|Michelle obama anti-american thesis||The picture of success for some African Americans—whether they were lawyers or young elected officials—and continued hardship for others created a distorted picture of black America. Many students felt that the contents of the work could become a factor in the election, but they were unsure to michelle obama anti-american thesis extent it would affect the outcome. Consider the political ramifications of such a reading. Viral image stated on July 18, in a Facebook post:. When unmoored from the institutions of power and class domination, racism becomes impossible to address, combat, and dismantle. Facebook Twitter.|
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Becoming is an exquisite lesson in creating political ideology—one that I find troubling. The strategy worked. Becoming sold a breathtaking 1. She endears herself to a broad audience as she freely recalls smoking marijuana with a boyfriend in her car, having pre-marital sex, living at home well into her thirties even after she was married, having troubles conceiving both of her children, yelling in arguments with Barack, and feeling bitter as she was expected to carry most of the burdens of her household after marriage.
Free of the pretense often effused by those with wealth and power, Obama comes off as ordinary and relatable. Your story is what you have, what you will always have. It is something to own. Maybe then we can begin to fear less, to make fewer wrong assumptions, to let go of biases and stereotypes that unnecessarily divide us. Sharing personal narratives, then, offers a way for people to fully see each other and to overcome our differences.
This message has resonated widely, but especially with black women, for whom Becoming has been a source of pride and celebration. Black women have paid hundreds, sometimes thousands , of dollars to crowd into stadiums on her book tour, which speaks not only to the celebrity of Obama, but the depths of disrespect and invisibility that black women in the United States experience. Indeed, black women in this country are so debased and ignored that it often feels as if the success and public adoration of Obama can lift and make visible all black women—a process Obama herself encourages.
Yet despite all the optimism and goodwill that Obama embraces and inspires, I find Becoming troubling. And to this day nothing pleases me more than the tidy triumph delivered by a home-makeover show. Indeed, far from being apolitical, Obama is politically sophisticated, and any reader of her book should treat her that way. Becoming , after all, is an exquisite lesson in creating ideology.
As a political insider with broad pop culture appeal, Obama wields enormous influence in shaping discourse and opinion on critical issues concerning race, gender, public policy, and how we define progress in general. Obama, then, is not just telling stories; she is shaping our understanding of the world we live in, which is why it is so critical that we, as a public, interrogate her ideology.
Becoming normalizes power and the status quo while sending the message that the rest of us only need to find our place in the existing social hierarchy to be happy. When stitched together and told honestly, they can create a map of shared experience that raises the possibility of collective action as a way to transform the individual circumstance.
This is certainly true of poor and working-class black women whose personal stories expose the racism, sexism, and general inequality of U. These stories relentlessly pierce the treacherous idea that the United States is free, democratic, and just, and they prove the axiom of black feminism that the personal is political. Born in , Obama has no recollection of the political strife—including multiple uprisings in response to police violence and the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Indeed, as a child, Obama was palpably aware that her circumstances were vastly different from those of the adults around her. While their potential was truncated by rampant racial discrimination, Obama was able to attend a promising new magnet high school called Whitney Young. She then goes on to Princeton University and eventually Harvard Law School, and by the mids, Obama was earning a six-figure salary at one of the most highly regarded law firms in downtown Chicago.
By any measure, she and her equally successful brother, Craig Robinson, overcame circumstances that many of their peers inevitably succumbed to. Racism does exist for Obama, but these two realities—the history of structural segregation that she and her brother emerged from and their subsequent black success—shape her perception of racism as less an institutional phenomenon and more an unfortunate residue from the past.
It lived in every last thing we deemed unfixable, including ourselves. She writes enthusiastically about how Jackson. He had school kids pledge to turn off the TV and devote two hours to their homework each night. He made parents promise to stay involved. He pushed against the feelings of failure that permeated so many African American communities, urging people to quit with the self-pity and take charge of their own destiny. All of them had doubters. Some continue to have roaring, stadium-sized collections of critics and naysayers who will shout I told you so at every little misstep or mistake.
My purpose had always been to see past my neighborhood—to look ahead and overcome. And I had. Known for his fiery sermons condemning the racism, militarism, sexism, and oppression in U. The most widely circulated of these sermons showed Wright at his incendiary best:. God damn America, for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America, as long as she tries to act like she is God, and she is supreme.
The United States government has failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent. It is a diplomatic reading—but ultimately a clumsy effort to reach across the profound racial division in the United States. Consider the political ramifications of such a reading. By treating them as two sides of the same coin, Obama is equating African American anger—which is rooted in material deprivation and human subjugation—with white fear, which is rooted in racial stereotypes.
These two worldviews are not the product of the same generational experiences and reducing them to such forecloses the possibility that African Americans could ever find real redress to the inequality produced by centuries of slavery and legal discrimination. She fails to see how it was bitter struggle against real institutions that created the new world she was able to thrive in. Indeed, Whitney Young high school was built on an empty lot that had seen multiple uprisings over the course of the s.
Those uprisings eventually caused the political establishment to acquiesce and take concrete steps to create a black middle class. The crucible of the s widely expanded access to homeownership, college education, white collar professions, and formal entry into electoral politics for African Americans. Obama and a thin layer of others were beneficiaries of these transformations in the U. The short-lived reforms created by the anti-poverty programs of the s lowered the rate of black poverty by expanding the federal bureaucracy and creating new job opportunities for black workers.
But as the momentum from the political insurgency of the s waned, political support for these programs evaporated. And as more time passed from the high point of the movement, the hardship experienced by most African Americans grew deeper.
In , the year Obama was born, black unemployment was 9. To make sense of the persistent low wages, housing instability, higher rates of poverty, and deepening social crisis that marred black communities, the political focus shifted violently to personal responsibility or a lack thereof. In doing so, the infrastructure of publicly funded institutions—including public housing and other forms of social welfare—that had been slowly chipping away at inequality and poverty were dismissed as unnecessary and financially gutted.
The picture of success for some African Americans—whether they were lawyers or young elected officials—and continued hardship for others created a distorted picture of black America. Like a fun house mirror, it enlarged features such as personal persistence and responsibility while pushing others, such as the role of institutional racial discrimination, further to the margins.
The crises in this country cannot be resolved one person at a time, and recipes for self-fulfillment cannot create the social forces necessary to transform neighborhoods. Social change is thus based on the goodwill and interests of well-endowed funders and well-meaning individuals while inequality is essentially accepted as something to navigate rather than dismantle.
Harper, and her recollection of it in Becoming. As an institution, Harper stands at the intersection of racism, poverty, and violence. In , twenty-one of its students were injured and eight killed from persistent gun violence. Obama chose to visit Harper in as she became increasingly focused on gun violence in Chicago. On the day of her visit, Obama met with twenty-two students who had all been psychologically scarred by their constant exposure to gun violence.
They relayed with frightening detail walking down the middle of the street to avoid stray gunfire and their routines of clearly identifying escape routes in case they needed to run. A lot of kids, I was coming to realize, had never in their lifetimes known anything different.
We have retired comments and introduced Letters to the Editor. Share your thoughts ». Expand comments Hide comments. View the discussion thread. Advertise About Contact Subscribe. Coronavirus Live Updates - 52 min 16 sec ago. Topics Books and Publishing. Michelle Obama on Princeton. By Emma Whitford. November 14, Penguin Random House. Read more by Emma Whitford. Subscribe for free today. Inside Higher Ed Careers Hiring? Post A Job Today!
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