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.