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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Afronerd Radio Returns-Tomorrow 7pm ET-Discussing Michelle Obama Role Model Status, The BET Awards, Black Blogs and More!

To quote the late Mr. Jackson (damn, it's weird to say that...) it's time to make a change, folks! In the ensuing weeks, Mr. Starks and I will turn up the proverbial Bunsen burner and give you hotter music and more biting commentary. Stop by tomorrow at the usual time (7pm eastern) to ask questions or provide your own commentary as Team Afronerd discuss the following: the debacle/coonfest referred to as the BET awards 2009...Stepin Fetchit would have been proud; our belated opinions of the Black blogosphere; more observations centering around Michael Jackson's death; impressions of CNN's sequel to last year's Black in America series and lastly two very divergent views on First Lady, Michelle Obama's status as a role model for Black females. Here's a preview:

An excerpt from Howard Kurtz' Washington Post piece-

Finally the first lady emerged, read a short speech about releasing federal stimulus money for community health clinics -- including $2.5 million for the Northwest Washington center -- and greeted a handpicked audience with handshakes and hugs. Then she turned and left, and the press pool quietly filed out.

Rachel Swarns of the New York Times and The Washington Post's Robin Givhan were among those herded behind the rope Monday. They and the other main beat reporters -- Newsweek's Allison Samuels, Darlene Superville of the Associated Press and Politico's Nia-Malika Henderson -- have something in common: They are all African American women.

Perhaps this gives them a richer cultural understanding of Obama as a trailblazer. Indeed, most write with enthusiasm, in some cases even admiration, about the first lady as a long-awaited role model for black women.

"Without a doubt, I identify with her as a brown-skinned African American woman," Samuels says. "Now we have Michelle and see her as a mother, a lawyer, a wife, and she's doing it fabulously." Samuels got to interview Obama during the campaign and "we had a girlfriend-to-girlfriend moment. We did connect."

But if their bosses hoped these staffers would receive special access, some secret-handshake entry into the East Wing -- or even a casual wave at a health clinic -- they were mistaken, at least thus far. None of the beat writers has been granted an interview since the inauguration. Instead, they must piece together a mosaic from glimpses of Obama, who has a limited public schedule and a staff that fiercely guards her privacy and her image. (Other reporters, of varied ethnicities, dip in and out of writing about the first lady.)

And then there's the counter argument from conservative writer for the New Majority, Crystal Wright-

Finally, what annoyed me the most was the way most of the black women covering the White House beat suggested ALL black women are alike--as if we come from the same background, socio-economic group, education and experience. Well, we don’t and neither do whites, Asians, Hispanics or any other group. As a black woman, I don’t refer to my black girlfriends as “sisters.” I never have and never will.

Allison Samuels, Newsweek’s East Wing reporter, noted that “Michelle has the power to change the way African Americans see ourselves, our lives and our possibilities… There are still woefully few examples of solid, stable black marriages.” WHAT!?! I think Samuels should speak for herself and not lump all black women into this fictional statement. Growing up as kid, all my black friends came from intact, solid upper middle class marriages. Our parents were judges, lawyers, doctors, governors (yes!) and more. Many of us went to private school, vacationed abroad, went to elite colleges. The Cosby Show wasn’t new to us--it represented our families.

Politico’s Nia-Malika Henderson wrote: “African-American women say she’ll upend age-old stereotypes of the angry black woman who can’t find a good man, or keep him when she does.” Again, I didn’t grow up with angry black women; Henderson perpetuates the idea that blacks are a monolithic cultural group riddled with bad behaviors.

I’m so tired of these stereotypes: The East Wing press corps needs to cover the first lady objectively and not make their personal black experience part of the coverage or, worse, turn it into a sweeping generalization of every black woman’s experience. We’re not all “brown-skinned” women who identify with Michelle Obama on a “girl-friend to girl-friend” level. Get over it and report the news.

Suffice it to say, Sunday's show is not the one to miss. Feel free to call us with your thoughts at 646-915-9620 or via email/IM-afronerdradio@yahoo.com. And to refer to the respective articles in their entirety, click on the links below:

Does Race Play a Role in Coverage?


Afronerd Radio's Week in Review

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