In The News
FLOTUS “YoMama” Email, No Media Attention for Missing Woman in Atlanta. Can Black Women Get Any Respect?
The situation may be depressingly hopeless. Here we have a Princeton University and Harvard Law School educated woman, who has worked at the top law firms, selflessly served her community, is a committed mother, and is serving as First Lady of the most powerful country in the world with more grace, poise, and dare I say fashion flair, than the White House has seen in decades, and even SHE is constantly hit with jokes and comments with racist undertones.
Last week Kansas Rep. Mike O’Neal had to apologize for forwarding an email that referred to the First Lady as “Mrs. Yo Mama.” Two weeks ago, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) had to write a note of apology to the First Lady for referring to her “large posterior” and “big butt.”
I really can’t believe he went there (should we ask why he was looking?).
There’s an unsettling undercurrent of disrespect toward our first family that always comes back to race that we have never been experienced before. For eight years we had a president who couldn't find his way to a coherent sentence with a flashlight and a map, but the insults never equated his stupidity with race.
Oh and remember when funny lady Joan Rivers, called Michelle Obama, “Blackie O”. That wasn’t funny. Why not Chelly O? Or Mrs. O since her last name already starts with the letter? But to take it to race was just unnecessary. It would have been better if she just made fun of Mrs. Obama’s outfits. Joan Rivers is actually good at that.
And for the uninformed the world "blackie" has an extremely negative and racist connotation. The word was used to denigrate, dehumanize and liken people of African descent to monkeys. Monkeys. Blackies. Get it? Still not funny, right?
I didn't think so either.
If this is how they talk about the First Lady, using racial stereotypes, talking about her butt (another stereotype of black women) and trying to guise racial epithets as jokes, then this certainly doesn’t bode well for the rest of us less-overachieving black women. I mean I only have one Ivy League degree.
And it makes me very scared for my daughter. And the millions of the other black mothers raising their girls to be their best, to get a good education, and serve their communities. Is that what we can expect, that even in the face of extraordinary accomplishments, and making it to the White House, to still be viewed as "blackies?"
I think we can do better. I hope we can do better.
There’s another area where black women and children get no respect—when we are missing. Which brings me to the black woman in Atlanta who has been missing since Christmas without much police investigation and no national media attention. Thirty-six-year old Stacey Nicole English, disappeared from her home the day after Christmas and hasn’t been heard from since. On Friday, the police found her car still running in southwest Atlanta, but had done little investigatory work before then. English, an instructional designer with SunTrust Bank, left her cellphone, keys and purse in her condo. Her family and friends, frustrated with police (lack of) efforts, took to Facebook and other social media outlets begging for help.
In fact, even though people of color represent about 85% of the missing persons reported in 2010, according to the FBI, you can not name one missing black female or child who has been a part of the national psyche, like Caylee has, or who has garnered national headlines.
Go ahead and think about it. I’ll wait.
I’m sure names like Chandra Levy, Laci Peterson and Natalie Holloway come to mind. And that’s because the media sensation always revolves around one specific type of missing person—white women. And the pretty ones.
The same is true of black missing kids and other missing children of color. Somehow, Nancy Grace doesn’t devote hours of coverage to missing children of color. And Geraldo never seems to show up in our neighborhoods with a microphone and probing questions, ready to do “justice.” The message is clear: our lives don’t matter as much. Our children don’t matter as much. And even if you are the First Lady you are a YoMama.
The double standards and racist overtones of our society start from the bottom, seep through the media and go all the way up to the White House. God help us all.