Michelle Obama Tries to Create an Era of Understanding

Michelle Obama gave a phenomenal speech on Monday night. I have no idea how her husband is going to top her.

I found it fitting that both Obama & Clinton, archetypes for women’s rights and advancement, set the stage for the future of this country’s Democratic agenda. Specifically, both women will be re-defining what their next positions as First Lady and Senator/Former Presidential Candidate mean and how they are managed. Both Mrs. Obama and Sen. Clinton were tasked with re-presenting themselves to the people, for different reasons. Obama had to give us a new image because hers is being assaulted by the conservative press. 

Creating an Era of Understanding

Michelle Obama’s speech (full text & video) was one of the most tactically written, beautifully executed addresses in this generation, and she isn’t even a politician. Her and her speech writers successfully reframed both her and Sen. Obama as family people, as Americans, as people who have a Black version of white America’s experience. The reason that she even had to give that speech is because there is a fundamental misunderstanding between Black people and other people about the similarities and differences between one another’s life experiences. One would think that in a society where Black and white have been juxtaposed for approaching 400 years, white people’s pre-conceived notions about Black women would bear some semblance of accuracy. This is not the case, and it is up to the future First Lady to do what Black men & women have to do all too often: carry the image of their entire race on their shoulders in everything that they say and do.

This unfortunate reality will persist as long as there is misunderstanding. There can be no “post-racial” society (sidebar: I hate the term post-racial) or “post-anything” society without first building bridges of understanding and empathy between races, sexes, genders, cultures, sexual orientations, etc. The understanding is something that must be both actively pursued and actively distributed, meaning that we can’t just close our eyes and snap our fingers and have everyone magically move beyond racial tensions. Michelle and Barack Obama have the largest megaphone with which they can usher in this Era of Understanding, and I’m looking to them to set an example for others to emulate.

This is the type of change that we need.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at MoveOn.org. I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

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