I am a huge Michelle Obama fan. When I see her, she inspires me with hope. It is very rare that black women have such an overwhelmingly positive role model. I am posting her visit to The View, for those of you that missed it. We have spent a lot of time concentrating on all of the negative press that she gets, that I believe when something good happens we should celebrate it. I will add one proviso… The following is an exchange that happened on the show.
Whoopie:I’m really glad to see you as you know, I’m seeing more and more of you on television. I’m thrilled about it on the news. Cause every time you see black folks on the the news, particularly women, they have no teeth and the teeth that they have, have gold around them, and they can’t put a sentence together. Perhaps you are helping to change a perception. I know it sounds funny and silly, but if you’re a black woman and you are tuning in and every time you see someone who is supposed to represent black women, and not very, very fair skinned women, I”m talkin about dark black women..I just wanna say thanks.
Barbara: Can I get into the hot topics, these very serious hot topics that we have..I’m talking about the way
Whoopie: Yeah because you have a stock in that shit I know
Barbara: Do you mind if we call you Michelle? So we have very serious conversations here. We discuss peace and war and stuff, So we have had a big discussion about panty hose….and if you don’t have panythose you look young and so forth.
As you can see, Whoopie was expressing an opinion that is common with black women regarding our representation in the media. The social construction of black women as less than, angry, licentious, and bitter has a negative impact on not only us, but our children. It impedes our efforts to transcend the limitations that have historically been placed upon us. In fact, the aforementioned social constructions have played a significant factor in the demonization of Michelle in the media. We have seen a graphic where she is lynched, and most recently Fox news referred to her as a baby mama, and yet when Whoopie begins to engage in this most important topic, Barabara is quick to intercede, and turn the conversation to panty hose. This is typical silencing behavior, and is completely dismissive of issues that concern WOC. It was fine to have an extensive conversation about HRC, and the challenges that sexism caused to her campaign, or the ways in which the media belittled her, but when the topic turns to WOC, it is time to move on to pantyhose. This is yet another example of why WOC must be leery in identifying with a white controlled feminism. The view is supposed to be about expressing the opinions of a diversity of women, however Barbara makes it clear that only the opinions of certain women are worthy of extensive commentary.