Tag Archives: Michelle Obama

Um….is that really news?

8 Oct

So it seems genealogists have unearthed the fact that Michelle Obama better known these days as the First Lady of the United States does indeed have a direct family link to slavery. In case you missed the NY Times piece, her great great great Grandma was in fact a slave. Now as I read the piece, I thought it was pretty cool that Michelle’s lineage was able to be traced but I was stunned at how stunned commenters were about the fact that not only was there a direct slave connection in her family but also interracial mingling since her great  great great great Grandma bore at that time what was called a mulatto child which today would be a biracial child.

Um…is this really news? In fact the more I thought about this piece in fact as I write this piece right now I am listening to NPR cover this story and once again hearing how amazing it is that someone whose ancestors were slaves is now the First Lady, the more I wonder maybe there is a reason we don’t have great race relations in this country.

For starters, why is this news? Um…most Black folks who are American born with American born relatives, if given the chance to trace our lineage, could almost certainly trace our roots to ancestors who had been slaves. No, I am not saying all American Blacks had relatives who were slaves. In fact living in Maine, I have come to learn that for many Maine Blacks who have roots over several generations in Maine, that their paths were often different. But for many Blacks who currently live in large urban areas like oh Chicago, if we had relatives who came to the city during the great migration which started around 1910, well as you can see it wouldn’t be hard to not have had a great great great grandparent who had been a slave.

This is not news to most Black folks, hell we are shaking our hands wondering why is this news to White folks. Hell, I know there is a good chance that my ancestors at least on my Dad’s side had involvement in slavery and that is without doing a complete check of my background, after all my grandparents were sharecroppers in rural Arkansas. It’s not a great stretch in my mind to figure out that my great great great Grandparents were most likely slaves since my own grandparents were sharecroppers and my own Dad has told me enough stories that the world he grew up in was only a step or two removed from the days of slavery in Arkansas.

No, its great that this information is being discovered though it sounds like Michelle Obama didn’t quite give her blessing on this project since she had no comment when questioned by the NY Times. Though that’s a whole other post, I mean maybe one might want to be sensitive when digging around in someone’s personal history. Of course in our society it seems the lives of Black women are considered to be an open book, but that really is another post.

The fact that this is even newsworthy actually bugs me on one level because it’s once again a reminder that perhaps we as a society really don’t get each other and on some level we don’t try to get each other. To hear amazement that there was a white ancestor in her bloodline is also stunning…um, many hundreds of thousands of Black women during slavery were put into situations where they had relationships with white men. I will stop short at saying all were raped but my guess is the great majority of Black women who bore biracial children during slavery were not involved in mutually consensual relationships with the slave master. I mean lets keep it real, if my choice was getting fucked or getting killed or beaten or having my existing children sold off…what choice do I really have? Yeah, not really a choice.

In order for us to have real race relations in this country, it might help if we had a basic understanding of where we come from and our collective shared history. Maybe if Black History was not relegated to the shortest month of the year where we focus too much of on a few individuals instead we might not be amazed at the fact that the First Lady is descended from slaves because we would already know that. The longer we continue to not have open honest dialogues on the history and issues of race in this country, the more we continue to never advance as a people and as a society.

Rules, manners, protocol…

5 Apr

I find that when I write about world events my readership drops off, its all good, by my own admission I am a lightweight when it comes to commenting on world affairs but by the same token, its my blog so I write what I feel… That said, what is the deal with folks blasting Barack and Michelle Obama over their lack of manners and style on the international stage.

See, this is why I couldn’t be the president or the first lady because my outspoken behind would be on the telly telling folks where to stick it….ok, no I wouldn’t but it did sound good to say that. Seriously though, the blogosphere was all ablaze because Michelle Obama dared to touch the Queen of England….and the problem is???? Oh, turns out mere humans should never deign to touch the woman. Now I have heard folks saying this was a mere blip to folks even in the Black blogosphere lamenting over Michelle’s lack of knowledge when it comes to etiquette.

Now I have seen the picture and the Queen didn’t look pissed, shit the woman was probably glad to have someone treat her like a fucking human being. Newsflash the Queen is a human like the rest of us, meaning she even makes stinky in the potty like us plebians. Imagine that the Queen wakes up and goes to the bathroom just like you and I? The horrors.

Really so what Michelle touched her!!! Of course then there is Michelle’s tendency to wear outfits that some find questionable like being sleeveless, um she is in her 40’s and very possibly starting to feel the flutters of menopause, maybe she gets hot flashes. Again this is all silly shit…world is going crazy and we are all in a tizzy over who the First Lady touches and what she wears.

On the other hand, the more I thought about the issue, I found myself bugged about how she is being asked to follow some “rules” that others of her stature have done before…you know other First Ladies. Well maybe its time to change the rules, after all the rules pretty much dictated up until recently that only White Folks were in charge, maybe having a Black president and First Lady will allow us as a nation and world to see there many different ways of being. So what Michelle is overly expressive (yeah, Michelle…you do make a lot of facial expressions) as long as she presents a proper front who cares? I don’t.

Now let’s not leave Barack out either, our favorite smooth talker is gaining a reputation for being a shitty gift giver, after all he gave the Queen an I-Pod, imagine that? Now I read that it was actually something she requested, not sure if that is true or not. On the flip side she is the fucking Queen, I suspect she doesn’t lack for much so what do you give someone who has everything? Yeah, I know if it was me I would be stumped, shit, I would baked her some damn cookies.

