Friday, June 27, 2008

Don’t Make Michelle Over: We Like Her Like That

By Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Reynolds
REYNOLDS News Service
Don’t Make Michelle Over:
We Like Her Like That
The next national pastime by pundits and well-placed politicians will be The Makeover of presumptive First Lady Michelle Obama.
Recently the ignorant conservatives interrupted my idyllic daydream of seeing this brilliant, elegantly clad African-American woman presiding over state dinners and influencing important policy matters, along with the Obama children hosting the annual Easter egg hunts on the White House lawn.
What interrupted my revelries was the crass Fox News calling Michelle Obama, “Obama’s baby Mama,” a derogatory term for an unwed mother. What gall!
The conservatives spin lies about Mrs. Obama but hide the truth about Cindy McCain, the wife of the presumptive Republican challenger, John McCain. She is an heiress whose wealth estimated at $100m – comes from her late father’s beer distribution company. During the senator’s first run for president in 2000 it was reported that Mrs. McCain had been addicted to painkillers and had stolen from her own charity’s medicine cabinets to feed her drug habit.
Then, the well-meaning handlers around her responding to polls that Cindy McCain is more likeable have set out to soften Michelle Obama’s image, make her appear less “angry,” and more approachable. Hopefully her recent appearance on The View where she tackled the pressing issues of why she wears panty hose and eats bacon smooched up her “likeability” enough so she won’t have to talk about that minutiae again.
My fear is that too much tampering with or too many fingerprints probing over her will smudge up a person who is loved exactly the way she is. Why try to turn a Sojourner Truth into a Stepford wife?
One way to fix the so-called Michelle problem is to fight lies with truth. Much is made out of a sound bite where in response to her husband’s historic campaign for president she said, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.” This in the hands of conservative twists became proof that she was unpatriotic.
First, of all as Whoppi Goldberg so artfully pointed out on The View, the operative word is REALLY, referring to a degree of pride. For example to be happy is wonderful, to be REALLY happy is pure joy, a step above.
Yet, if any of us have always been proud of our country we need psychiatric evaluation. Have we always been proud of a country that once enslaved and lynched blacks all within the protection of law? Are we proud of the nation’s almost total destruction of native American populations, the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the present oil war being waged in Iraq on the false pretense of Weapons of Mass Destruction?
No matter how the right and the left try to poke, prod and fix Michelle Obama, I see much in her background to believe that she will make waves one way or another to help the world’s left behind, just as she did at her six-figure position as a vice president at a white-led hospital in Chicago.
As the New York Times reported, when it was proposed that a certain vaccine to prevent cervical cancer should be tested on black teenage girls, Mrs. Obama stopped it. The clinical trial rightly raised the specter of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, where white doctors let hundreds of black men go untreated to study the disease.
Those kinds of bold acts where in the backrooms Mrs.Obama put her reputation and job on the line to fight for the powerless are what makes her a credible force and is what the world needs now—unchecked and undiluted.
Many would be more comfortable with the role of the First Lady as all fluff and puff, more decorative and ornamental than substantive. Historically when a First Lady did take on an issue, except for First Lady Hillary Clinton, it was usually far from the line of political fire. For example, Barbara Bush, wife of President George Bush, championed the cause of literacy. President Lyndon Johnson's wife, Lady Bird, took on highway beautification.
Already there is a script being written for Mrs. Obama to continue in the mold of Jackie Kennedy who reigned over Camelot. Today, however, at a time when thousands of people are losing their homes through foreclosures, can’t afford gas to get to work, if they are still lucky enough to have a job, a Camelot-like lushness of life at the top does not seem appropriate.
Certainly, Mrs. Obama will chart her own course in history, but the mantle of Eleanor Roosevelt is worth considering. As First Lady, Mrs. Roosevelt broke many traditions. She was the first to give a press conference, the first to testify before Congress, the first to write a newspaper column, the first to become a political figure in her own right and was one of the most ardent champions of civil rights long before it was popular, a stance that resulted in the KKK putting a $25,000 bounty on her head. After leaving the White House, Roosevelt became chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Commission and was voted the most popular American in magazine polls in the 1950s.
That’s the kind of Michelle Obama the world awaits. Bold. Brave. Beautiful. That is who I believe she is and that is who I believe neither those who hate her or love her won’t change.

5 comments:

Pam Perry, PR Coach said...

Yes, we do like her like that. And we like braids on the little girls too!

Takiela, the redeemed sinner...not the drink. said...

WOW! What a splendid article! Yes, we do like her the way she is, she shouldn't change a thing. You know the saying, "if it ain't broke..."

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Sepember 15, 2008

Dr. Reynolds,

Please post some more wonderful articles on this blog!

You are missed online!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

HUGgy bear, GOD's Leading Lady said...

The thing is, do Michelle and Barack Obama believe that he can win in November without Michelle being made over? I do not think so. Otherwise Michelle would have let her statement about being proud of her country for the first time in her adult lifetime stand. SOJOURNER TRUTH never would have given the explanation Michelle gave when the heat was turned on. I pray that GOD ALMIGHTY will give her and the children the strength they will need for what lies ahead.

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