First Lady Michelle Obama has been making some profound statements on racial and gender inequality on the college graduation circuit at schools like Tuskegee University and Oberlin College. But while many have celebrated her comments, of course, the unfair criticism a woman of color speaking about race has reared its ugly head.
Following Obama’s commencement speech at Tuskegee University earlier this month, the American media has made it clear that they’ve gotten disturbingly comfortable in categorizing her as the classic, unfair stereotype of an angry Black woman.
In 2015, as her husband completes his second term as President, Mrs. Obama has begun to speak more openly on prejudice in America, which is a significant development in the wake of the Baltimore uprisings and an increased visibility of police brutality toward Black people.
The comments she made to the 2015 graduation class of Tuskegee University were particularly insightful and honest. She said:
They will make assumptions about who they think you are based on their limited notion of the world. And my husband and I know how frustrating that experience can be. We’ve both felt the sting of those daily slights throughout our entire lives — the folks who crossed the street in fear of their safety; the clerks who kept a close eye on us in all those department stores; the people at formal events who assumed we were the ‘help’ — and those who have questioned our intelligence, our honesty, even our love of this country … Then there was the first time I was on a magazine cover — it was a cartoon drawing of me with a huge afro and machine gun. Now, yeah, it was satire, but if I’m really being honest, it knocked me back a bit. It made me wonder, just how are people seeing me.
FLOTUS’ speech was painfully-real, but necessary. Despite the gilded lifestyle provided to every First Lady in the White House, Michelle Obama has never once been far from connecting to the aches and hopes of a determined Black America.
But instead of receiving the points she has made, her critics have actually accused Mrs. Obama of being solipsistic in her speech because she included her experiences. Some of their commentary is actually straight-up disrespectful.
Rich Lowry, of Politico.com, took her to task by writing “Michelle Obama’s Lifetime Of Microaggressions.” Check out this terrible excerpt right here:
Michelle Obama doesn’t seem to fully realize that the narrative arc of being the wife of a political candidate celebrated by nearly every organ of elite culture on his way to a landslide victory in a presidential election, to becoming a “fully-formed first lady,” isn’t exactly that of the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
So I guess no Black person’s experiences post-1890 is eligible as a struggle because they weren’t of the Reconstruction era? Mr. Lowry, you can take that stadium seat right over there? And by the way, don’t come back.
This one from the douchebag Glenn Beck:
I’m not comparing what anybody has gone through [to] slavery. Or [saying it’s the] same as what Martin Luther King went through. But we’re not the country of Martin Luther King’s time anymore! We are being dragged back to those days.
Dragged, huh? So, who killed the unarmed citizens Renisha McBride, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Terrell Tony Robinson, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray?
And lastly, there is Angela McGlowan, a Black female contributor for–wait for it–Fox News. She made this disturbing quasi-revelation:
Why didn’t the First Lady share the reason why she got into Princeton was probably because of affirmative action? The reason she became an associate at a law firm was probably because of diversity, that they needed a woman. I’m not saying she wasn’t qualified. But they needed a woman, and a woman of color. That’s a twofer.
One must maintain a particular grade point average and extracurricular activity in order to obtain a scholarship of any kind to a higher education institute. Even if affirmative action was in Obama’s favor, she had to earn her undergrad degree.
The bottom line is that these critics sorely failed to comprehend the analogies she made. As the first Black First Lady, it was completely appropriate to discuss the struggles and victories of the past and present on the site of the original Tuskegee Airmen. Where does the media get off in judging and ridiculing the veracity of any Black person’s journey?
Mrs. Obama’s truth aligns with so many Black people in America, and without a doubt, Black women.
When she thoughtfully asked out loud if she ever came across “too loud, or too angry, or too emasculating? Too soft, too much of a mom, not enough of a career woman?” That is the mindset of a Black woman everyday.
All these critics wanted to do in their commentary was mock Michelle Obama. And, in mocking the First Lady’s words, critics had also mocked the millions of Black people that have fought hard to get an education, live an upstanding life and be an example to the next generation, in spite of America’s dreary past.