Of course lets not forget Obama’s gift to Gordon Brown, a  box of DVD’s of American classic movies. Rumor has it that Brown isn’t much of a movie buff and Brown and his wife did bring a nice array of gifts for the Obama family. Well I admit the movies probably weren’t the best gift but again, hey he got the man something. Plus truth be told with the country on the brink of economic collapse I want this man working on our issues not looking for the best gifts to impress.

Again, things change and with the Obamas in the White House that is already a visible sign of change, maybe its time to rethink some of what we consider protocol. After all who really decides what’s right or not?

Thrift is the new Black

23 Mar

It seems in the past few months every where we turn, we are hearing about how ordinary Americans are looking to save money, and basically live a frugal and even sustainable lifestyle. Its clear that as the US and even world economies continue to tank that folks are looking to cut back either by force such as a decrease in income or just the realization that constant consumption is no longer the in thing.

In fact with the announcement that First Lady Michelle Obama is using part of the White House lawns to start a garden, I suspect that one of this season’s hottest new hobbies will be gardening. Yep, no longer will folks be coveting the latest pair of Jimmy Choos or some other high end item, instead folks will be talking about the latest heirloom tomato they are growing. Ok, that might be a tad much but seriously, I do see things such as gardening becoming quite popular.

Already in my little town it seems there is talk of establishing a community garden, which I must admit I am excited about. I don’t have much usable land that gets sunlight so the idea of a plot of land to garden in is actually making me excited.

I must say that I am glad to see Michelle Obama taking up the issue of healthy food, I suspect as a native of Chicago’s south-side she is quite familiar with the lack of access to healthy foods that many poor folks and folks of color have to live with….in my Grandma’s old neighborhood which was on the south-side of Chicago, you could find whatever type of alcoholic beverage you wanted to quench your thirst and take away your sorrows. However finding the fixings to make a tossed green salad that was not made of iceberg lettuce was comparable to getting the winning numbers of the lottery. Hard as hell to do.

While organic foods have been in style for a while, fact is that for a large segment of the US population, organics are no more acessible than a lobster dinner to most folks, so seeing Michelle’s face along with area DC school children in the dirt looking to plant food is a good thing.

It seems as a culture we need role models to guide our process. Anyway for those of us who practice being thrifty and already had plans to grow some food, we are trendy. Let’s just hope that like Starbucks took over our lives for years that this quest to live simply catches on like a $4 latte.

Leave her arms alone

26 Feb

OK, I am late to the party but as always I have to add my two cents. It seems when Barack Obama spoke the other night before Congress, Michelle Obama may have upset the First Lady protocol by appearing sleeveless. At first I thought it was just a few folks perhaps older folks up in arms but it seems in my cruising the web, there are plenty of folks with an opinion about Mrs. Obama and her sleeveless arms.

Now I don’t know Michelle and for all I know she could be a raving bitch in private but from what I have seen of her, she strikes me as a down to earth sista. I know she hails from the south-side of Chicago not too far from where my Granny lived and that she grew up in a house that looked a lot like my grandma’s house. (gotta love the Chicago brick bungalow…they almost all look the same)  The fact that she could have never come back to the south-side of Chicago after college and law school but instead chose to settle in Chicago’s Hyde Park area also at least to me  speaks of someone who never wants to forget their roots.

I spent at least 35-40% of my childhood on Chicago’s south-side and its a place that while it has its shitty areas, its a place that forms you and molds you. Even now I live in Maine which is 180 degrees from the old neighborhood but I sometimes lament the fact that my daughter will never know the south-side and its people. Its hard to explain but the south-side of Chicago can be a gritty place but at the same time it can be a place that inspires a level of loyalty and a sense of never forgetting where you come from no matter where you, its a place that grounds you.

Anyway back to Michelle, change is hard…I suspect its got to be hard to go from just being a worker, wife and mama to now being the First Lady of the United States. To go from being able to grab a wing plate at Harold’s on Fridays to reward yourself for eating nice and organic all week to now having your every move peeped at and analyzed by folks, some of who truthfully know jack about Black folks.  Terrorist fist jab anyone?

On the other hand I have come across a fair number of upper-class Blacks who seem to feel that Michelle does not represent well. However considering she considers folks like Valerie Jarrett a personal friend that tells me that at some level Michelle must be able to wear the mask of being a working class person by origins even if that is not where she lives anymore on the class ladder well if she is friends with someone who clearly hails from the upper crust.

I don’t know but it seems to me that its rather unfair to judge Mrs. Obama on her fashion choices. Or better yet judge her to be lacking because she chooses to march to a different drum. I suspect in order to allow her husband to pursue his dream of being president, she has given up quite a bit. Again, not knowing either the president or first lady personally but I cannot imagine him telling her to dress more um…conservatively.

In my view Michelle represents a type of Black woman that many Black folks know in their personal lives yet the larger society is not familiar with; its the Michelle’s who do so much in our families and communities yet in the greater media representation we only see Sapphire, Jezebel or any other antiquated model for Black women. Or the new millenium hooch mama in music videos.

Call me crazy but I find the new First Lady to be refreshing, I suspect even if she were a white woman with the same background and style I would actually say the same thing. Yet the fact she is a brown skinned woman like myself and comes from a similar background only gives me an extra reason to smile.

I say with all that is going  on in this country, seriously leave her arms alone….shit, she has well maintained arms and if she wants to show them off, more power to her.