I originally posted this yesterday on AOL Black Voices. From time to time, I’m gonna be cross posting. Feel free to comment here, there, or wherever you’d like!


When I first saw the photos of Malia Obama in London rocking her fly twists and her little peace sign tee, I didn’t think twice about it. What was there to think about?

I thought she looked gorgeous, and I can see even now what an absolute stunner she’s going to be when she grows up.

And she’s wearing her hair in TWISTS! LOVE it!” I thought.

The news stories I read about little Malia weren’t so cerebral or celebratory. In fact, they were downright disgusting, and speak volumes about the deep divide that’s developed within the Republican party. I’m not going to get into the details, Jeff Douglas already did that well enough on Black Spin, and the less fuel on the racist fire, the better.

But I can’t help but wonder — is this really all about the teeshirt? Or is it also about her hair?

The DailyKos seems to think so, and so do I.

When can a kid just be a kid?

Sadly, I think if your father is president, the answer is probably never.

Chelsea Clinton got it, the Bush twins got theirs, and even though the Obama girls are the youngest kids to live in the White House since the days of John F. Kennedy and Camelot they’re unfortunately not exempt. Their age won’t protect them, not in these days of the internet when trolls can hide behind their keyboards and send anonymous attacks inspired by the color of their skin, the clothes they decide to don, and the style in which they choose to wear their hair.

I cannot stand this kind of racist vitriol being spit towards an eleven year old girl because of her expression of personal style. It’s shameful and embarrassing. And speaking for the Republican friends that I have (I do have a few) — it isn’t truly representative of what their party stands for.

I love that the Obamas have encouraged their children to wear natural hairstyles like twists and cornrows. I love that natural black hairstyles are coming to the forefront. I just wish that people could have an open mind for things they don’t understand. I wish people — regardless of political affiliation — could be fine with just watching these little girls grow into the intelligent young women they’re destined to be, without resorting to the worst kinds of stereotypes, slurs and negative assumptions. How Malia or Sasha dress or wear their hair has absolutely nothing to do with their father’s policies at the end of the day.

But enough about what I think. What do you all think?


