So far, the first lady has chosen to be a food bank volunteer with an outsize entourage and an education activist with the largest soapbox imaginable. But Michelle Obama also fills a role that is not of her choosing but that may, in fact, be the most influential: She serves as a symbol of middle-class progress, feminist achievement, affirmative action success and individual style.
And she has done all this on the world stage . . . while being black.
Thank goodness for Bill Cosby and Co. Otherwise, I doubt any of us Negroes would have ever known how to act in public.
But really, the audience for this piece is clearly people who don’t know black people or know anything about them other than what they see on TV. Because if they did, they would know that Michelle Obama is no alien, no anomaly, no actor.
Indeed, Michelle Obama could be your mom, your next-door neighbor, your elementary-school teacher, your attorney. She’s an actual human being, and most of all, she didn’t grow up feral on some remote island. I think it’s safe to say Michelle Obama didn’t “become a symbol of middle-class progress” all on her lonesome – her older brother was also an Ivy League grad, after all.
Maybe this is a foreign concept to some people but I’ve known Michelle Obamas and Claire Huxtables all my life. Hundreds of them. And I didn’t have to watch TV to figure that out.
Joel Anderson —blackink — writes about sports, politics, crime, courts, and other issues far beyond his competence at BuzzFeed. He has worked at media outlets in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Atlanta and contributed to a number of publications, including The Root and The American Prospect, among many others.