OK, I am late to the party but as always I have to add my two cents. It seems when Barack Obama spoke the other night before Congress, Michelle Obama may have upset the First Lady protocol by appearing sleeveless. At first I thought it was just a few folks perhaps older folks up in arms but it seems in my cruising the web, there are plenty of folks with an opinion about Mrs. Obama and her sleeveless arms.
Now I don’t know Michelle and for all I know she could be a raving bitch in private but from what I have seen of her, she strikes me as a down to earth sista. I know she hails from the south-side of Chicago not too far from where my Granny lived and that she grew up in a house that looked a lot like my grandma’s house. (gotta love the Chicago brick bungalow…they almost all look the same) The fact that she could have never come back to the south-side of Chicago after college and law school but instead chose to settle in Chicago’s Hyde Park area also at least to me speaks of someone who never wants to forget their roots.
I spent at least 35-40% of my childhood on Chicago’s south-side and its a place that while it has its shitty areas, its a place that forms you and molds you. Even now I live in Maine which is 180 degrees from the old neighborhood but I sometimes lament the fact that my daughter will never know the south-side and its people. Its hard to explain but the south-side of Chicago can be a gritty place but at the same time it can be a place that inspires a level of loyalty and a sense of never forgetting where you come from no matter where you, its a place that grounds you.
Anyway back to Michelle, change is hard…I suspect its got to be hard to go from just being a worker, wife and mama to now being the First Lady of the United States. To go from being able to grab a wing plate at Harold’s on Fridays to reward yourself for eating nice and organic all week to now having your every move peeped at and analyzed by folks, some of who truthfully know jack about Black folks. Terrorist fist jab anyone?
On the other hand I have come across a fair number of upper-class Blacks who seem to feel that Michelle does not represent well. However considering she considers folks like Valerie Jarrett a personal friend that tells me that at some level Michelle must be able to wear the mask of being a working class person by origins even if that is not where she lives anymore on the class ladder well if she is friends with someone who clearly hails from the upper crust.
I don’t know but it seems to me that its rather unfair to judge Mrs. Obama on her fashion choices. Or better yet judge her to be lacking because she chooses to march to a different drum. I suspect in order to allow her husband to pursue his dream of being president, she has given up quite a bit. Again, not knowing either the president or first lady personally but I cannot imagine him telling her to dress more um…conservatively.
In my view Michelle represents a type of Black woman that many Black folks know in their personal lives yet the larger society is not familiar with; its the Michelle’s who do so much in our families and communities yet in the greater media representation we only see Sapphire, Jezebel or any other antiquated model for Black women. Or the new millenium hooch mama in music videos.
Call me crazy but I find the new First Lady to be refreshing, I suspect even if she were a white woman with the same background and style I would actually say the same thing. Yet the fact she is a brown skinned woman like myself and comes from a similar background only gives me an extra reason to smile.
I say with all that is going on in this country, seriously leave her arms alone….shit, she has well maintained arms and if she wants to show them off, more power to her.