LotusDoll says:
July 15, 2009, 11:54 am
Its our cultural heritage as African Americans to speak literally and/or figuratively about the freedoms and health of the earth and its people. I find Malia's tee shirt to be a wonderful expression of her advancing consciousness and awareness of all peoples freedoms. She's on the right track and the shirt speaks volumes. Those who criticize this child are fearful and spiritually weak. Peace.
Gisele says:
July 15, 2009, 12:25 pm
I agree with LotusDoll; and I will also say this venomous hate towards an innocent child reminds me of civil rights era footage of national guards escorting children (in their Sunday school best, clutching bookbags) past mobs of screaming, spitting adults. I mean, she is a POC, natural hair AND wearing a peace sign shirt?! -it's like sprinkling holy water on vampires-lol. I refuse to actually read the comments for various reasons, but I am glad others (of all races, thankfully) have addressed this divide and challenged it. Hi Patrice!-lol
RiPPa says:
July 15, 2009, 12:35 pm
You know, I never thought about it until you pointed it out. I think you're right. It has to be her hair. Forget the t-shirt most of them cried over. This is all about the twist. Yeah, that "look" is a tad bit too ethnic for the White House I suppose.
Nneoma says:
July 15, 2009, 1:10 pm
honestly, i felt like crying when I read those comments. Like the writer of the post said, I would have expected such comments in a "white power" like website. but to see it on a mainstream political party's blog, hurts alot because it reinforces that there are those who still hate us soooo much. it hurts that America is still like this...
Dari says:
July 15, 2009, 1:21 pm
She's an 11-year old girl. Many 11 year olds don't have perms and, in my opinion, they don't really need them. I had natural hair until I was 13. Malia looks adorable in her outfit and twist.
ADT says:
July 15, 2009, 12:29 pm
I saw some of the comments, and they are indeed disgusting. The comments have zero to do with the T-shirt, and everything to do with race. Downgrading an 11-year old child is deplorable. The children of politicians have always been considered to be 'off-limits", and such should be the case with the Obama girls. The kids should be able to wear their clothes and hair as they (and their parents) see fit. There's nothing distasteful about their choices. Attacking a kid is just plain tacky.
dgh says:
July 15, 2009, 1:39 pm
A precocious-5-year-old-African-American princess came to the house for the first time today with her mother, a home healthcare aide. Running her fingers through my hair, she told me, I needed "to do something with that nappy hair." After picking my jaw up off the floor, I tried to convince her that God created my hair beautifully...just the way it is...but she just wasn't having it. When I asked how I should wear my shoulder length natural hair, she replied, "in twists or cornrows," like she wears hers. I guess doing something with nappy hair, no longer means straightening or changing its texture. Or more to the point, this child doesn't know the difference between hair that's natural and hair that's processed. Or maybe she has internalized some of our generational poison, but some things were lost in translation. Who knows, perhaps, she simply didn't like the style I was wearing. Anyway, fist bumps to Malia for holding her head high, regardless of her hairstyle. She is a beautiful example (especially) for our children and all the children of the world.
Kat says:
July 15, 2009, 2:04 pm
My mom caught my dad watching Bill O'Reilly one evening a few months back. She balked at his watching the show and asked why was he wasting his time on that drivel. He simply replied: I need to know what the other side thinks...helps me strengthen my side of the argument. I appreciate Afrobella's decision to not propagate these words of hate. Yet, I sought out the comments, just to know where we are in this country. I see that some people choose to stay blinded by their hatred, even when they are bathing in a new realm of possibilities for our country. I'm also clear that not all conservatives feel this way. I'm glad to know we still have freedom of speech, and yet, we need to be responsible for what poisons we spew out in the world. That's what's missing...responsibility. The poisons injected through some blogs and websites only serve to incite more anger and hatred. They also serve to unite people in their hatred. We have a system in this country of putting out hatred on the internet without being responsible for it. Thank you, Afrobella for staying positive and being responsible.
SoFrolushes says:
July 15, 2009, 3:57 pm
It is really sad. People should just leave the child alone. I pray they always look happy and continue to grow in the good manner their parents are teaching them. heads held high
JenG says:
July 15, 2009, 4:37 pm
Thank you for speaking on this! I could not believe the hateful remarks over a shirt. I didn't think that it was possibly some other reason. I didn't think about the hairstyle. It goes to show we may have a (black) President, but racism will live on forever! I was so mad after reading different remarks, that I had to stop reading. How and why would anyone write such hateful remarks about a 11 years old. Regardless of who her father is.
