Michelle Obama, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, is a highly skilled and respectable woman. So much in fact that she graduated cum laude from Princeton University and obtained her law degree from Harvard Law School. According to societal standards, Obama did the “right thing,” by attending college, establishing her career, marrying the man of her dreams and eventually starting a family.
Based on all that Obama has accomplished personally and professionally, one would assume that attacking her character would be a null issue. However, many individuals in the political arena and on the media circuit have done just that.
Early on during her husband’s campaign, Obama was criticized for something as frivolous as looking mean and being “un-American,” then FOX News Channel ran a graphic that stated “Outraged liberals: Stop picking on Obama’s baby mama,” and most recently syndicated columnist Cal Thomas referred to Obama as an “angry Black woman.”
The attacks on Obama, particularly given her acumen are incredibly disrespectful and hurtful. The things that right wing conspirators are saying about Obama should be considered offensive to human beings in general, but particularly Blacks and women of all colors.
The insignificant ways in which these individuals and networks are attacking Obama say a couple of things: (1) Obama has carried herself in such an accomplished and respectable manner that to legitimately criticize her is virtually impossible and (2) Despite one’s individual efforts and success, being Black is still not good enough for some.
Michelle Obama is an intelligent and strong-willed African-American woman who has accomplished and served in the interest of others more in her 44 years than most people will do in their entire lives. As an intelligent and strong-willed Black woman, I take personal offense to the demeaning way this country’s potential first lady has been treated. While she can certainly handle the pressure and frustrations that come with politics, it’s unfortunate that she’s even inclined to do so.
When I think of the scrutiny that Obama is going through, I’m reminded of President Franklin Roosevelt’s wife Eleanor, who remained active and was a true advocate for all people. Because of her public service Eleanor Roosevelt was often criticized, as was Hillary Rodham Clinton during her husband’s presidency. However, the element that differentiates Obama’s wife from Roosevelt and Clinton’s is the level of support they obtained as a result of the attacks.
Die-hard feminists who commit themselves to supporting women came out in droves supporting both Roosevelt and Clinton. As a matter of fact, when Clinton was taunted for her selection of pantsuits, feminists and other members of the general community let their voices of disgust be heard loud and clear.
In the midst of all the attacks and scrutiny that Obama is experiencing, I find myself wondering where the feminist groups are who so tirelessly advocated for Clinton during her presidential bid. The lack of response I’m seeing from feminist groups is disheartening and suggests a myriad of things. Perhaps for them, being female is not the only requirement; rather it’s being a non-Black female that really fits their advocacy mandate.
There is one organization that is advocating for Obama as well as other Blacks. ColorOfChange.org works to inform the public of pertinent issues that are affecting Black people. In addition to providing information, ColorOfChange.org also makes sure that all Americans are represented, served and protected — regardless of race or class.
Now that’s the advocacy!