What I’m audacious enough to hope for

So Obama’s finally the party nominee, with a 50% chance of actually becoming the President of the United States. Dare I hope for it? Of course. But I’ll be blunt: Obama’s far more conservative than I like. I know he needs to be that way to get elected, and I’m willing to tolerate it for now, but he’s very much the best of three underwhelming choices in my eyes.

And yet I admit it: I’m caught up in the Obamamania. I feel the hope. But when I listen to most of my fellow Obama supporters, I can’t help but shake my head at some of the things they expect him to do. I feel for the man; as many people as there are out there who seem to think he’s some kind of “inadequate” poster child for Affirmative Action, there are more who are clearly expecting him to part the Persian Gulf and conjure up cheap gas to feed the multitudes (of SUVs).

Yeah. Well, I wish them good luck with that. In the meantime, let me tell you what I’m hoping for right now, whether Obama wins or not.

  • I’m hoping that black men will stop hating black women. I expect I’ll get some hate mail for this one. I’m fully aware that many, many black men have resisted the media’s effort to reduce black women to stereotypes and objects, whether through so-called “good” images like BBFs and BAPs or execrable ones like those endless close-up shots of our half-covered asses. I’ve got enough good black men in my life to know that they’re neither rare nor exceptional. But there’s a dangerously large proportion of black men who have internalized all these negative depictions of us, and they hate us. There’s simply no better term for it. There’s no love in the way prominent black male entertainers lampoon us for profit. They’re not laughing “with” us. There’s no love in a man who proudly proclaims “bros before hos!” or any other male-bonding mechanism that requires the marginalization, rejection, or denigration of women. There’s no love in the tangible, consistent status distinctions black men make between black women and women of other races, ranking us at the bottom; as Kanye noted in Golddigger, “When he gets on (ahead), he’ll leave your ass for a white girl.”(And yeah, I’m specifically naming black men here, even though this hatred is endemic in our whole society, and even though it impacts both black and brown women. Usually I try to stay big-picture, but for the moment it’s this little corner of the picture that concerns me.)

    Obama’s wife Michelle is black. Waaaay back when the campaign started and many were questioning his blackness due to his biracial heritage and Huxtable-esque lifestyle, I didn’t. The simple fact of his choice of partner was enough to tell me that he Gets It. He sees how the friction between black men and women, and the endless finger-pointing over who’s to blame for that friction, serves only to enable further oppression of both. He has chosen to fight back. See, that’s how bad it’s gotten: the simple act of loving a black woman has become, for black men, a declaration of radical activism.

    So I’m hoping his choice will inspire others.

  • I’m also hoping that black women will stop hating themselves. We get bombarded with the same messages, after all, telling us that our primary value lies in having a big butt and a smile (but They should never trust us); or in being the expendable backup to a powerful white woman; or in helping middle-aged white guys through their midlife crises a la Bullworth and Bringin’ Down the House. We are ascribed so little value in and of ourselves. Even within our own community there seems to be an ongoing effort to diminish rather than celebrate our place in society. I left the black church because I got tired of male pastors exhorting me to “let” the black men in my life be men — as if I and only I stood between black men and World Domination ™. (I had no idea I was so powerful.) And here on ABW I continually see comments from otherwise reasonable and intelligent black men blaming black women for the destruction of the Civil Rights Movement, the black family, the black economy… everything but the damned black plague. And if that ever returns, I’m pretty sure we’ll get blamed for that too.So I want Michelle Obama, and Michelle Obama’s daughters, in the White House. I want them to show the world, but particularly the women who look like them, that this is what we are, too. And for fucking once, I want it to be not a mark of virility or “openmindedness” or radicalism to have a black woman at one’s side. I just want it to be normal.
  • I want black and brown people all over this country to believe again. The specifics of this belief are all over the place in my heart, but if I had to put words to it, I want us to believe in our own potential again, both as individuals and as a society. (I suppose I want that for white people too, but they’ve already got plenty of examples of success to reinforce this belief.) New immigrants tend to believe, I’ve noticed — and for a long time, I’d patronizingly and cynically assumed that this was simply because they hadn’t been here long enough to see the lay of the land. We’re almost a feudal society these days. Thirty years of Reaganomics have resulted in a grotesquely wealthy ruling class and a vast underclass of debt slaves. We’ve grown so used to this disparity, so socially-engineered and beaten down by it, that we’ve very nearly stopped believing that change is possible. I’d begun joking with friends in Canada and Europe that I’d come crash with them when the US collapsed into anarchy… and there was always an unfunny undercurrent of seriousness to the joke.Now I suspect that I owe every new immigrant an apology. Many of these folks have come from worse situations than even my sci-fi-trained imagination can conjure up — not many allegories for Rwanda or Darfur in SF — and yet they still have this optimistic “can-do” attitude. They wield that attitude fiercely, like the weapon it is. The simple belief that things can change provides the necessary impetus to change, and to work for more change.

    We all need to remember this feeling, and wield it as a weapon for ourselves. Whether he wins or loses, I don’t think Obama alone can spur it, not by any stretch — but I think his candidacy will help. Hell, I even think Clinton, regressive as she’s been, has helped. Just the fact that so many people are ready to work against the status quo, and that they’re so energized, because they believe… of course that will help too.

    So my hope is that what we’re witnessing is a watershed moment; the beginning of a much-needed seachange to true progressivism, rather than the Progressive Lite offered by both candidates. Then we can really get some work done.

So those are my hopes.

92 Responses

  1. HERE HERE!

  2. I’m so glad youy have made this post. I have also came across many black people that think Barack Obama will be the one that will fix the problems in the black community and it frustrates me. A lot of people fail to realize that if elected, Barack Obama will be the president of all of America, not just Black America. Your hope are realistic and I applaud you for that.

  3. Wonderful post. Especially about Michelle and her daughters proving negative steroetypes about black women and girls wrong. Again, awesome post.

  4. Actually, I often wonder about this phenomenon – why do I have such little hope (as a brown person who is like 5th generation American) and why do more recent immigrants have more hope? Am I so jaded and dissatisfied that I see nothing to be glad about? Bah. I don’t know. Maybe I need to be in contact with more brown people – the cultural isolation is harsh.

  5. I know all about that BAP shit. I grew up with all that.

  6. The hopes of so many are fixated on Obama that if he actually wins this election he better be capable of walking on water. I actually feel for him in the sense that no one man is capable of achieving the overwhelming task that has been set out in front of him. I don’t agree with his politics in the sense that he is not nearly left enough for me, however he did make one hell of a good choice when he picked a wife. A am a huge Michelle fan. It is she who inspires me to hope.

  7. What you said. All of it.

  8. Is there anyone who isnt encouraged to hate Black women?

  9. There’s something about this photo that just thrills me.

  10. Here’s the thing, Obama believes in his ability to lead the country. He believed he would get the nomination and win the election. So far it hasn’t failed him. He’s stayed positive, disciplined, focused and worked very hard. Heck – so has Michelle! She’s been right there next to him. You saw the dap they gave each other when he accepted the nomination. Now that he’s shown us we have to meet him half-way at least and carry the torch and do the work and yes – believe. It’s faith, it’s the Secret, it’s Dale Carnegie, it’s whatever you want to call it. It’s vision for a better future with a plan and support to make it happen.

    He put the smackdown on Miss Hillary that’s for sure! Charles Rangel told her to step in line behind Obama or move out the way. Even Tubbs-Jones was agreeable on tv tonight. No PAC or lobbyist money for the DNC. I will sleep well tonight for there is much work to done.

  11. Thank you for such a wonderful post. I too have hope in my heart that things are changing for the better with Obama getting the nomination.

    However, there was one thing of import that I remembered when reading all the commentary on his historical feat: the fact that the MSM concentrates on white women as the “women voters” while forgetting how black women figure into this election season as well.

    And, I am glad that you have mentioned Michelle Obama’s role in her husband’s campaign. I like her as well. And, I don’t appreciate the fact that the MSM (especially those right wing blowhards) treat her so horribly by parsing her words and as using racism to make it into something they are not.

    It shows how little respect they give to black women and their role in society. But if Obama makes it into the White House, I believe that Michelle Obama with her prowess and power might pave the way to reframe the First Lady into something more dynamic.