Victoria says:
July 15, 2009, 6:07 pm
All republicans are not like this and I bet that if you met most of the posters in person, they would NEVER say anything like what they posted on that site. Like Afrobella says, it's the internet, racist trolls can say whatever they want with their identities safely hidden behind their keyboards. Unfortunately, I think we've all just gotten a glimpse of the racism that still exists in America. After this, I don't think anyone else can deny it.
Kat says:
July 15, 2009, 6:47 pm
This is really sickening. This is a true representation of where we really are with race relations. But there is no first family better equipped to handle this. The Obamas will continue and will always do so with Grace and style. Malia is a beautiful and smart little girl.these negative nellies should be ashamed of themselves. Little black children have twists,plaits, cornrows...and puffs. Anyone ignorant on it will be schooled...
flygyrl72 says:
July 15, 2009, 7:14 pm
I'm not at all surprised by these comments. The GOP base once again showing exactly what they're made of. I don't know why this is even news, I don't put anything past those people. Nothing. The fact that there's now a First Black family is driving them absolutely bonkers. Good! Let 'em keep it up with this ignorant unoriginal racist crap & keep showing everyone what a freakshow they & their brethren really are. You know what they say about giving someone enough rope... They're gonna cannibalize themselves before they're through & everyone will say "Good riddance!"
KatieC says:
July 15, 2009, 9:14 pm
She looks adorable, chic and totally self-assured! I'm not even going to read any negative stories about this - I don't need to get my blood pressure up over fools that pick on kids!
Sandra says:
July 16, 2009, 12:22 am
These comments do not surprise me. It's a shame they would attack an 11-year old. This is the base of the Republican Party Sarah Palin and other GOP candidates were talking to when they mention real America. The conservatives, so-called Christians, need to be ashamed. The country is not post racial despite electing an African American President. Racism is too deeply rooted in our history to just end with the election of the first African American President. This is the America Rev Wright was preaching about. We are cowards when it comes to talking about race.
Digital Tempest says:
July 16, 2009, 2:40 am
I love that style on Malia. It's cute, summery, and age appropriate. I'm not shocked about the things that I read by those posters, but I don't understand how anyone can equate an 11-year-old child being a child to a "whore." Grown adults clique-ing up and aiming such hate at a child. But of course, this is the internet, and they'd never dare do a thing in real life. In fact, these are probably the same people that go out of their way to compliment a natural black woman if they see them in person just to prove that they aren't racist. The internet is just a safe venue to vent all that hate, even if it includes an 11-year-old girl. This is sickening and sad, and honestly, I feel sorry for any public figure's child who has to go through this kind of scrutiny. The Obama girls are fortunate to have parents who seem to really be the strong foundation they need in such trying times.
holly says:
July 16, 2009, 6:33 am
I'm shocked and appalled by all the drama surrounding an 11 year old. And most unfortunately, drama surrounding an 11 year old because of her race. That's something that no person should ever have to deal with. To be perfectly honest, I had to go read some of the comments because I was dumbfounded as to whether or not there was something I was missing. Unfortunately, I wasn't missing anything. To the idea that twists are perhaps too ethnic for the white house... I'm going to say bs. I myself am caucasian (and have straight hair, but am completely addicted to your blog), however, I think Malia looks like a stunning young lady, and her choice of a natural style only enhances her beauty. She looks exactly like an 11 year old should, clean and simple. Remember the outrage when people simply remarked that Chelsea Clinton was unattractive? There was a huge to-do about how the children are off limits and so on. And I agree, Malia has done absolutely nothing to draw attention to herself, and yet an group of individuals who are unfortunately biased and blinded by hatred set upon her like animals. Absolutely disgusting. As far as I'm concerned, as long as she's dressing age appropriately and just generally appropriately (from the way people acted you'd think her shirt had an obscene message or something), Malia can wear whatever she wants and style her hair however she wants.
Jenny says:
July 16, 2009, 6:59 am
Hi Afrobella! Long time reader, first time poster! About Malia Obama's style. I think she is BEAUTIFUL! I am really glad that the Obama's chose a style for her that is age appropiate and reflective of our rich hertiage and she wears it with pride and confidence. It's too bad that in today's society where we supposedly embarce diversity and multiculturalism, we really don't.
