, she is speaking out against being cast in a stereotypical, supporting role on an academic plantation. And for that, she deserves respect.
Read her entire piece, “The Color of Teaching: Expectations of Mammy In The Classroom,” at The Feminist Wire.
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White House Style: Michelle O vs. Jackie O
1. Taking Care of Home And Still Fly!
Both First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy will undoubtedly go down in history as two of the most stylish women to grace the White House of all time! Whether they were standing by their man, taking care of their kids, or tending to their duties for the Nation, these women always did it in style. See how they kept The Capitol chic.
2. Statement Coats
Jackie O shut it down with her fly trench coats and belted outerwear (the over-sized shade and gloves always added a chic touch!) and Michelle also knows how to make a statement with her outerwear: case in point the Thom Browne coat and J. Crew accessories that made headlines after she wore them to POTUS' second swearing in ceremony in 2013.
3. Orange Crush
Michelle has an affinity for jewel tones and Jackie also knew how to rock a bold color. Orange in particular flattered them both!
4. Patterns and Pops of Color
Great minds think alike! Both first ladies accessorized their splashy green and blue print dresses with tiered necklaces and bright shoes.
5. Regal Style
When it came time to meet the Queen of England, Mrs. O chose a white Tom Ford dress in 2011, while Jackie O wore a ice blue Givenchy frock in 1961, but both tied their look together with lady-like gloves.
The fashion continued even on trips on Air Force one! Here Jackie showed off the style of the times in belted coat finished off with gloves and a hat (one of her go-to accessories) and Michelle had a modern-day yellow moment adding a black cardigan and belt to her wrap dress.