    That aspect, among many other things reflect the hopes that I have. I certainly hope that this will be a watershed event in which a lot of changes come to the surface. This is a time of courage, decency and conscience. I hope that there are many of us who will pass the test to make America a better place.

    Take care,

    Ceci

  12. I love your post… Well said and powerful… But I also second Delux. It’s not just black men who are encouraged to hate black women…

    The way black women were treated as invisible in this election, both in the MSM and by so-called feminist leaders and organizations, will stay with me for a long long time. In fact, I might go so far as to say that this election might be looked back on as the death of second-wave feminism–when so many people, from Steinem to Jong to Morgan to various NOW leaders, threw women of color under the bus. Not by endorsing Hillary Clinton, mind you (nothing wrong with that), but by making the argument that “women” are white women and “sexism” is a white woman’s problem and gender always trumps race and the two concerns can be so neatly separated that if you have two candidates, one’s a white woman and the other’s a black man, and you know nothing else about them, you are evil if you do not immediately and passionately pick the white woman.

    I can’t even blame Hillary Clinton… She wanted to win at all costs, but that’s what EVERY politician wants, so nothing unique there… But the way so many people sold out on everything they’d ever said about racism and said pick the white woman, nodded in agreement with Ferraro and said pick the white woman, identified as “hardworking whites” and said pick the white woman, compared Obama to Jesse Jackson and said pick the white woman, whispered “quota hire” and said pick the white woman… This is going to stay with a lot of people forever.

  13. My wife and I hadn’t seen any images of his wife (which is weird, really) until last night on the daily show- and we both had the same reaction- she is beautiful.

    Also- I’m caught in Obamamania, but I don’t expect a lot out of the man. I’m mainly hoping for two main things- That America finally gets out of this shit stink that the rest of the country smells all over us (because, face it, the guy has dignity. As a president I think we can finally face the rest of the world with our heads held high again, and no longer have to say, Yes, I’m an American, but no, I don’t act like that) and the other side is I’m hoping for the same thing I hoped with Hillary- that these promises on the campaign trail will come true.

    I’m also a realist. I’ve heard the nationwide healthcare thing before. So, I know that if Bill Clinton couldn’t do it, it’s probably not highly probable. But at the same time, we have a majority Democratic House and Senate…

    I don’t know. I’ve never been this excited about an election before. But it excites me.

  14. Yes.

  15. Thank you for the post. I, Like you, have many good Black men in my life, but living in the village of Harlem it is rare to find good Black men who love and respect Black women. As you said so eloquently, they HATE us, and so many of us hate ourselves. I’m hoping that the image of Michelle, and especially the LOVE she and Barack have for each other, will somehow cause us to to reclaim our love for one another, for Black love (not just romantic love) is a BEAUTIFUL thing to see, and THEY know it, which is why so much time has been spent on breaking down the Black family.

    No doubt about it, Obama has a long road ahead of him, as evidenced by his constantly having to denounce his spiritual leaders(who, really just spoke the truth)…When THEY never have had to denounce Billy Graham or Jerry Falwell, and we all know they have said some OUTRAGEOUS things in the past.

    However, I do believe this just may be a watershed moment. I certainly have the audacity to hope so.

  16. ::applause::

    Well-stated, nojojojo. Like Paul Jessup, I also hope that “America finally gets out of this shit stink that the rest of the country smells all over us,” but more fundamentally, I hope that America realizes that our shit stinks, period. The arrogance of waging war with Iraq, the viciousness we show undocumented workers who do jobs that some Americans won’t do, the indifference we show with the acquittal of Sean Bell and other victims of police brutality (usually Black and Brown men), the nonchalance we give to women of color who are sexually violated and/or killed…yeah, we need to check ourselves.

  17. ouf!

  18. Delux, Tom,

    Yeah, I agree — women of color in general, and black women in particular, have gotten the short end of both the racism and sexism sticks, with a twig of classism (since black women are disproportionately poor) thrown in. Which IMO is what makes the second-wave white feminist attacks especially rage-inducing, because they’re not just promoting racism with their bullshit, but sexism itself. It’s the sexism of comparison: in order to put white women on a pedestal, WoC have necessarily been put down. This forces all sorts of unrealistic expectations on the white women — e.g., white women must be the epitome of beauty; white women are desirable possessions/objects; white women can do no wrong. No woman in her right mind wants to be thought of that way, because in order to live up to those expectations she can’t be human. But the second-wavers keep trying to reject the pedestal without rejecting the putting-down of WoC that forms the pedestal’s base. They don’t seem to realize that as long as the pedestal is built on our backs, they’re never going to be able to get off the damn thing.

    …Sorry, digression. Anyway, I know the whole world has been trained to hate black women. I’m used to that. My concern was for the particular corner of the world that should have our backs, and doesn’t.

  19. I’ve got nothin’ to justify it, but I’m looking forward to a black first lady as much as a black president…For the first time EVER, I may actually pay attention to what the first lady says and does!

  20. Why does the notion of no lobbyists and no PAC money help you sleep at night? While the forces that oppress you are represented by lobbyists and PACs, the only voices that support you that can get any campaign airtime are also those of lobbyists and PACs. It’s the only way to scale down the number of speakers in order to make it possible to hear anyone — the independent input of millions is the bussing of bees.

  21. Brilliant, brilliant post.

    And Tom, I agree with you wholeheartedly. I think it was the Geraldine Ferraro comments in particular that drove that home for me.

  22. “My concern was for the particular corner of the world that should have our backs, and doesn’t.”

    I understand, but I think that they way it was addressed in that part of the post really doesnt shine enough of a spotlight on how misogyny and sexism intertwine to create an envrionment in which that has become not just ok but profitable. Like Jelani said about hiphop and commercialism,

    “It is not coincidental that hip hop has made Ni@$a the most common noun in popular music but you have almost never heard any certified thug utter the word cracker, ofay, honky, peckerwood, wop, dago, guinea, kike or any other white-oriented epithet. The reason for that is simple: Massa ain t havinâ it. The word fag, once a commonplace derisive in the music has all but disappeared from hip hop’s vocabulary. (Yes, these thugs fear the backlash from white gays too.) And bitch is still allowed with the common understanding that the term is referring to black women. The point is this: debasement of black communities is entirely acceptable– required even– by hip hop’s predominantly white consumer base.”

  23. sorry that should be “misogyny and racism intertwine”

  24. thanks for posting this
    I’m an 18 year old black male living in Canada and i see what u mean when you say that black men need to stop hating black women. The poisonous media has a big role and unfortunately conditions the mind of the youth to think this way.
    Hopefully, this recklessness can come to an end.
    Keep up the good work.

  25. If second-wave feminism were to die, I really wouldn’t mind it. I’m saying this as a former feminist who saw that I was nothing more than a pawn for a bunch of entitled white women who wanted to treat me as if I didn’t matter.

    May it be replaced with something more positive.

    But “progressive” movements that are predicated on nothing but their own bigotry and racism to make themselves seem so much more needy and should be taken so much more seriously than everyone else – they seem to fall by the wayside, and rightfully so.

  26. I am a 42 year old physician, who is almost finished law school and yet I never thought I would see the day that a political party in the US would actually choose a Black man to run for president AND he has a Black wife too. I just can’t believe it. Despite what happens in November, I am so proud of Mr. and Mrs. Obama. He has conducted himself with such dignity and he has truly given his daughters something to be proud of all the days of their lives. Thank you God for letting me see this day.

  27. A and nojojo –“But “progressive” movements that are predicated on nothing but their own bigotry and racism to make themselves seem so much more needy and should be taken so much more seriously than everyone else – they seem to fall by the wayside, and rightfully so.”

    Would you include Obamamania as one of these movements?

    The Obamaniacs are basically telling Muslims, 3rd worlders, and anybody who’s suffered under the US war machine that we’re supposed to be excited about a guy who was pro-gigantic-US-military-base-in-Africa, who wants to increase the US military by A HUNDRED THOUSAND TROOPS, and who talks about ‘finishing the job with Al Qaeda’ (a meaningless euphemism that can justify civilian-killing stirkes pretty much anywhere he wants).

    I’m worried about dead brown kids and starving women in headscarves. But too fucking bad — America NEEDS to ‘come together’. And American voters NEED to feel hope again. And the US NEEDS to feel like it’s gotten over its racial problem. So stop being a party pooper, man!

