Last night’s speech delivered by First Lady Michelle Obama was a true testament to the tenacity and perseverance of black women.

After being dissected by the media and critics for the last four years: as being an angry black woman, a militant black woman, and most recently reduced to a modern day slave.

The minute Michelle Obama sashayed onto the stage last night. I automatically thought of the opening stanza to Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise”:

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Michelle Obama did what black women do best. She rose to the occasion.

Even if your TV was on mute during Michelle Obama’s speech, her aura spoke volumes.

Confident, graceful, genuine, and the ultimate defining symbol of a black woman’s aura.

An aura that has historically been mistaken (or manipulated) to be sultry, seductive, promiscuous, aggressive, head-twirling, finger-snapping, loud-mouthed, less-of-a-woman.

Luckily these are nothing more than stereotypes. Yet the negative generalizations that surround black women seem to create a feeding frenzy for modern day reality TV and opens the wound of black women’s beauty being perceived as secondary or non-existent.

You know the same wound that prevents you from the mere thought of showing your natural hair (because it’s “nappy”), the same wound that caused little dark-skin girls (and grown women) to secretly wish they were a tone or two lighter, the same wound that identifies Beyonce as the black standard of beauty.

That wound. That ugly little wound, that can now seek refuge in the era of Michelle Obama.

Aside from her passionate words breathing life into the Democratic Convention and her pink heels to side-step the hata’s. Michelle Obama managed to connect with every woman and conveyed that beyond skin-deep she’s every woman- A mom, a wife, a sister, a champion for health & fitness, and undeniably a sista.

Michelle Obama’s aura supersedes the recycled images of black women as hopeless, sex symbols, and desperados.

Positive images create positive perceptions… and perception shapes society’s view. Michelle Obama’s epic speech and well-perceived appearance goes further than political gander, it has forced light into a society cluttered by grim generalizations and unfavorable images of black women.

Long gone are the days where black women were perceived as Aunt Jemimas. Gone are the days where black women don’t fit the standard of beauty. In the age of Michelle Obama black women exemplify beauty.

Is it just me or are you holding your head a little higher Clutchettes?

Krystal Glass is the creator and producer of a series of thought-provoking dialogues held in Washington, DC with the aim of strengthening the black community through open forum conversations and interactive workshops.

  • Rue

    clutch….sigh!!
    And if there were no Michele Obama, would you hang your head lower?

  • African Mami

    I’ve always held my head high regardless of the media’s perpetuation of who I am as a black woman, long before Mitchell Obama came onto the scene. We need to raise our daughters with a sense of self worth through constant affirmation and positive reinforcements. Do not get me wrong, Mitchell is a great role model, BUT the first role model should be you, the parent, that your daughter should seek to emulate. After which, the credits can role for other folks.

    I also do understand that not everybody is privileged to experience the aforementioned. In that case, I do endorse the First Lady as a credible and reliable role model. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Not all all. We will always hang our head high – the author is just stating it made her and US proud.

  • Heads-up

    @Rue cleary this one went over your head ;-)

  • Natalie B.

    I have always been a proud Black woman. Seeing Michelle Obama last night, watching her speech with my God-daughter, a very impressionable tween, just reinvigorated my pride. Thank you for writing this piece.

  • SS25

    It definitely made me proud. Let’s not turn this into a big issue.

  • Lex

    Wonderful tribute to Michelle and Black women everywhere! Thank you for that! Yes, and it’s not just you girl, I’m holding my head quite high and proud.

    Onwards and upwards ladies:)

  • Downsouth Transplant

    LOL, did not get Rue either!!

  • Downsouth Transplant

    @ Rue not at all it just meant i would be with my head higher trying to find another sista out there with me on this really rocky path, however Mrs President gave me a little bounce on my walk this morning to the office (it said something like, see we all are not loud mouthed, finger snapping,head shaking teeth sucking, aggressive, uneducated, barely can speak English, a lot of us are Just not that shade of crazy) She did me, my daughter & my mother exceptionally proud.

  • simplyme

    This was great but it seems that even in attempt to praise the first lady and black women as a whole…you still managed to focus on stereotypes and negativity. I didnt come here to read a list of things we/she has been called in the media.
    Maybe Instead of focusing on the stereotypes and how Michelle isn’t those things why not focus on who she and many black women actually are. Words like graceful, preserverant, warm, beautiful, reliable, full of empathy, passionate, kind, loving, generous, smart, selfless to fault, genuine, radiant inside and out… Many of those are things we know she is…and all are things most of the many black women throughout my life have been. The aura is undeniable but we do each other a disservice by focusing on the lies rather than the positivity. Just my perspective…

  • Skegeeace

    Grace and class at its finest. I’m proud of her.

