Friday, December 5, 2008

Michelle and Condolezza

A friend sent me this article to read. It opens like this:

We've never had a First Lady quite like Michelle Obama. How she'll change the world's image of African-American women -- and the way we see ourselves.

As soon as I read that I immediately thought of Condoleeza Rice. You know, the African-American woman who happens to be the current Secretary of State.

Did I miss all the articles written about how she would change the world's image of African-American women?

I'm not trying to be funny, really, I just don't remember if there were any. And if there weren't any ... why not?

Condoleeza Rice is intelligent, attractive, talented, successful and the first African-American woman to hold this position ... why weren't we falling all over her?

No disrespect to Michelle because I love her, (and I know this is going to be taken the wrong way) but our community seems to be giving more attention to her because she married the right guy ... instead of to Condi who reached success on her own merits. Don't get me wrong, marrying the right guy is an impressive feat ... I tried twice and couldn't do it, so I'm not knocking her ... I'm just saying.

Seriously, is it just me or do we not admire Condi in the same way that we admire Michelle?


lyre said...

I've had this same conversation with MyB. He absolutely loves her. I think she catches a snub from folks because she is associated with BUSH and his F'd up policies. Plus there was negative press on her shopping on Fifth Ave during the Katrina fiasco.
She and Michele are in different leagues. No one looks at Condi as a great mother (i dont think she has any), nor as a career woman balancing roles (she's single isn't she?) I like Michele because of her own accomplishments and her sacrifice for her family. I relate to that.
Nothing to take away from Condi, I just feel she chose a different path than most: single no children and career as opposed to education/career/marriage/children/First lady. And I have to say Being the First Lady is most defintely a job, albeit figure headish.

Hawa Bond said...

lyre took some of the words right out of my mouth.

I sense a general consensus about Condi: Not only is Condi associated with one of the worst administrations this country has ever seen, but she also comes across as aloof, unapproachable, and didn't have to balance nurturing a marriage and raising two (very intelligent) young women.

I don't necessarily see Michelle Obama as having "married the right man" because her education and achievements can stand alone. It's not like Obama found Michelle in the gutter. hehe If I remember correctly, (I could be wrong), Michelle turned down a high powered job to stay available to her family.

Michelle appears warm, as we've seen her express truckloads of love and sentiment towards her husband and her children. She never comes across as stiff in her interviews, and for the most part, I believe people relate to Michelle as somebody they'd like to know personally. I don't think we've ever been exposed to a "warmer softer side" of Condi - and that makes a difference.

Both women deserve mounds of respect, but caring for a family (and children who will become our next generation of leaders) is held in high esteem. And Michelle appears to do it very well along with other personal achievements.

chele said...

So are we penalizing women who decide not to marry and have children?

Is it fair to judge a person by their associations?

I'm perceived as aloof and unapproachable but I'm also raising two children ... where do I fit in?

TJ said...

There was a lot of talk about Condi Rice's qualifications and merits, but the secretary of state is hardly looked upon as a style icon. The first lady is and we all know that black women have not been looked upon in such a light where fashion is concerned. I think it should be more important to be smart and hard working on one's own, but this is AMERICA we're talking about.

Believer 1964 said...

Don't get me started with being unapproachable. I intimidate some the first time they meet me. ;)

Interesting topic, but I concur Condi did not get her fair share of recognition as Michelle is getting. I believe both are making their mark and changing history. Let’s celebrate!

lyre said...

I relate very much to you. Although i havent see a very soft side yet. You're tough lady! I like that!

And no, women aren't penalize for chosing single no kids. I just find that easier and nothing remarkable about it. To be totally honest. Condi is a brilliant, smart, very successful lady. I just don't see her as a role model for me. For me, having it all includes family and a mate, for those savvy enough to find it and nurture it.
And for the girls that I teach, "Michele and Barack," give a much better model than the "hooker and Pimp" "biotch and Nigga" images in movies, videos and the newsmedia.
No slight on single no kid choices. My 96 year old Aunt Mae taught 30 years and had no kids. But my mother, brillliant, married with 3 kids, who subbed some and worked temporarily and chose my Dad, speaks more to me.
I say we celbrate both, like Believer said. WE HAVE CHOICES AND WE KNOW WHAT THEY ARE! that is the celebration!

Hawa Bond said...

So are we penalizing women who decide not to marry and have children?

No. Not at all. I'd be the last person to pass that kind of judgement. I believe I gave both women props in my comment. But you asked about what seems to be a general trend in terms of the recognition each woman receives - and I gave several reasons beyond children and marriage.

Side note: Would you consider "marrying the right guy" a comment that penalizes Michelle's decision to marry?

I would personally still rather meet Michelle than Condi, and it's not because Michelle chose to have kids and Condi didn't. That also doesn't imply any kind of "penalty." Just a personal preference based on my history and experience. Not right or wrong... just different.

This post surely posed a good and interesting question.

chele said...

Side note: Would you consider "marrying the right guy" a comment that penalizes Michelle's decision to marry?

Absolutely not. I just don't think she should be held in higher regard because of it.

This post surely posed a good and interesting question.

Thanks. It's a change for me because I usually just right a bunch of fluff! LOL :)

Cashana said...

Sorry, longtime lurker commenting. In my book club meetings I have on several occasions brought up Condi's accomplishments and the sacrifices I am sure she made to be in the position she is in. I always get a WTF looks from my members. She doesn't get the credit she is due, some of it is because of her politics, some because she doesn't seem approachable and others haven't taken the time to read about her as a person. Good post. BTW, I stan for Michelle too and believe both women are great for our history.

LadyLee said...

I've seen a couple of documentaries on Condoleeza's life. This is rare, so I was sure to watch. She is a REMARKABLE woman.

I was talking about this with a friend awhile ago. He said that if Condi was his child, he would be so proud of her. I was proud of her my ownself, but uh, you better not say that TOO loud...

I respect the fact that she did her thing DESPITE what black folk think. I remember her way back before her Bush administration days. She was a expert in all things Russian, and I remember thinking that it was odd that an black woman would choose to study that area. So that is what I remember about her the most.

Like I said, I am glad she did HER thing. I think she and Michelle have qualities that all black women could look up to...

Just because one is approved of and the other isn't doesn't make them any different.

Diva (in Demand) said...

I bookmarked this post so that I could think about my answer first. The difference between Condi and Michelle is that WE, black women, don't identify with Condi as we do Michelle. When we think of Condi....we think of her accomplishments and ALL of the things she has done and yes we recognize her as being a great black woman. BUT when we see Michelle, we see "ourselves"....a sista from the hood that lives around the corner (literally) and shops at the same grocery stores we do, raises little kids just like ours with cornrows in their heads that eat greasy pizza from around the way.

Michelle is OUR around the way girl so we identify more with her. That is why we admire her so much more.