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If Michelle Obama Isn’t Racist, What Is She?

Maureen Dowd fears Michele Obama will be tagged an "angry black woman." With good reason.

by
Katherine Berry

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June 12, 2008 - 9:04 am
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In Wednesday’s New York Times, Maureen Dowd warns conspiracy-seeking lefties that Obama’s candidacy is sure to incite the GOP to attack his wife, Michelle Obama. As if Obama himself doesn’t provide us with a good enough target. No, Dowd says, the true focus will be on Michele Obama as a “female version of Jeremiah Wright, an angry black woman.”

Well, as we say here in Kansas — where we’re all typical white people, I hear — “if the shoe fits, wear it.”

Oh, I’m not saying that Michelle Obama’s a racist. On the contrary, her husband’s campaign seems to value white people. Why, just two months ago when Mrs. Obama spoke at a rally on the campus of Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania her staff rearranged the crowd’s seating so a white person could have an Asian woman’s spot. “Get me more white people,” one of her event coordinators said. “We need more white people.”

With Michelle Obama, you see, it’s not all about what race a person is. It’s about what race they are not. As Mrs. Obama has made clear, it’s not really about other people’s whiteness. It’s about how white people don’t share what she calls her “blackness,” a distinction she made it her mission to examine.

Her senior thesis at Princeton University analyzed that very subject as she sought to examine “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community”. (Mrs. Obama’s thesis, written under her maiden name of Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, has been temporarily withdrawn from the stacks at Princeton’s library until the day after the presidential election. A copy is available here.)

The purpose of her thesis was to examine how her fellow black students perceived their own “blackness” after attending “predominantly White universities like Princeton [that] are socially and academically designed to cater to the needs of the White students comprising the bulk of their enrollments.” Her hypothesis? That the more time black students spend around other blacks, “the more positive and compassionate they will be in their attitudes toward lower class Black Americans”. Or, to rephrase her hypothesis: if highly-educated blacks look down on lower-income black Americans it’s the fault of whites and their white institutions like Princeton.

Yet, out of a sample of 400 black students surveyed, only a mere 22% bothered to respond to her questions. When the data demonstrated that the more separatist blacks became the more hopeless they felt, and the more integrated they became the less hopeless they felt, she dismissed the findings, calling it “very weak.”

My speculation for this finding is based on the possibility that a separationist is more likely to have a realistic impression of the plight of the Black lower class because of the likelihood that a separationist is more closely associated with the Black lower class than are integrationist.”

In other words, those in favor of integration, of having friends of both races and experiencing both black and white culture just weren’t “black enough” in her views.

Still, I’m not saying that Michelle Obama is a racist. Because, you see, she is painstakingly careful to remind everyone that her husband’s support base is diverse, as she said in a stump speech, and includes “…black and white, and all colors of the rainbow.” And, she reminded her audience, in South Carolina he didn’t win “just the black vote.” In his nationwide appeal, she explains, he “won the black vote and the white vote… votes from seniors, from young, from brown…”.

When it comes to her husband’s cross-racial base of support, Michelle Obama seems downright surprised. Stunned, even. As she said of her husband’s primary win in Iowa: “Ain’t no black people in Iowa! Something big, something new is happening.”

Maybe, but not in the sense that she meant.

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