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വായന

22 November, 2008

Will Michelle Obama make a difference to the lives of black women?



New America Media

As the Obama family makes plans to settle into the White House, Youth Outlook Multimedia asked young black women if they think having Michelle Obama as the First Lady will change their lives in a positive way. Jazmyne Young is a content producer for YO! Youth Outlook Multimedia and Araijah, Tajh, Breanna and Akilah are contributors to the blog Oakland Girls Speak, a collaboration between YO! and The Mentoring Center.


Michelle Obama Gives Me Hope

In the earlier months of the election, before six out of eight people owned a Barack Obama t-shirt, if you asked me why I liked Obama – I would say it was because he was black. But I think the first time I really considered that maybe Obama was a good choice for president for more than his race – that he was someone with a good head on his shoulders – was when I saw his wife, Michelle, give a speech.

As this poised and elegant Black woman spoke, I thought: “You know what? Obama is different, because any man who would marry this woman has got to be smart.”

I think it’s true what they say about every good black man having a strong black woman behind him. But, honestly, you don’t see this so often. It seems like a lot of successful black men – especially one’s who come from a diverse background like Barack – would have ended up marrying a white woman. And if this hypothetical black man were to marry a black woman, she would probably be light-skinned. The fact that Barack Obama has a wife of African decent, who was raised in the predominately black Southside Chicago neighborhood, who is a ‘bonafide sista’ – well, that lets me know that he’s all right.

Michelle Obama is definitely just as appealing to me as Barack Obama, if not more. She gives hope to black women, particularly young black girls, in a way that we may have never seen on such a global scale before.

Black women are often plagued by the legacy of slavery and the generational demise of most black families, leaving us to be the most unlikely demographic to get married in this country. We often feel unlucky, like we’ll never find a good man. And by a good man, I just mean someone with a job who tells us we’re pretty every now and then. Before Michelle, I never even dreamed that I could become the First Lady of this country – especially on the arm of a black man. She has set a new standard and I believe a lot of black women will carry themselves with an elevated sense of dignity and grace due to her example.

It seems like a lot of black women are talking about how we feel as a collective about our new First Lady. I found writers praising her for her fashion sense and trendsetting appeal, and even a few discussions on Mrs. Obama's backside - and why we should and should not focus on it. But above all, it seems that most women appreciate her story. We are inspired at how this “regular” black girl from Chicago, through her undeniable intellect and determination, has now joined the ranks of those whom history will remember fondly.

More than my only being excited about her being the First Lady, I’m touched by how – for the first time in a long time (aside from a few examples in Hollywood, i.e., Will and Jada, Denzel and Pauletta) - we have a positive image of a healthy, Black nuclear family unit here in America. In certain neighborhoods, a family like the Obamas is unheard of, and it is important for us to have those images, and know that, we too, can attain the American dream.

- Jazmyne Young, Age 20, Berkeley, CA

We Have to Bring the Change for Black Women

Me personally, I don't think Michelle Obama will change how some people look at black women, but for most I think it's not gonna change anything. No matter what color the First Lady is, black women will always be labeled as bitches, hoes, hood rats, or just a baby mama of somebody. We as black woman have to make that change for ourselves. We have to present ourselves as intelligent, beautiful, black women. We have to start having and showing that we have more respect for ourselves and just love being black women, but if we continue to act ignorant and show no respect for ourselves and others – we're gonna be called and looked at as those bad names.

- Araijah, Age 14, Oakland, CA

Michelle Won’t Make the Change Her Husband Will

I don't think anything is going to change just because Michelle Obama is the First Lady. A lot will change for the boys and men, though. They have a role model now with Obama, so their perspective on life maybe different. There is hope for African American males now and they can achieve anything they put their mind to. There’s so much negative things that are portrayed about women. A lot of people see women half-dressed, nude, and/or doing provocative things. A lot of people say "sex sells," so how is a black First Lady going to change this? For Michelle Obama, most people might think that it's her job to dress neat, stay covered up, and looking conservative - since her husband just became president. So, it doesn't really affect the rest of us.

- Breanna, Age 15, Oakland, CA

Michelle is an Important Leader


In my mind, I believe that Michele Obama is an African American leader. I say this not only because she's of African American descent, but also because she's bringing lots of change to what we see everyday. I know, personally, she's the reason my mother gets up and does her best everyday. I like that Michelle gives speeches and relates to the changes that we want in our communities. You could tell that she's genuine with her goals, and it's not just an act or to look good. I feel she believes that it should come natural to help your husband - not just at home, but also with everything he does. Also, I believe that she could hold her own.

-Akilah, Age 15, Oakland, CA


No Free Ride with Michelle

I think that with Michelle Obama as the First Lady, a lot more women will start going to college and stuff like that because they know that they can be like Michelle Obama, but I also think that black people will start thinking they have a free ride. They're gonna think that since we have a black family that went through the same struggle, that they can relate to them, that Obama will give them everything for free – like set up different programs where they get money, but they have to remember they have to work for it.

- Tajh, Age 14, Pinole, CA

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