In a recent speech in Manchester, New Hampshire, first lady Michelle Obama provided a poignant response to the disgusting recorded remarks made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump regarding his objectification of women and his narcissistic belief that he is famous and powerful enough to be able to sexually assault any woman he wants without penalty. Obama stated, “This is not something we can ignore. This was not just a lewd conversation, not just locker room banter … It was cruel and frightening … This has got to stop!” Yes, please stop.
I also was so shocked by it that I asked a very close male friend of mine to tell me the truth about whether or not there was some validity to Trump’s statement about locker room talk, and he said, “No. Any man who respects the closest women in their lives — mother, sisters, wives, girlfriends, friends — never talks like that about any women.” Many commentators have called Obama’s speech one of the greatest of this century, because it was just what needed to be said and in the way in which she said it. I feel that way every time I hear her speak. And if you believe Trump was discussing anything other than predatory sexual assault, then there is something seriously wrong with you.
No, you do not have the right to kiss, touch, grab or grope anyone without consent, regardless of your prestige, status, position, power or, in the case of Donald Trump, imagined belief that you are even desirable. And I certainly hope all those Black ministers who were singing Trump’s praises in places like Flint, Cleveland and Detroit, even after his ignorant remarks about the lives of Black people in this country, at the very least get up in those pulpits and ask for forgiveness for advocating for and supporting someone so unworthy. Next time, stay in your lane and stick with Jesus, the liberating one who specialized in truth telling.
Nevertheless, the purpose of my column this week is to lament the impending departure of our most remarkable first lady, who sadly will be leaving the White House come January. I want to beg and plead for her not to go, but I know this is simply the inevitable. And while I’ve always seen myself as one who often looks forward to change even when there is an unknown factor, this is one time when I’m feeling what for a while was a common phrase: “Some kind of a way.” I don’t want to call it grief, because I have had plenty of experience with that and know what it feels like. But this feeling I’m having about both President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama leaving the White House is what I can certainly say is something approaching grief, and I have heard this is especially true for many Black people in this country (though, I know, not all). Some have tried to build their own careers on being adversaries to him, rather than supporters. Shame.
Michelle Obama has been the epitome of grace and style, a remarkable role model for so many people and someone who is such a source of pride — especially for Black women, who are often seen in such disparaging ways, in spite of our own beauty and fortitude. In fact, we Black women are stated to be the most educated group in this country. Considering where we collectively have come from and what we are up against on a day-to-day basis, that says something, and it is something we need to celebrate! Black girl magic? Maybe, but really we have worked and continue to work hard, and we do great things. So it is no wonder we have such an amazing first lady in Michelle Obama, because she is one of us! She is highly educated, a truly dedicated mother and wife and has managed to do exactly what she advocates — “Go high, when others go low.” That’s what we have done and will continue to do. I have learned a lot just by simply watching Michelle Obama’s presence in the White House, and I will most assuredly miss her.
Dr. Terri Jett is an associate professor of political science and special assistant to the provost for diversity and inclusivity at Butler University. Comments can be sent to email@example.com.