  • Heads-up

    I don’t think this story overly harped on the negative stereotypes i think it pointed them out to make the case. That’s all. People looking for the negative in this story…should look a little deeper and find the silver lining! My favorite part is “her pink heels to side-step the hata’s”!!!

  • Jess

    Totally agree, SimplyMe. We always want to focus on the negative (and false) stereotypes of Black women – like who identifies Beyonce only as the black standard of beauty?? She is one PART of our beauty standard, but not the whole. Black people identify a myriad of Black women, from Beyonce to Lauryn Hill, as beautiful – maybe the author herself feels less beautiful beacause she is not beyonce? or has fallen for the old media oke-doke that Black people can’t have more than one opinion of beauty? It’s simply not true. Sorry, not with you there and the beyonce comment was highly offensive.

  • Amen!

    Yesssss my head is held a little higher! Thanks for sharing the sentiment.

  • Rue

    um..no. Although I like Michelle Obama just as much as the next (black) person, I am proud OF her. In the same breath, I would not be hanging my head like a dehydrated donkey if Obama did not win the election. I am proud of who I am and that remains regardless of the black woman in power, simply because I am.
    What I meant was:
    1: “That ugly little wound, that can now seek refuge in the era of Michelle Obama.” i beg to differ for obvious reasons.
    2:Because the media perception of BW is changing does not make me proud, for that would mean that the media’s perception of me as a (fill in the blank) would make me dispirited: It doesn’t.
    To butcher Langston Hughes: If white people(read:the media) are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs

  • Amen!

    Shall we pretend that the stereotypes don’t exist? Shall we pretend there haven’t been pictures circulated of the First Lady as a slave and a militant with an afro? Imagine ppl at your job circulating images of You like that and then asking you to give the company’s presentation. Michelle Obama is a woman just like all of us, she’s seen the negative images of herself. Yet she rised above it all and delivered and served her speech last night! Put urself in her shoes…in reality, not the world where stereotypes don’t exist or in your perspective should be ignored.

  • Rue

    My point

  • blackmaleatheist

    I have to ask black women…What have she and her husband who is biracial done for the black community and black women. I will wait.

  • African Mami

    Oh, c’mon! I am going to flip the question back to you sir, what are you doing for the black community? This rhetoric of the Obama’s helping or not helping black America is beyond yawn worthy. He is the President of the United States, not Black America.

  • blackmaleatheist

    Not a dam thing just living my life. My point was not to say he should focus on the black community, my point is she and her husband haven’t done a dam thing for the people of America. But why do Black Women (not all) make it seem as if she done something impossible, Just asking Mama

  • SS25

    You are clearly delusional. We as a people need to start doing for ourselves.

  • paul

    If we’re supposed to do for ourselves then why are we asked to vote for politicians?

    I’m with you all the way when you say

    we should do for ourselves

    but the rich want us to do everything for them so they hire politicians like Obama to make us

    forget

    what we should be doing for ourslves.

    sigh!

  • blackmaleatheist

    finally some one get it we’re in this shit by ourselves and people need to stop thinking they give a dam about the common folk.

  • Joy

    This article just took me to the next level! My husband read it and decided to read it to our 6 yr old daughter.

  • JC

    One black person can’t wipe away an entire history of racism. Obama’s example didn’t prevent Trayvan Martin from being shot for being shot, nor will Michelle’s example destroy a history of stereotypes. You can to keep on pushing forward. Never ask a person to do the job of a community.

  • Sick

    Mrs. Obama was stunningly beautiful last night and yes, I was filled with pride as I listened to her speak about her family and her man. I absolutely LOVE her and I feel we could not have a better first lady than her, she is CLASS at its best!!!! However, there re many black women out there that exude class and style, and you probably see them on a daily basis, in the office, at church, at the market, etc… The reason we know that Mrs. Obama exudes class is because we have seen it time and again in our communities. I know I have. Black women wrote the book on CLASS!!!!!!

  • paul

    jc

    I don’t think anyone expected Obama to “wipe away an entire history of racism”, but most of em don’t seem to expect anything of the man at all.

    “Never ask a person to do the job of a community.”

    agreed

    the community should work collectively to serve and further their own interests. (which btw – is the very thing the rich fear most)

    also

    a community should never give it’s support to people who don’t work for the community.

    ———————————-
    they might wanna bring out a competent spokesman or two because the last two fell into their own trap.

  • blackmaleatheist

    fine let phrase the question a different way what has they done for woman in general. not a dam thing and you know it.