    This, then, is the conflict that nojojo’s complex, challenging original post raises for me. I’m Arab, my wife’s Black. If we are blessed with a little girl, I am well aware that she will have the cards stacked against her by white society in terms of what possibilities she can imagine for herself. I will be working every day to counteract this nonsense. But am I really supposed to point at Michelle Obama and be like “See, baby, you can stand next to your husband and smile in the Rose Garden while he orders the bombing/homicidal embargoing of children, just like the white girls do!”

    Excuse my French, but *fuck* that.

  28. How idealistic. All of the will in the world cannot easily erase years of institutionalized discrimination which has had real and actual material consequences for African American people. Contrary to popular belief attitude and a good work ethic is not everything, People work several steady jobs their entire life and never become wealthy or otherwise affluent. Making it in America takes more and it’s not as simple as requiring that people have a will and a desire to achieve and to overcome. With that said, I do believe that Obama will help improve the image and esteem of all people especially black people who have begun to lose hope. I also “feel the hope.”

  29. “If second-wave feminism were to die, I really wouldn’t mind it.”

    Change ism to ists and you’re right on. Some of these old white ladies are saying they’d rather throw their votes away than vote Dem because Obama won. I’m a feminist but I’m wishing for a different term because of them.

    *disclaimer – white. female. young enough to fear the consequences of McCain in full.

  30. Saladin, I know you weren’t talking specifically to me, but I’ve thought a lot about what you’ve written, and I wanted to respond. No, I can’t ask you to share my enthusiasm, and it’s modulated by the concerns you raise.

    But I have to be thrilled by what this represents for my country, which is progress, tremendous progress. Not perfection, not by a long, sad way; we have so far to go. But good god, look what we’re coming from.

    While Obama does not at this point adopt all of the positions you and I both wish he would, and may never do so, he seems light years closer to those positions than any other candidate now on the scene. More importantly, he seems amenable to reason, to evidence, and to debate. Perhaps I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid, but I have the sense that he can be persuaded by principled argument. Neither of the other two candidates (well, the other one, now) gives me this sense.

    You’re absolutely right to criticize and to continue to point out what’s missing and what needs to be considered. I don’t want you to feel that when I’m happy about Obama’s candidacy, it’s because I blind myself to his deficiencies. It’s because, even with them, he seems likely to me to be such a massive improvement, certainly on the current administration, and on his opponent. And also — and I’m sad that you can’t, for very valid reasons, share this — because yes, he is to me a symbol of tremendous hope for change.

    My childhood took place in the 60s. That hope was engendered in me then. It has since been badly abused, but it has never entirely died. It is the hope that this country, that I truly love so much, might become what Dr. King dreamed it could be. Perhaps I am romanticizing, perhaps I am projecting what I want to see, but when I look at that photo of Barack and Michelle Obama, and I think of Dr. King, it fills my heart. It seems to me, not the goal, not the full realization of that dream, but a hugely important moment.

    I hope Obama feels the full responsibility of this. I believe he does. I hope he will become the leader we want him to be. I hope.

  31. Saladin – Michelle Obama is not the type of woman that strikes me as some smiling wife that would sanction the killing of a lot of brown people without having her say. She’s someone that I have met in person, her and her husband, when they were in the state of IL. Michelle Obama is nothing like Cindy McCain, Laura Bush or Nancy Reagan. If Barack fucks up, she’s going to be in his face. Michelle Obama is not what I would consider as being the typical first wife in being quiet and standing behind her husband. If anything, she’ll be in there probably giving him advice, and likely, very sound advice.

    Susie stated a lot of things that I feel. I’m not one of the Obama people that are completely blind to his deficiencies. I’m well aware that there will be problems that will come about during his presidency that may undermine his mantra of Hope and Change. But what I do personally feel is that the is a damn better choice than the alternative, and I felt him to be a damn better choice than Hillary as well.

    What I personally felt about the military base in Africa was that we could help out in other countries over there that need the assistance, such as Sudan and other such regions. I have to actually read up more on that, so if it is the opposite, I can learn about that a bit more. Also, with extending our troops, If most of them were to serve here and help out our National Guard (because with this war, we have pretty much extended our troops quite thin), or assist in countries like Sudan (and not bring those countries down like Iraq), and if he wasn’t going to take a turn like George Bush, then I don’t see the problem so much. Again, if it’s the opposite, please, let me know. I am 110% open to other opinions.

  32. First off: great post, nojojojo.

    Now, as long as we’re talking American foreign policy, let’s not forget about Afghanistan. (“Afghanistan” is a word I almost never hear uttered in American public discourse anymore.) The actions the U.S. is committing over there are not any less criminal, devastating, and horrific than what the country is doing in Iraq; you just get to hear/read about them even less. Let’s see how Obama deals with this, considering that he has frequently and alarmingly called Afghanistan the legitimate front in “the war on terror”(TM).

    Obama’s AIPAC speech raised way too many flags for me. It performed a complete erasure of the Palestinian experience and perspective. Not cool. Not a sign of hope there.

    And yet. And yet. I’m glad that Obama’s got the nomination and I really hope that he and Michelle and their kids get into the White House.

    I would suggest that audacity is not only the courage to hope, but is also the courage to be critical. The two are not mutually exclusive and, in fact, necessitate each other. Let’s hold on to both.

  33. Folks various and sundry:

    I’ll do one better than those who say Obama is better than Clinton or McCain and say that he’s the least conservative and imperialistic mainstream candidate we’ve had since Bill Clinton — maybe since Jimmy Carter.

    But — and this is really all I’ve been saying all throughout my loudmouthed Obama-bashing here — anyone who expects the president of the united states to be on the side of gay people or poor people or Black people or (esp.) 3rd world people is in deep denial of reality.

    The federal government of the United States is not our friend. It’s a vicious institution — the purpose of which (under dems as well as repubs) has always been to make a very small percentage of the population even richer than they already are. The federal govt was founded on and perpetuates itself via near-genocidal stances toward Native America, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. The US military is not designed to lend ‘assistance’ to or ‘help’ the third world, as A put it. Armies *kill* people. That’s what they’re designed to do.

    None of this is going to magically change because a half-liberal half-principled half-Black man gets to sit at the Death Star controls. I remember 1992 and hoping that a working-class liberal Prez. just might make all the difference — and, after all, I said, anything’s better than Bush (the first one). Then Bill Clinton invaded/bombed civilians in Haiti, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, Serbia, etc,etc., enabled the corporate sweatshop system, sold out the two Black women in his cabinet, helped build a record number of prisons for young Black men and killed OVER A MILLION PEOPLE IN IRAQ WITH SANCTIONS.

    And all the while liberals didn’t say shit. Because it was the .com boom and we had a charming Democratic Prez. So with Obama while even I still nurture little shreds of hope hope — MAYBE less-sellout-ish Michelle will keep him decent, MAYBE all these folks that are sweating him so hard will actually care if he keeps his promises and won’t just look the other way and mumble the first time he bombs Arab kids, MAYBE Rev Wright’s critical influence will still resonate in the decisions Obama makes, even if O did throw his elder to the Fox News wolves.

    But I’m not holding my breath.

  34. Saladin writes:
    “I’ll do one better than those who say Obama is better than Clinton or McCain and say that he’s the least conservative and imperialistic mainstream candidate we’ve had since Bill Clinton — maybe since Jimmy Carter.”

    I’d say definitely since Jimmy Carter, since Clinton was pretty openly a proponent of the unitary executive theory, but I agree that we can’t expect the president to be a radical, and the reform we need is radical. I believe Obama will be a great president, as presidents go, but he will not be able to save this country. Radical policy change without radical cultural change would simply prompt a backlash by the status quo, undoing the change and inflicting a little policy damage as punishment–one step forward, two steps back. This is why the liberal approach of policy reform, while helpful, is not good enough. We need to change the way people think.

  35. See, that may be one difference between us. I never particularly trusted Clinton. I was aware of his record before becoming President, and it didn’t make me that hopeful. I thought he was better than the Republicans, but definitely no better than the lesser of two evils.

    Obama I feel better about, although it’s really little more than a gut feeling, and I’m old enough and cynical enough to be prepared to have that feeling repudiated by reality.

