Sunday, April 12, 2009

Michelle vs. Oprah?

Tonight, Lisa and I were watching a show on Headline News, Showbiz Tonight. They were talking about a controversy started by Tina Brown, founder and editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast. She published a column back on April 2nd about Michelle Obama's growing stardom on the international stage due to her tour of Europe last week for the G20 summit. In her column, she compares Michelle Obama to Oprah and says that Michelle is surpassing Oprah as the new Black "it-girl". There were two Black female guests that were being interviewed and they went on and on about how it was offensive, and at minimum institutionally racist, for Ms. Brown to compare Michelle Obama to Oprah.

Honestly, these kind of comparisons happen all of the time...ALL OF THE TIME! It's the nature of the world in which we live. People that live in the public sphere are compared all of the time. It just so happens that a white reporter (Tina Brown) is comparing two black women. Big deal. They're in the public eye so that means they're subject to public scrutiny and comparison...period. End of story. I say all of this because the two black female guests on Showbiz Tonight were voicing their displeasure and saying so representing the entire Black population. They were talking as though their opinions represented generally the way all Blacks feel about this story. I don't know if that's the case or not. Honestly, there are plenty of Blacks that look for reasons to use the race card. I am not one of them. And frankly it really gets under my skin when certain Blacks that get the opportunity to voice their opinion publicly suppose to speak for all Blacks. I hate when other people speak for me, as if they know me and know the way I think and feel about things like this.

What really irks me about this is that there seems to be more public outrage about this comparison Ms. Brown made between Michelle Obama and Oprah than what was made about President Obama's comment about the Special Olympics during his last appearance on The Tonight Show. Ironically, I believe that Ms. Brown's article is actually evidence of the fact that strides are continuing to be made regarding how Blacks are being seen and evaluated within the public sphere. Comparison and/or criticism is part of being in the public eye. I don't think it's fair to accuse someone of racism, institutional or not, just because they're comparing two very popular and powerful Black women. Furthermore, if you're going to talk on behalf of the entire Black community about what's racist and what's not, spend the time then to find out how the Black community really feels about it. Don't present your specific opinion and then make it out to be as though you're speaking for everyone. It's not how I think and I know I'm not the only Black person who feels the way I feel.

For the record, I called the toll-free number for Showbiz Tonight to voice my opinion. They may erase my voicemail altogether but I wanted to make sure the producers and hosts knew that there was at least one Black person that didn't share the opinion of the guests on the show. I don't know if it makes a bit of difference or not but I felt better for doing it. There are things I have absolutely no patience for. One of those things is Blacks looking for an opportunity to play the race card. I know what racism looks like...I've stood face to face with a member of the Ku Klux Klan. There are plenty of real instances of racism that deserve more attention, outrage and activism. In my opinion, this comparison between Ms. Obama and Oprah is not one of those instances and should only be debated the way any other comparison between public figures is debated.

As with any other posting, I welcome your feedback and opinions. If you want to read the story I'm referring to, go to the following link:


1 comment:

  1. Unfortunately, we have become a nation that cares more about what the President & First Lady are wearing than what they are doing to our country. The MSM is doing a good job at focusing their lens on what they want America to look at and look like. I applaud you for voicing your opinion. That is perhaps the only way we can get our country back, for everyday people to band together to stand up and say that the MSM is in fact not in tune to how Americans truly feel.