Michelle Oooooohhhhh!!!


In the telegraph’s article, Michelle Obama: the real power behind the presidency

Barack Obama would not be where he is today without Michelle Obama. She helped him understand his race and his country. She showed voters that he is a loving father and that he is a mortal man, one who does not pick his dirty socks off the bedroom floor, rather than a messiah.

Above all she is Mr Obama’s closest confidante, the one person to whom he unhesitatingly defers. It is that which makes her the power behind the throne, even if she did not push her own political passions. And she shows every sign of doing that as well.

Jamerican Muslimah wrote “The Chinese calendar says it’s The Year of the Ox. I beg to differ. Michelle Obama has shown us all that it’s:The Year of the Black Woman.

Jamerican Muslimah is not the only one to take notice, time and again she’s come up in conversation. There are those detractors who do not find her attractive, but overall the media is captivated by her style. She is a striking woman, tall with brown skin and together Michelle and Barack Obama make a stunning couple. The Root just published an article titled “Michelle, Our Belle”. The article explains:

There’s a reason that blogs like SweetBee’s and “Michelle Obama Watch” have sprung up in the past year. Michelle Obama has made it cool to be smart, to say when you’re proud or disappointed in your country, and she’s made it cool to be a black woman.


One of my friends emailed me and asked if Michelle in the White House as first lady made the Angry Black woman moot. I wrote her back stating that the stereotype was definitely weakened and the idea that an education and career were liabilities for Black woman received a severe blow. Still, the prevalence of negative attitudes towards educated Black women in the American Muslim community is disturbing. I really hope it chips away at some common perceptions. Last year, the negative views of educated and professional Black women became apparent in a number of discussion spanning several Muslim blogs. I received a number of negative comments myself when I weighed in on the discussion of mail order brides here. Common perceptions are that Black women emasculate men, have too much baggage, and are not good Muslims.

Since I read much of the vitriol while abroad, I worried about the environment that we were creating to foster and nourish young Black women with aspirations and talents. I also wondered about the reception I would receive upon my return. And I often wondered if the lack of support I received from the Muslim community was due to the ambivalent attitudes towards Black women and power. But upon my return I found that my training and talents were appreciated, but that I would just have to work on finding a more nurturing environment that could help me develop my skill set.

And then there was Michelle O. and election night. Not only did the world’s perception of the Black man change that night, but the world’s perception of Black women. I’m not saying all is right with the world and that the Black community has done away with gendered racism, nor am I saying that all Black women should be committed to the idea of the Black family. But like much of Black America we fell in love with the idea of Barack and Michelle being in love. Something about her strength assured us that he was a strong man. Other weaker man would have shrunk in fear at the thought of approaching such a formidable woman. Other men with less confident notions of their manhood would have shied away from such public displays of adoration. So, here’s to Michelle O, who has single handed got us educated gals with high aspirations lifting our heads up once again.
Did I forget to mention their adorable daughters?

I just had to remind you how cute they were, in case you didn’t get enough.

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20 thoughts on “Michelle Oooooohhhhh!!!

  1. Salam alaykum,

    Has it occurred to you that constantly emphasizing this aspect of Michelle being the power behind the throne, and that Obama would’ve been nowhere if it wasn’t for her efforts, is itself emasculating in essence?

    While most of us are mesmerized by glamorous leaders and celebrities, shouldn’t we take the “Real Change has come” paradigm and apply it here? Why get upset if there are “detractors” from her alleged beauty? There are men and women who don’t find her attractive, but so what? Do we stand in need of mass approval, and if so, to what end?

    At the end of the day, Michelle Obama is but a symbol of power, and power will use her to its advantage.

    If a day comes where dark skinned people do not need validation from high office, fawning media coverage or other outlets of Eurocentrism and instead feel a quiet confidence in what Allah has given us, then…

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  2. walaikum salaam Shakir,
    While I agree that we should draw our self esteem from the inherent value that Allah has placed in us, we live in a world bombarded by media where Black women still don’t see positive representations of themselves as wives, mothers, and contributors to the community.

    Nowhere did I say I was disturbed by those who don’t find her attractive. Maybe you should read my post a bit more carefully.

    Also, I find it interesting that you see Michelle’s role as Obama’s counsel and strength as emasculating. I’d like to see something to substantiate your opinion that this undermines Obama’s masculinity in any way. Clearly my article says that Michelle’s role is important. I can’t see that happening with scholars talking about Sulayman the Magnificent because of the role Roxana played in his life, nor would I see that when we talk about Khadijah’s (r.a.) role in our Prophet’s (s.a.w.) life or the role that his later marriages played in political and tribal alliances.

