ABC Channel 7 in Chicago aired a "Special Report" on Sunday night, November 16, in which they gushed that Michelle Obama was going to "break down barriers" for America's black women. Reporter Cheryl Burton waxed poetic, moon-eyed over the fact that a black woman was soon take her place as first lady of the United States, wife to the president. But, that's just it... wife to the president. Not to belittle the important role that a wife has in a marriage (or a husband has for that matter), and not to diminish the importance of traditional marriage, but a wife is not an elected position. It is not one with the sort of power to be "transformational." On top of that, the role of first lady should not be considered a role with power or one capable of transformation!
To be sure, we have to be honest about the triumphalism on Obama’s behalf and realize that it truly is expected, even healthy. Obama marks the final piece of the puzzle of repairing American race relations. Blacks really have gone from the lowest of chattel slavery to seeing one of their own elected to run the country and we should all marvel at and be grateful for that fact. No one should try to belittle this achievement. But, one must be careful not to make of it more than it is. Obama is not the first piece, but the last. We should not celebrate as if he’s the only good break blacks have ever gotten in the US. To do so belittles all the many examples of progress that came before him. And his wife has no formal part in it at all. She was not elected to first lady and she does not hold an office in government.
But ABC can't help itself.
She's making history and changing attitudes, and it started before the world knew Michelle Obama would be the nation's next first lady.
This all sounds nice, of course, but it is really little but puffed up nonsense.
Reporter Burton goes on to claim that "America" doesn't find black women beautiful.
And America's picture of what is deemed beautiful rarely includes black women, especially those with darker skin. But some say new ground is being broken.
These days, this is more stuff and nonsense. There have been for a few decades continual parades of beautiful black women that have set America's hearts fluttering (especially America's men). Women like Halle Barry, Alicia Keyes, Rihana, Mariah Carey, Beyonce Knowles, this is but a tiny list of such women from the last few years. Names can be brought up going back decades. So, to say that black is never beautiful in America is simply an overreach, and an insulting one at that.
But, entertainers aside, why is it that a wife, a first lady of the United States of America, a woman with no official role in government, no power, no official way to "break barriers" is so lauded? Why have we not seen such stories about Condoleezza Rice, for instance? Now there is a powerful black woman, beautiful to boot, that has, indeed, had real power, the kind that can "transform" the ideas of the place black women have in our society?
Ah, but we know why the Old Media won't celebrate Condi, don't we? She isn't a "real" black woman to them because she doesn't toe their far left political line. Condi Rice didn't satisfy their ideological needs, so she is to be relegated to the "Oh, and" status. Just like she was in the mindless fluff of this ABC 7 piece.
After minutes of adulation for Michelle Obama, a woman that can really do nothing official in Washington, we get this:
"When you have women who are poised like Michelle Obama for that kind of level of influence, like a Condoleezza Rice," said Finley. "You're going to be looking at how black women handle power, how they influence it and how they leverage it to benefit populations within and beyond. So that's going to be a brand new view for what you think of when you think of black women."
That's it for Condi, now back to your regularly scheduled sycophancy for Michelle the "transformative" woman of no power or position.
Like I said, it's wonderful that we have a moment in American history with such a symbolic nature. But Michelle Obama is not the power of the White House, nor should she be. She should be a dutiful wife, take up some nice charity, and stay out of the way otherwise (the same argument we had for Hillary during the Clinton years). If she is, someday, to be elected to some office or another in her own right, that is the time she must be "transformative" (again, just like Hillary). As first lady, however, she has no such role for government. Maybe in other ways, but not in government.
Unfortunately, ABC 7's hagiography is misleading and dangerous. It builds a role for Michelle she does not have leaving open the possibility of deep disappointment to come in the very people that ABC 7 imagines are so fragile.