Saturday, November 30, 2013

Lay Off Michelle Obama: Why White Feminists Need to Lean Back

To expand on Shannon's discussion about Michelle Obama, here is an article that responds to Politico and other white feminists' critiques of her political activity. I'd be interested in discussing some of the points that Britney Cooper brings up in this article, particularly around her definition of "white female privilege" and how it comes into play with criticisms of Michelle Obama and other women of color in politics.

In addition, I think Cooper brings up an excellent point when she talks about Michelle Obama calling herself a "mom-in-chief" and how this title could have very different, very meaningful implications for black women and black families. Here is the quote:

"...I also acknowledge and agree with black feminists like Melissa Harris-Perry and Kirsten West Savali who have talked about the importance of Michelle Obama’s mom-in-chief role in countering persistent narratives about bad, delinquent black mothers. As Savali notes, 'In my feminism, we understand that raising intelligent, confident Black children in a loving family is one of the most revolutionary acts a Black woman can commit in America.'"

Cooper suggests that Michelle Obama's political role is much more complex when race is taken into account, and she argues that some white feminists forget to be mindful of "the historical and contemporary ideas that [Michelle Obama] is being forced to navigate" as a result of her black-womaness. I'm curious as to what you all think of her arguments, considering the articles that Shannon posted as well as our past discussions regarding relationships between white feminists and women of color.

Jessica Peña

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