As Black Americans, are we always looking for a hero or heroine? I was forced to stop and examine this question because of an online conversation I had with someone about Michelle Obama. I had sent to this person what I considered a very well-written article, American Girl, by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic. Coates has deftly made the correlation of being black and being American as being synonymous with his portrayal of Michelle Obama. I do not know if the person I sent the article to did not read the entire article or just did not get it because her remark was that she was sick of the drama around Michelle Obama and black women seeing her as some kind of queen, and that black people are looking for a hero.
Wow. That was two days ago and I have not responded as yet. I thought it was best to get my thoughts together because I did not trust what I wanted to say or that it would come out the right way. So, I am asking, is this true, are black people looking for a hero? I had forwarded several articles about the Obamas and especially the ones on Michelle. Many of them were black women writing about Michelle as a shining example of the ultimate black woman. Some of them were quite adoring, a little syrupy maybe, but I found no problem with them. So I am thinking now, are we putting the future First Lady on a pedestal; are we building her so high on the throne because we are hungry for someone to look up to?
Speaking for myself and myself only, I do not put anyone on a pedestal. Only God can be elevated to the status of royalty as far as I am concerned. But I give credit where credit is due. I feel a kinship, a sense of sisterhood with the future First Lady. In a world where black women are vilified and disrespected on an everyday basis, of course I delight in a woman such as Obama, beautiful, intelligent, accomplished, a devout mother and wife as being an example of a black woman we ALL can be proud of. That is it, plain and simple. Nothing more.
Just after Thanksgiving, I was sent an email about submissions to an anthology for a book of letters to Michelle Obama to be published by SUNY Press. It was due in a couple days, December 1 and I wondered what I had to say that would be significant but I sat down and typed up something I was finally pleased with. To my surprise and delight my submission was accepted. The goal was reached to have the book published in time for the Inauguration January 20. So now, I am doing some shameless promotion of Go, Tell Michelle, African American Women Write to the New First Lady. Am I in need of a hero or heroine? I don’t think so. Do I think First Lady Michelle Obama is worthy of being recognized and feted? She is all that and a bag of chips.
Go, Tell Michelle
Behind the idea for the book: Uncrowned Queens