Tag: Michelle Obama

September 7, 2012 / / Meanwhile On TumblR

By Andrea Plaid

Since we launched the R’s “blue light district” back in January 2012–I affectionately call the Tumblr this because I work on it from the backend, which shows up on the screen as blue–we’ve been steadily growing: right now, we have 3,379 of you hanging out over there reading, liking, reblogging, and commenting  on what we’re curating, from all-Black Shakespeare troupes to cosplayers of color to our ever-blue Racialicious After Hours (NSFW).

Read the Post Meanwhile, On TumblR: FLOTUS Obama’s Speech, bell hooks, And The Equestrian

September 6, 2012 / / african-american

By Arturo R. García; cross-posted from Raw Story

This year’s political convention season, says MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, got complicated. Although she is in Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention this week, she missed going to Tampa, FL, last week for its Republican counterpart because real life got in the way. Hurricane Isaac’s path, which initially threatened the convention before tearing through New Orleans, meant the Tulane University professor and her family had to evacuate their home, which they subsequently lost.

“In a certain way, the personal drama, set against the backdrop of the convention, helps to remind us that the personal is political,” she told Raw Story Wednesday. “On the one hand, we were having our own personal issues about wind and rain and a hurricane, but the fact is, levees are political, and disasters–whether or not aid is going to come to your community–has to do with who is making those choices from a political position. And so, certainly it’s been hard, but it’s helped to crystallize why elections really do matter.”
Read the Post 5 Questions For: MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, On Political Diversity And Being “Better Off” [#DNC2012]

June 27, 2012 / / feminism

By Guest Contributor Tressie McMillan Cottom, cross-posted from TressieMC

Courtesy: kveller.com

This is one of those posts that can go nowhere but down.

There are things you simply cannot do in this life and slaying unicorns is one of them.

What do I mean by “slaying unicorns”? It’s an old Livejournal term. It means providing evidence that one’s sacred emotional belief or object is either not a) universal b) all that great or c) grounded in reality or supported by empirical evidence.

I am really, really bad about this. I tend to slay unicorns even when I only mean to make an observation or intend to honor my own truth or even when I just mean to get through the day. I end up slaying unicorns way more than I’d like. My hands are filthy with their rainbow blood.

So, I wanted to leave alone The Atlantic article about women having it all.

An initial tentative reaction about not seeing my experience as a black woman in the article provoked such passionate responses that my mentions on Twitter took two days to recover. And, I don’t mean the responses that disagreed with me. I mean I got tweets that charged me with not being a feminist or not understanding because I don’t have children and one lovely message that seemed to intimate that I was just too stupid to “get it”.

I decided to leave that unicorn alone.

But that did not mean that I did not want to make sense of it myself. After a great deal of thinking I think I can finally articulate my reaction and I owe much of that process to this tweet:

I’m a Reagan baby. You can’t say “trickle-down” to me and not evoke a response.

I went back and re-read The Atlantic article. I’ll try to take my thought process step-by-step in an effort to do minimal damage to the unicorn.

Read the Post The Atlantic Article, Trickle-Down Feminism, And My Twitter Mentions. God Help Us All.

January 30, 2012 / / african-american
March 29, 2011 / / WTF?
October 12, 2009 / / history

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

The Obama family’s ascendancy to the White House and the national spotlight causes quite a conundrum for black folks who pay attention to how black lives are discussed by media and the mainstream. On one hand, suddenly people notice that black people exist, particularly the black middle class, black bodies, black hair, black families, black professional women, black marriages… After years of being ignored, it feels kinda good to be visible. On the other hand, suddenly people notice that black people exist, particularly the black middle class, black bodies, black hair, black families, black professional women, black marriages…And all of these seemingly mundane things are now treated as fascinating discoveries. They are weighed and breathlessly reported by media, and analyzed and remarked upon by consumers of media. After hundreds of years as part of American culture, blackness is still seen as “other”–sometimes exotic, sometimes dangerous, sometimes strange.

Lots of black women have round butts!

Black people have funny hair!

Black churches sure are different!

and now…from The New York Times

Black descendants of enslaved Africans have triumph, tragedy and non-black ancestors in their histories!

In an NYT article published yesterday, Rachel L. Swarns and Jodi Kantor share Michelle Obama’s family history as uncovered by the newspaper and genealogist Megan Smolenyak. The article zeros in on the story of one of Michelle Obama’s female ancestors named Melvinia:

Of the dozens of relatives she identified, Ms. Smolenyak said, it was the slave girl who seemed to call out most clearly.

“Out of all Michelle’s roots, it’s Melvinia who is screaming to be found,” she said.

When her owner, David Patterson, died in 1852, Melvinia soon found herself on a 200-acre farm with new masters, Mr. Patterson’s daughter and son-in law, Christianne and Henry Shields. It was a strange and unfamiliar world.

In South Carolina, she had lived on an estate with 21 slaves. In Georgia, she was one of only three slaves on property that is now part of a neat subdivision in Rex, near Atlanta.

Whether Melvinia labored in the house or in the fields, there was no shortage of work: wheat, corn, sweet potatoes and cotton to plant and harvest, and 3 horses, 5 cows, 17 pigs and 20 sheep to care for, according to an 1860 agricultural survey.

It is difficult to say who might have impregnated Melvinia, who gave birth to Dolphus around 1859, when she was perhaps as young as 15. At the time, Henry Shields was in his late 40s and had four sons ages 19 to 24, but other men may have spent time on the farm. Read the Post To be invisible or exoticized: The NYT’s article on Michelle Obama’s family history

March 5, 2009 / / african-american

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

That Farai Chideya is no longer holding it down at NPR’s “News & Notes” is abundantly clear. Yesterday’s “News & Notes” segment–” The Obama Effect on Black Women’s Hair Issues–was some serious insipid nonsense. Since the dawning of the Obama era, I’ve sensed a disturbing trend in coverage of black women’s issues by mainstream media. Having a black First Lady seems to have inspired the media to take some notice of the unique lives of African American women. Good. Problem is, the gently increased coverage is shallow and inconsequential, and often has the feel of detached voyeurism–academically peering at the exotic world and strange habits of black women (oddly, this is so, even when the work is presided over by black women). A product of these travel guides to Blackchicksylvania is the “Lawd, us black wimmin’s hair sho is complicated” story, which usually includes the meme that Michelle Obama’s hair is a hot topic among black women. And so goes the “News & Notes” piece by Allison Samuels, featuring celebrity stylist Marcia Hamilton.

Listen.

Says Samuels, “We now have an African American president, with an African American wife and two African American daughters. So now we talk a lot about hair–things we probably didn’t talk about when we had First Ladies who were not African American. So, the conversation has gone from one end to the other. Should Michelle wear more natural hair? Should she cut her hair? Should she have a perm? Should she press and curl? Why do we have such an obsession, even now, in 2009, with black women and hair?”

First, I would love to know where these purported conversations about Michelle Obama’s hair are taking place. Where is this obsession with her tresses flowering? So far, I’ve seen several articles about the phenomenon (I believe Salon has peddled it, too.), but have yet to experience it among any, y’know, actual black women. As far as I can tell, in real life, no one is riding Michelle to bust out the cornrows at the next State dinner. (According to Samuels, black female bloggers are calling for Michelle and her daughters to be champions of black hair. Why’s everybody got to blame the bloggers these days? I’m plugged into the top black blogs and haven’t seen any such discussion percolating. Hmmmm.) Read the Post Dispatches from Nappyville: WTF, NPR? Way to totally mischaracterize discussions about black women, hair and Michelle Obama