Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Michelle Obama Watch" Blog Questions Use of Go, Tell Michelle in College Courses

If anyone thought that Black women were a monolithic group, marching in lock step, with one idea and purpose, they need only look at the blog, “Michelle Obama Watch”. While we can and have taken criticism and quietly risen above the negativity, there are times when a response is just in order.

The decision to use “Go, Tell Michelle” as a text at Bennett College is used as the context for comments that are neither warranted nor accurate. First of all, to say that “Go, Tell Michelle” “returns” presupposes that the book went out of print or has been retired somehow. In fact you can often find it on the Best Seller list of books in letters and correspondence on Amazon.com and requests for presentations and book signings fill our schedule. As for the statement attributed to Peggy; Brooks-Bertram has never said that this was a book particularly for dark-skinned women as women of all hues have letters in the book.

It’s interesting (trying to find a better word) that someone who describes “Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady” as “creepy” and “other Black women’s hustle” should do so on a blog that she entitles, “Michelle Obama Watch”. Further in the earlier review, quoted in her post, which she says “panned” the book soon after its release, she admits to not having read the entire volume and has cherry picked a few of the letters. This new post seems to share the same limited analysis and the “projection” of which she accuses the Go, Tell Michelle contributors of having.

I won’t go into a long treatise on the messages that “Go, Tell Michelle” seeks to impart to its readers. I don’t think that the author of the “Michelle Obama Watch” is looking for a healthy discussion as evidenced by the fact that she has already labeled the messages as “bizarre” and states that she doesn’t “know if I want young impressionable undergraduate women engaging in unhealthy projection”. But it is that healthy discussion that I know the young women at Bennett will/are having in their course on Black women’s issues. In fact, I am sure that other students throughout the country are having these same discussions and we are all better off for it.

1 comment:

  1. Since you mentioned Michelle Obama Watch by name, let me clear up one glaring inaccuracy in this post for other Black women who may stumble upon it.

    For the record, the quotes were not "cherry-picked" by me, they cherry-picked by the book authors and NPR when the NPR interview was marketed. Had I been in alt about the quotes the authors of the book and NPR selected, then we have a problem, but because the authors of the book chose to be complicit as NPR portrayed the Black women contributing to the book in the EXTREME, then the authors can't be angry with me for pointing out the book, at least the passages selected by the authors and NPR depict Black women in a desparaging manner.If you felt the passages NPR broadcast were an inaccurate reflection, then why weren't the authors screaming and shouting about NPR misrepresenting their work?

    You see, the image of the long-suffering Black woman is big business in this country, try to find a depiction in popular culture that doesn't have us struggling, abused, beat down, or confused. So I think Michelle Obama is AWESOME because she controls her image in a way that in unaparralled for Black women. So as the country is introduced to our new First Lady, NPR doesn't dedicate a segment to Black women at their best, but chooses some of the most BIZARRE statements I have ever heard publicly from a Black woman. This is what you think about the new First Lady?

    The quotes the authors and NPR cherry-picked ARE BIZZARE. A Black woman indicating that she can now love her own child because of Michelle Obama IS BIZZARE. It is not okay and I'm not going to act as if it is.

    Turn about fair play, I critiqued the authors and now they have critiqued me and hopefully this is last of the matter. Trust me, if I didn't get an email about it, I wouldn't have mentioned the book again on the blog. The post was a compromise between promoting something a reader was excited about, the book being turned into a textbook, and my reservations about how it would be used.

    The real problem here is that because I'm a Black woman, I'm not entitled to voice an opinion that departs from the Black monolith. If your book is a raging success, which I hope it is, why on earth do you care about the thoughts of one lowly blogger in a universe of HUNDREDS possibly THOUSANDS of Obama-related blogs?

    So let's be clear, its wrong to project all of these centuries-long issues on to Michelle Obama. Trotting out the neurosis of Black women for the purpose of entertainment and escapism is getting OLD. The authors, Tyler Perry, and anybody else that wants to continue to cast Black women as long suffering, downtrodden, beat down and struggling can continue to expect me to say, THAT'S NOT ALL WE ARE!

    I too hope that the young women have a healthy discussion about the book. I hope the discussion includes multiple persepctives, including the ones you don't agree with.
    If any of the students would like me to expand on my perspectives, I can always be reached at Michelle Obama Watch. I'm not afraid to engage in a debate based on facts, but if you have to ommit important facts like who was responsible for the "cherry picking" one has to wonder.

    I can see you have taken all of this very personally. When I said "I don't want to knock another sister's hustle." I didn't mean that pejoratively. That may be a generational disconnect. I realize putting a book together and promoting it is extremely taxing and is a great deal of hard work. Writing and editing in long form is very difficult work. Because I don't agree with the content, doesn't mean I don't respect the hard work that went into the process.

    Michelle Obama Watch