I couldn’t get over how radiant she looked.
Played out to Stevie Wonder’s ode to his daughter, “Isn’t She Lovely,” Michelle Obama was like a glistening emerald oasis in a sea of Democrat blue. She shined and was flawless and in her mother’s tears, we celebrated. When her husband, the presidential candidate, saw her there was an awkwardness that was out of both longing and pride. He fumbled his words and confused what city he was in because he really had nothing to say. She left him just as speechless as the audience who celebrated and wept her every word.
It was perfection for millions of black people who watched amazed to see what they have longed to see.
A black woman, in full bloom, exalted by throws of people not for her singing or dancing or abilities to tell jokes and soothe feelings. She was a woman in full bloom exalted for who she is, for her intellect, for her poise, for what she represented in her father, her mother and herself. In one woman there was the representation of a hundred years of blood, sweat and tears.
People cried and sighed and wept at the beauty and marveled in her radiant glow. Relished Michelle Obama’s moment for black girls everywhere. Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm and Fannie Lou Hammer would be proud.
Michelle Obama’s feat was extraordinary as she described a life both poignant and ordinary.
Being black in America means that by being “ordinary” (re: mainstream), you are extraordinary. You are treated as if you are a unicorn. You cannot possibly be real. Black people don’t live normal, happy lives. That doesn’t fit the program.
The images we see of ourselves are so dark, so debasing, so violent and so ugly you feel deviant even if you are divine. Pro-athletes are featured over and over telling stories of mothers in jail or on drugs or on welfare and fathers who were phantoms, ghosts, haunts in their lives. This is what popular culture has told America and other blacks. It has told us that our “ordinary” is of the most desperate, disgusting things. Functional loving homes with black faces were the things of “Huxtable” fiction.
The black community has its share of problems, but Monday night was the first night in a long time where the story of the black woman, of a particular black woman was not about dysfunction, but love. It was of a story about a working class family who worked their way up through determination and the education of their children.
It was a normal, ordinary story that became extraordinary because of the stature and status of the individual telling it.
But while I reveled in this, seeing black self-actualization take place, there was something that nagged at me.
The fact that Michelle Obama had to give the “normal, ordinary” just like you speech.
The common insinuation from the Obamas critics is that they are not just like you. They are not one of us. They are unpatriotic. They are racists. They are up to something. And they don’t know what this mythical something is, but they know it is not good. And the only way a black woman is supposed to get into the White House is with a dust mop and a frying pan. The black maid makes the bed, she doesn’t sleep in it.
I fear that the more and more the Obamas and their supporters spend time “defining” their candidate they will fall into the trap the opposition has set. The Republicans and John McCain want to make this election about Obama, who is he is and why “true Americans” should be concerned. They want to do this because they have nothing, not one issue to run on. The economy? Bad. The president? At 28 percent. The war? People want it over. All they have are “we’ll appoint conservative judges” and beware of the black guy.
When people demand, falsely, that they don’t know who Barack and Michelle are, the Democrats should charge back with the fact that we know the Republicans all too well. The mistakes and crimes are plentiful and overripe, spoiled fruits to be plucked and lobbed directly into the faces of the opposition.
I loved what Michelle Obama did for black America. But I’m ready for the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign to make this race a referendum on what nearly eight years of Republican Party rule have done to America. They are the ones who should be on trial and explaining who they are and how they made the mistakes they made.
If you wonder what, who Michelle Obama is, she is ordinary and extraordinary. And she has nothing to explain.