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  3. Michelle is not a good example because she’s not even a Muslim. She is a bad influence for Muslim women parading around in half-naked clothes. I agree with Shakir her role is emasculating, by not being home with the children who need their mother there as a care-giver, so she weakens their family. Muslim women shouldn’t emulated this negativity.

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  4. I don’t mean to be disrespectful when I say this but I find this Michelle type of behavior very common among African American Muslim women which is very sad. I think this why many Muslim men are not attracted to Black women, these woman are not performing their Islamic roles but western feminist ideas that are haram. This is also why so many black women are single even in their communities, and their in school longer because their marriage prospects are lower.

    Your not helping by posting about her, your making the problem even bigger!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  5. Amal,
    I think what you just wrote was disrespectful towards Black women and ill informed. You clearly have only superficial knowledge about the problems of marriage in the Black community. Women like Michelle Obama are not the reason why there are so many single Black Muslim women. Marriage is not the issue, but rather the rate of divorce and the reality that middle class Black Muslim women have a hard time finding a suitable match. Contrary to you and other Muslims’ projections on us Black muslim women, we are less likely to adopt feminist ideas, which one may contrast with some upwardly mobile Desi and Arab women in college.

    Your one dimensional notion of womanhood and femininity does more harm than good. Muslim women are allowed to work outside the home and earn their own livelihood. You accuse Muslim women with degrees of ignoring their Islamic roles without clearly defining what those are. A lot of sisters with degrees and experience in the workforce do amazing work in the community. Many choose to stay at home when their children are young and play active roles in their children’s lives. No one is demeaning the value of women who choose to stay at home. But you cannot project some Victorian model that modernist Muslim reformers adopted in the 19th century and apply that to the realities of women’s work for all time and call that Islamic. For centuries, women’s work has been multi-faceted and often not paid. But women have always added to the productive capacity in their homes. You will find women working in history even while secluded in Ottoman palaces, 19th century peasant women in Egypt pushing water wheels, to West African women plowing fields or making indigo.

    Here’s two articles that you can use as food for thought:

    http://www.islamicvoice.com/january.2000/women.htm

    http://www.crescentlife.com/thisthat/feminist%20muslims/working_women_during_early_islam.htm

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  6. Salaams,

    Well I liked your post. Michelle is certainly a better role model than A-lot of the other women that we have to look up to.

    NO she’s not Muslim, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t MANY good qualities within her that should be emulated. Like you pointed out she’s educated, a devoted wife and mother.

    and kudos to you to in your response to the black women marriage comment. Um, so its wanting to do things like parade around in “half-naked” clothing like FL Obama allegedly does that makes the black female marriage rate so low? ludicrous.

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  7. Salaam!

    I,too, like Michelle Obama. I like the fact that she was Obama’s mentor at the law firm (Oh yeah!). This woman is a powerful symbol of intellect,elegance and beauty.

    It might be because I just came from teaching my class, where I constantly negotiate what it means to be a black, Muslim women in the university setting that I am reminded of the importance of Michelle on the level of representation alone.

    Reading this post and some comments here I am reminded of Patricia Williams’ The Alchemy of Race and Rights where she talks about the challenges of assuming authority as a black female intellectual.

    Margari, thanks for addressing the comment above. Why is it that we BAM sisters are always be asked to play down our culture and reality in order to appease a stagnant concept of Muslim femininity? Like gazelle said, ludicrous.

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  8. Salaams dear,

    I LOVE them for all the reasons you articulated & more!

    I think it’s fantastic that an international role model like Barack has joined the ranks of men like Prophet Muhammand (pbuh) & President John Adams, who sincerely appreciated, were stimulated by & relied upon their wives for intelligent advice, support and insight.

    They represent a seismic shift in how marriage is viewed not only in the black community but across the US, and, quite possibly, the world. And, as one Salon article said, “They make marriage look hot!”

    Mash’Allah may the Obamas be protected & enabled to do the huge tasks ahead of them!