    I also know how many Black parents let their kids stay up to hear his speech, and what it means for those children to see a Black man (even a far from politically ideal one) as a major national leader behind whom people of all races are uniting. This is the kind of thing that’s making me happy — the kind of thing that’s good just purely on a symbolic level. I hope that he transcends that, but that’s important, no matter what.

  36. Obama is a cult of personality.
    While I appreciate that his family is a rainbow like mine, I do not appreciate that it is also sexist like parts of mine.
    I don’t like the subservient wife role his wife appears to condone
    after having been his mentor and equal.
    I saw her smile and nod when a white reporter called her the rock behind Barrack. It made me cringe.
    It makes me cringe that he comes from a church that I know too well.
    I know it’s anti-semite, Afro-victim, sexist ways.
    I know it too well. It’s the church he was raising daughters in.
    G\I’m glad he left it (for pandering reasons), but, cringing that he is a part of that thinking.
    He is not a feminist.
    It’s such a simple thing. You are either ready to fight for women’s rights or not, and he is not. He is of that ol’ ugly mind-fuck mind set that says black women gotta get behind their men in order for change to happen….Well, like I said to cousins, boyfriends and a fiance’ all thru my life, that is not enough change for me. It’s not the right change for me as a woman.
    His daughters were being raised in a Sunday school that taught abortion as murder to a 12 year old cousin of mine.
    You can’t call that change, you can’t have freedom for some and call it freedom.
    So, good luck to him and his cult of personality. May they beat out the evil, old white man who is blatantly against everything I believe in. But, it takes more than a change in skin tone to create real, effective change I can be proud of.

    I’m voting independent.

  37. “And here on ABW I continually see comments from otherwise reasonable and intelligent black men blaming black women for the destruction of the Civil Rights Movement, the black family, the black economy… everything but the damned black plague.”

    Black women play a big role in the destruction of the black family, the traditional, intact, two parent family, by continously becoming pregnant by men who aren’t interested in being fathers or in having us as wives/life partners, but are merely looking for sexual fulfillment. If we insist on being sexually active outside the union of marriage, then it is our responsibility to ensure we do not become pregnant.

  38. Hara,

    Michelle Obama is anything but subservient and she’s not at all capitulating to the conventions of the First-Lady role. I honestly think that your take on TUCC is very ill-informed and – this might come off as disrespectful – too resonant of the media hysteria surrounding its political culture. “I know it’s anti-semite, Afro-victim, sexist ways”? Gimme a bloody break, hara. You were ready to vote for Hillary who is a gazillion times more problematic than Obama. Whatever assumptions you have about Obama’s anti-feminist, anti-“freedom” ways – fine. But please don’t spread your disinformation here.

  39. Right On, Rahimeh!

  40. Thank you, Sylvia! At the risk of belaboring my point, I will say that hara’s comment is irritating as hell and dangerously close to being troll-like.

  41. Rhonda-

    I- um, I think that view is a bit simplistic, and is coming off as putting virtually all the blame on women. Men can lie, you know. And women can have messed up self-esteem and been given very little value. And the responsibility to not get someone pregnant should be pretty much 50/50 in the two consenting adult having sex. Forgetting some of these impregnanted women may not have been consenting. And the thought that two parent “traditional” family is the only way to go is very ethnocentric.

  42. Hara, you fail.

    Why is it, that you keep coming in Obama-related posts, on this blog, and parrot around such horrible misinformation and such?

    I third Rahimeh. You really are sounding like a troll here.

    You want to talk about feminism? Feminism has alienated WoC, and will continue to do so. You weren’t around when the big example of that came up. I hope you seriously aren’t pissy because most of us here aren’t voting with our anatomy.

    If you want to talk about Michelle Obama being docile, you clearly have been a victim of the Mainstream Media screwing you over. If you want a good example of how she is, you should probably check the time where she was on the Colbert Report. Cindy McCain is docile and sweet. Michelle Obama sure as hell is not.

    We are concerned about women’s rights here – but the way you’re talking, you’re talking as if women’s rights are more deserving to be fought for than the rights of racism. We don’t like playing Oppression Olympics here. Don’t try to overshadow one issue in favor of another.

  43. Oh, those black women! Recklessly destroying family life with their irresponsible sexuality and fertility!

    Where have I heard that song before, Rhonda? Oh, at every single intersection of racism and misogyny.

  44. Hara, how is it feminist to belittle Michelle Obama? Please explain that to me, because it completely passes me by.

    Frankly, if anything, Michelle strikes me as more independent than Hillary. Do you see her letting Barack stick around for five minutes if he’d been caught executing any of Bill’s many hijinks? And how’s that for a message to young women: “Let your husband lie to you and abuse other women as much as he pleases, as long as he continues to be your conduit to power.” Yuck.

  45. I think that’s pretty low, Susie. Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama have in common the fact that they gave up their careers and hitched themselves to charismatic men likely to achieve more power than they could themselves. There’s a message there, as well, and I think it’s probably a realistic one for women who seek power. I don’t think that extramarital affairs make a startling difference. Now, if you want to point out that Hillary stood by while Bill gutted AFDC, that’s more convincing. On the other hand, I’m not sure what else a First Lady’s role–or any political wife’s role, really–would be. That’s what they seem to do. They might do any number of things behind the scenes, but in public, they Stand By. I’ve never found the rhetoric of “Political Wife wouldn’t let Politician get away with X” very convincing. What, exactly, is she gonna do even if she does disagree?

  46. I think that’s pretty low, Susie… I don’t think that extramarital affairs make a startling difference.

    Sorry, I disagree. If we were only talking about extramarital affairs, I wouldn’t care. We’re talking about repeated sexual harassment of much less powerful women whom he subsequently attacked and defamed. Bill Clinton got a pass from feminists on repugnant behavior that would have occasioned howls of protest coming from anyone else. Read this excellent article by Marjorie Williams. And remember that if Monica Lewinsky hadn’t had the good luck to hold on to that blue dress, he and Hillary would have destroyed “that woman”, as they were very much gearing up to do before its existence was known. Moreover, you will never in a million years get me to believe that she didn’t strongly suspect he was lying long before he supposedly revealed the truth to her.

    As for what “any political wife” might do, that only works if someone isn’t being held up as the feminist Second Coming and her supporters aren’t belittling other political wives for not meeting that standard. At that point, people have a right to demand more, like repudiating behavior that’s abusive of other women, much less oneself.

  47. I witnessed her smile and nod agreeably to the title “the rock behind Barrack” on CNN. You can do the research and find it
    yourself.
    I’m not a troll, I simply disagree with you and I have a different perspective.
    She was is mentor and now she is being applauded for standing behind him.
    I am not happy with that “standing behind your man” and “behind every successful man” attitude. i thought we were going to get past that and let women have their own careers, stand next to and in front- but behind?
    it triggers all those times I’ve heard it said
    and I’ve heard it said too many times.

    how is that feminist?
    I want women to be treated equally, not just to be in a supportive role.

  48. I think that’s pretty low, Susie… I don’t think that extramarital affairs make a startling difference.

    Sorry, I disagree. If we were only talking about extramarital affairs, I wouldn’t care. We’re talking about repeated sexual harassment of much less powerful women whom he subsequently attacked and defamed. Bill Clinton got a pass from feminists on repugnant behavior that would have occasioned howls of protest coming from anyone else. Read this excellent article by Marjorie Williams. And remember that if Monica Lewinsky hadn’t had the good luck to hold on to that blue dress, he and Hillary would have destroyed “that woman”, as they were very much gearing up to do before its existence was known. Moreover, you will never in a million years get me to believe that she didn’t strongly suspect he was lying long before he supposedly revealed the truth to her.

    As for what “any political wife” might do, that only works if someone isn’t being held up as the feminist Second Coming and her supporters aren’t belittling other political wives for not meeting that standard. At that point, people have a right to demand more, like repudiating behavior that’s abusive of other women, much less oneself.

  49. Sorry, I didn’t close the tag properly on the first one. Please feel free to delete it, and this.

  50. Rhonda,

    Black women play a big role in the destruction of the black family, the traditional, intact, two parent family, by continously becoming pregnant by men who aren’t interested in being fathers or in having us as wives/life partners, but are merely looking for sexual fulfillment. If we insist on being sexually active outside the union of marriage, then it is our responsibility to ensure we do not become pregnant.

    Wow. Just wow.

