Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Michelle Obama Was Right

If you haven't already watched it, Michelle Obama's commencement address at Tuskegee University is one for the ages. You should check it out. The First Lady poured her heart and soul into this one with a courageous articulation of what she has gone through as the first African American FLOTUS. She recounted things like her own reaction to the New Yorker cover right after her husband was elected president as well as all the nonsense about giving him a "terrorist fist jab" after he won the primary.

But Michelle Obama did all that for a reason. She was talking to a group of African American graduates. And she wanted them to know how she handled all that.
And all of this used to really get to me. Back in those days, I had a lot of sleepless nights, worrying about what people thought of me, wondering if I might be hurting my husband’s chances of winning his election, fearing how my girls would feel if they found out what some people were saying about their mom.

But eventually, I realized that if I wanted to keep my sanity and not let others define me, there was only one thing I could do, and that was to have faith in God’s plan for me.  I had to ignore all of the noise and be true to myself -- and the rest would work itself out.

So throughout this journey, I have learned to block everything out and focus on my truth. I had to answer some basic questions for myself: Who am I? No, really, who am I? What do I care about?

And the answers to those questions have resulted in the woman who stands before you today.
That is a powerful message to these young people - no matter what kind of challenges they face going forward in their lives.

But you can bet that, if conservatives freaked out over her remarks at the opening of the Whitney Museum, they would go apoplectic over all this.  Of course, you would win that bet. The assumption behind all these critiques is that Michelle Obama is simply playing the victim because, when it comes to racism in this country, we're SOOO over that. Here's Ron Christie:
Who is the they the First Lady makes reference to? Presumably racist whites; but this sounds more like an indictment of our American society at large. What are the assumptions being foisted upon these new graduates of an all-black university—that Americans are bigoted and have a limited notion of blacks as being inherently inferior?
Of course Christie assumes that foisting those assumptions on young African Americans today is to tell them a lie. Which is exactly why this article by DW Gibson is such a powerful reminder.  He is interviewing a Brooklyn landlord and hears - point blank - a recitation of exactly the kind of world Michelle Obama was trying to prepare these Tuskegee graduates for.
If there’s a black tenant in the house—in every building we have, I put in white tenants. They want to know if black people are going to be living there. So sometimes we have ten apartments and everything is white, and then all of the sudden one tenant comes in with one black roommate, and they don’t like it. They see black people and get all riled up, they call me: “We’re not paying that much money to have black people live in the building.” If it’s white tenants only, it’s clean. I know it’s a little bit racist but it’s not. They’re the ones that are paying and I have to give them what they want. Or I’m not going to get the tenants and the money is not going to be what it is.
As long as white people don't admit that this kind of thing is happening in America, it won't change. And people like Michelle Obama will be right to prepare young people for the racism they will face in this country.


  1. How long will blk folks have to prepare their children to live in a racist America...

  2. it was a freakishly good speech, start to finish.

  3. the First Lady was absolutely on point. I absolutely loved the speech. She told the truth.

    Ron Christie is a slave catcher who wouldn't get it until the chair was about to go out from under him at his own lynching...and then, I'm not sure he'll even get it at that moment.