Friday, March 14, 2008
The Next First Lady?
After reading many blog comments about Mrs. Obama, I was struck by what appears to be the lack of cultural familiarity with the Michelle Obama's of the world. As a Black man, Michelle, as profiled in both The New Republic and the New Yorker, is familiar to me. Very familiar. To attempt to connect with her approach to motherhood, feminism, and marriage without acknowledging that many of her attitudes are rooted in African-American cultural traditions would be flawed. I have no farther to look than my mother, aunts, former girlfriends, my wife, and now my daughter to see similar examples of assertive, achieving, yet traditionally rooted women. Many of these women have struggled with trying to find balance between career success, and the call to remain relevant within the Black community. They have been at once desirous of the prestigious job and nice home, and ongoing acceptance at their grandmother's church, with all that entails. They want their men to achieve, but they don't want them to sacrifice their identity. They want greatness, but not at any cost. It might appear to be an easy calculation to onlookers, but I assure you that Mrs. Obama would not be the first to struggle with it. Comparing Mrs. Obama's journey directly to Ms. Clinton's without wrestling with these cultural parameters risks credulity