    I’ve heard this same argument from countless men who seem to think it’s shocking, shocking I tell you, that they screwed some woman and ::gasp:: she got pregnant. And it’s all her fault!!

    Well, maybe it is her fault. Maybe she should’ve forced him to put a rubber on, even though he’s bigger and stronger and a full-grown adult who ostensibly knows the birds from the bees. Reproduction is wholly a woman’s responsibility, after all. Men are just walking bags of sperm, completely lacking in anything resembling a brain or free will, and you just can’t go playing around with big bags of sperm. It’s unsanitary. And they’re just so delicate —

    Wait. That doesn’t sound right.

    OK, maybe the men tripped and fell with their dicks out, and got stuck in some woman totally by accident. Probably her fault for lying there, legs open, trying to trip a brother up.

    Or, or maybe, maybe she thought he loved her and was committed, or maybe they were even married, and then when she told him she was pregnant he up and left. That’s gotta be her fault, right? Maybe she was a shrew. Maybe she was ugly, fat, too old, or too young. Maybe he was married to someone else — she should’ve known that, right? Women are supposed to magically be able to sense that shit. Yeah!! Either way, it’s totally her fault that he doesn’t want to bother raising the child his DNA helped create. Bad enough he’s got to pay for the kid these days; why, back in my granddaddy’s day, black women knew better than to ask for help raising their kids. They knew their place, dammit — which was in some white lady’s house, raising her kids. How dare women expect men to help raise the little crumbsnatchers? Hell, all she did was risk her life and health for nine months, give up her future, and take on a psychological and emotional burden that no amount of child support could ever cover.

    And it’s all. Our. Fault.

    Bad black women. Bad! No biscuits (n’ gravy). We’re too fat anyway, and those biscuits are for the white lady’s kids.

    Misogyny is blaming only one half of a set for something that both halves did.

  51. I witnessed her smile and nod agreeably to the title “the rock behind Barrack” on CNN. You can do the research and find it yourself.

    Again, I’m reacting to portraying this as an unforgivable sin for a feminist political wife to commit, while acting as cover for your husband’s repeated unsolicited groping of other women, or taking advantage of much younger subordinates and then attacking them when the affair comes to light, is apparently a-okay. And I could easily be wrong, I suppose, but I really have a sense that Michelle Obama would never have stood for that kind of behavior.

  52. I witnessed her smile and nod agreeably to the title “the rock behind Barrack” on CNN. You can do the research and find it yourself.

    hara,

    I would preface what I’m about to say with the phrase “with all due respect,” but frankly your comment deserves no respect whatsoever. You think Michelle Obama’s statement that she is “the rock behind Barrack” means that she’s abdicating the power and equality she has in their marriage? What a ludicrous and simplistic understanding of relationship dynamics as well as of language/everyday phrases. Enough already, hara. You ARE behaving like a troll, even if you don’t see yourself as one.

  53. I don’t think it’s troll-like to point out that which Hara is pointing out!

    Being an Arab man, I’m the last dude to celebrate narrow-minded, racist white feminist notions of what constitutes a woman’s power. According to those moronic notions, there’s not a powerful woman in all of Saudi Arabia!

    BUT

    It IS absolutely striking that Michelle Obama peer-mentored her husband through law school and, frankly, half-taught him how to “be Black” in the sense of African-American cultural practice. But now she’s the rock BEHIND him and her ‘power’ in terms of public representation has to do mostly with him going ‘oh, hee-hee, I can’t get too arrogant b/c I’ve a got a wife and daughters AT HOME that keep my head from getting too big’. Whatever the case at home, in the realm of public discourse this is patriarchal, fake-power-granting, patronizing BS. If George Bush said that shit about Laura, everyone here would see it and call it for what it is…

  54. Saladin,

    Do you also agree with hara’s “critique” of TUCC? It seems to me that you’re very selective in your defense of hara’s points so that you can take yet another chance not only to criticize the Obamas – which is perfectly legitimate – but to relentlessly insinuate that everyone here who has a couple of positive words to say about the Obama family is some kind of deluded cult member.

    I’m sorry, but it *is* ludicrous to take one phrase uttered by Michelle – “rock behind Barack” – and cast it as a sign and harbinger of a deep transformation of her role in their marriage. If that’s not a classic right-wing smear tactic, I don’t know what is.

    And, Saladin, gimme a break on the hypothetical Bush analogy. If and when such discrepancies in criticisms happen here, then you’re free to indulge in the comparison. But, frankly, I don’t find the use of hypothetical, nonexistent cases to make a point very convincing or legitimate.

  55. nojojojo, on June 9th, 2008 at 9:16 pm Said:

    I read your response, and honestly, it’s this defensive stance that some sistas take that makes me shy away from this topic, not only on discussion boards, but in person. At the same time, the “victim” mentality grates at my nerves to the point where I have to say something…can I say some things here…can we talk honestly about this without the defensiveness?

    Can we say that some sistas make just plain old dumb ass choices in the men we choose to lay down with? Can we say that some of us still mistake the physical intensity of sex for the emotional intensity of being in love? Can we say that some of us are just trifling when it comes to birth control…at a time when birth control has never been more effective that it is in year 2008? Can we say that we are so eager to please a man that, rather than say, “either put the condom on, or you gotta bounce”, that we end up stupidly having unprotected sex with him? Can we say that it is unrealistic to expect a man who does not love us or feel any emotional attachment to us, to be pleased when we announce that we’re pregnant with his child…and that the most we can expect from his is the court ordered child support we can get from him? Can we say that we need to better guard our gift of reproductive ability? Can we say that, because we are the ones who are left “holding the bag”, so to speak, that the onus of responsibility for not becoming pregnant falls on us? Can we say that there will always be men who behave irresponsibily, who spread their seed all over the place, and that we should avoid those men, because while we CANNOT control THEIR behavior, we CAN control OURS?

    Ladies, I speak from experience.

    I have found myelf pregnant twice in my life. The first by a man I had been seeing a couple of months. I told him I was pregnant; he told me he wasn’t interested, To be honest, I wasn’t surprised at his response. I terminated the pregnancy….bringing a child into the world without a father who wanted it was not an option) and our “relationship”. I take full responsibility for my own stupidity. Needless to say, I never allowed this to happen to me again.

    Second time I became pregnant, it was by my husband. We’re still married, he’s a wonderful husband and father. Again, I take full responsibility for my choice.

    I want us to make better choices, because when we don’t, we are not the only ones who deal with the consequences.

  56. From what I found on the web (so I could be wrong) Michelle Obama didn’t call herself “the rock behind Barack”. She just didn’t, in an interview, when the interviewer referred to her that way (moreover, in an aside as he moved on to another interview) make a stink about it. Moreover, if I understand what’s apparently a nickname other people have given her correctly, it’s meant to convey more about her being a rock than about being behind him.

    Look, I really don’t understand what’s anti-feminist about this. What feminism is supposed to accomplish, in my view, is to allow women to make choices. That doesn’t mean they will all make the same ones. She’s an accomplished woman who’s dedicated herself to being part of a political couple. If you’re going to do that and have kids, one way to manage that is that one person steps back and lets the other person be the more public, active partner. That is not, in and of itself, sexist, unless you’re of the belief that the work women have traditionally done is less valuable and worthy of respect than that of being in public life. Which is itself arguably a sexist belief.

    If the roles were reversed and Barack were “the rock behind Michelle” we’d think he was awesome. I don’t know how behavior we’d find awesome in a man becomes reprehensible in a woman. Maybe not particularly remarkable, not ground-breaking or different. But there’s nothing wrong with it. She’s not trying to keep other women from making different choices, she’s just made hers, and it’s to function as part of a team, rather than the star. Since when is leader-worship a feminist principle?

  57. De-lurking to say: Great post, ABW!

    and…

    Rhonda: You’ll probably say, “if it doesn’t apply to you….” to my comment (and WHERE have I heard THAT before? Oh yeah….the “b*tches and “h*s” thing), but…..

    Not ALL BW constantly get “knocked up” by BM who won’t marry them….nor are they the ONLY ones….there are many….dare I say legions of BW who are childless (by choice) or have decided to delay childbearing until they are ready…..

    IMHO, the BC needs to stop defining womanhood solely on the basis of being able to bear children….think about it….

