Michelle Obama and the Content of Her Character

Michelle Obama's 2016 speech to the DNC stands in sharp contrast to an essay written in the early 1990s by Glenn Loury titled "Free at Last? A Personal Perspective on Race and Identity in America." Loury recounts how, as a young black man growing up on the South Side of Chicago, he lacked the courage to stand up for a friend named Woody, who had "a Negro grandparent on each side of his family but looked like a typical white boy." Woody never chose to pass as a white person yet, when both young men attended a political rally and Woody stood to speak "[h]e was cut short before finishing his first sentence by one of the dashiki-clad brothers-in-charge, who demanded to know how a 'white' got the authority to have an opinion about what black people should be doing. That was one of [the] problems, the brother said, we were always letting white people 'peep our hole card,' while we were never privy to their deliberations in the same way." Loury explains that a

silence then fell over the room. The indignant brother asked if anyone could 'vouch for this white boy.' More excruciating silence ensued. Now was my moment of truth; Woody turned plaintively toward me, but I would not meet his eyes. To my eternal disgrace, I refused to speak up for him. He was asked to leave the meeting, and did so without uttering a word in his own defense.

In recalling this painful memory of "betraying someone he had known for a decade," Loury describes how "...this desire to be regarded as genuinely black... dramatically altered [his] life. It narrowed the range of [his] earliest intellectual pursuits, distorted [his] relationships with other people, censored [his] political thought and expression, informed the way [he] dressed and spoke, and shaped [his] cultural interests. Some of this was inevitable and not all of it was bad, but in his experience the need to be affirmed by one's racial peers can take on a pathological dimension."

So what does this have to do with Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama? She and her husband have never evolved from their strident, all-consuming race-consciousness and "addiction to indignation." As a student, "Miss Robinson wrote a senior thesis entitled 'Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community.'" Some excerpts from the thesis include the following:

  • “Predominantly white universities like Princeton are socially and academically designed to cater to the needs of the white students comprising the bulk of their enrollments.”
  • “[My Princeton experiences] “will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society; never becoming a full participant.”
  • “I have found that at Princeton, no matter how liberal and open-minded some of my white professors and classmates try to be toward me, I sometimes feel like a visitor on campus; as if I really don't belong. Regardless of the circumstances under which I interact with whites at Princeton, it often seems as if, to them, I will always be black first and a student second.”
  • “In defining the concept of identification or the ability to identify with the black community… I based my definition on the premise that there is a distinctive black culture very different from white culture.”

Consequently, it should come as no surprise that even as First Lady of these United States, Michelle believes "that... as a member of the Black community [she is] somehow obligated to this community and would utilize all of [her] present and future resources to benefit this community first and foremost.” But how does she benefit them?

She and her husband cannot shed the belief that "being an authentic black person involves in some elemental way seeing oneself as an object of mistreatment by white people, while participating in a collective consciousness of that mistreatment with other black people." Thus, America is reminded that Michelle "wakes up every morning in a house that was built by slaves." Does she explain that Hillary Clinton -- the woman she supports -- received enormous sums of money from countries where slavery still exists? Does Michelle proudly assert the enormous strides America has made in ending slavery whereas the African nation of Mauritania is now the number one slave capital of the world? Does Michelle acknowledge the blood spilled by black and white people who despised slavery and gave the last true measure of their devotion? Does the First Lady acknowledge that the Democratic Party voted against the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments? Does she remind her audience that the Republican Party was the party of ending slavery and that the KKK was actually the military arm of the Democratic Party?


Whereas Loury asserts that "as long as [he] believed that his personal identity as a black American was necessarily connected to [the] country's history of racial violation, and derives much of its content from [his] sharing with other blacks a recollection of and struggle against violation, [he] was destined to be in a bind, Michelle and Barack Obama continue to carry a personal grudge against this country.