  • omfg

    your subject and verb don’t agree. please clean it all up before attempting to put forth a semi-clever retort or explanation of your lame position.

  • Jo

    Well written article. Michelle Obama did an excellent job in representing women.

  • JN

    Some of y’all need to read that nit-picking article that Clutch published earlier in the week. There is a difference between debating and just being nit-picky.

    Anyway.Flotus is awesome.

    What has Obama done for women? Health care. In the last administration, education was pushed aside. In this admistration, education was made a priority. He fought for Pell Grant funding so that students like myself could remain in school. A lot of students relied on depended on Pell and other federally funded grants, scholarships and loans to finish school. He also fought to save the jobs of educators across the country. And he did this with a Republican party that refused to budge on many issues, and with increasing evidence that Republicans are trying to disenfranchise African-Americans. In several states in the south, voter ID laws target the youth, Blacks, and senior citizens. (just last week an Ohio Republican Rep made a rather racist statement about how he did not see the need to empower Blacks to vote). The fact that some see Obama as part of the problem…I mean, believe whatever you want to believe but at least educate yourself on the issues. The personal is political and the political is personal.

  • HopeDealer

    FLOTUS Michelle Obama’s speech moved mountains. Last night was her “Dr Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s “I Have a Dream” speech” speech – she will forever be quoted and inspire all. She represented hardworkers, education, women, mothers, African Americans, Beauty, wives, lawyers, Chicago, fashion, popular culture, and Crossfit (lol) with such Grace. It pained me when a lot of what I saw on Twitter or heard in conversations is that: “black women should aspire to be her,” “she’s the type of woman who gets wifed,” “blah, blah, blah.”

    Since when have women, black women, not shown how tenacious we are or how we persevere? We see it And experience the results of their tenacity everyday. That’s all she spoke on. How her and her husband have been together over 23 years and how they’ve grown and struggled together – so they know, firsthand about the Middle Class blues. On top of that, with two kids. Ask any black man about his success or his marriage. I guarantee you that the majority will tell you that they could not have done it without their wife.

    We have to continue to hold our heads high with pride in who we are as black women; our minds, our bodies, our souls, or our hair has never failed us in the past. Continue to believe in yourself, Sisters, and pass that sense of class on to our young Sisters. Jesus, they think they’re Barbies, but that’s another post.

    Peace.

  • HopeDealer

    Ohhhhh I didn’t see the comments on community!!! Real talk, for a second. A small part of me realizes Romney could win. I’m interested in seeing that JUST because I’d hope it would force us to come together faster. There’s just too much talk and bandwagon-ing and lies on social sites instead of ACTION. Youth really don’t know how a bill becomes a law; society’s reality is blinded by the entertainment of ratchetness – all of it; people are as fat and sick as ever; the time where men celebrated women and their bodies and wanted to know and aid them in anyway they could (leaving all decisions up to them because ONLY THEY know what’s BEST for their bodies) so that they could bear healthy, future Americans, seems distant; and student loans and other debt, not PASSION or SKILL, is the reason why people go to work in the morning.

    I had a thought the other day and I’m no expert on Jewish history however, the Jewish community is really tightly bound after being forced to endure the Holocaust. And what that says to me is that: they are STILL just as tight as they were YEARS ago going when they went through their storms as they are now. Helping each other out, buying from each other’s stores, raising children as a village, celebrating male maturation, the list goes on. Romney winning would REVEAL US, how tight we are, just how far we’ve come since the CHANGE that has happened over the last four years, and how we’ll continue FORWARD.

    Too bad the community is not up for re-election.

  • isola

    First Black Lady is a weird title.

  • gwaan gyal

    Two words..skin and arms.

  • Miz Rose

    Michelle you make us so proud to be an American period, You go girl so proud of you, keep standing tall for your family and for the United States of America. GOD BLESS the whole wide world.

  • Blaque217

    Great article!

    I think in this day and age when so many reality TV shows features Black women acting their worse and the media in general having some Black people confused as to what African American beauty really is, it is refreshing to see Michelle Obama represent Black women in such a classy and striking way.

    I find it interesting however that when articles like this one praise the First Lady, there are people who think that a compliment for Michelle is an insult towards them…come on folks…if we (in general) can support Tyler Perry in a fat suit butchering the English language, go to clubs and shake our booties to obnoxious music that is degrading to us as women, and watch sistahs curse each other out and try to rip each others to shreds on TV, we should also be able to give First Lady Obama her props and admire her for uplifting us all just a little bit higher!

