Why I Love Michelle Obama’s Mother

The other day while walking down the hallway at work a black lady passed me with the most alarming shade of yellow hair that I had ever seen.  I didn’t laugh; my response was actually something closer to an ache in my chest, especially when I saw the sideways glance of the other mainly, white people who also passed her, followed by their cynical smiles.  To them this woman, who seemed to more clearly identify herself with Anna Nicole, was nothing more than an object of ridicule.

I have always found it quite interesting that while for so many years we have touted the banner of being beautiful people, we spend a small fortune at the hairdresser or beauty  supply stores purchasing the items we think we need to be beautiful.  It is as if no one has taught us or our daughters that true beauty comes from a sense of confidence that shines from the inside out and is not a race to the finish line to see who will be the most eye popping.

I can’t blame my sisters.  For years we listened to the Wesley Snipes of the world tell us about our attitudes, even as we watched our men leave us to find those who wore their confidence effortlessly and seemed to be more “polished” than we could ever be.  Only a few seemed to understand or care that on this journey of life, we also needed their support and appreciation to boost our self esteem, so we too would be polished and confident.  Thankfully the times are changing and I now see more and more young black women who are stepping forward, head held high to claim their place in the world.

And then there’s Michelle.  The First Lady of these United States who has obliterated all the things so many people have said for so many years and all the sideways glances and all the ridicule, to show us what a force all black women could be given a chance and the right role models.  One has to stand in awe of the woman behind Michelle who kept her daughter focused and steadfast in the face of so many negatives. 

Like Michelle’s mom, I too am old enough to remember when Essence was The Magazine for Today’s Black Woman” because white cosmetics companies shunned the publication like the plague.  Of course that was before black woman started coming into their own and their earning power began to increase.  I remember when all we had was Posner’s and Fashion Fair because, aside from the various companies promising us long hair if we used their pomades, no one catered to us.  No one saw us as beautiful, or that our self esteem was taking a beating.  We were never the object of love and desire on the screen; we were loose women, loud over bearing women, or maids, deserving only abuse and subservience.  Yet, in spite of all the negatives, Mrs. Robinson raised a daughter who stood straight and tall, believed in herself, looked the world in the eye and didn’t flinch for a second.  It is almost as if she knew she was rearing a First Lady.

So thank you Mrs. Robinson for giving us Michelle because we are grateful on so many levels, that I personally could not even begin to tell you.  I only know that because of you our loads are a lot lighter these days and there is more of a spring in my step because the future is brighter and like Michelle my girls can also look the world in the face without flinching.

5 thoughts on “Why I Love Michelle Obama’s Mother

  1. I enjoyed the story. It’s true what you say about the lady with the dyed hair. If our hair is straight we want curls and if we have curls we want it straight. We always want what we don’t have and we don’t realize that we already have everything we need.
    But it is hard sometimes because a lot of people have no one to praise them only to drag them down but you have to believe in yourself and take pride in yourself and that’s when other people notice you. As you say walk tall and people will notice And always remember there is always someone that will be envious of what you have and who you are, because that is just human nature. But what people don’t realize sometimes that we’re all the same we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses because that’s the way that God made us. Even the person who has a million dollars in the bank has weaknesses.

  2. Cora, I totally agree. One day hopefully we will get to the point where we realize that we are not defined by circumstances and that though all around us might seem to be against us; what matters is what is the determination in each of us and the need to see ourselves as beings created in God’s image.

  3. What Mrs. Robinson did was actually invest in her children and was consistent with it. These days it takes will-power and commitment from parents in raising children who will have a sense of self and ambition…it does not happen automatically as I am beginning to find out myself. As said by the immediate past president, “It’s hard work”!

  4. Absolutely true. The pressures on parents today are tremendous especially if they have rules and standards that they want to enforce at home when it seems the parents of their children’s friends might have an entirely different set of values.

    It takes an extraordinary amount of strength and discipline to raise a child who is smart, informed, future oriented and able to think for themself when the pressure to do otherwise is overwhelming. One has to walk a fine line between being a parent and a friend so as not to alienate their child. The key is to give them enough information so they will be able to make intelligent decisions for themselves, without feeling as if they are being preached to.

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