Thursday, June 19, 2008

Michelle Obama On The View---Thoughts and Ruminations

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.


Sally said...

I noticed that too and it kind of annoyed me. I was just confused about why Walters would completely cut off any real discussion to talk about f'n pantyhose?! Who cares?!

I understand they need to lighten things up every so often, but was it necessary to do that right then?

I feel that Whoopi and Joy are the only ones who ever try to make any real significant comments (go figure, both are comedians). The rest are just a disappointment. Joy and Whoopi should start their own show. I'd totally watch.

A.Smith said...

In general, I HATE how BW has to control topics on The View -- she's forever concerned with PR -- which being in the media, I get, but Whoopi was finally saying what so many of us as black women have wanted to say about Michelle Obama and how much we appreciate her existence in this campaign... and of course, BW cuts it off because heaven forbid we go there. I wish Whoopi would've smacked her upside her head.

Anonymous said...

Whoppie should have continued her thought regardless of Barbara's interjection.

Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one who noticed this. I thought , what the f**? What's the deal about pantyhose (personally, I think it looks nasty and unprofessional when woman go bare legged in formal/business it for casually strolling in the park!) But, to dismiss WG's relevant discussion on the impact that Michelle Obama has on WOC's self-esteem and self-image was worse than rude. It was a blatant dismissal of the relevance of OUR point of view.

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