I got this email the other day. I was one of several newspaper article responding to a quote in a recent NEW YORK magazine article about Obamas vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard. There were several responses attached. Here’s what I got in the mail:
First Lady called "ghetto girl" by Martha Vineyard’s black elite
Joni L. Reynolds <http://www.thedailyvoice.com/> | Posted June 25, 2009 11:09 AM
"Many blacks from Oak Bluffs are elated that the Only One- in-Chief may be joining them. "People are going to lose their minds!" Tonya Lewis Lee says.
At the same time, there’s also a bit of wariness among the wealthiest ones, an uncertainty whether Obama will affirm them. "Obama is more a man of the people," says a Vineyarder who’s part of black high society. "He doesn’t seem to identify with affluent black people. His wife definitely doesn’t; she is basically a ghetto girl. That’s what she says–I’m just being sociological. She grew up in the same place Jennifer Hudson did. She hasn’t reached out to the social community of Washington, and people are waiting to see what they’ll do about that." (New Yorker Magazine)
To call a Harvard lawyer a "ghetto girl" is absolutely ludicrous.
The dynamics of black society is very difficult to understand. We are probably the only race that has prejudices against other members of our own race. This anonymous member of the black elite simply said was what is said among her group.
If Mrs. Obama were light-skinned with hazel eyes maybe she might be a little more tolerable, even though she was raised on the wrong side of the track.
Joni L. Reynolds, an African-American mother, writes a blog called Ebony Mom Politics <http://ebonymompolitics.wordpress.com/> .
It was followed by this response:
This is a really interesting piece. I am a historian and I study class, in particular classism within the black community. It is my belief that the black elite are a very insecure group of people. They are caught in between two worlds, the white world, which rejects them, and the black middle and working class, which they can’t relate to. They are in so many ways a tragic group of people with no real community to call their own. E. Franklin Frazier’s "The Black Bourgeoisie" explains it better than I can. And Lawrence Otis Graham’s "Our Kind of People" is a revealing book that really speaks to this insecurity. I would recommend them both as good reads. The Obamas, secure and comfortable with themselves, don’t need to be ass ociated with the black elite. They have nothing in common with them. They are not out to prove anything to anybody. They are not trying to be white, nor are they embarrassed by their middle and working class brethren. They are who they are, take it or leave it. And they certainly are not tragic. So I guess that would mean, yes, Barack is "a man for the people" and in my opinion this is a good thing. Because if he was in bed with the black elite, how then would he be any different than GWB, who was in bed with the Texas elite? In regards to the comment about Michelle being a "ghetto girl" again this is a clear indication of how insecure and fragile the black elite is.. This is merely testimony to how threatened they are by her. That this common woman form "the hood" is their first lady. That most likely if a black elite family had put in their bid for the white house (which I don’t think they aspire to anyway), they would h ave not even made it past the Iowa Caucasus. And here is this "common man" with his "ghetto" wife who is not only accepted and loved by "the masses" but also accepted by the white community as well. A feat the black elite will NEVER master! It is pure jealousy and quit e fascinating. Sad too.
Forwarded: Anne Walker
When I read the last part response, I was so pissed out I had to write my own response to what was said:
I don’t understand this response at all.
Why is the guy who says he is a historian talking in these broad and sloppy terms about the black elite? What does he think he is? Not a member of the black elite?
What defines the black elite? Is it money? Education? Social position? Are Oprah Winfey, Shelby Steele and Allen Iverson all members of the black elite? Because those are three very different people by some measures, all similar in others.
And why are people taking one comment by one ignorant hater and applying it broadly across a whole group of black people?
In my own experience, I found Obama support among “black elites” during the campaign to be split along generational lines. Folks old enough to have a close relationship with the Clintons remained loyal to them. Folks Barack’s age and younger were all about Barack. He was one of “them” – a black elite, that is.
There was a time when the black community celebrated the idea of an elite. I don’t get how folks can long for the heady days of the Harlem Renaissance then turn around get start sucking teeth and rolling necks at successful black businessmen and women, educators and artists. You can’t celebrate and promote excellence and simultaneously put down people for being too rich and/or too smart. Neither intelligence or wealth makes you a good person, but if a person is a jerk, just call them a jerk. Assholinity (yes, I made it up) is not restricted by class, color, income bracket or region.
For way too long people jump into easy clichés about house negroes and field negroes, without ever acknowledging that there are now several generations that have grown up reading and discussing these issues. Not to mention the paradigm-changing power of hip hop, which had a profound economic, sociological and aesthetic affect on the community not reflected in 40 year old texts.
Of course, those kinds of observation would require actually knowing what you’re talking about.