This year I have been amazed at the things happening before me in the media. I will never get over the Democrats in Michigan taking votes from Hillary Clinton and giving them to Barack Obama during the presidential primary and not hearing a peep about it except from Boston and LA media outlets. My previous blog entry covered the Anderson Copper episode on November 24, 2008 and their coverage of Black Women.
While everyone was in an uproar over Don Imus and his comments about black Female basketball players at Rutgers being Nappy Headed Hoes. No one seemed particularly concerned with the fact that CNN has aired a piece about black women that was doubly offensive, badly researched and just plain wrong. I have to admit that after contemplating the CNN piece I had to think that maybe my processing of the piece was over the top. Did I over react to the coverage and I have thought about this for days. At some point I even wondered if despite the fact that I had seen the coverage twice if I had somehow put words into the piece that were not there. In the modern day U.S. where Kings dream is played out everyday with black, white, red, and yellow children in schools and with adults in companies, and corporations and even in social situations. It was a little hard for me to believe that a major media outlet would make a racial attack on one group of people.
For me, personally the way CNN covers black people is just as offensive as historical coverage of whites calling blacks Niggers and Coons openly on T.V. in the 1950’s and 60″s. I find CNN’S coverage of black people and in this piece black women far more insidious and dangerous to black people than any noose hanging from a tree without a name or a color on it. The noose is objective and inanimate. If anyone feels offended by a noose it’s what they bring to the situation but CNN is actually telling people what to say and how to feel about black women and black people. They may say that it’s to benefit black women, but CNN’s coverage of Black women the other day made me want to hide. For me the coverage made me feel like some one had thrown me on the ground, pulled my legs open and looked in with a flashlight. It violated me.
As far as Michelle Obama is concerned I have not failed to notice Michelle is Black. Neither has my mother who keeps repeating slyly Safire in the White House. I find it particularly interesting that my mother uses this term because she’s never used it before. As a black woman I find it triumphant that a black woman is in the White House and I thinks it’s ground breaking. However what CNN is failing to pick up when they cover Michelle Obama at the expense of other black women (Quotes from CNN)
[ALLISON SAMUELS, “NEWSWEEK”: When you look at television, we’re either, you know, single mothers with a bunch of children or drug addicts or street walkers.]
[KAYE: Allison Samuels wrote this article for “Newsweek.” She hopes and expects having Michelle Obama in the White House will help put an end to the stereotyping of African-American women, often portrayed as overweight, ignorant and angry.]
What CNN is failing to pick up is that as black people, as black women, we don’t care what black woman is in the White House and if she rolls her eyes stomps her feet and screams and these are the stereotypes we subscribe to. We don’t care we applaud it, and if she stomps her feet and gets loud we know why. I am African American and I am loud I admit it. In my case I have not always been loud . I used to be quiet as a mouse. I write this with tears in my eyes, becuase lately my tone is loud and strident and for those white women in particular who continually date black men and have black children after a while society has made them loud and strident too. If you choose to be culturally black you will eventually be a safire whether out loud or inside. We want Michelle to be a bonafide black woman in the White House and she has said that she’s the one who tells Barack Obama you’re not all that. I have even read it being described as her south side of Chicago roots make Barack Obama see reality. This is the safire in Michelle and this is what is admired. This is a real black woman in the White House. It does not matter what profession Michelle Obama has chosen Teacher, Attorney, House Wife, Stripper – (Italy and France). We admire her because she’s black and the first Black First Lady when all the rest have been white.
CNN fails to realize in their AC 360 piece on Michelle Obama as a role model, you don’t have to bring black women down to put her on a pedestal. She’s there. No one has to justify her existence who she is or why. She’s there. To attempt to cover Michelle Obama at the expense of black women not only insults the general population of black women but insults Michelle Obama also. She is the First Lady and that’s not negotiable.
As for CNN and their coverage of black women. I have heard black women stereotyped as the following:
[SAMUELS: We still have that negative image of black women being overweight and very loud and rolling their eyes and talking back and having these sassy one-liners all the time.]
I am familiar with the above stereotype. However I was not aware that all of the world and society thinks of black women as street walkers and drug addicts. This is indeed news to me and I would definitely be interested in seeing the research to back up these comments. I took a sociology class on interracial understanding many years ago with all races and we had to list our stereotypes about various races and the term street walker and drug addict was not associated with black people or for that matter was not a stereotype of a particular race. Hitler was a drug addict. In certain European countries they have drug addict areas. Places where individuals can go and use their drugs of choice. Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world and in Amsterdam women stand in the window and advertise their womanly charms. In London they have Pink brothels so people interested in paying for sex can get something in the middle of the afternoon. I don’t think anyone associates drugs and sex with any particular race. Anyone who says that the world views black women as prostitutes and drug addicts subscribes to a fallacy; and I don’t believe that these statements can be supported with real research.
CNN goes on to say about black women,
“OLIVIA FISHKIN, NEW YORK RESIDENT: The average African-American woman should take heed and hope that, with hard work and study, that they can also elevate themselves and aspire to become whatever they want to become.”
