Thursday, February 4, 2010

Michelle, Ma Belle.

In Montreal, like in many other cities in the world, February is Black History Month. Even though I question its existence, I applaud all the initiatives executed by the dedicated team behind the Montreal edition. It was thus impossible for me to refuse when they asked me to pen an op-ed on Michelle Obama: their coup de coeur. Here it is, as it appears in the just released Montreal’s Black History Month calendar.


Me? A Barackanista? Well, I have been following the President since before he went mainstream and I did host an Electoral party in Montreal and an Inaugural lunch to follow the momentous events live. Oh, and the President’s picture is the wallpaper on both my laptop and my mobile phone. So, Baracknista? Yes. Guilty as charged.

It took me a little longer to warm up to Michelle. For months during the electoral campaign, I feared her sharp tongue and wit could harm the President-to-be and I knew the media were waiting for her to mess up. But she didn’t. Au contraire. Michelle Obama, with her authenticity and overall badassness, not only charmed us all but she’s also showed the world that this, is what a real sister is like.

Still, the Michelle Obama love fest camouflaged somewhat of a troubling current. Could it be that until then, mainstream media hadn’t realized that such accomplished Black women existed besides Oprah? Too often and for too long, the images of Black women in most media were oversexed, stereotypical, passé or simply distorted. The reality is that our mothers, our aunts, our sisters are Michelle Obamas and they always have been. Smart, dedicated, successful, fit, beautiful, multi-tasking and fashion-conscious.

With her philosophy spread out in television and magazine interviews, Michelle Obama has also sent us a reminder: let’s hail brains and not celebrity. Let’s encourage civil service and not promiscuity. Let’s seek balance and not the paparazzi. Let’s put family first, always. The last decade was about over-consumption and superficialities. The First Lady has given us the cue for the new decade. Let’s follow her lead.


Anonymous said...

As the father of two young girls (White), I'm thrilled they have a Michelle Obama. Not necessarily as a role model but as a point of reference.

Anonymous said...

Media puts forward images they're comfortable with. They still feel most at ease with Aunt Jemima - not Claire Huxtable.

Anonymous said...

As a black woman, I am very proud of both Michelle and Barack. I can't deny this. The greatest sense of pride that I have is that they show the rest of the world that black people can be more than terrific entertainers and athletes. We can be whatever we want to be, when we want to be. Hard work. Merit. Opportunity. All we have to do now, is to convince mainstream/corporate decision makers to give us the chance to take the opportunity.
(Charmain Emerson, Toronto, Ontario Canada)