I found this item on What About Our Daughters last night.
File this one under foolishness and chicanery, courtesy of that bastion of the Civil Rights Industrial Complex, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and their president, Dr. Charles Steele:
He said that Michelle Obama has had rougher treatment than her husband because she has ancestors who were slaves, and Barack Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, does not.
“Why are they attacking Michelle Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and not really attacking, to that degree, her husband?” Steele asked. “Because he has no slave blood in him. He does not have any slave blood in him, but Michelle does.” Atlanta Journal Constitution
Yeah he said it. MLK would be so proud. What? Was Andy Young unavailable?
The sentiment over the comment was repeated at Black Political Thought where more of Steele’s comments were printed.
Barack Obama is “of the system. He’s going to be in the system,” Steele told a morning gathering of the Georgia Association of Black Elected Officials.“Why are they attacking Michelle Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, and not really attacking, to that degree, her husband?” Steele asked. “Because he has no slave blood in him. He does not have any slave blood in him, but Michelle does.
“This system is an issue. I don’t care what you say. You can’t expect the system that enslaved you save you,” Steele said. Steele admitted to the crowd that his remarks about the Obamas were intended to be provocative, but afterwards declined to expand upon them. If you ask me, his comments were idiotic, at best!
Blogger Janet Shan at Black Political Thought concludes that Steele’s argument that slave ancestry is an issue is hype. Shan writes, “I don’t believe for a minute that Michelle Obama is being treated roughly because she has slave blood. Hello people, how is that relevant to anything? Michelle Obama is being ‘roughed’ up because of her views and the fact that she is a pretty vocal and outspoken person.”
I didn’t know quite what to think when I initially read his comments. While some were concerned about the exploitation of Steele’s comments (Rush Limbaugh has apparently already used them for fodder), it didn’t really touch on the issue evolving here — the uncomfortable reality of the embodiment of white America’s conscious since 1787, black Americans.
Who is blamed for selecting Obama’s “hateful” church at Trinity? Michelle. Who is pointed to being a “racist” and being the barometer of how Barack really thinks? Michelle.
Barack when negatively portrayed in the press is either presented as an unknown terror or a gullible Liberal ingenue. Michelle is vilified in the same manner as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Johnnie Cochran, insert so-called black “radical” here and every Civil Rights activist before her. She’s the uppity Negro who will not shut up. She’s the ingrate who doesn’t worship this country despite the fact this country hasn’t historically been favorable to her. She is the reminder, the full embodiment and representation of that storied black monolith portraying “how we really feel” about the white folk.
Essentially, she’s the villain. She’s the one who stirs the conscious and forces racist deniers to truly stare down the past and per usual, some do not like what they see.
A lot of this is projection. Just like Barack’s “secret Muslim” talk is a manifestation of “fear of the other.” Both Barack and Michelle have to deal with their fair share of bigotry and fear mongering. But if Barack is the “other,” Michelle is the other you already think you know. Barack is viewed as being above race. Michelle is viewed as being right in the thick of it no matter what she does or says. She is a black American, not an “African American” in the truest sense like Barack is. She carries the baggage of our nation’s collective guilt. She represents the conscious and subconscious. Id, ego and super ego. And their mock hysteria is based on the same primal fear that has existed in this country since Haiti’s bloody revolution in 1791.
Some of our nation’s most punitive decisions against blacks were born out of the fear surrounding the only successful slave revolt in the New World. The American South had its fair share of slave uprisings, but Haiti’s was the most ferocious. The prospect of losing wealth and health at the hands of slaves was so strong that long after the threat had passed the punishment continued. Remnants of it still exist to this day. The belief that black people want vengeance, even though they typically ask for equality.
While Barack is sometimes seen as a “get out of bigotry free” card. Michelle is envisioned as the Angry Black Woman putting up the voodoo, intoning, “Until you do right by me …”
So they both have to deal with racism. I would argue though that there are a host of different reactions one can have to different kinds of black people. Black Americans simply inspire a specific series of racist modifiers.
Commenter Lena at What About Our Daughter’s probably put it best.
Michelle Obama is attacked more fiercely than Barack because she directly represents (to racists) those native blacks that had a long history of being hated in the U.S. long-term black Americans are considered less acceptable than many other non-whites, including even Africans.
Her presence, her lineage gives the racists easy fuel to try to shut her down, make her feel ashamed of who she is, which is why Klan-branding images, lynching jokes, etc. can be made about Michelle, not (Barack).
Basically, it’s like a “remember your place, ni****,” don’t get uppity because this is what we used to do to you (lynch, cross-burn, branding, etc.)
The same can’t be said for obama because he doesn’t have that same history in America. The old skool racists insults don’t apply to him, would not be relevant, if that makes any sense. I mean think about it, lynching j
okes and Klan imagery from the 20s? Barack’s lineage has nothing to do with that.
While Africans were oppressed and colonized too, their history is still a separate experience from the American historical experience.
I think Dr. Steele is right and he doesn’t have to be quiet just to keep idiots like Limbaugh from making comments. Rush Limbaugh will make comments ANYWAY. if you say Michelle Obama is intelligent or beautiful, he’d have something to say about that to.
So on this one, I think the civil right-ers should be let off the hook. It’s not playing “the race card,” just pointing out a fact.