You know I don’t think that Michelle Obama when she met and married Barack Obama said gee if I marry this man I’m going to be First Lady. She became Barack Obama’s wife and he became president. The average women black or white unless they are Hillary Clinton is not going to go out and say golly gee if I marry this man, I’m going to be First Lady. As for Michelle Obama’s professional accomplishments I respect her for them but she won an athletic scholarship to Princeton and everyone knows the rumor about Ivy League colleges exposed by Larry Summers, Obama’s buddy, that if you are accepted into an Ivy League College you’re just going to get good grades no matter what. All you have to do is be accepted. Just like the NBA, not everyone is athletically gifted enough to get an athletic scholarship to Princeton like Michelle Obama. As for the six figure salary, she got that after her husband became a state Senator. We can not play the Emperors New Clothes game with the Obama’s but if we are playing the role model game lets be transparently honest. What is is.
CNN goes on to say,
[KAYE: What about her skin color? It’s much darker than African- American celebrities like Beyonce or Halle Berry. Samuels says that may send the message black is beautiful.
SAMUELS: In the African-American community, a lot of times beauty is sort of determined by how light you are. And what I love about Michelle is that she’s not that typical look.]
You know as a black woman I am familiar with the hurts of being browner. I am also familiar with the hurts of not being dark enough. I am not going to celebrate Michelle Obama’s darkness at the expense of my beautiful beautiful daughter or my mother , my mother like her father in her old age is looking more and more white versus black. My mother’s color has not saved her from hurt nor harm in life. Neither has the color of many of my friends. My daughter who is quite beautiful and tall, and at age eight looks like a petite black Asian woman went to pay for my gas and the store owner gave it to her, I had to track back and pay for it. I find it painful that she may be discriminated against because she is lighter and prettier. She has been discriminated against before because she was not dark enough and her features were not ethnic enough and it hurt me deeply. The Michelle Obama craze because of her skin color has me warning my daughter who is not even close to being sexually active not to have sex before marriage, because I don’t want anyone using her body and then throwing her away because she’s not dark enough.
A society that deals in a races color as a sex symbol ultimately wants what it want’s it’ own image. Maybe if CNN is concerned with the variety of black women they should try giving a black woman that is not the color of a paper bag a job as an anchor. Practice what you are trying to preach.
Finally CNN goes on to say,
KAYE: Michelle Obama’s physique may also light a fire under black women. Federal statistics show four out of five African- American women are overweight or obese. Mrs. Obama works out daily, often before her girls are even awake.
SAMUELS: You don’t necessarily look at a size zero and go, “OK, I can look like that” in fashion magazines, but you have this real- life woman, who’s a mother and a wife, who is making time to sort of work out and look good. And I think all of that is going to play a big role in African-American woman, you know, just sort of taking a step back and saying, “What can I do to be healthy?”
I am particularly concerned with the fact that CNN want’s to light a fire under my butt. I don’t think all of the exercise in the world will ever make me look like Michelle Obama. I am 5’3. I have large breasts like my grandmother and mother. She’s close to six feet and has small breasts and a big butt and she looks very big especially in the hips. I would be curious to know what size she wears and how much she weighs. I’d like to see her step up on the scale on TV and not get second hand knowledge about her size. If she’s working out I don’t see it, I did see it but it looks like the election may have made her gain weight, as I have since the election began. I think I’ll continue to look at celebrities as my radar for how I’m supposed to look. As for CNN there are a lot more white people in the United States than white people therefore there are a lot more white obese people in the United States. Since CNN is fond of picking up NBC’s cast off anchors maybe they could do what NBC has done, institute a National challenge for the whole United States regardless of color. I fail to see how a persons weight defines them as a person and health is important but in the context of this piece it’s just a cheap shot at black women.
As for CNN, CNN may want to look internally for why the piece on Michelle Obama was so negative towards black women. I am aware that some of the white women on staff at CNN are involved in interracial relationships with black men and vice versa. Years ago my Sunday entertainment was watching Lester Holt and one of the CNN anchor women and I knew that Lester was married but this current CNN anchor woman seemed not to care. In any event I think when someone referred to Obama as African American, a CNN representative went into a long sketch on Obama’s mother being white and how she had interacial kids. We all know that Obama is interracial but despite what some may think. He’s not where is because he’s interacial. He’s where he is because his white grandmother married to a white man set up a great example for him and demonstrated through example that anything is possible. It’s a great story that Barack Obama’s grandmother worked her way up from the secretarial pool to the Vice President of a bank. This is why Obama is where he is. Obama makes a great case for interacial adoption since his black father ran off and his white mother left him with his grandmother but I’m not seeing the case for interracial relationships. I’m seeing a case for stable relationships. I’m seeing that by marrying Michelle Obama, Barack Obama walked in the steps of his white grandparents in his desire for a more traditional lifestyle. He has a desire to be a husband and a father and have a traditional family life.