Michelle: Not They’re Bell
by Chris Stevenson
Juan Williams-who drifts pretty easily between NPR and Fox News-just made a horrific statement about the First Lady that really has me wondering about him. Usually known for his liberal candor Williams was on the infamous O’Reilly Factor bashing the President’s wife in a segment that could have been contrived to make Bill O’Reilly look like the voice of reason. O’Reilly asks a panel of guests their impression about Michelle and Williams seems to be trying to slam-dunk the perfect soundbite by comparing her to the late Stokely Carmichael of SNCC and the Black Panthers: “Let me tell you this, if you think about liabilities for President Obama that are close to him, Joe Biden is up there. But Michelle Obama’s right there, Michelle Obama, you know she’s got the Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going. If she starts talking as Mary Katherine suggested, her instinct is to start with this ‘blame America,’ you know, ‘I’m the victim,’if that stuff starts to come out, people will go bananas and she’ll go from being the next Jackie O to being something of an albatross.” Surprisingly, O’Reilly responded “She’s not going to do that.”
This was definitely a deceptively and carefully planned strike at our First Lady that has the undercurrents of deep resentment against not just Mrs. Obama and her perceived views, but a dead giveaway of ongoing resentment against strong successful women like Michelle. Williams’ role in this is disturbing in that he is a black man with extremely limited exposure to black females and their behind-closed-door opinions in order to draw such a comparison.
Michelle LaVaughn Obama has been a concern of much of White America ever since she responded to her husband’s victory back on February 18 in Milwaukee WI: “For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country because it feels like hope is making a comeback.” Since then suspicion arose that she holds the conventional views on race that many black females in the ‘hood harbor about this nation (she soon re-worded that statement).
A recent column in the “Jack & Jill Politics” newsletter was forwarded to me by a close friend and former newspaper publisher titled “Why White America perhaps Fears Michelle more than Barack” The last paragraph raises a question in anticipation of her tenure as First Lady: “Is she going to be the face of ‘the woman’ on the largest pedestal in the country? A self-confessed ‘loud-mouth’ ‘black woman?… because a black woman will be there who didn’t have to come in the back door to lie in bed with the President.” Even comedian Chris Rock expressed his doubts on black women inheriting such a crucial position because he suggested in his latest HBO film “Kill the Messenger” that a black President married to a black woman would be unable to serve his term smoothly without all the drama black women are seen as dragging along.
But critics of Michelle’s speech in Milwaukee gave themselves away because they implied that just because she herself is successful, she should always have been proud of her country. At the 8/25 DNC she stated that she is no different from many women. Did Michelle mean ‘many black women?’ Not to be out done, FOX News posted a blurb on 6/11 that referred to Michelle as Barack’s “babymomma.”
Make no mistake about it, Michelle is Barack’s Bell and she will be Black America’s as well. Don’t look for her to be detached from the black community as Condoleezza Rice. By the same token rest assured she won’t be obnoxious or do or say anything to undermine Barack either. The essay continues “Michelle Obama doesn’t fit any of the black pathologies and when you don’t fit the acceptable black pathologies, then you must be destroyed.” If this writer were truly watching the Obama campaign he or she would have noticed how protective Barack was of Michelle, even to the chagrin of leading conservative talk-radio hosts. By black pathology the writer is no doubt saying that Michelle wasn’t raised by a single mother, she is the product of a 2-parent working-class family, her brother is head basketball coach of a Pac-10 school, she is highly educated with no history of drugs or jail, therefore the writer fears that this coupled with her apparent pro-black leanings will make her a target to be destroyed by the anti-black government operatives. I think not. The forces that killed Kennedy and King made their money many times over in war and oil. They don’t care what Michelle or Barack say at this point. Poor and working-class whites who don’t like the Obamas are just going to have to swallow the next four years.
Michelle brings much to the White House as First Lady. Historically even black female cabinet members never went over easy for white conservatives, from Jocelyne Elders, Hazel O’Leary, and Alexis Herman to even Rice. Here we have for the first time a bonifide African American woman occupying the East Wing, the Executive Residence and YES the White House Master Bedroom.
In all honesty I could care less about which Obama White America fears, blacks in high position will always be feared regardless of their character. White America’s obsession with finding successful blacks who forgot where they came from comes to a dead stop with the Obamas. These people making outlandish statements about Michelle aren’t really worried about her being a closet un-American or anything like that. They are just hoping (in vain) to fluster the President by criticizing her.
Chris Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Challenger, contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org