While I certainly have my own political leanings, my goal with this post isn’t to sway anyone. Although I do work for the “liberal media,” I actually have friends of all affiliations. So I know how bloody obnoxious it can be when someone tries to shove their beliefs down your throat, and I never want to be that person.
However, regardless of your political affiliation, I think everyone can agree that we’re living in interesting political times. The two most-talked-about democratic candidates are a white woman and a black man. No matter how you slice it, the upcoming American presidential election will be historic.
The democratic party nomination race is in a dead heat and I’ve been soaking up all the coverage like a sponge. Now’s a great time to educate yourself about the candidates by watching the debates. I’m a sucker for a great orator and I’m wary of political dynasties, so Barack Obama piqued my interest early on. I think the senator is a charming and fascinating enough gentleman on his own. But there’s something undeniably special about his wife, Michelle. The more I see and learn about her, the more I love this lady! She’s totally a friend-in-my-head and there are three compelling reasons why I had to name this bella Afrobella of the Week – regardless of the way she wears her hair.
1. Because she keeps it real. I completely buy Michelle and Barack’s relationship. I don’t detect a whiff of “this will look good on camera,” or “this’ll play in the red states” about it. Michelle has been criticized for deflating her husband’s ego with witty-yet-loving put-downs about his housework shortcomings and fashion flubs. But I personally love her depreciating humor towards her husband’s new-found fame — with the ego-stroking that’s coming from all corners, I think having someone remind him that he is just a man is a good thing. I also think she dealt gracefully with the Obama girl phenomenon — I might not have responded as eloquently to that kind of come-on.
Many have criticized her decision to leave her six-figure-salary dream job in order to support her husband’s campaign — witness this searing Salon.com putdown of Mrs. Obama as yet another top-tier, well educated woman who abandons the world of work to stand by her man and raise her children. As someone who’s been married for five years, I know the crossroads Barack and Michelle Obama likely found themselves at — that age-old “marriage is compromise” crossroad where the ambitious prospects of one supersedes that of the other. It’s not a fun juncture, and I am sure that their decision came after many sleepless nights and a lot of deep thought and serious conversations. It isn’t my place to judge their relationship or their career decisions, just as it’s nobody’s place to judge mine. I can’t pretend to have walked a mile in their shoes. As this great compilation of reactions on Racialicious reveals, everyone’s looking to Michelle Obama to make a misstep, and her every move will be analysed under the microscope of race, gender, and feminism. But despite that pressure, Michelle is doing a great job of maintaining grace under pressure, and unlike some of the other nominees’ wives, there’s no question so far that she could make a phenomenal first lady.
2. She’s thinking about the kids. Barack and Michelle’s two daughters, Sasha and Malia, are beautiful little angels. Check them out on the official Obama Christmas card. Michelle based her decision for leaving her job on her children, and in this interview with the Chicago Tribune, she admits that at times she feels like a single mother. I think having someone who has dealt with those particular life-balancing struggles, whose little girls are at an impressionable age, and who knows the reality African American families are going through from having seen it up close and personal, be the first lady and the would-be president’s closest adviser, could lead to the kind of change that this country needs. I hope that the next president will give the education system the attention it demands, instead of just another pithy slogan. I hope that the family focus on health care translates into a real, achievable plan that can help the people who need it the most. Michelle is described as Barack’s rock, and as a strong, smart, experienced woman with opinions and values of her own, I hope she can bring her expertese to the table, in order to help to effect positive change if the Obamas are elected into the White House.
3. She’s an effortlessly elegant, low-maintainance beauty. In fact, in a recent Chicago Sun-Times nterview I learned about via 55 Secret Street, Michelle explains why she avoids the pre-appearance makeup routine. “I love girly makeup and stuff, but my view is that’s a lot of work,” she said, explaining her decision to routinely skip the makeup chair. “I want people to get used to my face more naturally so that I don’t have to do that every day. Who’s got time to put eyelashes on and all that?” Most women don’t. I don’t even have kids, and I’ve pared down my daily beauty regime to a tight ten-minute application. Michelle Obama’s figured out what works for her — classic clothing styles, beautiful and clear skin, tasteful accessories — and she wears it all with confidence. As this Chicago-Tribune article reveals, that’s because of the essence of her character.
“The poise that you see is genuine,” says her older brother Craig Robinson. “She is quite comfortable in all situations.” David Mosena, who hired her to be his deputy chief of staff when he worked for Mayor Richard Daley in the early ’90s, says, “She has her feet solidly on the ground, both of them. There’s not a bone of superficiality in her. She is the real deal. … She is very comfortable with herself.” That comes across to me, and in turn inspires my confidence in her and her husband.
Michelle Obama struggles, like many of us do, to juggle all of the balls that life has handed her. And I think she’s doing a great job so far. Maybe you don’t know much about Michelle. Maybe haven’t heard her speak yet, or you’ve only read the criticism about her. If you’re interested in learning more, check out this brief getting-to-know-you clip from Countdown With Keith Olbermann, in which former Afrobella of the Week Alison Stewart introduces Michelle Obama.
I’m in agreement with Essence magazine, I think Michelle Obama is one of the most inspiring women around right now. I’m proud to name her Afrobella of the Week, and I wish nothing but good things for her, her family, and her husband’s campaign. Congratulations, Michelle! Keep on being yourself. You make this Afrobella very proud.