  • A White Woman

    Great read! I see the twinkle in a black woman’s eye when they see Michelle Obama. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! It’s much like the twinkle white women and girls have when we see Chelsea Clinton! And there’s nothing wrong with that. The truth is I’m glad Michelle Obama exist for young black girls to look up to. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, Michelle Obama has managed to do what no other black woman has done. She is completely changing the perception of black women and I for one love it! Not just in America, but the world over!

  • African Mami

    “Michelle Obama has managed to do what no other black woman has done.”

    -eh, hold on! My mother makes me twinkle, Prof. Wangari Maathai [the late] still makes me twinkle. We are not lacking in women that make us twinkle. They are there. The mainstream media chooses not to highlight them. But make no mistake. They are there!!

  • A White Woman

    ALways up at arms ALways ready to defend. Which can be taken as “anger”. I Don’t think it’s anger. I believe it’s an innate defense mechanism, that some women need to channel it and cease it. Way to take my compliment out of context.

  • African Mami

    then please offer clarity. About anger, please! Far from that. I usually type in uppercase letters, and have quadruple exclamation points, AND I’ll tell you how offended I feel [if you care, we settle, if you don't I stew, cook myself in anger ]. Next time we meet on the comment boards I’m cheery as ever!:)

  • LemonNLime

    @A White Woman – Lady, you need to check your tone. What makes you think she should fall head over heels over your backhanded compliment? Maybe you need work on your anger and defense mechanisms.

    African Mami is right, there are generation of black women who have been doing what Mrs. Obama is doing and better yet on their own merit rather than because they happen to marry the right person. Just because you and people like you don’t see it doesn’t mean its not there. I swear white people can be so dense.

  • African Mami

    @ LemonNLime,

    Thanks mama!! Thanks for being succinct.

  • Bosslady

    @African Mami,

    I can’t tell if you’re trying to throw shade at Michelle by referring to her as “Mitchell” (twice) or whether it is a genuine typo?! Lol

  • HP

    I’m so grateful to have Michelle Obama as our first lady! Her aura is absolutely undeniable & it makes me so happy to know that the world has the opportunity to see such a woman in the spotlight.

  • LR

    LR

    I think you did a very good job on lifting up the “black woman”. I see other comments negatively talking on how much you focused on stereotypes but was your article not on black women in general and our aura? Which most definetly deals with how we are perceived. I think if you went into depth on another subject you would’ve lost me but you stuck to one objective and stuck to it well.

  • Marilyn

    Sorry, but Michelle Obama does not represent me. I’m a little offended at how this article speaks of her and positions her on a pedestal that I am expected to look up to. I’m also offended that the article positions her as the exception, the only few black women shown in the media that I can respect in a sea of stereotypes.

    Yes, Michelle is a beautiful woman and represents America well, but her image is still safe and does not challenge gender norms. She’s too squeaky clean and is too much of a goody-two shoes for me to ever find any authentic connection to her.

  • paul

    Marilyn

    Beautifully articulated post, thanks for showing me how to say what I wanted to say.

    Yes I totally agree, the Obama’s are the perfect choice if you wanna put a black face on corporate america and “traditional american values”

    Beyond that –

    nothing much to see here.

    It occurred to me that there may have been celebrations among some of our enslaved ancestors when someone from their ranks was promoted up from field “slave” to overseer.

    From their perspective that event might have looked like progress too, but with hindsight – we know better.

    What will future generations say about our generation’s devotion to today’s black overseers?

    I hope they’re thorough in their research and look for the opinions of those of us who don’t celebrate the “rise” of white people’s black overseers.

    If not, we will be very harshly judged and unlike our enslaved forbears, we won’t have the excuse that we were kept in ignorance.

    Get on the right side of history.

  • Blvdjewel

    “You know the same wound that prevents you from the mere thought of showing your natural hair (because it’s “nappy”), the same wound that caused little dark-skin girls (and grown women) to secretly wish they were a tone or two lighter, the same wound that identifies Beyonce as the black standard of beauty.” WHAT?! No, I don’t know, because this passage of text doesn’t apply to me and a lot of other black women. I Love my black skin that I inherited from my African ancestors and never wished to be any lighter than my dark brown skin already is. Also, I AM NOT MY HAIR. This is a slanted, pedestrian piece of crap of writing right there. SMH

  • poundofsass

    Just because it doesn’t apply to you personally doesn’t mean that it’s not reality for many young black women. There’s a reason the students in my high school classes used to argue about which of them had “Spanish” or “White” in them.

  • felicia

    I love Michelle Obama she sets a new look for black woman. I love her style in class. She will be in the office for four more years. You have a problem with it. Deal with it

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