Thank you Mary C. Curtis for writing it down. In an article titled The Loud Silence of Feminists, published in the Charlotte Observer, Curtis articulates her own, and my frustration at white women for their lack of support for Michelle Obama in the siege of negative media that has been thrown at her since Hilary Clinton’s defeat. Between the terrorist fist jab, Fox’s “baby mama” drama, and her recent appearance on the view, we have witnessed the attempts of the popular discourse to file this accomplished, strong, educated and compassionate woman into a cultural stereotype.

And this black woman is wondering: Where are Obama’s feminist defenders?
It’s not as though they’re out of practice. In 1992, Hillary Clinton was deemed too assertive and not first lady material. Similar, and worse, claims were made this year. But just as you didn’t have to be for Clinton to decry the sexism in the coverage of her campaign, you don’t have to be an Obama supporter to defend Michelle Obama against similar treatment.

This white woman is wondering the same thing. Though not surprised, I am again frustrated at the lack of conversation I am hearing in some of the feminist circles I run in about the media coverage of Obama in recent weeks. Three weeks ago I stood, dumbfounded in an airport convenience store in New York watching replay after replay (DIFFERENT ANGLES) of the fist bump that rocked the world. Really? REALLY? Then, the “Baby Mama” chyron debacle on Fox News. I mean, really, that got rubber stamped across someone’s desk. And I vent this frustration, have literally been met with “do you think that’s a feminist issue”? WHAT?

Now, I have gotten into arguments about how immigration, envrionmentalism, racism, economy, etc are feminist issues. And while these situations have always warranted the argument and have been worth expressing my opinions to get people to see my point, I have understood where they are coming from. I cannot for the life of me understand how someone would not see defending Michelle Obama as a feminist issue. She is a woman, being attacked and stereotyped as a specific kind of woman. How can you tolerate that and call yourself a feminist.

The campaign against Michelle Obama — who went on “The View” this week to prove her everywoman bona fides — has not caused a rift between black and white women so much as it has exposed it.
I’ve long been frustrated, as a black woman and a feminist, with our national conversation. I didn’t hear the cause speaking up for women of color or for women who have always worked in blue-collar or service jobs. Choice was not their issue.

I have long been frustrated myself. As a white woman who was raised in a predominately Black and Latino community, it took me a long time to come to terms with my own white privilege and understand how my upbringing plays a role in my choices and my viewpoints. I spent a lot of time taking people’s concerns personally and not progressing far at all in actually addressing these very real issues. So I spent a lot of time hearing the frustration of close friends of mine who have felt unsupported in feminist communities as women of color and have vented very specific frustrations about common viewpoints that didn’t include their experience. Since I shared most of their viewpoints and ascribed more to that same brand of feminism, I didn’t view myself as part of the problem, but as they say, evil only needs good (wo)men to stand by and do nothing. And yes, sometimes I get sick of being the anti-racist white girl (but luckily have a whole lot of other awesome anti-racist white girls in my life), but it’s part of accepting that privilege and its wrongness to stand up as an ally at every opportunity and call for change. So seriously, as a white woman, I am calling on other white women to not stand around and say “well I am not like that” but stand UP, defend Michelle Obama the same way you defended Hilary Clinton 16 years ago and the same way you would defend any sister.


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