I like the imagery of the Obamas–cool, classic, chic, fun-loving, smart. But my perspective, like most of ours, is all imagery–I don’t know them.
Their fairytale fits an acceptable narrative we are inclined to admire. I cannot imagine the biracial Obama married to a white woman or highlighting–in any definitive way–his primary raising by his white grandparents and his very privileged raising from private schools on through his Harvard days.
These choices, too, are parts of the narrative we are fed and need to nourish us, I suppose, considering the moment at which he and his family emerged on the scene.
But then there are moments in which I have to wipe clear the glass in this boxed story.
Like when Mrs. Obama encouraged eating healthy from, of all the mofoloking places, Whole Foods. That joint is still a niche market and a hyper-expensive and rare find in most communities.
But I wanna focus again on the fairytale of their union and really, the fairytale that we are fed and perhaps need for nourishment in this media moment of supposedly single parented households, broken relationships, (especially among African American couples) and dysfunctioning products of both.
Mrs. Obama is recently on a mission to educate girls, and a recent talk she gave has gone viral for a singular statement that I find goes left of the message I wanna believe she intends. (I’m giving her, okay barely giving her, the benefit of the doubt).
Her message–well the part that’s gone viral–goes: stop worrying over the boys (read: ignore the hormones that have existed in adolescents since Eve, Lillith, and before); study them books; and…get your MRS degree. Wait, what? She tells them (I paraphrase), “If I had been worried about boys at your age..I would not have been married to the President of the United States.”
Now that statement fails for me for a few reasons:
1. It fails to acknowledge a real part of growing is social growth which includes relationships–yes, including romantic ones.
Maybe it could be like: Don’t focus on boys but consider your education and goals. Or Balance. Boys i.e. social life should not take precedence over academics and personal goals.
2. It suggests that success can be equated to one’s social role or status in life.
Perhaps, her own accomplishments could have been highlighted–she was a practicing attorney with smarts in her own right. Like: Balance your academics and social life girls so you can pursue and achieve your goals.
Likewise, isn’t it important that she married the great person she loves and who loves her back more than it is important that he’s “president of the United States?” So, it might be: And once–or while–achieving your goals, girls, you will hopefully happen upon the love of a great partner.
But I guess none of that fits the narrative we want and need.
Y’all watch the clip and tell me what you think. Maybe I’ve stretched this rubber band too thin. Tell me if I have and I’ll stop.