  58. Saladin and Hara, I don’t see what is wrong with Michelle Obama nodding her head in acceptance of the nickname “the rock behind Barack.” It appears that at this point in the couple’s lives, that is exactly who she is. She comes acrosss as a strong, beautiful, intelligent, and charming worman. Barack is very lucky to have her in his life. What’s more, it seems clear that he knows how lucky he is. Being a supportive spouse is nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe at some point in the future, he will get the chance to be “the rock behind Michelle.” If that ever happens, I hope he does a better job than Bill Clinton did for his wife.

  59. If you’re going to do that and have kids, one way to manage that is that one person steps back and lets the other person be the more public, active partner. That is not, in and of itself, sexist, unless you’re of the belief that the work women have traditionally done is less valuable and worthy of respect than that of being in public life.

    And it’s just a big ol’ coincidence that the one who stepped back was the woman and the one who stepped forward into the limelight was the man? Gee, what a coincidence. Just the arrangement that fits into the 1950s white middle-class family pattern that politicians are held to. Feminism isn’t just about choices; it’s about understanding the power dynamics behind those choices. I’m sure Michelle Obama did what she did for a number of reasons, and I’m equally sure that one of those reasons was that her husband had a far better chance than she of going far in politics. It also left her more vulnerable and dependent financially, as any full-time homemaker who’s gone through a divorce can tell you. She made a choice to fit into a patriarchal gender paradigm because she felt that other concerns were worth it. That she made a choice doesn’t make her choice exempt from critique or analysis.

  60. @ Rahimeh

    Of course I’m selective in my agreement with Hara’s OP — she said several things, some of which I agreed with (“I don’t like the subservient wife role his wife appears to condone after having been his mentor and equal”) some of which I (to say the least) disagreed with. My point was simply that it wasn’t really a troll post.

    @Susie
    “one way to manage that is that one person steps back and lets the other person be the more public, active partner. That is not, in and of itself, sexist, unless you’re of the belief that the work women have traditionally done is less valuable and worthy of respect than that of being in public life.”

    Except that our culture puts far more value on the work of men than on traditional ‘women’s work’. President is a more powerful and prestigous position than first lady, period. It wasn’t just *chance* that Michelle was the one to ‘step back.’ Why isn’t *she* running for president?

    “If the roles were reversed and Barack were “the rock behind Michelle” we’d think he was awesome. I don’t know how behavior we’d find awesome in a man becomes reprehensible in a woman.”

    Because your hypothetical would represent a man voluntarily, supportively giving up the chance at public, political power to (not for) a woman he loves. Much rarer than the reverse, which is the default setting and probably constitutes %99.999999 percent of American political history.

    @ all

    I’m not saying anything general about people who make ‘traditional’ marriage choices. I’m talking about a specific case. I’m also not saying anything about the way in which the Obamas conduct their marriage in private. I don’t know anything about that (and neither does anyone who doesn’t know them personally). I’m talking about the source of everything most of us on here know about the Obamas — media representations and carefully crafted imagery. Obama has chosen to exploit the political currency of some pretty patriarchal imagery — just like 99.9% of politicians before them. Obama’s not any worse than the average politician for doing so. But it’s one argument against his being any better.

  61. Saladin,

    You didn’t address my point. Is there merit and logic in taking a common expression (“rock behind…”) and twisting it into some ominous sign of sinister things (i.e. Michelle’s supposed and sudden transformation into a “subservient” wife)? How is taking a few words and repeating them ad nauseum to the point that they get ground into a sound-bite not a right-wing political tactic? It’s straight out of Karl Rove’s book of how to misrepresent & distort and you’re playing that game. It is not impressive and not a legitimate mode of critique. And your hypothetical Bush analogy was laughable. Using a nonexistent example to “prove” your point is ridiculous.

    Guess what? Just because people here might not fully agree with you, that does not mean that they’re duped, unthinking zombies who have drunk “the kool-aid.” Get over yourself.

  62. Hara? Fail.

    I really have to wonder how much exposure you have had to professional African American women over the age of 35 to be spouting this sort of foolishness. Actually, given what you said about TUCC, I’m wondering how much contact you’ve had with Black folks period.

    And Rhonda? OK, we all know that you think Black women are dimwits with no self control. Can we get back to the topic?

  63. Delux, I did not say that Black women are dimwits with no self control…you said that. Know what? Fuck it. And actually, I was on topic, because I responded to this comment:

    “And here on ABW I continually see comments from otherwise reasonable and intelligent black men blaming black women for the destruction of the Civil Rights Movement, The BLACK FAMILY, the black economy… everything but the damned black plague.”

    But you know what, fuck it…I’m going to bow out of this discussion. But while you’re all arguing over whether or not Michelle Obama is Barack Obama’s “rock”, consider this: whatever you think of her, Her children have a loving, caring father…something that far too many black children do not have, courtesy of the unsound decisions of more than a few black women.

  64. Rhonda,

    I think reasonable people would (or should!) agree that blaming black women for the problems and challenges facing the African American community is a deeply problematic tack to take, don’t you think? At least consider the implications of letting men off the hook, while placing the burden of “choice” fully on black women.

    And I do think that if you’d like the conversation to be free of defensiveness, you might want to start with yourself there.

  65. rahimeh,

    Not once did I “blame” black women, I said black women play a big role in the destruction of the black family. Since black women were specifically mentioned in that comment, I responded. Had the comment been about black men, I would have responded, and make the case as to why they play a big role.

    The “big, bad, evil, immoral” black man rhetoric as well as the “poor, mistreated, victimized, downtrodden” black woman rhetoric makes me very unconfortable. The “I’m a victim” stance is one more than a few of my fellow sistas take, far too much. There are no victims (except the little ones who will grow up not knowing the love of a father).

  66. Okay, that’s fair, Rhonda. But it’s not a matter of distributing blame between black men and black women. Shouldn’t discussion be more centered on looking at structural, social, historical, and economic realities and the ways in which these curtail the choices and possibilities available to both black men and black women? It seems to me that it’s way too simplistic to frame the issue around the question of who is “more to blame.”

  67. Rhonda,

    In my original post, I said that many people blame black women for the destruction of the black community. You said, yeah, black women are responsible for destroying the black community. I’m not sure why you don’t see the problem with this. I’m also not sure why you felt that this added anything to the discussion, but allow me to put it bluntly: it doesn’t.

    As I said to racists awhile back, this site is not the place to come and tell the world what’s wrong with black women. There are 1001 other sites that devote themselves to vilifying black women. (Start with Fox.com and work your way down.) This site will not be one of them.

    This is not to say that black women are beyond criticism. That was the whole point of my second bullet, in fact — which you seem to have ignored completely for whatever reason. I’m fully aware that black women have some issues that we need to address within ourselves. But that does not erase the fact that we are also dealing with significant misogyny, and the biggest perpetrators of that misogyny are our own — not just men, but as you so ably demonstrate, women too.

    The way to respond to a complaint of misogyny is not to pile on with more misogyny. It is also not appropriate to deny that misogyny, which is what you’ve done with this “victim mentality” red herring — you’ve thus implied that there is no misogyny directed at black women, it’s all in our poor downtrodden minds.

    So fine. If that’s your point, make it openly and blatantly. Own your sexism — but don’t put words in my mouth. At no point did I characterize black men as big, bad, evil, or immoral. At no point did I characterize women as purely victims. You’re misrepresenting me, and I hope it’s not deliberate, but regardless it’s not something I’m going to accept. You want to indulge your internalized sexism? Have at it. But do it by your damn self.

  68. “…this site is not the place to come and tell the world what’s wrong with black women…”

    Well, apparently it’s the place to come and tell the world what is wrong with black men, right?

    “At no point did I characterize black men as big, bad, evil, or immoral. At no point did I characterize women as purely victims.”

    No you didn’t, but it is an attitude that is prevalent on this board as well as in our community, and I don’t think it’s fair to either gender.

  69. rahimeh

    “Is there merit and logic in taking a common expression (”rock behind…”) and twisting it into some ominous sign of sinister things”

    I didn’t say it was ‘ominous’ or ‘sinister’. Hara said it made her cringe and I seconded that. And I called it patriarchal and patronizing, which it is. Precisely *because* it’s a common expression there *is* merit in pointing out the assumptions built into it. “Behind” in this context is pretty unambiguous re: “who’s the leader?”.