Christine says:
July 16, 2009, 11:01 am
I'm unfortunately not shocked that some one or some people would propogate a certain idea or comments based on the outfit, but I still find it appalling. (And I don't have the stomach, time, or patience to read through them now.) What I will say is, Malia looks like a perfectly acceptable 11 year old girl. In fact, I am pretty sure that I had a similar shirt at that age, only I will say it was the very early 90s and mine was tiedyed. As for her hair, as someone with curly hair, I LOVE that Malia is wearing her hair in its natural state, whether it be twists or cornrows. Unfortunately a kid cannot be a kid when she is the daughter of the president, especially of the first president of African descent.
Michelle says:
July 16, 2009, 11:35 am
I have major problems with this article (http://www.afrobella.com/2009/07/15/malia-obama-when-can-a-kid-just-be-a-kid/). Malia has never worn dreadlocks and the line "I have black hair. I have naturally wavy, frizzy, and hard to manage hair" seems to imply that black hair is, by nature, frizzy and hard to manage, which is not the case. I have to wonder if the author is remotely in touch with her natural hair.
Michelle says:
July 16, 2009, 11:43 am
Forgot to say that I absolutely love Malia's hair. She seems very comfortable in her skin even at her young age and I hope other young girls watch and are inspired by her.
km says:
July 16, 2009, 1:25 pm
my two kids, both Caucasian boys, think Malia and Sasha are just the coolest ever. My oldest son 9 on seeing this picture said, she rocks in that tshirt. They see a kid they can relate to, wearing things they wear, etc. I can only imagine what her hairstyle says to girls who wear their hair that way. It's got to be so awesome.
July 16, 2009, 2:28 pm
These vile comments are from the grandchildren of those who found it celebratory to lynch our young in the past. Should we now be surprised that they'll attack Obama's children, since they have such a hard time attacking Obama himself with any credible views?
Fashion addict says:
July 16, 2009, 3:58 pm
It is interesting and hypocritical that people are openly critical of Malia's hair but yet will come to such rousing aid when Sarah Palin's daughter is commented upon, albeit tastelessly, by Letterman. And, these critics comment on a young, smart First Daughter who dresses neatly and appropriately for her age, than all the wannabe Brittney Spears gals. The hypocrisy would be clear were these critics not so dimwitted. And, lest I'm mistaken, the First Lady is a Princeton-Harvard Law educated lawyer who is raising smart, talented girls! That's more than can be said for the illiterate commentators.
tropic says:
July 17, 2009, 12:10 am
I have been rocking my Locs since the late 80s so that one day I could see someone like Malia rocking hers! LOve her selection and her mother's permission!
Arella says:
July 17, 2009, 12:46 am
Why are we so concerned with a little girl's shirt, the trends now days are go green and anti-war styles, a la hippieish...so please people get over it and get over the hair too..I'm so glad you made a post about this.
Thejudge says:
July 17, 2009, 5:14 am
I don't think it has anything to do with her hair. Multiracial people are just as much a part of white America, as Italians or anyone else. White people are accustomed to seeing natural hair, and actually find it a lot more attractive than traction alopecia hairstyles. That said, I think the hatred is more or less a combination of race as well as the dislike of Obama. Even if she would have been dressed to attend a cotillion, there would have been racist vitriol.Hairstyles don't make racists more or less extreme. A true racist will hate you regardless of having a fro' or having straight hair. When the Clinton's came to the white house, people did the same thing. They said that they would put the presidential limo on cinder blocks, and install a gun rack in the top of it. They called them rednecks and said they were going to put a trailer in the back to live in and use the white house for company. My point is that everyone takes their knocks and bruises. Oh well, crying won't make the bullying stop.
jazzymelanin says:
July 17, 2009, 7:17 am
yea read about the attacks a couple of days ago. malia also rocked a different peace shirt at the Coloseeum. she could be wearing it as a political statement or just wearing what is normal attire for tweens. the comments would have been the same even if the t-shirt was adorned with hello kitty, skulls, or tinkerbell. as far as the hair i feel the same way. the bottom line is they don't like the fact there is a black family in the white house. if you read some of the comments on the original site, you get the same racist diatribe on the obamas. nothing new or shocking about any of these comments. black children have never been immune from hatred from these type of individuals. here's hoping the obamas can continue to keep their children grounded for the next 4 years
Simply Z. says:
July 18, 2009, 6:53 pm
I think this has everything to do with Malia's hair. I think if she had the same shirt on (shirts with Peace signs have been popular for decades now) and was sporting her Inauguration hair, it would have been a bit more difficult to condemn her. And the sad part about it is that the condemners don't even realize that they even take issue with her hair, her blackness.
