She Ain’t Oprah, Angela, or Your Baby Mama: The Michelle O Enigma

by Gina Athena Ulysse


Recently, interviewer Larry King tried his best to get a rise out of Michelle Obama. Her responses remained cool, collected, and focused. She defied the angry black woman stereotype. She was forthright, intelligent, impeccably stylish, and obviously happy. With these characteristics, Michelle creates discomfort in many because she raises fundamental questions about society’s fixation with categories and how we understand our place within the pecking order of things. Black exceptionalism is accepted and even expected in certain areas. Michelle is not the billionairess Oprahan advocate of self-actualization, who is often on the mend whose predominantly white female audience keeps her within certain bounds. Oprah’s endorsement of Obama was met with a ratings backlash. Michelle seems to have arrived and to be at peace with herself. Although she produced the thesis “Princeton-Educated Blacks and the Black Community,” and may or may not have used the term “whitey,” Michelle is certainly not the gun-toting, Angela/Assata-fro-wearing, militant depicted in the missed-irony New Yorker cover.

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