For many years, African Americans were perceived as being ignorant creatures incapable of thinking and successfully holding leadership positions and roles. However, African Americans are constantly defying this perception and reaching heights beyond any individual’s greatest expectation.
For instance, blacks were supposedly incapable of playing the position of quarterback in football—at any level—because they were perceived as lacking the brainpower to lead a team. Doug Williams, former NFL player, dispelled that myth when he led his team to victory in the 1988 Super Bowl XXII and was selected as the MVP. As well, blacks were supposedly incapable of coaching an NFL football team, yet both 2007 Super Bowl head coaches were African Americans. And today, the first African-American family chairs the highest office in the United States and resides in the White House. Repeatedly, blacks have proven, when provided the opportunity, that they will rise to the call of duty and excel.
Michelle Obama, in her first 100 days as First Lady, is making many racist-thinking people very uncomfortable as she shatters their world of stereotypical assumptions through spreading goodwill, knowledge, and a solid persona of the African-American woman all over the world. Radio host and political commentator Tammy Bruce’s recent tirade labeling Mrs. Obama as ‘trashy and fake’ because of a personal speech she delivered to a classroom of students in Washington, DC, confirms the fear and anxiety that consumes the hearts of such racist desperadoes. Clearly, Michelle Obama is a lady of elegance, pride, intellect, appeal, charisma, and carries the image of First Lady admirably, and as long as Mrs. Obama is the First Lady, she will be a threat to the racist mentality everywhere.
The First Lady’s embodiment of the role invalidates any and all stereotypical suppositions that have been spoon fed to a nation of people via its institutionalized system for almost four centuries. Tammy Bruce’s attempt at character assassination of First Lady Michelle Obama is an example of the ideologies that have been imposed upon unknowing intellects; and because this is what people like Tammy Bruce have been taught, they are fearful of the unknown—anything different from “the norm.” In response to this type of change, they panic, blindly continue to protect their sad mentality, and will go extreme distances to preserve the image and pigeon-holed perspective they possess of the black race in general.
Michelle Obama has stated that her school peers would mock her, saying that she talked “like she was white.” Quite often, blacks who speak with the proper diction and English—non-slang, non-street vernacular—are pronounced as “trying to be white” by other black kids. This situation raises the question that if speaking properly means that one is “trying to be white,” then does it mean that speaking ignorantly means that one is “trying to be black”? It makes one wonder what percentage of our black youth are being raised in an environment that mocks education, which leads to youth devaluing education and playing-up the street-cool personas just to “fit in”.
America is not accustomed to a black woman in Michelle Obama’s position receiving such favorable recognition and feedback. The norm has always been to support rappers and entertainers who humiliate and degrade black women and make a mockery of their own race. America is accustomed to hearing rhetoric that contributes to the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and cultural extermination of black race by African Americans. The music industry has made billions stomping on the dignity of black women.
First Lady Michelle Obama as well as President Obama bring to light that side of the African-American people that represents dignity, intelligence, and true dedication to hard work and self-respect—the key attributes our fore ancestors fought hard to maintain and pass down through generations in this new, unequal land. The Obamas bring a genuine dignity and regality to the White House that will be a continual upset to the bigots of America, yet a stepping stone to the progress of the African American, and the American society.
Because Mrs. Obama is not living up to the pre-conceived stereotype many expected her to embody, they feel compelled to manufacture preferred images of her and try to sell this ideology to the American public. However, America has not fallen victim to the hype because again and again Mrs. Obama continues to consistently convey a solid and distinguished aura steadied on a foundation of integrity, sagacity, aplomb and fortitude.
H. Lewis Smith
H. Lewis Smith is the founder and president of UVCC, the United Voices for a Common Cause, Inc., and author of Bury that Sucka: A Scandalous Love Affair with the N-Word. Reprinted with the author’s permission from UVCC.