Pat says:
July 20, 2009, 7:18 am
Malia's hair is gorgeous, honestly, and she's a good looking kid in general, too. I don't see what's the big deal? She's a kid, kids wear t-shirts. It wasn't like she was going into the Sistine Chapel or something, she doesn't have to be in a dress all the time, regardless of what the gender police have to say.
Emmanuel.K.Bensah Jr. says:
July 20, 2009, 12:42 pm
Many thanks for adding me as a link. Malia WILL be a gorgeous, strong, Black African lady in future, and she will be sure to give the guys problems! Small wonder with beautiful parents like that! Still, as for the racism, whadja expect. Just because Obama remains President does not mean that e.o. is not without uneasiness. Point, though, is there is NOTHING the racists and the WASPS can do anything about!
pets says:
July 21, 2009, 9:33 pm
I hope that The Obama ladies read Afrobella and that they continue to just be themselves. Great post as usual!
Destiny says:
July 22, 2009, 1:51 pm
Oh my god...I had not heard about this until now. I really had no idea that the racism was this bad. I suppose I'm ignorant in that regard, but being raised in the California Bay Area I was not exposed to it all that often. To hear the things that people would say about a child is disgusting. For god's sake...she is wearing her hair natural! It's not like it's dyed blue or something!
Tammy says:
August 3, 2009, 8:05 am
Hi, i don't know what to say, but you are awesome and worthy to be adore. keep it up. Tammy.. from "Nigeria"(west Africa)..tambarinsagane@yahoo.com.
susan says:
August 7, 2009, 2:58 am
Uh,excuse me, haters, but she looks totally _normal_, like a kid. And twisties are totally _normal_. I bet some people have just never really seen or known a black kid before and judge her appearance by what they see in the movies.
optimist says:
August 22, 2009, 9:43 pm
Most women UNDERSTAND DECORUM and know that it isn't acceptable to wear short shorts in a foreign city that is not a resort. The Obama girls and their mother and grandmother and godmother and Michelle's brother and his family when they travel on the taxpayer's money should dress appropriately. They should put some clothes on. They are representing the U.S. not auditioning for a role in a porn movie.
jenn says:
August 23, 2009, 5:45 pm
So...Miley Cyrus wears a peace sign shirt and it becomes a trend. Malia Obama wears a peace sign shirt and a racial slur-fest ensues. I really don't understand the ignorance of some people these days. -_-
J.T. Oldfield says:
August 24, 2009, 1:27 pm
I love that picture of Malia. I think that she looks like a hip kid. She is going to be just as beautiful as her mom when she grows up. My mom, who is an elementary school teacher, pointed out to me recently that peace signs are really in style, especially for kids. And then I started noticing them every where. Regarding Mrs. Obama's shorts, which obviously this post was not about, but *some* people want to drag into the convo, I read this recently on outblush (a website for women of ALL types, and the sister site of uncrate, the men's site for "guys who like stuff"): http://www.outblush.com/women/life/sports-outdoors/mrs-obamas-shorts-the-gams-that-galvanized-a-nation/
Tara says:
November 25, 2009, 12:30 am
I believe that if you dont like what Malia or Mrs. Obama is wearing then dont look, Change the Channel, go to a different website! To be so critical of a family is Ridiculous, Whether they are the First Family or not, What they choose to wear doesn't bother me, and it shouldn't bother you! Like most people have been saying "Get a Life", and fast! The Obama's are amazing, from what the wear, to the smile on there faces as they read what these idiotic fools have to say about them! Malia looks great, her hair is too cute, and thats that! Leave this young girl alone!
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November 23, 2010, 7:17 am
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January 17, 2011, 5:08 pm
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Leshawn Thomas says:
June 8, 2011, 10:04 pm
According to a recent poll, only 82% of Democrats would re-elect Barack Obama if they could vote today. They voted for hope and ended up with change.
greathair says:
October 1, 2011, 3:40 pm
I think the obama girls hair is gorgeous and i wonder if their being in the limelight with natural hair styles has helped the kids in the black community to accept their natural beauty and helped to move on from the idea that only straight caucasian hair is "good hair". Natural hair from the african diaspora is gorgeous (hard to look after) but none the less its gorgeous and black girls look great with the hair nature gave them...the frequent urge to straighten it etc to conform to a white "ideal" is so sad i think. How a black woman should not be so steeped in politics in history everyone's natural hair is the hair style that best suits them in my opinion.
greathair says:
October 1, 2011, 3:41 pm
meant to say how a black woman wears her hair should not be so steeped in politics or history...