Eventually, Loury began to comprehend that if he did not conform to the perceived black "loyalty test" he would be an outsider. As his "...understanding of [black] history began to clash with the black consensus, and [his] definition of the struggle took on a different, more conservative form from that popular among other black intellectuals, [he] found himself cut off from the group, [his] racial bona fides in question."

Consequently, he was forced to consider his "intellectual integrity" against the backdrop of a "collective consciousness of racial violation" -- which one would truly define him? Ultimately, Loury no longer believed that "the camaraderie engendered among blacks by their collective experience of racism constitute[d] an adequate basis for any person's self-definition." (Loury's thinking on these topics has changed since that essay was written, but not completely.) 

Yet consider the demeaning and patronizing response of Mrs. Obama who on November 3, 2014 stated “[a]nd that’s my message to voters, this isn’t about Barack, it’s not about a person on that ballot -- its about you. And for most of the people we are talking to [blacks], a Democratic ticket is the clear ticket that we should be voting on, regardless of who said what or did this -- that shouldn’t even come into the equation.” When asked by a reporter "...if we go out to the polls, ...can we do soul food after we vote?" Mrs. Obama replied: “Absolutely. I give everyone full permission to eat some fried chicken after they vote [.]"

In a speech she delivered at the opening of the new $420 million Whitney Museum in New York City on May 7, 2015, Mrs. Obama asserted that too many nonwhite minorities do not feel "welcome" in America's museums and cultural centers:

You see, there are so many kids in this country who look at places like museums and concert halls and other cultural centers and they think to themselves, ‘well, that’s not a place for me, for someone who looks like me, for someone who comes from my neighborhood.’ In fact, I guarantee you that right now, there are kids living less than a mile from here who would never in a million years dream that they would be welcome in this museum. And growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I was one of those kids myself. So I know that feeling of not belonging in a place like this. And today, as first lady, I know how that feeling limits the horizons of far too many of our young people.

Is anyone forcibly preventing these young people from enlarging their worldview? The narrow thinking of the Obamas and other leftists who demand historical victimization is the only barrier here.

Unlike Loury, who asserts that "a personal identity wholly dependent on racial contingency falls tragically short of its potential because it embraces too parochial a conception of what is possible, and of what is desirable," the Obamas hate the progress that America has made. They distort history to make it appear that America of the 21st century is the same America of the 18th century.

Thus, and ironically to the extent "that… individual blacks see [themselves] primarily through a racial lens, they sacrifice possibilities for the kind of personal development that would ultimately" benefit them -- all with the blessings of the first Black Caucasian President and First Lady and their disingenuous statements.  This is because in identity politics, the political is tribal and personal. Policies matter less than racial allegiances."

It was most telling that the DNC convention began with a "racial anthem" popular in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. Loury realizes that his "sons will be black men of the twenty-first century, but not by their singing of racial anthems peculiar to [his] time. Theirs will be a blackness constructed... out of the external givens of their lives... animated by a Spirit whose basis lies deeper than the color of any man's skin [.]

The Obamas, who have reaped the rewards of black privilege beyond their wildest imaginings, continue to resort to the life-defeating attitudes that keep far too many blacks from aspiring to the best that America has to offer. Michelle Obama simply will not contemplate that blacks "are so much more than the one[s] wronged, misunderstood, underestimated, derided, or ignored by whites." Unlike Loury, Michelle Obama refuses to acknowledge that challenges for people, derive not "from their racial condition, but rather from [their] human condition. While race is not irrelevant, "racial identity alone cannot provide much guidance in the quest to discharge the responsibilities of being a father, a son, a teacher, an intellectual, a Christian, [and] a citizen." It continues to be unconscionable that Democrats, with their ideology and legislation "hold back young black souls from flight into the open skies of American society."

To hear Glenn Loury, Professor at Brown, please view this 13-minute video.

Author's note:

In the interest of full disclosure, Glenn Loury continues to evolve and has moved away from some of the conservative views he previously held.  See here.  The point as originally made in the article continues to stand on its own merit.

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@gmail.com

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