Tuesday, August 26, 2008

She, Too, Sings America

SM, I can't wait until tonight to see what HRC has to say. I know she'll tow the party line and say she supports Obama, but I wonder how she will say it. Will it be enough to convince her supporters to get behind the candidate that already largely represents their views? And, will it be enough to convince people like me that I can respect HRC again and not continue to think of her as the desperate ex-girlfriend who won't let go of the boyfriend who dumped her? I want to respect her. I want to like her again. Just like I want to like the feminists in the movement because I think sisterhood is important. Time and time again, however, they remind me that to them, I am the darker sister and they will hurriedly send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes (to paraphrase Langston Hughes). Last night Michelle Obama showed them that Black women are beautiful and the feminists should be ashamed (still paraphrasing Langston). She presented herself to be a classy, compassionate, and articulate (can I say that?) woman, but she also proved that her family, too, sings America (okay, I'm stopping with the Hughes). She proved that hey, Black people work hard, we love our kids and parents, we suffer non-race related problems like multiple sclerosis, and we can love this country.

I hate that she earlier had to revise/explain her statement about being proud of America for the first time in her adult life because that original claim did reveal the complexities of Black folks' relationships with this country. Cindy McCain's quick rebuttal that she has always been proud of her country just showed how ignorant she can be. Of course, you're proud--your position in society as White and especially rich dictates that America has always been good to you. But Michelle's place as working class and Black reveals that in spite of the fact that America has been harsh (and don't get it twisted--she grew up during the sixties and seventies, harsh times for Black people), she can still find the good in it. Last night's speech showed us that more than find the good, she can love it. I think that is amazing. Rather than try to force Black people (or other people of color) to deny their experience, as Elisabeth Hasselbeck would like to do, I think the fact that they can love the country should be celebrated.

Last night, Michelle's speech made me really consider my relationship with the country. I was inspired when she talked about Barack's thoughts on how too often we accept the world as it is, even when it doesn't coincide with our values. It made me hopeful that we really can strive for the world as it should be.

I was also inspired by the love that she displayed for her husband last night. I know the pundits talk about how she had to humanize him (because I guess he was not human in the first place?), but I thought she really revealed a sense of love between them. It was so beautiful when she talked about how he drove so slowly when he brought her and Malia home from the hospital. And when she spoke of being married to him, loving him for 19 years. . . these things made me a little misty-eyed.

Okay, I also wanted to talk about the crazy suggestion that Black women can't expect White feminists to speak out for Michelle because Black women didn't speak up for HRC when she was under attack, but I just don't have the time or tolerance for nonsense right now. I tend to agree with the comments here, however.

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