    Love,
    B

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  9. But “black women have a hard time finding a suitable match”because their constantly competing with the man. Yes you have to play down your black women culture because it’s in conflict with Islamic roles of women where authority and power is given to men not women. Then these men have to protect the women. It’s one thing when a Muslim woman (black or other wises) gets a college degree but why push it with graduate studies or than a PHd? It’s a problem because the longer these women stay in school the later they get marry and the less children they’ll have. This also clashes with the level of education Black men have, and can’t compete or match with these women. Their aping the women with so called equal rights. And what does Michelle talk about today, passing legislation for equal pay, which just pushes more women out of their homes where they should be. Why expect equal pay when men and women are not equal to begin with

    Baraka you shouldn’t compare the Prophet’s (pbuh) and his wives with this kafir couple. Besides the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives didn’t follow him around in public they were fully covered and stay home (this is the highest standard for Muslim women, not being in the public eye)

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  10. A woman should have a choice what role to play in society without being categorised and put in a box. My grandmother was illiterate but she valued education and made sure my mother gets educated. My mother worked from the age of 17 and graduated from university. Staying in school longer meant she was able to lift her family out of poverty. When my father became ill and could not work, my mother was able to give us a good standard of living because of her education. She was also a homemaker and very much involved in our upbringing. I would not label my mother a feminist because she strayed away from someone’s definition of “islamic roles” for women.

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  11. Amal,
    Are you for real?
    Going beyond an undergrad degree is still worthwhile, for more reasons than the number of grammar and spelling errors in your last comment. That alone should be enough to motivate sisters to want to get teaching certification, masters, and even a PhD. We can ensure that sisters such as yourself have access to a quality education which would refine your critical thinking skills as well as their verbal and written communication.

    I’ll reply to your comments on Monday, I’ll be out of town this weekend. And I’m celebrating my month anniversary.

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  12. Salaams dear Amal,

    Baraka you shouldn’t compare the Prophet’s (pbuh) and his wives with this kafir couple. Besides the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives didn’t follow him around in public they were fully covered and stay home (this is the highest standard for Muslim women, not being in the public eye)

    Another advantage of having an education is being able to read and critically evaluate history in order to apply its wisdom to the present day.

    If you read up on your Islamic history dear Amal, you will find that his wives, may Allah bless them all, did accompany him on political, religious and military expeditions and that he often sought their advice about the many matters he faced as a leader.

    The fact that Hazrat Aisha accompanied him on expeditions provided the basis for two Qur’anic verses to be revealed! One specified the need for witnesses (as a protection for women and men from slander), and the other eased wudu requirements in places with little water (tayyamum).

    Another prominent example is at the Treaty of Hudaibiya where, by following the advice of his wife Umm Salamah, he was able to convince his reluctant followers to agree to his compromises with the Quraish, which eventually allowed the victory of Islam & the Muslims over Mecca.

    His wives were extremely intelligent and highly-regarded scholars. Some were even businesswomen, including Hazrat Khadija and, later, Hazrat Zainab bint Jahsh who earned a living by selling her handwork in the market and then spending the income on the poor.

    So we see that Islam does indeed honor the interdependent roles of the husband and wife but does not present them in the stark lines of literalism.

    For a fascinating historical account listen to the series of lectures “Famous Women in Islam” by Dr. Umar Farouk Abd-Allah.

    Warmly,
    Baraka

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  13. Pingback: a photo and a thought « My Muslimah Life

  14. Salaam alaykum Margari,

    Long time reader of your wonderful blog, first time commenter.

    Sorry if this isn’t the right place for this – but I remember you writing a comment somewhere on the Muslim blogosphere about the differences in history and ethics between slavery practiced in the Muslim world compared to elsewhere. Would you be able to recommend me some good books that flesh out these topics?

    Many thanks and heartfelt congratulations on your recent marriage.

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  15. Salaam,

    I believe the campaign took steps to change Michelle Obama’s image, when there were voters who felt she was unpatriotic, a strident black nationalist, etc. There was an article in Slate about how she stopped playfully criticizing her husband in public about domestic things (like making jokes about smelly feet or whatever) because advisers felt it came off as emasculating.

    The emphasis was more on being a “mom in chief,” and on fashion, and not as much on her own education and accomplishments, because that was scaring some people (and still scaring some Muslims, apparently!) away.

    Anyway, I think she’s a fascinating individual. I agree that they make a wonderful couple, and I know that politicians’ always do their best to give off a happy marriage image, but I don’t at all get the sense that it’s phony with the Obamas.

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  16. Salaam Alaikum,

    Things I have learned from the blogosphere:

    Whenever a Black Muslim mentions Blackness or the Black community in a positive way, a non-Black Muslim will swiftly chastise them for it and usually drop the ‘k’ word while they’re at it.

    Just another train that is never late.

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