Thursday, April 2, 2009

Can We Talk? - re: Michelle Obama

I feel compelled to write in protest of the media portrayal 
of First Lady Michelle Obama.

Last week it was her bare arms, this week it is her ‘over-ambitious agenda’. What is next? 
Who was Michelle Obama before most of us had even heard of her? 

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama (born January 17, 1964) was born on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois to Fraser Robinson III, a city water plant employee and Marian Shields Robinson, a secretary at Spiegel's catalog store. Her mother stayed at home until Michelle entered high school. Michelle can trace her roots to pre-Civil War African Americans in the American South; her paternal great-great grandfather, Jim Robinson, was an American slave in South Carolina, where some of her family still resides. 

Here is her resume:
- High school honor roll four years /National Honor Society
- High School graduation -  Salutatorian
- Attended Princeton University - graduated cum laude.
- Obtained her Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree from Harvard Law School.
- Associate in a Chicago law firm where she first met her husband.
- Assistant to the Mayor of Chicago.
- Assistant Commissioner of Chicago Planning and Development.
- Executive Director for the Chicago office of Public Allies.
- University of Chicago Hospitals - Executive Director for community affairs.
- Vice President for Community and External Affairs.

As Joan Rivers has often said: "Can we talk?

Michelle Obama is an intelligent, thoughtful and caring woman. She and her husband are modern day, young upward-bound professional people (yuppies). They are both type ‘A’ personalities and (I am guessing) that they make daily ‘lists’ of things to do. They are definitely not 'stay at home' type of people.

During the past month she has traveled to North Carolina to rally military families. Stood with Hillary Clinton to encourage women to get politically active. Shown up at a home-building site on the National Mall. Served meals to the homeless at a local food pantry. Visited a D.C. school to talk to the students about good grades, and she capped it off by shoveling dirt for an “organic kitchen garden” at the White House.

She has become the spokeswoman for fitness, health, parenting, the environment, women’s rights, and promoting self-esteem for young girls. These are all her genuine concerns. She is used to working hard and now she has some spare time she is placing herself firmly in the field of service to others.

Some (news media & critics) wonder if she’s spreading herself too thin.

For some, Michelle’s multi-tasking approach to the job raises questions. Her actions reflect her many interests. Some of the activities have come to her just by being first lady.  The public attention to her fashions, magazines cover stories of her whether she sat for an interview or not. She did the VOGUE cover, for instance, because it gave her daughters and other young girls a chance to see an accomplished African-American woman on the cover of a mainstream magazine, a rarity.

Michelle’s has chosen projects in which her interests run the deepest.  Clearly she is connecting with the public on some level — polls show her favorability ratings in the mid-60s. She is like an ambassador of friendliness and good will, and it is working well.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was also criticized for being too visible when she visited the military. She was an advocate against racism and campaigned for women’s rights. Also known for her hospitality,  she started a ’victory garden’ on the lawns of the White House and  stood up and advocated for the disenfranchised at home and abroad. Mrs. Roosevelt is still remembered as one of the most admired women in U.S. history. 

Michelle is a woman of our time who has a  relaxed easy charm  who is well received wherever she goes. 

About those ‘bare arms’ – was she showing too much cleavage? No. 
Were her hemlines too short and revealing her thighs? No. She was showing her arms.
When did that become an upsetting action? Not to mention how ridiculous the criticism is when Michelle, (who goes to the gym daily) happens to have very attractive arms, so why not show them off?

Michelle Obama is a smart, high-energy person, typical of many professional women who are juggling motherhood, work, exercise, and taking time to read an occasional book. As First Lady she has become a role model and, in my opinion, she is doing a great job. She also has one of my favorite qualities in a person, a great sense of humor.  

As I write this today, Michelle Obama is in England , and has  been invited to have  tea and cucumber sandwiches with Queen Elizabeth II. The U.S. media is waiting with bated breath. Is their major focus on the G-20 talks? No, their question is,  'Will Michelle bare her arms when she visits the Queen?' - You can't make this stuff up, can
 you?  :-) 

Newsflash! I just saw the visit on the news, what a relief, Michelle's  sleeves went to her elbows (obviously a compromise). We can all go to sleep tonight knowing that she didn't offend the Queen or embarrass the U.S.A. 

Word to the media, "keep your mean spirited criticisms 
to yourselves and leave her alone." 

To Michelle Obama. "You go girl!"


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