Michelle Obama's Role in Campaign & Reshaping Image of the Black Family
by rikyrah, Sun Aug 26, 2007 at 12:52:51 PM EDT
As I was thinking about the NON-controversy with Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton, I thought about her role in this campaign, and how integral she has been for the Obama campaign.
First and foremost, Michelle Obama humanizes her husband. Her teasing and chiding in the beginning was a signal that Barack Obama is a very gifted man, but he's not the Second Coming, so don't see him that way, because he can't do anything but disappoint you. But, if you see him as a man with gifts, talent, service and inspiration, then he's your man, and stick with him.
While much has been written about Barack Obama's 'appeal' to the White community, because of his non-traditional background (growing up in Hawaii and Indonesia), you can't run a campaign across racial, ethnic and religious lines, if you don't have a narrative that those White audiences can relate to.
And, that's where Michelle Obama comes in, and that has been her major task:
To show the common universality of the ' American Experience', and point out that we're not all so different. Using herself as an example, not only within the context of how SHE, was skeptical about Barack Obama in the beginning, not knowing what to make of this 'Skinny Black Guy with a funny name who grew up in Hawaii', thus relating herself to the general audience - both BLACK and WHITE - but, also by bringing up her OWN background.
Another important part of the challenge of the Obama campaign, in its quest to reach out to the General American populace, is that they have had to try and reshape the very IMAGE of the BLACK FAMILY.
From the Black Point of View, when Michelle Obama tells the story of her family and talks about her father, as I have written before, I see the Black men that I grew up with in my life. The Black men who never get stories written about them in the papers, and certainly never make the news. And, she seems to have been talking about the Black community in which I was raised. As a community, we've not had someone talk about the Black Family in the way that Michelle Obama is doing. We've not had those hard working, Black men and women, especially of that generation, acknowledged in what they did, and what they demanded of their ' striving' children. For those in the middle class, we all know Michelle Robinson's family, because they were our neighbors. A generation ago, this was the family of the working class.
As Mrs. Obama has said herself, she finds nothing extraordinary in how she grew up; people like her and her family have ALWAYS been there - they've just been ignored by the MSM. And, because the Obamas are running, they can't ignore that story anymore, because in order to tell the story of the Obamas, you have to tell Michelle Robinson Obama's story, and thus the story of an entirely ignored swath of the Black community.
To the White community hearing this rarely told story, they can relate to it from their end; how many of them had fathers who weren't professionals, but worked to put food on the table through adversity, and had mothers who stayed at home, keeping the house together and the children in line, stressing education and hard work as the keys to achievement in society. To be able to relate to Michelle Obama's upbringing is a way to reach over that divide and show that we have fundamental values in common in this country, and if we can work through those, we can make this country a better place.
It's a daunting task for the Obamas - to try and counter the massive denigration of the Black Family that the MSM has done, but they have to do it, in order to be competitive. And, it's just another example of what Barack Obama has to do as the BLACK Candidate in this race that just doesn't apply to the other candidates.