    And incidentally IMHO there’s nothing inherently wrong with repeating soundbytes if they reveal something worthy. “Read My Lips” helped get Bush I out of office (not that Clinton was much better…).

    “Guess what? Just because people here might not fully agree with you, that does not mean that they’re duped, unthinking zombies who have drunk “the kool-aid.” Get over yourself.”

    I didn’t say any of that. Please don’t put belligerent words in my mouth.

  70. I just caught this:

    “In my original post, I said that many people blame black women for the destruction of the black community. You said, yeah, black women are responsible for destroying the black community. ”

    What I said was that black women play a big part in the destruction of the black community…as do men. But since the comment was made about women, I responded in kind…

  71. Saladin,

    That is precisely the tone of all your comments: belligerent and condescending. I suggest that if you want to have a productive and enjoyable conversation with people here – a conversation that is on an equal footing – you might want to adopt a less superior attitude.

  72. “It wasn’t just *chance* that Michelle was the one to ’step back.’ Why isn’t *she* running for president?”

    I’ve seen several interviews where she said she didn’t want the job. Which is also her choice.

    This discussion seems awfully negative on Michelle Obama, especially in light of the OP, which decried the way Blacks treat Black women.

  73. MIchelle isn’t subservient.

    UNTIL Barack wrote his books, MICHELLE has made more money than him.

  74. Except that our culture puts far more value on the work of men than on traditional ‘women’s work’. President is a more powerful and prestigous position than first lady, period. It wasn’t just *chance* that Michelle was the one to ’step back.’ Why isn’t *she* running for president?

    WAIT A MINUTE. Are you now trying to tell me that if you are a married female, unless you are currently running for president, you are anti-feminist? This is absurd.

    You’re also ratifying the values of the greater culture. Just so you’re aware that that’s what you’re doing. You’re saying that it’s those values that matter, that it’s perfectly okay to disrespect the work that women have done for centuries, that that work is meaningless and the only thing that matters is power and public life, and that any woman who isn’t making that choice is a pawn of the patriarchy.

    If that looks like feminism to you, we diverge pretty sharply.

  75. Rhonda,

    Well, apparently it’s the place to come and tell the world what is wrong with black men, right?

    You seem determined to interpret this as an attack, and you’re flying to the menfolk’s defense so fast that I don’t think you’ve paid very much attention to anything I actually said. I emphatically stated that this behavior is something a minority of black men indulge in. You responded by ignoring this statement, ignoring any validity it might have, treating my request for change as a blanket condemnation, and — you want to talk defensive? — declaring war on black women in retaliation. And honey, you came in with the nukes hot. You have effectively attacked any black woman who chooses to give birth to and raise (as opposed to aborting, as you did) a child conceived by accident. You have indirectly attacked any child raised by a single mother, by implying that they are somehow flawed because they grew up without a father. You have attacked any woman who gets a divorce, ever, by suggesting that she should’ve picked a better man or figured out how to keep him around even if he turned out bad. You’ve attacked any woman who makes the mistake of loving a man who’s not ready to be a father (as if any of them are, before it happens). You’ve dismissed my call for responsible, adult behavior from a man as engaging in some kind of “victim mentality” — and thus you’ve attacked any woman who expects shared responsibility from her partner.

    That’s not defending men. That’s infantilizing them — treating like they’re too stupid to control themselves, and too animalistic to be trusted. It’s a far greater insult to black men than anything I said, and I don’t even think you’ve realized it. In your zeal to demonstrate your “responsible” decision-making — and malign any woman who wasn’t as responsible as you — you’re perpetuating the worst elements of racism and sexism combined.

    And I can’t help but wonder why you’re doing it. Is it that, on some level, you still care about the person who made you pregnant the first time? Are you trying to protect him by denying his shared responsibility for the situation — and in the process absolving all men of responsibility? Are you transferring your anger about this — your self-blame for ending up in this situation, and possibly some latent anger at him for leaving you to deal with it alone — onto all women?

    I don’t know you, and I shouldn’t speculate. But bottom line, and I’ll say it again: you’re not helping.

  76. You are assuming and reading way too much in my responses. I do not still care for this person, Im not trying to protect him, I and I am not “angry” about the situation. I am a wife and mother and quite happy. The point of my mentioning my situation was to simply point out the difference between making unsound, irresponsible choices and sound, responsible ones. Of course the man I was involved with carried his share of responsibility and accountability; the problem was he didn’t own up to it. I was still left with the emotional burden of an abortion. Had I had the baby, I would have had the emotional burden of spending the next 21 years raising a child whose father didn’t want him/her, as well as the burden of doing it alone. Bottom line: it was MY responsibility to protect myself in a situation where I KNEW a baby was not welcomed, by either of us.

    I did not say that children were “flawed”; however when they lack the guidance, love and leadership that a father provides, their lives can become flawed. The stats do not lie, nojojojo…black boys who do not have fathers are more likely to drop out of school, more likely to join gangs, more likely to end up in the prison system. And they suffer financially as well. Let’s not pretend that the majority of single black mothers are high-powered professionals who can afford to live in good neighborhoods, send them to the best schools, etc; many black single mothers are living at or below the poverty line; they are struggling financially, via a low paying job, or public assistance, or working two jobs, which gives them little time to parent effectively.

    I think we (black women) have for too long, negated the extreme importance of fathers in the black community, and it shows. The fact is, we, black women, NEED our men to step up, to claim their children, to help us to raise and nuture them. We need to be careful who we make babies with. And we need to seriously stop negating the
    Lastly, I believe the worst thing that black women have done is to jump on this “feminist”, “I don’t need no man…” bandwagon, because it has hurt us as women. This was a white women’s issue–with white men. That was never our fight. Black men were not trying to “keep” Black women

  77. down, or trying to deny us opportunities. Some of us are not much different from the angry white feminists who put down women like myself and others, who actually like and respect men, who are not continously angry and hostile towards men, and who are honest enough to acknowledge their own screw ups, forgive themselves, and make better choices in the future, in lieu of playing the role of victim.

    I understand and appreciate the importance of black fathers. I wish all of us did.

  78. I think we (black women) have for too long, negated the extreme importance of fathers in the black community, and it shows.

    Ever consider that it’s because they (many black men – not all) have far too long negated the extreme importance of fatherhood?

    The fact is, we, black women, NEED our men to step up, to claim their children, to help us to raise and nuture them.

    I’m going to just echo Nojojojo here:
    You have effectively attacked any black woman who chooses to give birth to and raise (as opposed to aborting, as you did) a child conceived by accident. You have indirectly attacked any child raised by a single mother, by implying that they are somehow flawed because they grew up without a father. You have attacked any woman who gets a divorce, ever, by suggesting that she should’ve picked a better man or figured out how to keep him around even if he turned out bad. You’ve attacked any woman who makes the mistake of loving a man who’s not ready to be a father (as if any of them are, before it happens). You’ve dismissed my call for responsible, adult behavior from a man as engaging in some kind of “victim mentality” — and thus you’ve attacked any woman who expects shared responsibility from her partner.

    Black men were not trying to “keep” Black women down, or trying to deny us opportunities. Some of us are not much different from the angry white feminists who put down women like myself and others, who actually like and respect men, who are not continously angry and hostile towards men, and who are honest enough to acknowledge their own screw ups, forgive themselves, and make better choices in the future, in lieu of playing the role of victim.

    Ever since you began posting here, you’ve been waving a “Yay Menz!” banner. First you defended catcallers and now this.

    Either there is some serious self-hatred going on, or you are just totally, completely, and willfully blind to the mysogyny that goes on in the Black community.

  79. Angel,

    Because I don’t participate in manbashing; because I don’t view myself as a “victim”; because I’m enlightened enough to understand that the label mysogyny does not apply to the majority of black men, who I believe are decent and respectful; because I understand that more than a few stupid assed rappers and stupid assed men who choose to holla dumb shit at black women does not represent the majority of black men…does not mean I hate myself. I like and love myself. I also like and love black men. It means that the majority of MY experiences with black men (my husband, father, brothers, uncles, cousins, ex-boyfriends/lovers, neighbors, co-workers, friends) have been good ones, and I will not become jaded or bitter over the stupidity those whose behavior is less than stellar. It means that I can be concerned about mysogny and other issues without ranting, raving and accusing other black women of hating themselves because I don’t agree with them.

