Michelle Obama as racial victim

Get out your handkerchiefs. Poor Michelle Obama apparently is now the emblem of the victimization of all black women. A media campaign is underway, ever since the candidate denounced criticism of his wife.

According to Sophia A. Nelson, writing in the Washington Post,

...among black professional women like me and many of my sisters in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, who happened to be gathered last week in Washington for our 100th anniversary celebration, the mischaracterization of Michelle hit the rawest of nerves.

Welcome to our world.

Just as her husband must not be the butt of humor, it is now to be considered an attack on all black women to mention any of Michelle Obama's embarrassing, self-absorbed comments to the proles about the injustice of having to pay back student loans, receiving only a lousy 600 bucks -- earring money to her - as a government rebate check, and the struggle to pay 10 grand a year for lessons and summer camp for her kids.

Ms. Nelson is definitely sure that black women are victims, but her command of logic and fact seems rather weak. This woe-is-me rant doesn't stand up to much scrutiny, though it does provide good evidence of an attachment to victimhood as the explanation of all of life's woes -- an emotional posture that can be crippling in anyone. For example:

"Thanks to the hip-hop industry," one prominent black female journalist recently said to me, all black women are "deemed 'sexually promiscuous video vixens' not worthy of consideration. If other black women speak up, we're considered angry black women who complain. This society can't even see a woman like Michelle Obama. All it sees is a black woman and attaches stereotypes."

I do not recall seeing a single instance of Michelle Obama being portrayed as a "sexually promiscuous video vixen," but I must lead sheltered life. Since "all black women" are perceived this way, Michelle must be too. But I am baffled as to who is doing all this perceiving out there.

The author informs us that she left a major law firm and now does "empowerment workshops" for black professional women. She reports the following astonishing information:

At a recent such workshop, I asked the participants to list some words that would describe how they believe they're viewed in the workplace and the culture at large. These are the kinds of words that came back: "loud," "angry," "intimidating," "mean," "opinionated," "aggressive," "hard." All painful words. Yet asked to describe themselves, the same women offered gentler terms: "strong," "loving," "dependable," "compassionate."

Where does the disconnect come from? Possibly from the way black women have been forced into roles of strength for decades.

When a person's own self-perception is at variance with the views of others, any advice that does not include a reality check is dangerous and probably destructive. If others do not understand one's "loving", "dependable" "compassionate" persona, perhaps one is living in a world of illusion about one's own behavior. If you want to change these perceptions, the surest way to do so is to evaluate what personal behaviors have led others to these judgments. Merely asserting that everyone else is wrong does not solve anything in the long run.

Because of her behavior, Michelle Obama is understood by many as an arrogant, self-absorbed, and surprisingly angry woman, especially considering the abundant blessings of wealth, fame, beauty and energy she has received in life. If she listens to the counsel of Ms. Nelson and blames the perceivers, she will not only fail to change that image, she will deepen it. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with her own attitude toward herself and others.
Get out your handkerchiefs. Poor Michelle Obama apparently is now the emblem of the victimization of all black women. A media campaign is underway, ever since the candidate denounced criticism of his wife.

According to Sophia A. Nelson, writing in the Washington Post,

...among black professional women like me and many of my sisters in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, who happened to be gathered last week in Washington for our 100th anniversary celebration, the mischaracterization of Michelle hit the rawest of nerves.

Welcome to our world.

Just as her husband must not be the butt of humor, it is now to be considered an attack on all black women to mention any of Michelle Obama's embarrassing, self-absorbed comments to the proles about the injustice of having to pay back student loans, receiving only a lousy 600 bucks -- earring money to her - as a government rebate check, and the struggle to pay 10 grand a year for lessons and summer camp for her kids.

Ms. Nelson is definitely sure that black women are victims, but her command of logic and fact seems rather weak. This woe-is-me rant doesn't stand up to much scrutiny, though it does provide good evidence of an attachment to victimhood as the explanation of all of life's woes -- an emotional posture that can be crippling in anyone. For example:

"Thanks to the hip-hop industry," one prominent black female journalist recently said to me, all black women are "deemed 'sexually promiscuous video vixens' not worthy of consideration. If other black women speak up, we're considered angry black women who complain. This society can't even see a woman like Michelle Obama. All it sees is a black woman and attaches stereotypes."

I do not recall seeing a single instance of Michelle Obama being portrayed as a "sexually promiscuous video vixen," but I must lead sheltered life. Since "all black women" are perceived this way, Michelle must be too. But I am baffled as to who is doing all this perceiving out there.

The author informs us that she left a major law firm and now does "empowerment workshops" for black professional women. She reports the following astonishing information:

At a recent such workshop, I asked the participants to list some words that would describe how they believe they're viewed in the workplace and the culture at large. These are the kinds of words that came back: "loud," "angry," "intimidating," "mean," "opinionated," "aggressive," "hard." All painful words. Yet asked to describe themselves, the same women offered gentler terms: "strong," "loving," "dependable," "compassionate."

Where does the disconnect come from? Possibly from the way black women have been forced into roles of strength for decades.

When a person's own self-perception is at variance with the views of others, any advice that does not include a reality check is dangerous and probably destructive. If others do not understand one's "loving", "dependable" "compassionate" persona, perhaps one is living in a world of illusion about one's own behavior. If you want to change these perceptions, the surest way to do so is to evaluate what personal behaviors have led others to these judgments. Merely asserting that everyone else is wrong does not solve anything in the long run.

Because of her behavior, Michelle Obama is understood by many as an arrogant, self-absorbed, and surprisingly angry woman, especially considering the abundant blessings of wealth, fame, beauty and energy she has received in life. If she listens to the counsel of Ms. Nelson and blames the perceivers, she will not only fail to change that image, she will deepen it. It has nothing to do with race and everything to do with her own attitude toward herself and others.