Gina of Michelle Obama Watch on Tom Joyner
by sandy, Thu Dec 11, 2008 at 06:39:00 AM EST
Gina from MichelleObamaWatch.com had a great interview on Tom Joyner the other day. She also blogs at Blogging While Brown. Gina is a feisty woman, vibrant and smart. She doesn't pull any punches when it comes to defending Michelle and is certain to have her back every step of the Obama Presidency.
She turned most of her attention on the recent controversy over Michelle's decision to devote her time to parenting in the next 4 years. I am not surprised that there is yet another round of the mommy wars, but apparently an upscale stay at home black mother is adding a new dimension to the debate. As much as working outside the home was a hard-earned right for white women, devoting 100% of your attention to your children remains a hard-earned right for black women.
Gina responded to an editorial by Jolene Ivey, wherein Jolene talks about the disapproval she faced when she chose to leave a promising career with Ben Cardin, now a US Senator. Motherhood, she says, "is considered a waste of education by many in the black community." It isn't clear whether it's due to the desire to rise out of poverty or the need to leave behind a disdain for the "mammy" caricature that is prevalent in Africana art. Black women, says Jolene, "tended their owners' children, while not being allowed to lavish such attention on their own.
Then she makes the mistake of implying black women let their children "fend for themselves", which rightly set Gina off. The very core of the mommy wars is that children cannot possibly be raised properly except with 100% attention from the female parent. I was particular surprised to see this slander put on black women in the midst of an article comparing the work environment between white and black moms. Do white women who work let their children "fend for themselves"? Or did Jolene not even think of the silliness of the comment in that light. .
Still, the difference in expectations of moms in the black and white communities is worth discussing. I'll never forget when my mother told me that she gave up trying to work in the 60s because male bosses always told her she needed to go home and take care of her children. I was shocked to learn that in my early twenties. Here I am thirty years later, and shocked again, to find out that African American women had the total opposite experience. It's even more shocking when you consider that these women also have to bear the stigma of the label of "welfare queen", that Reagan so kindly dumped on them in the 80s.
While I think most white people are looking for some very basic change from President Obama, like jobs for instance, it looks like the real change might be more in the symbolic for African Americans and minorities. It will be interesting to be a part of these dynamic changes as women like Gina continue to challenge preconceived ideas and misconceptions. I don't see any possible way that we won't all be better people at the end of Obama's Administration than we are now.
Cross post: http://www.obama-mamas.com/blog/?p=119