    I am not blind to the faults of black men, and should a discussion take place here about legitimate concerns regarding black men, I will be glad to participate. And i’ll speak the truth about what ails more than a few of our brothas. Just as I spoke of what ails more than a few of my sistas. What I WON’T do is bash black men. It’s hateful and uneccessary.

    We are a people who sometimes cannot handle the truth. One of the many truths in our community is that fatherlessness is a real problem. And some of us don’t want to take a real good look at why this it is so prevalent in our community; of course we can point fingers at and place blame on black men for not being there. But when we talk about the black woman’s role, suddenly, that’s taboo. I spoke honestly about my own irresponsibility years ago, and I was ripped a second asshole by nojojojo…simply because I acknowledged my own stupidity….fucking a man who only committed to fucking me…and to whom I was only committed to fucking…without adequate protection and becoming pregnant. Because I refused to view myself as a victim, she took issue with that.

    This is not The Congo or Dafur…black men are not grabbing women off the street or bursting into their homes and raping and pillaging…we’re talking about consenting adults making stupid mistakes.

    In relationships…from fuck buddy to marriage…there are rarely victims…only volunteers.

  80. One more thing…I did not defend catcallers, I merely stated that there is a difference between men who flirt and compliment women, and men who are rude and obnoxious. And that there are women who have such a huge chip…no, make that boulder on their shoulder, that the mere thought of a man saying “hello, you look nice today” send them into a irrational rage.

    I am no feminist.
    I am no victim.
    I am not involved in a “power struggle” with black men.
    I do not consider the black man to be my enemy.

  81. It means that I can be concerned about mysogny and other issues without ranting, raving and accusing other black women of hating themselves because I don’t agree with them.

    Actually, that’s just what you did:

    Black women play a big role in the destruction of the black family, the traditional, intact, two parent family, by continously becoming pregnant by men who aren’t interested in being fathers or in having us as wives/life partners, but are merely looking for sexual fulfillment.

    Lastly, I believe the worst thing that black women have done is to jump on this “feminist”, “I don’t need no man…” bandwagon, because it has hurt us as women.

    I don’t think that anybody here is going out of their way to “manbash” black men. Even in the OP, Nojojojo says:

    I’m fully aware that many, many black men have resisted the media’s effort to reduce black women to stereotypes and objects, whether through so-called “good” images like BBFs and BAPs or execrable ones like those endless close-up shots of our half-covered asses. I’ve got enough good black men in my life to know that they’re neither rare nor exceptional.

    Afterwards, she even goes on to state that we sistas need an attitude adjustment, too. That’s the thing I love about this site: Everyone gets called on their shit. However, you went out of your way to disparage black women, especially those who are the heads of single-family households. It’s textbook sexism: Kicking the sistas down while lifting the men up.

    As you’ve stated many times in the past (especially on the “Catcallers” board), you “like yourself” and you “love yourself”.

    I can’t help but wonder who’re you trying to convince – me or you?

  82. I am no victim.

    Be thankful.

    I am not involved in a “power struggle” with black men.

    Define “power struggle”. All I’ve ever wanted was to be on the same footing – socially, economically – as my male counterparts.

    I do not consider the black man to be my enemy.

    I don’t know of anyone on this board who does.

  83. Angel H…

    Would you have found my statement “hateful” if the initial post had been about black men, and their big role in the destruction of the traditional two parent black family? Because I certainly would have commented, and what I would have had to say wouldn’t have been pretty…just as it wasn’t when I commented about black women. Sometimes the truth isn’t pretty.

    The like/love myself thing: You implied that I was experiencing some kind of self hatred” because I called women to task for not better protecting themselves from unplanned pregnancies. I believe the same question was raised in the catcalling thread; I rather resent that, personally; however, I recognize that people are entitled to their own opinion, regardless of how flawed it may be. But not once did I say I enjoyed being verbally disrespected, mistreated or abused; I said I enjoy the fact that men find me attractive and that they sometimes verbally acknowledge it. How that can be misconscrued with self hatred, I cannot begin to understand…just as I cannot understand the hostility directed at Michelle Obama, simply because she is not trying to be “the man” in her family. I just don’t get it.

    I hate it when people portray themselves as victims, when they are not. It doesn’t sit well with me. Each and every one of is is ultimately responsible for our own PERSONAL choices and behavior.

  84. Rhonda,

    I spoke honestly about my own irresponsibility years ago, and I was ripped a second asshole by nojojojo…Because I refused to view myself as a victim, she took issue with that.

    No. I ripped you a new asshole, so to speak, because you decided based on your irresponsibility that all black women are similarly irresponsible. And thus you decided to attack black women, rather than black men, for misogyny. Which is pretty much like attacking people of color for the existence of racism. That might be why your arguments sound so much like those of racists. You’re using their tactics.

    And what kills me is, I wasn’t even talking about parenting.

    Look. Believe it or not, I have great sympathy with what you went through. I’ve lost boyfriends — yes, plural — because I refused to risk my health, future, and sanity on their desire to bust a nut without latex. All I asked them to do was meet me halfway: I’d take the Pill, and they’d wear a rubber. I know exactly how badly some men react to this simple, more-than-fair suggestion (because after all, a rubber doesn’t increase their risk for cancer or potentially screw up their body chemistry, as the Pill does). I know how thick they can lay on the pressure… and because of that, I don’t blame any woman who gives in. We all make mistakes, especially when it comes to love.

    But it’s what you do after the mistake that, IMO, defines us as adults. You chose to do what was best for yourself, as you determined it at the time. I think that’s fantastic. But you’ve also chosen to chastise every woman in a similar situation, whether she made the same choice or not, whether it was good for her or not, and that’s where my problem with you lies. You’ve also chosen not to chastise men for their part in situations like this. It’s as if you think just like those lost boyfriends of mine: you seem to believe that asking a man to sharing equally in the effort to prevent pregnancy is unrealistic, unfair, and downright wrong. Worse, you seem to think that any effort to demand equal treatment from men — whether mutual responsibility or mutual respect — is some kind of freaky conspiracy by black-man-hating feminazis who all want to become single mothers.

    At this point I go beyond having a problem with you. At this point I begin to think you’re smoking the really high-quality crack.

    Either way, it’s clear you’re not listening. Maybe you can’t listen right now, because you’re so wrapped up in your own issues. Fine. But if that’s the case, you need to stop talking about it here, and go and deal with this in a safe space. Stop venting your rage at strangers. That’s not good for anyone. Find some people who can support you and understand — preferrably other women who’ve been through the same experience, but some men can help you too. The bottom line is that you need to stop hating yourself for what happened, because it’s affecting how you deal with others. And it is showing.

    Then when you’ve dealt with your feelings, come back. I think you’ll have a lot of good stuff to contribute then, whether you agree with me or not. It’s just the hate that isn’t welcome here.

  85. Rhonda definitely made some valid points, esp. when she spoke about individuals taking responsibiltiy for their actions and making better choices re: who they choose to have relationships with etc. But nowhere at all did I see in Nojojo’s OP or anywhere else an attempt to bash black men or treat black women as victims, so I’m not sure why Rhonda’s posts took on that theme. What the OP spoke about – the hatred and demonization of black women throughout our communities and the media is very real and relevant.

  86. The like/love myself thing…

    I’d like to apologize for that.

    I overstepped my boundaries, and for that I am sorry.

  87. Angel H.,

    I graciously accept your apology.

  88. […] The Angry Black Woman: So Obama’s finally the party nominee, with a 50% chance of actually becoming the President of the United States. Dare I hope for it? Of course. But I’ll be blunt: Obama’s far more conservative than I like. I know he needs to be that way to get elected, and I’m willing to tolerate it for now, but he’s very much the best of three underwhelming choices in my eyes. […]

  89. What an awesome post. Gracias!

    I’m really hopeful that Michele Obama will be an amazing role model for the nation. She seems really amazing.

  90. Preach! For me- Obama in the White House is all about Michelle being First Lady and those beautiful Black girls being, Sasha & Malia, being
    the daughters of a President. I have a feeling there isn’t too much Obama can do once he wins the presidency but 4 -8 years of a Black first Lady will be a great image and victory for Black women in this country.

  91. Dag-nabbit you made me cry again. I just stopped crying because the man got in and I read this. I love this site.

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